Chase Sapphire Reserve Card vs. Amex Gold Card [Detailed Comparison]

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If you’ve searched for a travel rewards credit card or charge card, chances are you’ve considered both Chase and American Express cards. Both issuers are known for providing cards that earn valuable rewards you can redeem for travel and benefits that save money or make travel more enjoyable.

Today we’re highlighting a pair of popular travel rewards cards, issued by these financial institutions, either of which could contend for a place in your wallet.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the American Express® Gold Card earn valuable rewards, offer good value at redemption time, and have travel and shopping benefits that add even more economic value.

While on the surface it may seem that both cards would serve you equally well, the cards do have their differences.

To find out which card is a better fit, we’re going to have to look closely at how rewards are earned on each card. We’ll also be checking out the differences in redemption options, and which card provides benefits that save you travel dollars or add some comfort to your journey.

So let’s begin our overview of these 2 desirable travel rewards cards and find out which one offers an appropriate package match for you specifically.

The Value of a Welcome Bonus

Card issuers frequently offer incentives to apply for their cards. These welcome bonuses can usually be earned by meeting minimum spending requirements within the first 3 months after you are approved for the card.

Welcome bonuses change periodically, so you’ll want to check out the most recent offers before applying for any card.

Here’s a snapshot of what welcome bonuses could be worth on our featured cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Ultimate Rewards points earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card can be redeemed for travel for 1.5 cents each. Using this valuation, a 50,000 point welcome bonus could be worth $750 in travel when redeemed on the Chase travel portal.

Ultimate Rewards points can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners where you may subsequently be able to receive even more value for your points.

Amex Gold Card

Membership Rewards points earned on the Amex Gold card can be redeemed for flights via Amex Travel for 1 cent each. For this reason, we’ll value a 35,000 point welcome bonus at a minimum of $350.

Since Membership Rewards points can also be transferred to travel partners for potentially increased value, the welcome bonus could ultimately receive more than $350 in value.

Membership Rewards Points vs. Ultimate Rewards Points

British Airways Boeing 747-400
Earn rewards on all of your purchases and redeem for travel you might not experience otherwise. Image Credit: British Airways

Comparing Earning Potential

Both featured cards earn points for every dollar spent and each has bonus earning categories that earn multiple points per dollar spent on either card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns Ultimate Rewards points and the Amex Gold card earns Membership Rewards points. Both points currencies are very valuable due to their flexibility at redemption time.

We’ll talk about redemption options next, but first, let’s look at the earning power of each of these cards. Pay particular attention to how each card matches up with your spending patterns.

CardEarnings
Chase Sapphire Reserve card
  • 10x earnings per dollar spent on Lyft purchases through March 2022
  • 3x earnings per dollar spent on travel and on dining worldwide
  • 1 Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • 5x earnings per dollar with Instacart, up to $3,000, through September 30, 2020
  • 5x earning per dollar at gas stations, up to $1,500, through September 30, 2020
  • 10x earnings per dollar on select streaming services, up to $1,500, through September 30, 2020
Amex Gold card
  • 4x earnings per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (limit of $25,000 in purchases calendar year at supermarkets, then 1 point per dollar spent)
  • 3x earnings on airfare purchased directly from the airline or on Amex Travel
  • 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Terms apply

If you spend a lot on travel, you’ll appreciate the 3x earnings on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The travel bonus category is defined quite broadly and includes more than just airline tickets and hotels. You’ll find that purchases made at car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, on discount travel websites, at parking garages, campgrounds, and many more count for the 3x bonus earning category.

The Amex Gold card delivers 3x earnings on airfare but tickets must be purchased directly from the airline or Amex Travel. The card excels at earning in more everyday purchase categories, however, as supermarket and restaurant purchases receive 4x earnings. Supermarket earnings have a maximum of up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year.

If you’re spending a lot on general travel, you’ll earn more with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. If your spending is focused more at supermarkets and dining out, the 4x earnings on the Amex Gold card could be a better match for you.

Learn how to accelerate your earnings on either card with our take on the best way to earn lots of Ultimate Rewards points and lots of Membership Rewards points.

Bottom Line: The best rewards earning card for your situation will depend on your spending profile. If general travel and dining are your largest expenses, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card will be the better card. If your spending is more in everyday categories such as supermarkets (and dining), the Amex Gold card will earn more and still offer you nice travel redemption options. 

Comparing Redemption Options

Regardless of how you earn your rewards, you’ll have several desirable redemption options with either card.

