Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Juan Ruiz
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If you’ve searched for a travel rewards 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 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’ll look closely at how rewards are earned on each card. We’ll also check out the differences in redemption options to see 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.
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 few 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:
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.
The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options. Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.
Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!
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 Chase airline and hotel partners where you may be able to receive even more value for your points.
This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.
With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.
There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 90,000 points with the Amex Gold card. The current public offer is 60,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)
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 60,000-point welcome bonus at a minimum of $600.
Since Membership Rewards points can also be transferred to the Amex travel partners for potentially increased value, the welcome bonus could offer more than $600 in value. This is why we value Amex points at way more than 1 cent each.
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.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve card||
|Amex Gold card||
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, discount travel websites, 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, as supermarket and restaurant purchases receive 4x earnings. Supermarket earnings have a maximum of up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; earning 1x thereafter.
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 on supermarkets and dining out, the 4x earnings on the Amex Gold card could be a better match for you.
Regardless of how you earn your rewards, you’ll have several desirable redemption options with either card:
|Card||Best Redemption Options||Additional Redemption Options|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve card||
||Statement credits, Chase experiences, gift cards, shopping on Amazon, and with Apple|
|Amex Gold card||
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, being one of the best premium credit cards, comes with some extraordinary travel benefits. One such benefit is worldwide airport lounge access to over 1,300 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 $35 per person, per visit.
We find this one of the key benefits of having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, as Priority Pass membership generally costs $469 for an annual pass. Also, unlike the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the card, the annual purchased membership does not include complimentary guest access.
The Amex Gold Card does not come with any airport lounge access membership.
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:
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with several hotel program benefits that will make you feel like a VIP.
You’ll have over 1,000 worldwide properties to choose from in the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. To receive benefits, just use your card to book your stay directly with the program. There’s no minimum number of required nights for these benefits:
Receive VIP treatment, a welcome gift, and complimentary breakfast at each participating Relais & Chateaux property worldwide.
Receiving hotel perks at Ennismore hotels is as simple as selecting an eligible property, using your Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book, and enjoying these benefits:
Amex Gold Card members receive several hotel program benefits including guest privileges at The Hotel Collection and the lowest rate guarantee.
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:
Book your hotel room on Amex Travel using your Amex Gold card, and if you find an identical room for less, before taxes and fees, you could receive a refund for the difference.
You can review car rental benefits and discounts by logging into your account online and selecting the Benefits section.
Cardholders are eligible for a free 12-month Instacart+ membership plus a $15 monthly credit. This benefit must be activated by July 31, 2024.
Lastly, this card earns 10x points on Lyft purchases through March 31, 2025.
The Amex Gold card comes with $10 Uber Cash per month (up to $120 annually).
Just charge your order to your Amex Gold card and up to $10 will be automatically refunded as a statement credit.
Statement credits provide direct value in return for making a specific purchase.
Here are the statement credits offered by the 2 cards we’re focusing on today.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve card||
|Amex Gold card||
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.
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/Protection||Chase Sapphire Reserve Card||Amex Gold Card|
|Car Rental Insurance Coverage||Primary rental car insurance||
Secondary rental car insurance with the ability to purchase primary rental car insurance through Amex
|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 per trip||
If your trip is delayed more than 12 hours for a covered loss, you could receive up to $300 for reasonable additional expenses
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 at a 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|
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers primary rental car insurance versus the Amex Gold card’s secondary coverage. But 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.
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:
The Amex Gold card comes with the following shopping benefits:
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a fee that is significantly higher than the Amex Gold card at $550 compared to $250, 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.
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. However, authorized users do not receive their own $300 travel credit.
There is no additional annual fee for adding up to 5 authorized users to the Amex Gold card. The sixth card and beyond will cost $35 per year.
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.
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.
For the car rental collision damage coverage benefit of the American Express® Gold Card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/
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 are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for flights on Amex Travel, while Ultimate Rewards points 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 coverage. However, it does have a higher annual fee.
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.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. Membership allows access to over 1,300 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 credit 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.
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