Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum: Which premium credit card is right for you

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Amex Platinum vs Chase Sapphire ReserveJenny Cheng/Business Insider

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card® from American Express are two of the most popular and rewarding premium credit cards.
  • Both cards come with benefits, rewards, and perks that more than make up for the annual fees - I personally have both, and despite the high annual fees, still get more value from them.
  • There are a few differences between what the two cards offer, though. Read on to see which one might be best for you.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card from American Express are two of the best credit/charge cards available.

While each card comes with a high annual fee - $450 for the Sapphire Reserve, $550 for the Platinum - both cards come with enough benefits and perks to more than make up for the upfront cost.

The cards have a lot in common, but there are also some distinct benefits unique to each card. Here are some things to look at to figure out which is best for you.

Read more: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

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The sign-up bonuses

The sign-up bonuses

With either card, you can earn a ton of extra points when you open a new account and meet the requirements.

The Sapphire Reserve comes with 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the card.

The Platinum Card has a welcome offer of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months.

The offers are relatively similar. Both Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards points are transferable — which is the most valuable type of points — although there are some other ways to use them, too. For example, you can redeem points for cash or put them toward travel purchased through each card's travel website — however, Chase will value your points at a higher rate in these scenarios than Amex will. Because of that, even though the Amex bonus is 10,000 points higher than Chase, I'd consider them a tie on value.

If we consider the sign-up bonuses as equal, there are two other things to consider: First, do you think you'll spend $5,000 in the next three months? If not, you might want to go for the Sapphire Reserve, which has a lower spending requirement.

Second, do you already have a stock of either rewards currency from another card? Since you can pool points from different cards in the same rewards program, it could be worth opening another card from that issuer so you can build up your balance.

The travel credits and the annual fee

The travel credits and the annual fee

Both cards come with generous travel credits that go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee.

Of course, you'll still have to pay the fee upfront before making some of it back from the credits. The fee for the Sapphire Reserve is $450, while the Amex Platinum has a $550 yearly charge.

The Sapphire Reserve comes with a straightforward and easy-to-use $300 travel credit. The first $300 you spend on travel-related purchases every cardmember year is credited back to your account. The "travel" category is expansive, including everything from subways, taxis, parking, and tolls to airfare and hotels. When you subtract that credit from the annual fee, the card only costs $150 per year.

The Platinum Card, meanwhile, has three different credits.

The first is a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year. Every January, you pick one airline for that credit to apply toward. While the credit doesn't cover tickets, it covers incidental fees like checked bags, seat assignments on basic economy tickets, change fees, and more. Sometimes you can even be reimbursed for airline gift cards that you can apply toward tickets, even though this is an unpublished benefit — do some Googling to see whether that works on your airline of choice.

Second, you can get up to $200 in Uber credits each cardmember year, which is broken down into monthly chunks. Each month, cardholders receive $15 of credits to use on Uber rides or for Uber Eats. In December, that's boosted to $35.

Finally, you can get up to $100 in shopping credits each year at Saks-brand stores, broken into two chunks: You'll get up to $50 during the first six months of the year, and another $50 during the second.

When you subtract the three credits, the Platinum Card's annual fee is just $50. However, since the airline fee is each calendar year, you can actually collect it twice if you open your card mid-year and maximize the credit before and after January of that first cardmember year.

That would mean you're not just making up for the annual fee, you're actually getting more value than the fee in the first place. That's without even considering the other benefits and rewards.

The airport lounge access

The airport lounge access

Both cards come with a Priority Pass Select membership, which grants access to a network of more than 1,000 airport lounges all around the world. However, if you're mostly flying within the US, you may be better off with the Platinum Card.

That's because many Priority Pass lounges within the US are in international terminals. Fortunately for domestic flyers, the Platinum Card also comes with access to Amex's proprietary Centurion Lounges, which can be found at eight of the busiest airports in the US — plus Hong Kong — with more locations on the way. In addition, cardholders can enter Delta Sky Club lounges whenever they're flying with the airline.

If lounge access is important to you, especially when flying within the US, or if you frequently fly Delta, then the Platinum Card is the clear winner.

Rewards on everyday spending

Rewards on everyday spending

The Sapphire Reserve is one of the most rewarding cards out there for your everyday spending. You'll earn 3x points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and both of those categories are defined fairly broadly, with the dining category including things like bars, cafes, and in many cases, bakeries or ice cream shops.

The Platinum Card, meanwhile, earns 5x points on flights purchased directly through the airline — so no online travel agencies like Priceline or Expedia — and prepaid hotel reservations made through the Amex Travel portal. That's useful if you fly a lot, and you can book your own work travel, but tough to maximize otherwise.

Depending on your spending habits, the Sapphire Reserve wins this category. Earning 3x points on your commute, lunch, and drinks after work, it's easy to stockpile a ton of points quickly.

Other travel benefits

Other travel benefits

Both cards come with other benefits, too, which are worth considering. While these are generally less discussed, they're still valuable feature of the cards.

The Sapphire Reserve includes:

  • Primary rental car loss/damage coverage
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance (covering you for up to $10,000 per ticket if a trip is cancelled or interrupted due to things like illness, personal sickness, etc.)
  • Trip delay insurance (which reimburses up to $500 per covered ticket when your travel is delayed 6+ hours or overnight)
  • Baggage delay coverage
  • Various purchase and shopping protections
  • Baggage loss and damage coverage
  • Travel accident insurance
  • A credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

The Platinum Card, meanwhile, offers:

  • Gold elite status at Marriott and Hilton hotels.
  • Various purchase and shopping protections
  • Concierge service
  • Baggage loss and damage coverage
  • Travel accident insurance
  • A credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

These perks are all potentially useful, and even though they differ between cards, both offer strong options.

The big ones to keep in mind are the Sapphire Reserve's trip delay coverage, which can be extremely useful when you're delayed because of bad weather or something else, and the Platinum's hotel elite status, which can get you a ton of valuable extras during hotel stays.

Bottom line

Bottom line

No matter which card you choose, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum are great cards that come with a ton of value.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

This article was originally published on 1/23/2018.

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