CardBest Redemption OptionsAdditional Redemption Options
Chase Sapphire Reserve card
  • Transfer to airline and hotel partners
  • Redeem for travel at 1.5 cents per point on the Chase Travel Portal
  • Redeem for a statement credit at 1.5 cents per point on purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores, and dining establishments from through September 30, 2020
  • Statement credits, Chase experiences, gift cards, shopping on Amazon, and with Apple
Amex Gold card
  • Transfer to airline and hotel partners
  • Redeem for 1 cent per point for flights on Amex Travel
  • Terms apply
  • Book travel through Amex Travel, statement credits, gift cards, airline upgrades, shopping with partners such as Amazon and Uber
  • Terms apply
Transferring points earned on either card has the potential to earn the most value for your rewards.
We’ll walk you through the best ways to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points or your Membership Rewards points with our guides for maximizing redemption value.

Airport Lounge Access

Plaza Premium First Lounge Hong Kong - Primo Dining
Enjoy an escape to a Priority Pass lounge during your travels with complimentary membership that comes with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, being a premium credit card, comes with some extraordinary travel benefits. One such benefit is worldwide airport lounge access to over 1,200 lounge properties.

The complimentary Priority Pass Select membership allows complimentary access for the cardholder plus up to 2 guests. Additional guests can gain access for $32 per person, per visit.

We find this as one of the key benefits of having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card as Priority Pass membership generally costs $429 for an annual pass. Also, unlike the Priority Pass Select membership, the annual purchased membership does not include complimentary guest access.

Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card does not come with any airport lounge access membership.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with complimentary worldwide airport lounge access for the cardholder and 2 guests. This Priority Pass Select membership, which grants access to over 1,200 properties, can be valued at a minimum of $429 (the cost of purchasing a single annual membership). The Amex Gold card does not offer any lounge access. 

Hotel Program Benefits

Belmond Hotel Caruso Ravello Italy
Receive special benefits with hotel partner programs when you book stays with your eligible card. Image Credit: Luxury Hotels & Resorts

Receiving perks during your hotel stay is always a welcome experience. Both cards have teamed up with hotel program partners to deliver complimentary benefits when you book with your eligible card.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with several hotel program benefits that will make you feel like a VIP.

Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection

You’ll have over 1,000 worldwide properties to choose from in the Luxury Hotels & Resort Collection. To receive special benefits, just use your card to book your stay directly with the program. There is not a minimum number of required nights for these benefits:

  • A special welcome amenity that is unique to the property: examples include a complimentary airport transfer, a free lunch or dinner, or even a spa treatment
  • Receive daily breakfast for 2
  • Late check-out and early check-in when available
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Relais & Chateaux

Receive VIP treatment, a welcome gift, and complimentary breakfast at each participating Relais & Chateaux property worldwide.

sbe Hotels Program

sbe Hotels sample booking
Get the fourth night free plus other hotel perks at sbe Hotels using your Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Image Credit: sbe Hotels

Receiving hotel perks at sbe Hotels is as simple as selecting a property, using your Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book, and enjoying these benefits:

  • Receive your fourth hotel night free when you book 4 consecutive hotel nights (even suites)
  • $30 food and beverage credit per stay
  • Complimentary daily breakfast for 2
  • Free Wi-Fi for as many devices as needed
  • Room upgrade and late checkout, when available

Amex Gold Card

Amex Gold Card members receive several hotel program benefits including guest privileges at The Hotel Collection and the lowest rate guarantee.

The Hotel Collection

The Hotel Collection Italy
Receive $100 per stay plus room upgrades and more with The Hotel Collection. Image Credit: The Hotel Collection

Amex Gold cardmembers enjoy privileged benefits at American Express Hotel Collection properties. Pay for your 2-night stay, or longer, with your Amex Gold card and receive the following benefits:

  • $100 credit per stay that can be used for on-site amenities such as spa services, dining, and more (limit of 1 credit per room/per stay but you can book up to 3 rooms and receive the credit for each room)
  • Receive room upgrades, when available
  • Pay with points for prepaid bookings or pay with your card and receive 2x earnings
  • Terms apply

Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee

Book your hotel room on Amex Travel using your Amex Gold Card and if you find the identical room for less, before taxes and fees, you could receive a refund for the difference.

Bottom Line: If you like booking independent and boutique hotels, either card will meet those desires as both provide elite-type perks with their partner hotel programs. Note that when booking through these programs, however, you may not receive elite status benefits as many hotel loyalty programs exclude benefits when booking through a third party versus directly through the hotel chain.

Rental Car Program Benefits

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

  • Discounts and benefits with Avis and Silvercar by Audi
  • Emerald Club Executive Elite status with National Car Rental

Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold card offers member discounts and benefits with most major car rental companies.

