The Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express

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Most frequent travelers appreciate the value of a premium travel rewards credit card. Having the ability to relax in the airport lounge, receive an upgraded hotel room, and earn travel rewards make the value of having such a card quite clear.

Two of the best premium travel rewards credit cards available are the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Both cards are loaded with travel benefits and earn flexible points that, when redeemed for travel, deliver good value.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll likely find that one of these cards is a better fit for your travel preferences and spending patterns. Both cards are equally impressive premium travel rewards cards, so how do you decide?

Let’s take a look at both cards comparing benefits and earning power. These comparisons will help paint a clearer picture of which card may be a better fit for you.

Welcome Bonuses

While welcome bonuses change periodically, they are a large factor when selecting which card to apply for.

Here’s a snapshot of current bonuses for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Platinum Card®.

While welcome bonuses are only one element in the cards’ offerings, looking at the long-term value, in addition to the welcome bonus, allows you to pick a card that’s going to work best for you beyond the first year.

Hot Tip: While the 100,000 point welcome bonus offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is long gone, it’s still possible to find a 100,000 point bonus on the Platinum Card®.

Priority Pass Lounge banner
Enjoy complimentary Priority Pass lounge access with the Platinum Card® or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Image courtesy of prioritypass.com.

Lounge Access

One of the benefits of a premium travel rewards credit card is complimentary airport lounge access to lounges worldwide.

Without this benefit, it’s not unheard of to see rates of $50 per person for a day pass or $700 for an annual membership. Given that paid access to these lounges can be expensive, the value of complimentary lounge access can be quite substantial.

Here’s a comparison of lounge access between the two cards:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Lounge networks include:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Both cards provide complimentary access for the cardholder to all of the card’s associated lounges. Additionally, both cards also allow 2 additional guests, at no charge, to most lounges.

While the Sapphire Reserve® only offers access to Priority Pass lounges, the lounge network offers over 1200 locations worldwide. However, one drawback is that Priority Pass can limit access for guests, and even for cardholders, at certain peak times.

When it comes to complimentary lounge access, the Platinum Card® not only offers access to more than 1,200 lounges worldwide with Priority Pass, but to 6 additional lounge networks including the prestigious Centurion Lounges.

Bottom Line: With access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide across several lounge networks, including the exclusive Centurion Lounges, the Platinum Card® provides greater lounge access benefits than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. 

Marriott vacations
Enjoy upgraded rooms and more with hotel elite status. Image courtesy of vacationsbymarriott.com.

Hotel and Rental Car Program Elite Benefits

Hotel Program Elite Status

If you frequently stay at hotels, you know the value of an upgraded hotel room, late check out, complimentary breakfast, and many of the other perks that come with hotel program elite status. Having this benefit come complimentary with your credit card is significant if you stay often at the participating hotels.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status

In addition to elite status with Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy, the Platinum Card® also offers special benefits with American Express® Fine Hotels and Resorts that include:

  • Room upgrades
  • Daily breakfast for 2 guests
  • Late check-out/early check-in
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • A unique property amenity (such as a spa, or food and beverage credit) worth a minimum of $100

Additional hotel benefits are available when booking a least a 2-night stay at The Hotel Collection:

  • $100 room credit to spend on dining, spa, and resort activities
  • Upgraded room when available

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase partners with the Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection to offer these benefits when booking directly through the Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection at one of the over 900 properties worldwide.

  • Breakfast for 2
  • Late check-out/early check-in
  • Upgraded room when available
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Property amenity

Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive similar benefits at Relais & Chateaux properties as well.

Rental Car Program Benefits

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Emerald Club Executive Elite status with National Car Rental
  • Benefits and discounts with Avis and Hertz

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Emerald Club Executive Elite® status with National Car Rental
  • Benefits and discounts with Avis®
  • Benefits and discounts with Silvercar by Audi

Bottom Line: The Platinum Card® comes out ahead by offering complimentary elite status with hotel partners. Cardholders receive Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Rental car program benefits and elite status are similar on both credit cards. 

SWISS Air Lines First Class
Earn rewards on every travel purchase with a premium travel rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Platinum Card from American Express®. Image courtesy of swiss.com.

Earning Power

The Platinum Card® clearly excels in providing airport lounge access and hotel program elite status. However, Platinum Card® is challenged in earning power by the Chase Sapphire Reserve® given you can earn more points in more ways with the Sapphire Reserve®.

Earning CategoryPlatinum Card® from American ExpressChase Sapphire Reserve®
Flights and Flight/Hotel Packages
  • 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 when purchased through Amex Travel or for flights purchased directly with the airlines
  • All other flights/travel 1 point per $1
  • 3 Ultimate Rewards points per $1
Hotels
  • 5 points per $1 sent on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel
  • 2 points per $1 all other hotels booked through Amex Travel
  • All other hotel purchases 1 point per $1
  • 3 points per $1
Dining and Restaurants
  • 1 point per $1
  •  3 points per $1
All other travel expenses
  • 2 points per $1 for qualifying travel booked through Amex Travel
  • 1 point per $1
  • 3 points per $1
All other purchases
  • 1 point per $1
  • 1 point per $1

The first difference that stands out is that you can only earn big on the Platinum Card® if you purchase flights directly through an airline or if you purchase flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel. With the Sapphire Reserve®, you’re going to earn 3 points per dollar spent on all travel regardless of how you purchase.

