When it comes to premium rewards credit cards, the competition in the market is tougher than the Olympics. Every bank under the sun has its own version of a premium card product. The annual fees are high, and so are the stakes—many high-end cards offer enough travel perks to offset the fees.

In this round of head-to-head battles, we’ve got two heavyweight champs: the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express.

Both of these card giants lead the industry by offering a number of travel credits and benefits to serious travelers. So, let’s see how they stack up against each other and how much value you can expect to receive from each card.

Welcome Bonus

Perhaps the first metric anyone looks at when considering a credit card is how many bonus points are awarded after the initial spending requirement. So, here it goes.

The Amex Platinum Card

You will generally earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points with the American Express Platinum Card once you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership. When redeemed through the Amex Travel portal, the bonus is worth $420 to $600.

However, we’ve seen the bonus reach as high as 75,000 or even 100,000 points for some folks. Usually, these increased offers are targeted but are sometimes widely available. If you’re targeted for this welcome offer (you can check with the CardMatch tool), don’t even think twice about getting your hands on 100,000 Membership Rewards points.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 as a new cardholder. The points are worth $750 when used to book travel via the Chase Travel Portal.

Amex Travel vs. Chase Travel Portal

The Amex Platinum Card

Unfortunately, Membership Rewards redeemed through the Amex Travel portal provide mediocre value unless you also have The Business Platinum Card from American Express or possibly the American Express Business Gold Card.

At best, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point when you book flights or hotels that participate in the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. The value drops to 0.7 cents when you book prepaid hotels, vacation packages, or cruise sailings via the portal.

Check out our guide to using Membership Rewards points in the Amex Travel portal.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed through Chase’s travel portal—50% more than points earned with the Amex Platinum Card.

Although the welcome bonus that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is slightly lower than the bonus on The Platinum Card, it’s worth more in the end.

Check out our guide to using Ultimate Rewards points in the Chase Travel portal.

Transfer Partners

Portal bookings aren’t the only, and certainly not the best, way to redeem flexible points, such as Membership Rewards from American Express and Ultimate Rewards from Chase.

In fact, if you’re looking to fly in business or first class or stay at a chain hotel, transferring points to partner programs can increase their value above 1.5 cents.

The Amex Platinum Card

AirlinesTransfer Ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub1,000:1,000
Aeroméxico Club Premier1,000:1,600
Air Canada Aeroplan1,000:1,000
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1,000:1,000
Alitalia MilleMiglia1,000:1,000
ANA Mileage Club1,000:1,000
Avianca LifeMiles1,000:1,000
British Airways Executive Club1,000:1,000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,000:1,000
Delta SkyMiles1,000:1,000
El Al Frequent Flyer Club1,000:20
Emirates Skywards1,000:1,000
Etihad Guest1,000:1,000
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,000:1,000
Iberia Plus1,000:1,000
JetBlue TrueBlue250:200
Qantas Frequent Flyer500:500
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000:1,000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1,000:1,000
HotelsTransfer Ratio
Choice Privileges1,000:1,000
Hilton Honors1,000:2,000
Marriott Bonvoy1,000:1,000

The Membership Rewards program presents opportunities to book premium flight experiences for those looking to put in work. Because the partner list contains so many niche programs, it’s not the friendliest for everyone.

Having said that, learning how these loyalty programs work will help you uncover tremendous value.

Many love transferring membership Rewards to ANA Mileage Club for its round-the-world awards and to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book ANA first class.

ANA First Class Review IAH to NRT | Photo Credit from Bryce Conway

Yes, sometimes loyalty programs will throw in bonus miles for converting Amex points into airline miles or hotel points, which is a huge benefit to travelers who love stretching their rewards even further. Seeing transfer bonuses of 25% to 40% is common.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

AirlinesTransfer Ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub1,000:1,000
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1,000:1,000
British Airways Executive Club1,000:1,000
Emirates Skywards1,000:1,000
Iberia Plus1,000:1,000
JetBlue TrueBlue1,000:1,000
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000:1,000
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards1,000:1,000
United MileagePlus1,000:1,000
HotelsTransfer Ratio
IHG Rewards Club1,000:1,000
Marriott Bonvoy1,000:1,000
World of Hyatt1,000:1,000

With United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards and World of Hyatt programs on the list, Chase offers a more user-friendly experience when it comes to transferring points to partners.

These programs are not only more familiar to a U.S.-based traveler, but they also present lots of value. For example, you can get tons of value out of Rapid Rewards points if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, and the World of Hyatt is considered to be the most lucrative hotel program by many.

Bonus Categories

The Amex Platinum Card

Although you’ll earn a whopping 5X Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or via Amex Travel and prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel, the list of bonus categories ends here. All other purchases earn 1X point per dollar, and for a card with such a high annual fee, the earning rates could be a lot better.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3X Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining purchases worldwide. Additionally, cardholders earn 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and 3X points at grocery stores on up to $1,000 per month (through April 30, 2021).

