The American Express® Gold Card Versus the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Selecting a travel rewards card that matches up with your personal spending patterns and travel priorities is a challenge. It’s also a really personal and time-consuming decision. When all the research is said and done, you may find that it takes more than one travel rewards card to meet all your needs.

That’s one of the reasons we regularly select some of the most popular travel rewards cards and pair them up against each other. It’s important to look into the fine print to find the strongest benefits of each card but also uncover any shortcomings.

Not one travel rewards card is a one-size-fits-all but some will be a much better fit for your lifestyle than others.

Today, two popular cards go head-to-head: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the American Express® Gold Card. Here’s a comparison of their earning potential, redemption options, and some of the benefits that make these cards unique.

As you read through the comparisons, think about how those bonus categories match up with your spending, whether the redemption options align with your travel preferences, and ponder which benefits you value most. In the end, one of these travel rewards cards may be just the perfect fit.

Welcome Bonuses

The Value of a Welcome Bonus

Welcome bonuses vary greatly but are a key consideration when selecting a travel rewards card. Since these bonuses are earned after completing a minimum spending requirements in the first 3 months after card approval, you’ll want to make sure you can meet this requirement in the specified time period.

Securing this up front bonus can jump start the earnings process with hundreds of dollars worth of free travel.

Here is a sampling of the current welcome bonuses:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite starter card that earns valuable points and comes with a big 60,000 sign up bonus, valued at $750.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x).

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points (Terms Apply.) and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.

Membership Rewards® Points Versus Ultimate Rewards Points

Luxury resort view
Every purchase you make earns reward points that can be redeemed for free travel. Sheraton Bougainvillea Resort Puerto Vallarta. Image Credit: Christine Krzyszton.

Comparing Membership Rewards points with Chase Ultimate Rewards points is like comparing Androids and iPhones. Each one provides great value to the right individual and there are passionate arguments on both sides as to why one is better than the other.

Here’s a look at the earning potential and redemption options for both rewards programs showing how they might match up to your spending patterns and travel priorities.

Earning Potential

Every purchase you make on either card is going to earn at least 1 reward point per dollar spent with bonus category spending earning much more.

Bonus Earning CategoryChase Sapphire Preferred – Ultimate Rewards Points
Amex Gold Card – Membership Rewards Points
Flights purchased directly from airlines2X points per dollar spent
3X points per dollar spent
Flights purchased from Amex TravelN/A
3X points per dollar spent
Other travel purchase2X points per dollar spent1 point per dollar spent
U.S. supermarket purchases1 point per dollar spent
4X points per dollar spent on the first $25,000 per year
Dining2X points per dollar spent
4X points per dollar spent

While the Amex Gold Card may appear to have an edge when it comes to earning rewards, how you redeem your points plays a key role in the bottom line value each cardholder receives.

Redemption Options

Both types of rewards points offer several flexible options for redeeming your points.

Redemption OptionChase Sapphire Preferred – Ultimate Rewards PointsAmerican Express Membership Rewards Points – Amex Gold Card
Transfer to airline partnersYes
Transfer to hotel partnersYes
Redeem for travel via card’s travel portalYes, at a value of 1.25 cents per pointYes, at a value of 1 cent per point
Redeem for cashYesNo
Gift cardsYes
Shopping at specific retailersYes

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid travel rewards card with strong earning potential on travel and dining purchases. When it comes to redeeming points, you’ll find both flexibility to transfer to travel partners and good value for travel redemptions via the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

The Amex Gold Card functions more as a balance between an everyday earning card and a travel rewards card. Its elevated earning on dining, supermarket purchases, and flight purchases build rewards quickly, which can be redeemed directly for travel via Amex Travel or transferred to the long list of travel partners.

Bottom Line: While both Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to airline and hotel partners, Membership Rewards has the edge with nearly triple the amount of transfer partners. Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for travel at 1.25 cents per dollar while Membership Rewards can be redeemed for 1 cent per dollar. Finally, in a pinch, Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for cash while Membership Rewards cannot. 

Hotel Program Benefits

Aria Budapest Hotel
Book the Aria Hotel in Budapest, a member property of The Luxury Hotel and Resorts Collection, and receive special perks. Image Credit: Aria Hotel Budapest.

