amex gold vs chase sapphire preferred

Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Preferred: Which Card is Right for You?

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card credit card has had a stranglehold on the mid-level travel credit card market for quite some time. And with a 60,000 sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months, you can see why – especially when you consider the card has a $95 annual fee.

But earlier this month, American Express increase the welcome bonus offer and added a few new benefits to the American Express Gold Card, their Chase Sapphire Preferred competitor.

Many consumers and travelers alike put these cards head-to-head. Ultimately, both cards are a fantastic option. But there are some key differences between them that could sway you.

Let’s take a look at how they stack up, comparing the Amex Gold vs the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in a number of categories.


Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is $95. The annual fee on the Amex Gold card, meanwhile, is $250.

For many, it’s really that simple. There’s no question the Amex Gold card comes with a number of benefits to offset the annual fee and justify a much higher price. But in dollars, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the clear winner when we look solely at the out of pocket costs.

Sapphire Preferred Card

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


Welcome Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.

The American Express Gold Card on the other hand offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.

No matter what, you’ll earn the same amount of welcome bonus points, but the American Express Gold card will give you three extra months to spend the required $4,000. For many, this makes the bonus much more attainable. And you may be able to qualify for an even bigger 75,000-point welcome bonus on the Amex Gold card via CardMatch.

We will get into the specifics of these points and what they can get you later. But the American Express Gold Card wins this category as it is simply easier to attain the 60,000 bonus points.

Gold Card

Winner: American Express Gold Card. You’ll have an extra three months to earn the full 60,000 point welcome bonus on the American Express Gold Card. 


Welcome Bonus Eligibility

A big welcome bonus doesn’t matter much if you can’t even earn it.

Both banks have some restrictions you’ll need to keep in mind to give yourself the best chance of being approved for either card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: This card is subjected to the Chase 5/24 rule. This means that if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months from any bank (not just Chase cards), you will not be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. And that’s true regardless of your credit score or history with Chase bank. Learn more on the Chase 5/24 rule with our YouTube video.


Amex Gold Card: Amex largely only considers your history with American Express when looking at new card applicants. Generally speaking, they allow you to earn a welcome bonus on each of their cards once per lifetime. So as long as you have never had the American Express Gold Card (or the Premier Rewards Gold Card as it was previously branded), and your credit score warrants approval, you should be eligible to earn the welcome offer bonus.

One nice thing with Amex is that their welcome offer bonus eligibility tool will let you know before you have submitted your application and they have pulled your credit whether or not you are eligible to earn the welcome bonus. So even if you’re not sure, it is worth a try. You can cancel before your card application is officially submitted.

Winner: Amex Gold Card. The Chase 5/24 rule is extremely restrictive. While Chase looks at all of your card applications from every bank, Amex largely only considers your history with American Express. That makes it much easier for many people to get approved for the Amex Gold card. 

Gold Card

Click Here to learn more about the Amex Gold Card.


Points Earning

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points per dollar spent on all restaurant and travel purchases, 2x points per dollar spent on groceries (through April 2021), and 1x point on all other purchases.

Chase’s definition of travel is quite broad and includes airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis & rideshare platforms, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

The Amex Gold Card earns 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at all restaurants worldwide, and 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spending annually, then 1x). Additionally, the Amex Gold card will earn 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel. You’ll earn 1x point per dollar spent on every other category.

The Amex Gold offers some of the best bonuses on groceries and restaurants of any card period. It even beats Chase’s top tier premium travel credit card – the Chase Sapphire Reserve. These spending categories alone are a big part of the reason we think the Amex Gold card is largely worth its $250 annual fee.

Winner: The Amex Gold Card. If you spend a decent amount on restaurants and at the grocery store, the Amex Gold card is one of the best options, period – not just in this matchup.

Gold Card

Click Here to learn more about the Amex Gold Card.


Travel Portal Booking

Booking flight deals like those you find here at Thrifty Traveler or with your Thrifty Traveler Premium membership is one of our favorite ways to use points. And in this category, one of these cards is the clear favorite.

That distinction goes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card as your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when you hold the card and book travel through Chase’s travel portal. That means those 60,000 points are worth a minimum of $750. 

American Express Membership Rewards points are worth a flat 1 cent each when you redeem them through the Amex Travel Portal at amextravel.com. So that same 60,000-point welcome bonus is worth just $600 through Amex Travel.

Here’s an example. We recently featured a Thrifty Traveler Premium deal from New York to London, England for $405 roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2018 10 17 at 9.19.47 AM 1024x435 1 

Because your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents when used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you could book that deal for 32,400 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

But since Amex Membership Rewards points are always worth a flat 1 cent when you use them to book through the Amex Travel portal, this same fare would cost you 40,500 Membership Rewards points.