Here’s a sample spending scenario:

  • $5,000 in flights purchased from an airline
  • $3,000 in non-prepaid hotels purchased directly through a hotel’s website
  • $2,000 in dining
  • $2,000 in other travel expenses

Based on this spending mix, you will have earned 32,000 Membership Rewards points with the Platinum Card® and 36,000 Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This calculation is based on the assumption that flights were qualifying purchases earning 5 points per dollar with the Platinum Card®.

If all hotel purchases were qualifying bookings (prepaid hotel purchases made through Amex Travel), you would earn 44,000 Membership Rewards points versus 36,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

One downside to note when booking hotels through Amex Travel, the hotel program elite status benefits do not apply.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, however, you’ll have the flexibility to make travel purchases from any provider. Plus, the broad definition of travel puts more of your purchases into the 3X bonus earning category. For example, purchases such as train tickets, car rentals, parking, tolls, ferries, and much more are included in the travel definition for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Additionally, Ultimate Rewards Points points can be earned on no-annual-fee credit cards such as the Chase Freedom®, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. Those points can then be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for greater travel redemption value.

Bottom Line: While both cards have good earning potential, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has the edge as more categories earn 3 points per dollar spent. Only prepaid hotels and flights purchased from Amex Travel and flights purchased from the airline receive elevated 5X earnings on the Platinum Card®. 

Membership Rewards Redemptions
You’ll have several options to redeem your points with either card. Image courtesy of American Express.

Redeeming Points

Fortunately, both cards offer good value when redeeming for travel, transferring points to travel partners, and offering additional redemption choices.

Redemption OptionThe Platinum Card®Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Redeem for travelRedeem for 1 cent per point on Amex TravelRedeem for 1.5 cents per point on Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
Transfer points to travel partners21 airline/hotel partners, most with a 1:1 transfer ratio, small fee applies to transfers13 airline/hotel partners,  1:1 transfer ratio
Other redemption options availableStatement credits, gift cards, Amazon, Uber, Ticketmaster, redeem with shopping partnersStatement credits, gift cards, Amazon, Apple, Chase experiences

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s redemption rate of 1.5 cents per point results in a great value when redeeming for inexpensive flights via the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, and also when transferring to select airline partners for premium flights.

With 18 airline transfer partners, there are more options for premium-cabin award redemptions with the Platinum Card® versus the 9 airline transfer partners with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

When we look at hotel redemptions, transferring Ultimate Rewards Points earned on the Sapphire Reserve® to hotel partner Hyatt shines as a sweet spot. Free nights at Hyatt start at 5000 World of Hyatt points and with a 1:1 transfer ratio, you would need just 5000 Ultimate Rewards Points for a free Hyatt hotel night.

Bottom Line: With the wide variety of airline transfer partners, Membership Rewards points edge out Ultimate Rewards point for premium flight award redemptions. However, Ultimate Rewards can result in good value for inexpensive fares via Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Note: Please see the tables above for the current fees and pricing information for these cards.

While the Platinum Card’s annual fee is higher, you can add more authorized users for a flat fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an annual fee of $450, and authorized users can be added for $75 each.

Regardless of which card you select, if you can utilize the offered benefits, you’ll receive value far beyond the cost of either annual fee.

Bottom Line: Unless you want to add authorized users to your card, it’s a draw when it comes to annual fees. This is because the Platinum Card® offers lounge access, hotel elite status, and  global Wi-Fi to additional users.  If these benefits will be utilized, the average cost per user becomes less than $182 per cardholder per year ($725 total for primary cardholder + 3 users). 

Amex Shopping
Statement credits can offset the cost of annual card fees. Image courtesy of americanexpress.com.

Statement and Shopping Credits

One of the card benefits that can directly offset the cost of a credit card’s annual fee is credits you receive after making specific purchases.

Platinum Card® from American Express

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • $300 statement credit for travel purchases each calendar year
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement

If you spend money on checked baggage and other airline incidental fees, use Uber, or shop at Saks, you’ll find value with the Platinum Card®.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit, however, is much easier to utilize because airline tickets, hotels, taxis, and more are considered travel purchases.

Bottom Line: When we compare statement/shopping credits, the Platinum Card® offers more total value. However, you must use all of the benefits to maximize the value. The $300 credit on travel purchases offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be much easier to utilize given Chase’s definition of travel is quite broad

Car rental agreement
Primary rental car coverage gives peace of mind when renting a vehicle. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Travel Protection and Insurance

It’s nice to experience luxury travel benefits, but occasionally, things do go wrong. When they do, you may turn to your premium travel rewards credit card for coverage and assistance.