You won’t receive complimentary hotel program elite status with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Gold Card but each card has its own associated luxury hotel program offering a few special perks when staying at affiliated properties.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders have access to special benefits at over 900 properties in the Luxury Hotel and Resorts Collection. Reservations must be made through the program and paid for with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Benefits include:

  • Daily breakfast for 2 people
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Upgraded room if available
  • Local amenity
  • Early check-in and late checkout if available

Amex Gold Card

Amex Gold Card members enjoy access to the American Express Hotel Collection and receive special benefits. Book your stay of 2 nights or more through Amex Travel and pay for the stay with your Amex Gold Card or Membership Rewards points.

Benefits include:

  • $100 to spend on dining, spa services, or on-site activities
  • Upgraded room if available

Bottom Line: Hotel benefits with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold Card are limited to associated luxury hotel programs. If you don’t have hotel program elite status but prefer high end properties, you may find value in the hotel perks that come with booking these unique hotel stays. 

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Annual Fees

The Amex Gold Card comes with a higher annual fee than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. However, the Amex Gold Card’s higher fee is offset by a $100 statement credit for incidental airline fees and $120 annual dining credit.

If you’ll maximize both of these benefits, the difference in annual fees becomes insignificant.

Adding Additional Users

There is no cost to add authorized users to your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

The Amex Gold Card allows up to 5 additional cards at no extra charge.

Statement Credits

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not offer any special statement credits for purchases.

Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card comes with a few statement credits that are triggered when you make specific purchases with your card.

  • $100 Airline incidentals credit
  • $120 Restaurant statement credit
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit

Travel Benefits and Protections

Amex car rental insurance
Knowing the type of car rental coverage you have on your credit card can save you money when it comes time to rent a vehicle. Image Credit: American Express.

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

A valuable benefit that comes with many credit cards is complimentary coverage for damage and theft to your rental car. While both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold Card offer this coverage, the specific benefit that comes with each card is quite different.

Both cards do require that you reserve and pay for your rental car with your card and decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver coverage, CDW or LDW, in order to be covered.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has one of the best car rental insurance benefits of any rewards card. This complimentary benefit covers you and other drivers listed on the rental agreement in nearly every country worldwide.

The coverage is primary, which means that you do not have to file a claim with your own insurance company first. Coverage is extended for the entire rental period not to exceed 31 days. Damage, theft, and loss of use of the rental car are covered. Certain types of vehicles are excluded.

Amex Gold Card

Rental car insurance on the Amex Gold Card provides coverage for up to $50,000 if the rental car is damaged or stolen. Loss of use of the rental car due to a covered incident is also covered. This coverage is secondary, not primary, which means you must file a claim with your own auto insurance before this coverage kicks in.

Fortunately, American Express does offer an option to purchase premium car rental coverage and it can be a good deal if you’re renting a vehicle for several days. Depending on your state of residence and the level of coverage you select, premium car rental insurance costs just $12.95 to $24.95 for the entire rental period up to 42 days.

Hot Tip: While the Chase Sapphire Preferred provides complimentary primary car rental coverage, upgrading your Amex Gold Card coverage to premium primary car rental insurance is not expensive and worth the peace of mind. 

Trip Interruption, Cancellation, or Delay

flight delay board
Trip delays can be frustrating, time consuming, and add expense to your journey. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

When you pay for your trip either partially or in full with your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll receive trip interruption, trip cancellation, and trip delay benefits.

Receive up to $10,000 per claim, maximum $20,000 per trip, for pre-paid expenses lost due to interruptions or cancellations to your trip caused by illness, weather, or other covered incident. Immediate family members are also covered even if you are not traveling with them.

There is a maximum of $40,000 per 12 month period.

If your trip is delayed you may need to purchase incidentals. Chase’s trip delay coverage provides up to $500 per person, per trip, if a covered delay is more than 12 hours.

Amex Gold Card

Unfortunately, the Amex Gold Card does not provide any trip interruption, cancellation, or delay benefits.

