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

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has had a stranglehold on the mid-tier travel rewards credit card market for quite some time. With the increased 60,000 welcome offer, the annual fee of just $95 that is not waived for the first year of card membership. Still, you would be really hard pressed to find a better value in terms of a travel rewards credit card.

Earlier this month, American Express made many huge improvements to their Chase Sapphire Preferred competitor, the American Express Gold Card The card (formerly the Premier Rewards Gold Card) now offers a very interesting value proposition for both frequent travelers and restaurant and dining enthusiasts.

Both of these cards represent the mid-tier travel rewards credit card for each of their respective institutions and in this post, I will be comparing both them to help you make the decision on which one is a good fit in your wallet.

 

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is $95. The annual fee on the Amex Gold card is $250. While the Amex Gold card comes with a number of benefits to offset the annual fee which we will talk about later in this post, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the clear winner when we look solely at the out of pocket cost to hold each card.

 

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

 

Welcome Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points while the Amex Gold Card offers a welcome bonus of 35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. However, the minimum spending requirement on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is double that of the Amex Gold Card as is outlined below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of card membership. Since Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, the bonus is worth at least $750 in travel.

Amex Gold Card: Earn 35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months of card membership. I value Membership Rewards points at around 1.7 cents each so to me, the welcome offer bonus is worth around $595 in travel.

 

 

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. While the spending requirement on the Amex Gold Card is half of what it is on the Sapphire Preferred, so are the welcome offer bonus points. Assuming you will not have an issue spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the clear winner in this category. 

 

Welcome Bonus Eligibility

While both the Amex Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card are great mid-tier cards, not everybody will be eligible to apply for them. Both banks have restrictions in place that will affect new card applicants.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: The 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. Regardless of your credit score or history with Chase bank.

Amex Gold Card: Amex only considers your history with American Express when looking at new card applicants. Further, they allow you to earn a welcome bonus on each of their cards once per lifetime.

 

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 only considers your history with American Express. This is a much more generous policy and thus it should be easier for many people to get approved for the Amex Gold card. 

Click Here to learn more about the Amex Gold Card.

 

Earning

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on all restaurant and travel purchases 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.

Amex Gold Card: The Amex Gold card recently rolled out some exciting new bonus categories as a part of their refresh to the card. The card will now earn 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at all US restaurants and 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at US Supermarkets (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.

While both cards offer bonus points on spending at Restaurants, only the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will earn bonus points at restaurants outside the US. This won’t be a huge factor for many, but it is worth considering. Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will earn 2x points on all travel while the Amex Gold card only earns a multiplier on flights. That being said, the multiplier offered by the Amex Gold card on groceries is unmatched by any other card in my opinion.

 

Winner: The Amex Gold Card. This one is close, but if you spend a decent amount on restaurants and at the Grocery store, there is no better card at the current moment. It is a big reason why I think the card is worth the $250 annual fee.

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 subscription is one of our favorite ways to use points. 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. American Express Membership Rewards points are worth a flat 1 cent each when you redeem them through the Amex Travel Portal. 

We recently featured a Thrifty Traveler Premium deal from New York to London, England for $405 round trip as is pictured below.

 

 

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

 

 

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 accounts can unlock some serious value.  All told, Chase can transfer to nine airlines and three hotels brands. You can see a full list of Chase’s transfer partners below.

 

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
EmiratesAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:1Instant
JetBlueAirline1:1Instant
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 seventeen airlines and three hotel brands. However, not all programs will transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Additionally, the Membership Rewards program tacks on a small fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99) where transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards are free. You can see the listing of American Express transfer partners below.

 

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1N/A
AeroMexicoAirline1:1.62-12 days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
AlitaliaAirline1:1Instant
ANAAirline1:11-2 days
AviancaAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay PacificAirline1:11-7 days
DeltaAirline1:1Instant
El AlAirline50:1Instant
EmiratesAirline1:1Instant
EtihadAirline1:1Instant
HawaiianAirline1:1Instant
IberiaAirline1:11-3 days
JetBlueAirline1.25:1Instant
QantasAirline1:1Instant
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 a mainline domestic carrier (Chase has United and Amex has Delta) and a number of international carriers. Each program will be stronger in different areas. At the end of the day, earning both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards should be a priority for anybody looking to substantially reduce the cost of their travels. 

 

Perks & Additional Benefits

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold Cards offer additional perks for card members. The benefits offered from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card are all things I would consider as insurance type benefits and don’t do much to enhance your day to day life whether you are traveling or not. The Amex Gold card, on the other hand, offers a number of benefits that are unmatched by other mid-tier travel rewards credit cards in my opinion.

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

Amex Gold Card: While the Amex Gold card has a much higher annual fee ($250), it offers $220 in 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. This can be used for things like advanced seat assignment, checked baggage fees, and lounge access. However, you can also use this to buy gift cards for many different airlines.

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, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Shake Shack.

Finally, cardholders of the Amex Gold card will have access to the Amex Offers program. Amex offers are a fantastic way to save money on shopping you are already doing and represent another great way to lower the total cost of your card annual fee.

Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

 

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

Click Here to learn more about the Amex Gold Card.

 

Bottom Line

By the numbers, both cards take 3 categories and tie in the transfer partner category. Every cardholder will weigh these individual categories differently so, at the end of the day, your decision 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. 

 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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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