Access the dedicated websites for specific offers of which HertzAvis, and Alamo are just a few examples.

You can review car rental benefits and discounts by logging into your account online and selecting the “Benefits” section.

Rideshare and Food Delivery Benefits

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

DoorDash delivery
Image Credit: DoorDash

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card added a few rideshare and food delivery benefits in 2020.

The card now includes a free 1-year membership to Lyft Pink for primary cardholders. This subscription service is normally $19.99 per month and includes a suite of Lyft benefits that includes:

  • 15% off car rides — 15% discount on Lyft rideshare rides, regardless of type
  • Priority airport pickups — priority pickup at select airports
  • Relaxed cancellations – waived cancellation fees on 3 ride cancellations per month if you book a new ride within 15 minutes
  • Surprise offers — special offers and seasonal discounts
  • Waived lost and found fees — waived lost and found fee if you lose something in a Lyft car (and it’s returned to you)
  • Free bike and scooter rides – 3 free Lyft-operated bike and scooter rides in select markets (up to 30 minutes in length); you can view the full list of eligible cities on Lyft’s website

Lyft Pink’s benefits are especially valuable when paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s 10 points per dollar earning rate on Lyft purchases.

On the food delivery side, primary Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers get a free DoorDash DashPass membership for 2 years.

This membership usually costs $9.99 per month and includes free delivery and discounted service fees on orders of $12 or more from select restaurants.

Plus, the card also includes a $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and again in 2021.  This credit is automatically credited to your account as a statement credit after you charge a DoorDash purchase to your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so you can enjoy a few free meals at home!

Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold card does not have any rideshare benefits at this time.

The card does, however, have a $10 monthly dining credit that can be used on Grubhub and Seamless delivery purchases. Just charge your order to your Amex Gold Card and up to $10 will be automatically refunded as a statement credit.

Statement Credits

Statement credits provide direct economic value in return for making a specific purchase.

Here are the statement credits offered by the 2 cards we’re focusing on today.

CardStatement Credits
Chase Sapphire Reserve card
Amex Gold card
  • $100 credit, per calendar year, for airline incidentals
  • $10 monthly dining credit with Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Seamless, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, or participating Shake Shack locations (total $120 per year)
  • Terms apply

The shining star of this comparison is the $300 travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This benefit is easy to use and directly offsets some of the card’s higher annual fee.

update: For a limited time, the $300 statement credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card can be used towards purchases at grocery stores and gas stations through December 31, 2020.

If you can use the airline incidentals and dining credits with the Amex Gold card, you can receive as much as $220 in value which also offsets much of the annual fee charged on the card (see rates and fees).

Bottom Line: Both cards provide similar rental car program benefits and discounts. When it comes to statement credits, however, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has the edge with its easy to use $300 credit for general travel purchases.

Travel Benefits and Protections

While earning and redeeming rewards may be the prime motivation for selecting a specific card, travel benefits and protections can provide significant economic benefits when you need them.

Here are the travel benefits and protections offered by our featured cards.

Travel Benefit/ProtectionChase Sapphire Reserve CardAmex Gold Card
Car Rental Insurance Coverage
  • Secondary rental car insurance
Trip Interruption/Cancellation/Delay
  • Receive up to $10,000 per person/per trip, up to $10,000 per incident, trip delays over 6 hours, up to $500 in coverage
  • If your trip is delayed more than 12 hours for a covered loss, you could receive up to $300 for reasonable additional expenses
Baggage Insurance
  • Up to $3,000 per person, per trip for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage (checked or carry-on)
  • Up to $500 in coverage for delayed baggage over 6 hours
  • Pay for your common carrier ticket with your card and receive coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage up to $1,250 for carry-on and $500 for checked
Emergency Medical and Dental
  • Up to $2,500 in coverage for emergency medical and dental, up to $75 for 5 days prescribed hotel
  • None
Roadside Assistance
  • 4 free service calls per year, up to $50 each
  • None
Emergency Evacuation
  • Up to $100,000
  • None
Concierge Service
  • 24/7 included
  • 24/7 included
Emergency Travel Assistance
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services hotline
  • Global Assist Hotline
Foreign Transaction Fees
  • None
  • None

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card does offer primary rental car insurance versus the Amex Gold card’s secondary coverage, a simple inexpensive purchase of Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection gives you the same primary car rental insurance on the Amex Gold card. Coverage ranges from $12.25 to $24.95 and covers you for the entire rental period.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is loaded with valuable travel benefits. With primary rental car insurance, trip interruption/cancellation/delay coverage, roadside assistance, emergency evacuation, and emergency medical coverage, the card is a better choice for travel benefits and protections over the Amex Gold card.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