Bottom Line: If supplemental trip insurance is important to you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a good choice. The card provides coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, and trip delay insurance when you pay for your trip partially or in full with your card, Chase Ultimate Rewards points or a combination of the two.

Lost and Delayed Baggage Coverage

Chase Sapphire Preferred

When your baggage is delayed, you’ll probably need to replace some essential items. If the bags are delayed more than 6 hours, you’ll receive up to $100 a day for 5 days as reimbursement.

If your baggage is lost, there is an additional benefit that provides up to $3,000 per covered person, per trip, for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage.

Amex Gold Card

The baggage insurance plan that comes with the Amex Gold Card provides coverage for carry-on bags up to $1,250 per person, per trip, if bags become lost, stolen, or damaged. Checked bags have coverage of up to $500 per person, per trip.

The entire ticket must be paid for with the Amex Gold Card or Membership Rewards points.

Roadside Assistance Service

Flat Tire Roadside Assistance
Complimentary Roadside Assistance benefits can vary. Does the coverage on your card require you to pay for the service call? Image Credit: American Express.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred provides complimentary Roadside Dispatch service that includes a dedicated hotline to call in case of roadside emergencies. For a flat fee per service call, the following services are included:

  • Towing up to 5 miles
  • Changing a flat tire with an inflated spare
  • Jump start
  • Lockout service
  • Fuel delivery of up to 5 gallons of fuel. Cardholder is responsible for cost of fuel.
  • Standard winching

Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card comes with Premium Roadside Assistance that allows up to 4 service calls per calendar year at no cost to the cardholder. Premium Roadside Assistance provides:

  • Towing up to 10 miles at no charge
  • Flat tire change to an inflated spare
  • Winching
  • Delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel and no extra charge for fuel
  • Lockout service when the key is in vehicle

Bottom Line: The Amex Gold Card clearly wins when it comes to roadside assistance benefits. While the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with Roadside Dispatch service, the cardholder must pay for the service call. The Amex Gold Card comes with Premium Roadside Assistance that provides 4 service calls each year at no cost.

Emergency Travel Assistance

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Your dedicated Travel and Emergency Assistance line will provide help when you need it. Receive assistance with emergency transportation, legal and medical referrals, and other travel emergency assistance.

Amex Gold Card

Help is just one call away with the 24/7 Global Assist Hotline. Service is available when traveling more than 100 miles from home and provides help with medical and legal referrals, visa or passport help, emergency cash, help with lost luggage, and more.

Bottom Line: Emergency travel assistance is provided complimentary on both cards; however, cardholders are responsible for actual services provided.

Travel Accident Insurance

If the unfortunate occurs during a covered trip and there is severe injury or even death, travel accident insurance will pay a stated benefit. Covered people include the cardholder, immediate family members, and domestic partners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2 travel accident benefits including:

  • A common carrier benefit to cover you while you’re traveling on a common carrier
  • A 24 hour benefit that covers you between your departure and arrival back home

If a severe injury or death occurs, the benefit on the common carrier insurance pays up to $500,000. The 24 hour benefit pays up to $100,000. You must pay for at least a portion of the trip with your card or rewards points.

The Amex Gold Card

Receive up to $250,000 for each covered incident involving severe injury or death. The Amex Gold Card requires that the trip must be paid for in its entirety with your card, rewards points, or a combination of the two.

Concierge and Travel Assistance

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Your own personal Visa Concierge can work with you to find a hotel, book tickets to a special event, help find a unique gift, or secure that elusive dinner reservation.

Amex Gold Card

Receive 24/7 assistance with Amex Personal Travel Assistance. Get help with travel arrangements, transportation, hotel reservations, and more.

Amex Offers
Earn more rewards when you utilize the shopping benefits that come with your card. Image Credit: American Express.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

Earn Bonus Rewards for Shopping

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn bonus Ultimate Rewards of up to 20X points per dollar spent by using the Chase Shopping Portal.

Amex Gold Card

Earn bonus Membership Rewards points or statement credits when you add Amex Offers to your card and make a purchase with your card at the featured retailer. It’s as simple as logging into your online account and adding the selected Amex Offers you plan to use to your card.

Once you’ve made the required purchase, you bonus will show up as a statement credit or as bonus Membership Rewards points.

