The Platinum Card® from American Express vs the Chase Sapphire Reserve 2017

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In light of the new changes to the The Platinum Card® from American Express, I wanted to take a closer look at a comparison between the Platinum Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I reviewed them in full here before, but this article will focus mostly on how the new Platinum additions change the equation.

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Sign-up bonus

Platinum Card 

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

This is a 50% increase from the previous standard public offer of 40,000. While the 60K offer is the standard offer available to the public, there are offers for 75K and 100K that come around but there’s no guarantee that you will ever get them. So I’ll just focus on the 60K offer. 

Sapphire Reserve

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months

60,000 is obviously greater than 50,000 but this also comes down to how you plan on utilizing your points. With the Reserve, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards travel at 1.5 cents per point but with the Platinum Card, the deals is not so sweet.

As for transfer partners, I think both Chase and Amex have solid airline partners and here’s a look at some of their strongest partners.

Membership Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards

Two partners overlap each program:

Both Chase and Amex (along with Citi) can transfer to Singapore Airlines.

And as far as hotel partners go, I’d roll with Ultimate Reward partners Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG over the transfer ratios for SPG and Hilton.

Although I think Chase edges out Amex with its transfer partners (due to better hotel partners), because I value 60,000 Membership Rewards over 50,000 Ultimate Rewards, I give the nod to the Platinum Card for having a more valuable sign-up bonus.

Travel credit

Platinum Card 

  • $200 on one chosen airline for incidentals 
  • $200 Uber credit capped at $15 each month (does not roll over)

The Platinum’s travel credits total $400 and reduce the $550 annual fee to an effective $150. The drawback here is that the airline credit is not as expansive as the Reserve’s. Amex specifically states, “Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.”  Instead, you’ll have to use it for things like baggage fees, in-flight food/wifi, etc (some still have luck with gift cards).

The $200 Uber credit which can also be used on Uber Eats is great for those who would regularly use Uber but does nothing for all of those people out there who can’t or choose not to use the company.

 Sapphire Reserve

  • $300 for all purchases that code as travel 
  • $60 DoorDash statement credit

This travel credit is extremely broad and will automatically credit to your account after you make a purchase that qualifies as travel which can be anything from airline tickets, hotels, taxi rides, parking, ferry rides, etc. Because it’s so much more expansive, it’s a lot more practical. Then the $60 DoorDash credit is super easy to use without any headache. With the $550 annual fee factored in, these credits also knocks down the Reserve’s fee to an effective $190.

For people like me who regularly use Uber and know how to utilize the $200 airline credit, the effective annual fee for both of these cards is knocked down to $150. However, because you have to jump through more hoops to use the Amex travel credit, the nod here undoubtedly goes to the Reserve.

Bonus Categories

Platinum Card

  • 5X on purchases of airfare made directly with airlines
  • 5X on hotel purchases made through Amex Travel
  • 1.5X on purchases of $5,000 or more
  • 1X on all other purchases

Sapphire Reserve

  • 3X on travel
  • 3X on dining
  • 1X on all other purchases 

For the longest time the lack of bonus categories was a huge weak point for the Platinum Card but after the Reserve came out and caused a frenzy, Amex was forced to respond in 2016.

The Platinum Card now earns 5X on airfare and hotel purchases made through Amex Travel. I don’t care too much about the latter (I’d use BonWi.com for OTA hotel purchases). However, 5X on airfare is a strong perk and can really add up.

Still, I spend so much on dining and travel that the Reserve’s bonus earning potential blows the Platinum out of the water for me. I don’t know how long Chase will be able to sustain 3X on both dining and travel but for now, it’s definitely my daily driver card that receives most of my spend.

5X on airfare is strong, but I’ll take 3X on dining and travel since so many of my airline tickets are award tickets.

Lounge Access 

Platinum Card

Sapphire Reserve

  • Priority Pass (with unlimited guests) 

I think that the Platinum Card offers the best lounge access out of any card.

I fly a lot out of IAH, which is home to a new Centurion Lounge and I love that place. I’ve never had an issue with crowds, the drinks are amazing, and the staff is superb. The food can be a bit hit or miss, but it’s still usually above the finger food I find at many other domestic lounges. You can bring up to two guest along with you free of charge into the Centurion Lounge.

IAH Centurion Lounge.

Both cards offer Priority Pass although the Reserve offers complimentary access to all guests flying with you. I’m actually not a fan of unlimited entry because I think these guest policies are beginning to cause overcrowding in lounges but obviously this is a great perk if it works in your favor. Still, I’d rather take Priority Pass for only two guests + Centurion + Delta SkyClub access over unlimited Priority Pass guests. For that reason the Platinum wins here.

Benefits

Platinum Card

Sapphire Reserve

  • Rental car benefits with National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar
  • Visa Infinite concierge service
  • Elite Hotel Benefits at Relais & Châteaux
  • Add authorized users for $75 per person
  • Much better travel protections than the Platinum Card 

The Platinum Card offers automatic mid-tier elite status with Hilton and SPG (and therefore Marriott). These mid-tier statuses are actually above what the co-branded SPG, Marriott, and no-annual fee Hilton cards offer. And with Gold status, you can get things like free breakfasts, lounge access, late check-out, and free upgrades. What’s more, you can utilize that Gold status to do a status challenge to get to Platinum status, where you’ll receive even more valuable perks like upgrades to suites.

Getting bumped to a suite is a nice perk of elite status.

The Reserve doesn’t offer a hotel equivalent for these perks. Instead, I think the Reserve’s value is in purchase and travel protections. First, the primary rental car coverage is a huge point in favor of the Reserve. Second, the Platinum doesn’t even offer complimentary travel/baggage delay protection. Also, when you run down the list of other travel/purchase protections the Reserve wins in just about everything except for extended warranty coverage.

This category is a draw for me since it’s a bit of apples vs oranges.

Final word

Based on these categories, this comparison comes out to a draw. I think I’d still recommend the Reserve to most people since it’s often more practical and due to Chase’s 5/24 Rule you’d probably need to apply for it first. However, there’s no denying that the Platinum Card can be just as strong of a contender for the right person.

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One comment

  1. This is a great review, Daniel! It looks like the Reserve is the superior card – do you think your recommendation would change if I got the 100k Amex Platinum offer?

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