While you wouldn’t select a travel rewards card for the shopping benefits and protections, there’s value in knowing what each card offers.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers a few shopping benefits and protections:

  • Extended Warranty — on manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less, the warranty is extended by 1 year
  • Purchase Protection — eligible items are covered for 120 days from the purchase date, up to $10,000 per item, for damage, theft, and “involuntary and accidental parting”
  • Return Protection — items not accepted for return by the selling merchant are covered for 90 days from the date of purchase, up to $500 per item

The Amex Gold card comes with the following shopping benefits:

  • The American Express Auto Purchasing Program — receive up to thousands of dollars off the purchase price of your new vehicle, plus be able to charge at least $2,000 on your Amex Gold card
  • ShopRunner Membership — receive free 2-day shipping and returns at hundreds of participating retailers
  • Terms apply

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Annual Fees

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a fee that is significantly higher than the Amex Gold card, it also comes with more usable benefits including worldwide lounge access and the $300 travel statement credit which more than make up for the annual fee difference.

To compare the most current pricing, including annual fees, access information for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Amex Gold card.

Adding Additional Users

You can add authorized users to your Chase Sapphire Reserve card at $75 each. While this may seem expensive, keep in mind that authorized users receive many of the benefits as the primary cardholder. These benefits include Priority Pass Select membership, trip interruption/cancellation/delay insurance, and car rental insurance.

There is no charge for adding up to 5 authorized users to the Amex Gold card. The sixth card and beyond will cost $35 each.

Final Thoughts

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is a premium credit card with plenty of earning power, flexible redemption options, and a long list of benefits, the Amex Gold card presents a respectable alternative with a much lower annual fee.

If you value worldwide lounge access, spend a lot on travel in general, and want to redeem your rewards for travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is an excellent choice.

The Amex Gold card provides a balance between being an everyday spending card and a travel rewards card. If your spending is focused on groceries and dining out, the card allows you to earn plenty of rewards on those purchases. However, you can also earn multiple times rewards on flight purchases. You can also redeem your points for travel, including that annual family vacation.

You can’t go wrong with either card when your biggest spending matches the card’s specific bonus categories and your travel goals can be realized with the redemption options available.

You’ll also want to evaluate which statement credits, benefits, and protections you’ll take advantage of to determine which card provides greater bottom-line value to you.


Frequently asked questions

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

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a higher annual fee than the Amex Gold card, so the better card for you will be the one where you earn the most rewards, receive benefits that offset the annual fee, and are able to redeem rewards for your preferred travel.

The Amex Gold card will reward your supermarket, dining, and spending for flights while the Chase Sapphire Reserve card focuses earnings more on rewarding general travel purchases. The better card for earning will be the one that matches your spending habits.

Each card earns different rewards currencies as well. The Amex Gold card earns Membership Rewards, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns Ultimate Rewards. Fortunately, both currencies can be transferred to airline and hotel partners where you have the potential for excellent value.

Membership Rewards points, however, are worth just 1 cent when redeemed for flights on Amex Travel while Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for 1.5 cents per point for travel.

When it comes to travel benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers a better collection of benefits, including primary car rental insurance and trip interruption/cancellation. However, it does have that higher annual fee.

How does a statement credit work?

When you make a qualifying purchase using your card, you will receive a statement credit. Statement credits show up on your monthly bill just like a payment would, but as a credit on your account.

For example, if your card comes with a $300 travel statement credit, once you have used your card for a qualifying purchase (like an airline ticket) you’ll receive a credit for the same amount. If the purchase was $179, you will receive an offsetting credit for that exact amount. Each subsequent travel purchase will continue to trigger a statement credit until the $300 limit is exhausted.

Some credits are valid for a calendar year and some for a card anniversary year. Once the applicable time frame has expired, a new credit will be available.

How does Priority Pass membership work?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. Membership allows access to over 1,200 Priority Pass airport lounge properties throughout the world, plus dining credits at select airport restaurants and access to Minute Suites.

A Priority Pass membership would normally cost $429 per year for a single membership that does not include guest access. The Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card includes access for the cardholder and up to 2 guests.

You must register for the Priority Pass Select membership when you receive your new Chase Sapphire Reserve card as the card cannot be used to access the lounges. To do this, just access your online Chase card account and register under “Benefits.” You will then be given a digital Priority Pass membership card and mailed one to use for access.

Does the Amex Gold card have lounge access?

No, the Amex Gold card does not provide any lounge access membership. The Platinum Card® from American Express, however, does offer excellent worldwide lounge access membership to several lounge networks.

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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