The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has had a stranglehold on the mid-level travel credit card market for quite some time. And with a limited-time 100,000 sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months, you can see why – especially when you consider the card only has a $95 annual fee.
But not so fast. American Express has gained ground by increasing the welcome bonus offer and added a few new benefits to the American Express® Gold Card, Amex’s competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Many consumers and travelers alike put these cards head-to-head. Ultimately, both cards can be fantastic options – and it could even make sense to hold both for some. But there are some key differences between them that could sway you if you’re forced to make a decision.
Let’s take a look at how they stack up, comparing the Amex Gold vs the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in a number of key categories.
Amex Gold vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred Comparison Overview
|Card:||American Express® Gold Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred Card|
|Annual Fee:||$250 (see rates & fees)||$95|
|Welcome Bonus:||60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.||100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.|
|Points Earning:||4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at all restaurants|
4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spending annually, then 1x)
|2x points per dollar spent on all restaurant and travel purchases,
1x point on all other purchases.
|Transfer Partners:||20 Airline partners|
3 Hotel partners
|10 Airline partners
3 Hotel partners
|Perks:||$10 monthly dining credit|
$10 monthly credit to use at Uber or Uber Eats
Free year of Uber Eats Pass
|Chase Pay Yourself Back
Primary rental car insurance
Baggage loss and delay protection
While both credit cards fall into the lower end of credit card annual fees – at least as far as top travel credit cards go – there’s a clear winner here.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a lower annual fee at $95. Meanwhile, the Amex Gold comes with a considerably higher annual fee at $250 (see rates and fees).
For many, the decision comes down to this simple cost. There’s no question that the Amex Gold card comes with a number of benefits and bonus earning categories that can offset the annual fee and justify a much higher price tag. But in terms of upfront dollars, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the clear winner when we look solely at out-of-pocket costs.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card only charges $95 per year, a much easier-to-swallow annual fee for anyone looking for a great mid-tier credit card.
Welcome Offer Bonus
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a welcome bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership for a limited time. It is a limited-time offer and the best one we’ve ever seen on this card.
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 six months of card membership.
Currently, you’ll get more welcome bonus points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. On the flip side, the American Express Gold card gives you three extra months to spend the required $4,000. For many, this could make 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. Simply put, Amex points are not identical to Chase points – everyone should value these currencies differently based on their own travel goals.
But with the current 100,000 point offer, Chase wins this category. It is simply an incredible welcome bonus offer that can get you at least $1,000 towards travel with an annual fee of only $95.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. While you have three fewer months to spend the required $4,000, it’s still the best offer we have ever seen on this card. But it’s only available for a limited time.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
As great as the current bonuses on both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Gold Card are, they don’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. That’s why we always suggest starting your travel rewards credit card journey with Chase cards.
Learn more on the Chase 5/24 rule in 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: American Express® 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.
Beyond the bonus, you’ll earn points differently on these two cards.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points per dollar spent on all restaurant and travel purchases, and 1x point on all other purchases. Fortunately, Chase’s definition of travel is quite broad: It 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. You’ll also earn 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 31, 2022.
The Amex Gold Card, on the other hand,earns 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at all restaurants, and 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. 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 – not each and every travel expense, as with Chase. 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: American Express® 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.
Travel Portal Booking
Booking flight deals like those you find here at Thrifty Traveler or with a Thrifty Traveler Premium membership is one of our favorite ways to use points. And in this category, one of these cards in the battle between the Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 the Chase travel portal. That means those 100,000 points are worth a minimum of $1,250.
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 the card’s 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.
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.
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.
Transferring points to your airline and hotel accounts can unlock some serious value. It’s a strong option with both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold cards.
All told, Chase can transfer to 10 airlines and three hotel brands. Additionally, Chase will be adding Air Canada’s Aeroplan program as a transfer partner later this year. Here’s the full list of Chase’s transfer partners.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
Read our guide on the best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
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. And Amex also typically tacks on a small fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99) on transfers to U.S.-based airlines (like Delta or JetBlue), where all transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards are free.
Here’s the full list of American Express transfer partners.
American Express Transfer Partners
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||Airline||1:1||1-7 days|
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 Amex Membership Rewards points.
Perks & Additional Benefits
Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold Cards offer additional perks for card members above and beyond the benefits we’ve already covered. And those have only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Back in May 2020, Chase rolled out a new benefit called Pay Yourself Back, allowing you to redeem points for purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores, and restaurants for the same value as with the Chase travel portal. That means you can use points in these categories at a value of 1.25 cents each.
Watch how it works with our YouTube video.
Chase and Peloton also recently announced a new partnership that allows Sapphire Preferred cardholders to get $60 in statement credits towards a Peloton membership through Dec. 31, 2021. If that’s something you are already paying for, it takes care of a big portion of your annual fee.
Additionally, 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 of $250 (see rates & fees), it offers tons of annual statement credits that will substantially offset the annual cost of the card. Each year of card membership 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.
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. But if you can use this up each and every month, that’s another $120 in statement credits.
Winner: American Express® Gold Card. While the card does have a higher annual fee, the perks and additional benefits it provides can easily offset that. It’s why I think the card is worth the $250 annual fee.
By the numbers, both the Amex Gold and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card take three categories – and one is 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 could easily earn a spot to your wallet. In fact, many travelers 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 – and diversify your points and miles balances.