Purchase Protection

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Purchase an item with your card or rewards points and receive coverage against damage, theft, or “involuntary and accidental parting.” Coverage is provided for up to 120 days from the date of purchase up to a maximum of $500 per claim, $50,000 per account.

Amex Gold Card

Pay for an eligible item with your card or rewards points and receive protection for loss, theft, or damage for 120 days (90 days for New York residents) from the date of purchase. Receive the cost to repair, replace, or reimburse for the item up to $10,000 per incident to a maximum of $50,000 per calendar year.

Return Protection

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred discontinued return protection in 2018.

Amex Gold Card

If a merchant refuses to take back an eligible item you purchased with your card within the first 90 days, you could receive up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.

Extended Warranty

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Eligible items purchased with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card that have manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less will receive an additional year added on to that warranty.

Coverage is afforded up to $10,000 per claim and a maximum of $50,000 per account.

Amex Gold Card

Receive up to 2 extra years of protection on manufacturer’s warranties less than 5 years in length. Eligible items must be purchased with your card.

Coverage is provided for up to $10,000 per item, with a maximum of $50,000 per calendar year.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Neither card charges foreign transaction fees.

Final Thoughts

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold Card are quite different in the way the cards earn rewards, the value of rewards when redeemed, and the level of benefits offered by each card.

With that said, either card would be a good choice for your first rewards earning card as you can’t go wrong earning either Membership Rewards points or Ultimate Rewards points. Both have terrific value when redeemed for travel.

While this article has highlighted some of the key features and benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Amex Gold Card, this is not an all-inclusive list of all the benefits that come with these travel rewards cards. Also, the descriptions of benefits are abbreviated. You will need to review the actual terms and conditions in each card’s guide to benefits for complete information.

When it comes to benefits, you’ll find both strengths and downsides to each card. You’ll need to determine which benefits are the most important to you personally and which card provides the earning and redemption options that are a match for your lifestyle.


Featured Image Credit: Chase

FAQ

Which card is better, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Amex Gold Card?

Each card has its earning, redemption, and benefit strengths. The better card will depend on how these strengths match up to your personal spending, your travel redemption priorities, and which benefits you will actually use.

If you spend a lot on airline tickets, either card will work for you because they each have elevated earnings on airline tickets. The same is true if you spend a lot on dining. If you’re spending a lot at grocery stores, the Amex Gold Card offers an edge in that bonus category.

When it comes to redeeming your points, you can fare well with the option to transfer your points to a long list of airline partners with the Amex Gold Card or to a shorter list of transfer partners with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you purchase a lot of economy flights, you may find better value redeeming Ultimate Rewards via the Chase travel portal.

When it comes to benefits, it’s also a matter of which benefits you’ll actually use and receive subsequent value.

Which card has the best car rental insurance?

If you rent a vehicle once or twice a year, either card will work for you.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has primary rental car coverage and it covers you nearly worldwide for rental periods up to 31 days. The Amex Gold Card has secondary car rental coverage which requires that you file a claim with your own auto insurance first, before it kicks in.

However, for $13-$25 you can purchase premium rental car insurance from Amex and it covers you for the entire rental period up to 42 days. This turns out to be a maximum of $50 if you rent a vehicle twice a year and want premium coverage.

Can I transfer points to any airline?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold Card each has a list of airline transfer partners from which to select. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards to any of the affiliated airline transfer partners and purchase award tickets.

However, you can use your points from either rewards program to purchase flights on any airlines via the associated rewards program travel portal. For Membership Rewards you would use Amex Travel and for Ultimate Rewards you would use the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Can I redeem points for cash?

You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash at the rate of 1 cent per point.

You cannot redeem Membership Rewards points for cash.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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2 comments

  1. So, WHAT ARE THE ANNUAL FEES? You need a proofreader…

    • Christine Krzyszton · June 23, 2019 · Reply

      Since sign up bonuses and annual fees can fluctuate, we tend to avoid including these in the narrative of our articles. You can click on any of the Gold Card or Sapphire Preferred links to quickly find the latest sign up bonus and current annual fee. This ensures the information you’re getting is accurate. Thanks for reading.

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