The increased value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points when using them to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is why they are our favorite points for booking flight deals. And critically, when you book deals through either of these travel portals, you will still earn miles with whatever airline you’re flying.

Sapphire Preferred Card

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. With the increased value when used through the Chase travel portal, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the clear winner in this category. 

Transfer Partners

Transferring points to your airline and hotel accounts can unlock some serious value.  All told, Chase can transfer to 10 airlines and three hotel brands. Here’s the full list of Chase’s transfer partners.

Read our Master Guide to Earning and Burning Chase Ultimate Rewards points

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:1Instant
Singapore AirAirline1:112-24 hours
Southwest AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
United AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
World of HyattHotel1:1Instant
IHGHotel1:11 day
Marriott RewardsHotel1:12 days

American Express Membership Rewards points can transfer to nearly 20 airlines and three hotel brands. Unlike Chase, not all programs will transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

Additionally, the Membership Rewards program typically tacks on a small fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99) on transfers to US-based airlines (like Delta) where all transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards are free. However, Amex is waiving this fee for the remainder of 2020.

Here’s the full listing of American Express transfer partners.

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1N/A
AeroMexicoAirline1:1.62-12 days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
ANAAirline1:11-2 days
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay PacificAirline1:11-7 days
El AlAirline50:1Instant
IberiaAirline1:11-3 days
SingaporeAirline1:112-48 hours
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
Choice PrivilegesHotel1:1Instant
Hilton HonorsHotel1:2Instant
Marriott BonvoyHotel1:1Instant

Winner: Tie. This one is too close to call. It will ultimately come down to which transfer partners you value more. Both offer one of the big four U.S. carriers (Chase has United and Amex has Delta) and a number of international carriers. Chase has the edge among hotels with Hyatt, but American Express has many more options and offers more frequent transfer bonuses.

Read our guide on the best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Read our guide on the best ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points. 


Perks & Additional Benefits

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold Cards offer additional perks for cardmembers above and beyond the benefits we have already discussed.

First, let’s start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Back in May, Chase rolled out a new benefit called Pay Yourself Back as a way to give cardholders a new way to use Ultimate Rewards points for more than just travel, as travel was largely on hold.

The benefit allows you to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at grocery stores, home improvement stores, and restaurants at the same rate they redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. So each point will be worth 1.25 cents. Simply spend on your card, and once the transition posts to your account, you can use Chase points to erase the purchase. This benefit is currently scheduled to run through April 2021. See how it works with our YouTube video.


In addition to that, Chase and Peloton just announced a new partnership that allows Sapphire Preferred cardholders to get $60 in statement credits towards a Peloton membership through Dec. 31, 2020. If this is something you are already paying for, it takes care of a big portion of your annual fee.

Lastly, the card offers primary rental car insurance, trip delay, and cancelation protection/insurance as well as both baggage loss and delay protection. See our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for more specific details on these perks.

While the Amex Gold card has a much higher annual fee ($250), it offers tons of annual statement credits that will substantially offset the annual cost of the card. Each year of card membership, you will receive a $100 airline incidental credit – though this benefit will disappear starting in 2022. Until then, you can use it for fees like advanced seat assignment, checked baggage fees, and lounge access.

Additionally, the card offers a $120 annual dining credit that comes in $10 monthly increments. The credit can be used at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed.com, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, or Shake Shack. Any month that you don’t use the $10 credit, you will lose it. It won’t roll over to the next month.

Starting in 2021, you’ll also receive a $10 monthly credit to use at Uber or on their food delivery platform Uber Eats. Like the dining credits, you’ll lose any credit that isn’t used each month – it won’t roll over.

You will also get a free year of Uber Eats Pass, Uber Eats’ paid membership with unlimited $0 delivery fees, 5% off all food deliveries over $15, and free delivery on all grocery deliveries over $30. Those memberships typically cost $9.99 alone, so it’s a decent benefit to the Gold Card (Platinum and Green cardholders will get this as well).

Winner: Amex Gold Card. While the card does have a higher annual fee, the perks, and additional benefits it provides more than offset that in my opinion. It’s why I think the card is worth the $250 annual fee.

Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Click Here to learn more about the Amex Gold Card.


Bottom Line

By the numbers, The Amex Gold card takes four categories while the Sapphire Preferred takes two – and one is ruled a tie. But every cardholder will weigh these individual categories differently.

Your decision when deciding on the Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Preferred card should be based on which categories you value highest.

Both cards offer a strong value proposition for travelers and should make a strong addition to your wallet. And critically, many hold both of these cards as they are a great way to earn two of the most valuable points – Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. 


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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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