Get $1,500 Toward FREE Travel With The Chase Sapphire Reserve

UPDATE: As of 10/6/2016, The Platinum Card® from American Express has added a new way to earn more points – 5X points for flights booked directly with the airlines or with American Express Travel. Look for our new article on this and other benefits of the Platinum Card® from American Express.

The Chase Sapphire ReserveSM and Platinum Card® from American Express are now contending for top position of the luxury card category in the U.S. Both come with high annual fees and appear to be similar. What you need to do is determine which card is worth paying the $450 annual fee. There are many less expensive choices, so let us help you narrow down which is a better choice.

In our opinion, the Platinum Card® from American Express has firmly held the position as the exclusive travel benefits and rewards fixture for almost 3 decades. For the person that carries the card, it conveys a sense of financial accomplishment coupled with the expectations of premium service and travel savvy- until maybe now. Enter Chase Sapphire ReserveSM.

Simply put – the Chase Sapphire ReserveSM, available now, could be the first card to really give the elder statesman, the Platinum Card® from American Express, a run for its money.

We’ve looked at each category and made direct comparisons of the benefits, services, and bonuses for each card. Take a look below at how they stack up against each other, and judge for yourself.

Chase Sapphire Reserve screen shot of website

Chase Sapphire Reserve is offering the highest sign up bonus – 100,000 points worth $1,500 toward travel.

The Big Bonus

 Even though the Platinum Card® from American Express has had its share of hefty point bonuses in the past, its current non-targeted offer is at 40,000 Membership Rewards Points when you spend $3,000 within three months.

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM, on the other hand, is clearly looking to attract savvy travel rewards junkies such as ourselves with a very lucrative 100,000 sign up bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months. That’s $1,500 toward travel the you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. We think that’s pretty sweet.

The Travel Credits

The annual fee of $450 on both cards is imminently made more palatable when you look at the annual travel credits offered by each card. While the Platinum Card® from American Express offers $200 (translating into $400 in the first member year) these credits cannot be used for airline tickets (unless you do so by purchasing gift cards and then cashing them in.) Although these travel credits can be helpful if you use them to wipe out other travel fees for luggage and meals. The Platinum Card® from American Express requires that you choose your airline for the credit at the beginning of the year. Not very flexible.

Chase Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, promises a $300 travel credit each calendar year. That’s $600 in your first year of membership! In addition, its an automatic credit when you use your card for things like airline travel and hotels. A win for Chase Sapphire ReserveSM.

Global Entry Credits

Both the Chase Sapphire ReserveSM and the Platinum Card® from American Express offer automatic credits for the $100 Global Entry transaction which is good for 5 years, and although this is a great card benefit, it’s wash if you’re comparing the two cards.

Airport Lounge Access

The Chase Sapphire ReserveSM offers Priority Pass Select. The jury is still out; however, as to whether membership will entitle other people traveling with the cardholder access for free. The Platinum Card® from American Express also gives Priority Pass Select that only allows the cardholder to have free access.

One advantage of the Platinum Card® from American Express membership is the extension of lounge access to Delta lounges and Alaska Airline lounges. Not only that, but American Express has their own premium lounges, the Centurion lounges. These are definitely some of the best lounges around the country, and American Express is continuing to expand its footprint. The current cost for non- Amex Platinum or Centurion cardholders is $50 per entry so this is a very welcomed and valuable benefit to Platinum cardholders.

American Express Platinum card

The Platinum Card from American Express offers better customer service and lounge access.

Authorized Users

The Platinum Card® from American Express charges $175 total for up to 3 authorized users. The Chase Sapphire ReserveSM will charge $75 per user. The one big thing we do not see with the language for the Chase Sapphire ReserveSM is what kind of benefits the authorized users will get for that $75. The Platinum Card® from American Express gives authorized users the same elite status that the primary cardholder gets (like Avis, National, Hertz, and others from time to time). They also get lounge access and Global Entry fee reimbursement. We’ll see what Chase has in store.

Other Perks

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers elite status to car rental companies – Avis, Hertz, and National – the required enrollment to receive these additional benefits is FREE. The Chase Sapphire ReserveSM offers car rental discounts to Avis, National and Silvercar but, we currently don’t know whether any premium customer status offerings will be made available.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers enrollment into Hilton HHonors Gold status in addition to its FINE HOTEL & RESORTS program.

Sapphire Reserve offers LUXURY HOTEL & RESORT COLLECTION program but, no additional offerings at this time outside of the program.

The Difference in Rewards. The Skinny on Earning them and Using Them.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is definitely a good card to get for the travel perks, but not so much for the rewards. You receive only 2 points per dollar spent when booking travel through their portal, or taking advantage of a promotional opportunity and 1 point per dollar for all other spending. The Chase Sapphire ReserveSM earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining in addition to 1 point per dollar everywhere else.

American Express Membership Rewards is the larger of the programs when compared to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards as it offers more flexibility in breadth of redemption. However, with Chase Sapphire ReserveSM all Ultimate Reward points from this specific account are worth 1.5 cents per point when booking travel through their travel portal. This is an increase from the 1.25 cents per point that the portal gives now for other Chase rewards cards.

That’s a 20% increase and pretty significant.

All in all, we think that the Platinum Card® from American Express is still a great card to carry for all of the additional travel perks it has to offer. That said, we also think that the newest premium card on the block, Chase Sapphire ReserveSM, could draw a lot of rewards savvy customers with its mega sign-up bonus and increase points redemption value.

What do you think?

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM

Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card

  • New! Earn 100K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,500 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,500 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide with complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre√®
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

100,000 points

Balance Transfer Fee

Regular APR
16.24%-23.24% variable

Annual Fee

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.