Chase and American Express are titans in the world of travel credit cards. And among the many options to unlock travel perks and pile up points are the American Express® Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The Amex Gold Card is really a mid-tier card: It’s not the highest annual fee card in Amex’s portfolio nor the lowest. And while it has some great benefits, they don’t quite stand up to the travel perks on The Platinum Card® from American Express. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is Chase’s premier card, a souped-up version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – with a price tag to match.
So let’s put these two top travel cards head to head. Which one wins in the battle of the Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Reserve?
We’ll break it down in a number of categories to show how they differ (and how they’re alike) to help you decide which one is best for you.
Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Currently with the American Express Gold Card, you’ll earn 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months of card membership – up from the standard 35,000 point welcome offer bonus for spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. That’s nearly double the points with twice the time to earn them.
But you can potentially get an even bigger welcome bonus offer by utilizing CardMatch as you may be able to pull up an offer for 75,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. It seems those who have never held an American Express card previously have the best chance of getting targeted.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within three months. Those points alone are worth at least $900 toward travel when you use them through the Chase travel portal – but you can get much more value by using some of Chase’s transfer partners (we will break down transfer partners in a later section).
Read our guide to some of the absolute best Chase redemptions!
Welcome Offer Winner
Comparing the welcome bonuses on the Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Reserve is a little bit like comparing apples to oranges.
Simply put, Amex Membership Rewards redeem at 1 cent per point through Amex Travel. The Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Sapphire Reserve redeem at 1.5 cents per point through the Chase Travel Portal. So at a minimum, the bonus on the Amex Gold is worth $600, while the minimum value of the Reserve bonus is $750. Of course, getting the 75,000-point bonus on the Amex Gold puts them on more equal footing.
This doesn’t factor in using Chase or Amex transfer partners to use your points – but that’s far too subjective. So we’re calling this one a tie.
With the Amex Gold Card, you’ll earn 4x Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent at restaurants. That includes delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats, etc. And there’s no limit to how many bonus points you can earn on restaurant transactions.
You’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 of spending each calendar year. This includes grocery delivery services like Instacart. These two categories alone make the Amex Gold Card one of the best cards for your everyday spending.
Finally, you’ll earn 3x Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or through amextravel.com. Then you’ll earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will earn 3x points on dining and 3x points on travel. You will also earn 10x points on Lyft rides – through 2025.
And through April 30, 2021, Sapphire Reserve cardholders will earn 3x points for every dollar spent on grocery store purchases up to $1,000 per month. This is up from the standard 1x point per dollar spent this card earns on groceries normally.
Points Earning Winner
This category could really be a toss-up depending on what you spend your money on. But these days, it’s likely you’re spending much more on groceries and takeout than on travel. For that reason, the Amex Gold wins this category.
The annual fee on the American Express Gold card is $250 (see rates & fees), which is not waived in the first year of card membership. We’ve crunched the numbers and come to the conclusion it can easily be worth that $250 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a much steeper annual fee of $550. And although that comes with an easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit, it’s still a much steeper fee.
Annual Fee Winner
Neither card is cheap, yet it’s fairly easy to do the math with either card and make sense of their annual fees. Still, there’s no question that the Amex Gold card wins this category.
If you’re looking to get into airport lounges, pay close attention. Comparing the Amex Gold vs the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is no contest at all.
That’s because the American Express Gold Card will not get you access to any airport lounges
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get free access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. Better yet, your Priority Pass membership will get you and up to two companions access to the lounges free.
Lounge Access Winner
The Amex Gold does not give you any lounge access. The Chase Sapphire Reserve wins this category easily.
Justifying paying a big annual fee on a credit card is all about whether the benefits outweigh the cost. And statement credits on both the Amex Gold and Chase Sapphire Reserve go a long way.
With the Amex Gold, you’ll get a $10 credit each and every month to use at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Milkbar, Wine.com, and participating Shake Shack locations. If you don’t use the $10 credit each month, you’ll lose it – it won’t roll over to the next month. If you can put them to use, that adds up to $120 each year.
On top of the $120 dining credit, you’ll also get up to a $120 annual credit to use on Uber rides or Uber Eats food delivery. These credits work much the same as dining credits: You’ll get $10 to use each and every month, and you’ll lose any unused balance.
Maximize both of these credits and that’s $240 in value – almost enough to cover the card’s entire $250 annual fee straight away.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $300 travel credit … and no travel perk is easier to use. The $300 Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit will kick in automatically for almost any travel purchase, from flights to hotels to rental cars and even parking fees. It’s applied to your account each year after you pay your annual fee.
The card also offers up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years to sign up for either one of these five-year memberships.
Statement Credits Winner
The $300 statement credit on the Sapphire Reserve is just so easy to use. You can use it all in one transaction or spread it out over several. Once you spend on travel, Chase will automatically reimburse you until you reach the $300 limit.
The credits on the Amex Gold Card require a bit more work and diligence to make sure you use up the $10 credits each and every month.
Redeeming Points Through Travel Portals
With the Amex Gold, booking direct with amextravel.com, each Membership Rewards point is worth 1 cent apiece. That’s simple enough.
Make sure to read our post on the best ways to redeem Membership Rewards Points.
But one of the best perks on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that you can redeem each Ultimate Reward point for 1.5 cents apiece through the Chase Travel portal. This means you will get 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
It’s one of our favorite ways to use points for free travel, and it gives the Chase Sapphire Reserve card some serious extra value.
Redeeming Points Through Travel Portals Winner
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the clear winner, redeeming at 1.5 cents per point versus the Amex Gold at 1 cent/point.
While you can book directly through both American Express and Chase, transferring points to hotel and airline partners can be a great way to get huge value out of your points
The American Express Gold card has nearly two dozen airline or hotel transfer partners to choose from.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||Airline||1:1||1-7 days|
Similarly, Chase Ultimate Rewards has 13 airlines and hotel chains you can transfer points to. See our top six redemptions for Ultimate Rewards Points.
|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|
Transfer Partners Winner
This one is too close to call. Each card has pros and cons when it comes to transfer partner options.
American Express has more options at its disposal, some unique partners like ANA, Delta, and Etihad, and more frequent transfer bonuses that can give your points a big boost. But Chase has some standout options like Hyatt. There’s plenty of overlap between the two.
Which card wins on transfer partners is a personal choice depending on how you plan to travel.
Travel Protection & Insurance
The Amex Gold offers secondary car rental insurance and lost luggage reimbursement.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides cardholders with primary car rental insurance, roadside assistance, trip, and baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and medical evacuation and travel evacuation coverage are all benefits that come with using this card.
Travel Protection & Insurance Winner
While Amex is no slouch, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has some of the most comprehensive travel protection and insurance of any travel rewards card.
By the numbers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve wins five categories, the American Express Gold Card wins two categories, and two came to a tie.
But everybody can – and should – weigh these cards differently. You should pick the card that checks the most boxes for you. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from holding both cards … so long as the annual fees make sense and you have the financial responsibility to do so.
These cards can complement each other well – and diversifying your points and miles balances is always a good idea.