Chase wins this round with more opportunities to earn bonus rewards, even at a smaller rate. Although 5X on airfare is nice, 3X on all travel and dining covers quite a bit more.

Statement Credits

Both cards come with annual membership fees of $550, which is not nothing to most of us, especially in this economy. To attract consumers, both American Express and Chase offer statement credits as incentives to apply and keep the cards long-term.

Here are all the ways you can offset the high price tag of holding either card.

The Amex Platinum Card

  • $200 airline fee credit: Select a qualifying airline, charge incidentals to the card, such as checked luggage and seat selection, and receive a credit for up to $200 per calendar year.
  • $200 Uber credit: Receive a $15 monthly credit ($35 in December) toward Uber rides and Uber Eats orders.
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit: Shop at Saks Fifth Avenue stores (physical locations or online) and receive two $50 credits per calendar year—one from January through June and the other from July through December.
  • $20 streaming credit: Pay for your streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and Spotify, with your Amex Platinum Card and receive up to $20 back per month (through Dec. 31).
  • $20 wireless phone credit: Pay your cell phone bill with your Amex Platinum Card and receive up to $20 back per month (through Dec. 31).
  • $85 TSA Precheck / $100 Global Entry enrollment credit: Receive a statement credit once per four-and-a-half years toward a TSA Precheck or a Global Entry enrollment fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • $300 travel credit: Cardholders can offset much of the annual fee by making travel purchases on the card and receiving up to $300 back as statement credits. Through Dec. 31, purchases made at gas stations and grocery stores will qualify for the credit statement as well.
  • $120 DoorDash credit: Receive $60 in 2020 and another $60 in 2021 toward DoorDash orders.
  • $85 TSA Precheck / $100 Global Entry enrollment credit: Receive a statement credit once every four years toward a TSA Precheck or a Global Entry enrollment fee.

The Amex Platinum provides access to Centurion Lounges located worldwide | Photo Credit: The Centurion Lounge

Other Card Benefits

The Amex Platinum Card

  • Priority Pass Select membership: The Priority Pass membership that comes with the Amex Platinum Card is a nerfed version of the full membership. The pass includes unlimited access for you and up to two guests to any Priority Pass airport lounge. However, it excludes restaurants that are part of the network.
  • Access to The Centurion Lounges: Amex Platinum Card members plus up to two guests get complimentary access to The Centurion Lounges when flying any airline.
  • Access to Delta Sky Clubs: Enter Delta Sky Clubs for free with a same-day boarding pass issued by Delta Air Lines. Guests are charged $39 for each visit (up to two guests).
  • Premium car rental protection: Pay a flat rate of either $19.95 or $24.95 for the duration of the rental agreement and receive theft and damage protection for your rental vehicle.
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts: Book a qualifying stay via the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and receive room upgrades (when available), daily breakfast, late checkout and resort credits (varies by property).
  • Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • Authorized user fee: $175 for up to three authorized users, then $175 for each additional person
  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Priority Pass Select membership: Priority Pass membership included with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card provides access to airport lounges as well as restaurants, where you can get $28 to $32 per person (for up to two people) off your final bill.
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription: Enjoy unlimited restaurant deliveries, no-cost delivery and reduced service fees with a free DoorDash DashPass membership (normally $9.99 per month).
  • Complimentary Lyft Pink membership: Enjoy priority airport pickups and ride discounts with one year of Lyft Pink membership (a $199 value).
  • Auto collision damage waiver: Primary coverage kicks in at no extra charge as soon as you pay for your rental car with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and decline the car company’s collision insurance.
  • Visa Luxury Hotel Collection: Book a room at a property that participates in the Luxury Hotel Collection and get complimentary breakfast, room upgrades (when available), food and beverage credits, and late checkout.
  • Authorized user fee: $75 per each authorized user
  • No foreign transaction fees

Which Card Is Right for You?

Although most people would balk at paying two membership fees of $550, it’s not that unusual for some avid adventurers to hold both. It really comes down to how you’ll utilize the benefits of each card.

Do you value airport lounge access and hotel status? Do you book a lot of paid flights? Do you use Uber? If the answer is yes, then you might find more value in the Amex Platinum.

Do you enjoy opportunities to earn bonus rewards on travel and dining? Are you under 5/24? Have you run into trouble using your American Express card abroad? In this case, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better fit.

Final Thoughts

There’s a reason both the Amex Platinum Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve get compared a lot. They’re in the same weight class when it comes to travel rewards cards, have the same annual fee, and you must have good credit to qualify for both.

As mentioned above, holding both cards isn’t unheard of for people in this hobby, but you can’t go wrong by choosing either card. Consider it an investment in your future travel.