BenefitPlatinum Card® from American ExpressChase Sapphire Reserve®
Car Rental Coverage
  • Primary Coverage
Roadside Assistance
  • 4 free service calls per year
  • 4 service calls per year, maximum benefit $50 each call
Emergency Medical and Dental
  • None
  • $2,500 Medical/Dental coverage ($50 deductible per day), $75 per day for prescribed hotel needed due to covered loss  for up to 5 days
Trip Interruption
  • None
  • Up to $10,000 per trip per person/$20,000 per incident
Trip Delay
  • None
  • Up to $500 for trip delays more than 6 hours
Baggage Delay
  • None
  • Up to $100/day for up to 5 days for delays more than 6 hours 
Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Luggage
  • Up to $3,000 for carry-on, $2,000 for checked
  • Up to $3,000 per person per trip checked or carry-on
Emergency Transportation/Evacuation
  • $100,000
  • $100,000

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is known for its comprehensive travel benefits including primary rental car coverage. The Platinum Card® just doesn’t measure up to the Sapphire Reserve® level of offerings when it comes to travel protection and insurance. 

Shopping Protections

When comparing shopping protections and benefits, both cards offer similar coverage:

  • Purchase Protection – Qualifying items are covered on both cards for damage up to 120 days from purchase date. Up to $10,000, maximum $50,000/year.
  • Extended Warranty – Both cards offer an additional year of manufacturer’s warranty protection. The Platinum Card® offers an additional year on warranties 5 years or less, whereas the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers an additional year on warranties 3 years or less.
  • Return Protection – Coverage provided on both cards for up to 90 days from purchase date. Coverage is $300 per item on the Platinum Card® and coverage is $500 per item on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Bottom Line: One does not select a premium travel rewards credit card based solely on shopping related protections. It is good to know, however, that both cards offer similar shopping coverage

Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Platinum Card® offers complimentary unlimited-worldwide Wi-Fi through the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan. With access for up to 4 devices, no roaming fees, and more than a million hot spots worldwide, the plan offers significant value.

The Sapphire Reserve® does not offer a complimentary Wi-Fi plan benefit.

Additional Benefits Offered by Both Cards

You will find the following benefits offered on both the Platinum Card® and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®:

  • No foreign transaction fees – Neither card charges a foreign transaction fee
  • VIP access to events – Chase Sapphire’s “Reserve Experiences” and the Platinum Card’s “By Invitation Only” benefits offer unique experiences available exclusively to cardholders
  • Member Concierge Services – Each card has its own concierge service to assist with travel planning, booking event/dining reservations, and arranging VIP access to special events

Final Thoughts

Both cards are designed for the frequent traveler but which card is best for you depends on which benefits you deem most important.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® focuses more on overall earnings, significant redemption values, and travel related protections/insurance.

The Platinum Card® from American Express has strengths that center on luxury travel benefits with elevated earnings narrowed to specific travel purchases. The card is not strong on overall trip benefits/protections.

Both cards offer the flexible option of transferring points to travel partners for the potential of even greater value for your points. There is no clear winner or loser here as both cards offer tremendous value for the right frequent traveler. The card that fits your spending patterns, benefit preferences, and has protections/insurances you can use will be the best choice.


Featured Image: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

FAQ

Which credit card is better, the Platinum Card from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

The best card for you will depend on your spending mix and your travel benefit preferences.

If you enjoy luxury travel benefits and spend a lot on flights and pre-paid hotels you will realize the most value with the Platinum Card®.

If you spend more on overall travel in general, in addition to hotels/flights, you may earn more rewards overall with the Sapphire Preferred.

This is because travel such as tours, cruises, train travel, taxis, and more are included in broad travel definition of the Sapphire Reserve.  Dining purchases also receive 3X earnings.

The Sapphire Reserve also offers worldwide lounge access (to a lesser extent than the Platinum Card) and a very strong collection of travel protections/insurance.

Each card offers tremendous value for the right frequent traveler.

Which points are worth more for travel, Membership Rewards Points or Ultimate Rewards Points?

The value of your rewards points when redeemed for travel will depend on how the points are redeemed.

One option is to transfer your points to airline or hotel programs; both programs allow you to do this.

Value will vary based on the airline or hotel program. Membership Rewards has more transfer partners but Chase has partners like Hyatt that also provide excellent redemption value.

Membership Rewards Points can be redeemed for 1 cent per point towards travel with Amex Travel and Chase Ultimate Rewards Points receive 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Chase Ultimate Rewards can be worth more when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Membership Rewards may be worth more when redeemed with the right airline transfer partner.

Which credit card has the best airport lounge access?

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers lounge access to more properties and to higher end lounges than the Sapphire Reserve®.

Platinum Card® complimentary lounge access is offered to several lounge networks including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Delta SkyClubs, Plaza Premium lounges, and more.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers lounge access to Priority Pass lounges only.

Which credit card has the best car rental insurance?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides primary car rental coverage while the Platinum Card® offers secondary coverage.

Secondary coverage means that you must first file a claim with your own auto insurance before coverage kicks in.

Additional terms and conditions apply but the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the better coverage.

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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