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Premium Card Showdown: Venture X, Amex Platinum or Sapphire Reserve?

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There are dozens, even hundreds, of travel credit cards out there to pick from … but three of them are a clear cut above the rest: The *chase sapphire reserve*, *amex platinum*, and the *venture x*.

These aren't introductory cards for every average Joe or Jane, but rather powerful weapons for the frequent traveler with big annual fees, to boot. And while those annual fees may scare some off, all three of these cards come with valuable perks that can easily offset those annual fees.

It's time to put these three titans of travel rewards under the microscope. Which card comes out on top? Which premium perks are most valuable? And could it make sense to hold more than one?

We'll break down all the information you need to know, category by category, for beginners or even advanced travelers to decide which premium travel credit card suits them best.


Annual Fee Comparison

Let’s get the sticker shock out of the way first. And that shock keeps growing.

Back in 2020, the Chase Sapphire Reserve added a handful of new benefits and increased the card's annual fee from $450 each year to $550 a year.

Following Chase's lead, in 2021 American Express made a similar move with the Platinum Card by adding a handful of new benefits and increasing the card's annual fee from $550 each year up to a whopping $695 each year (see rates & fees).

Then we have the relative newcomer on the block: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Capital One launched the card back in the fall of 2021 … with an annual fee of just $395 – far less than either the Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum Card.

That was no accident. In an interview with Thrifty Traveler when the Venture X card launched, Capital One executives didn't exactly hold back when talking about the card's annual fee.

“Right now, there is a gap in the market as (travelers) are looking for the right travel card. They don't want to pay $600 for a card that has travel benefits. And they don't want to have to take the time to continue to track a laundry list of benefits that they have to remember to register for,” said Lauren Liss, Capital One's managing vice president of U.S. card.

So far, Capital One has delivered on that promise with a premium card with a much lower annual fee … along with an easy path to fully recoup the annual fee. While we question if Capital One can keep the fee at that point, for now, there is a clear winner in this category when looking at the out-of-pocket cost each year.

Winner: *venture x*


*venture x*


Welcome Bonuses

When you are paying $395 to $695 for a premium travel rewards credit card, getting a huge welcome bonus of points or miles is practically essential. Without it, it doesn't make sense.

Here's what each of these three cards has to offer when it comes to a big bonus…


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®



The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card



The Platinum Card® from American Express

bonus_miles_full … but you can likely do much, much better.

First, you can find a 125,000 or 150,000-point offer through CardMatch for the same spending requirement. But this offer is targeted: It won't be available for all potential applicants: Data points suggest those who have never had an American Express card product previously will have the best odds of getting it.

Even if you aren't eligible for that bigger offer through CardMatch, there's a good chance you can still find a better offer as long as you know where to look – including a targeted personal referral of up to 150,000 points. Otherwise, it's always worth searching for “Amex Platinum Card” in an incognito browser.

Read more: How to Make Sure You Get the Biggest Bonus on the Amex Platinum and Gold Cards


Which Offer is Best?

With Chase and Capital One, what you see is what you get. You won't find better offers through different channels or personal referral links.

Still, those are great offers that can easily offset the annual fee. At a minimum, the 75,000-mile offer on the Venture X is worth $750 towards travel. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the current 60,000-point offer is worth at least $900 towards travel.

But with the Amex Platinum, so long as you can find at least a 125,000- or 150,000-point offer, it's worth a minimum of $1,250 to $1,500 towards travel … if not much, much more. That can easily justify the even bigger annual fee in the first year and easily makes it the winner in this category.

Winner: *amex platinum*


*amex platinum*


Earning Bonus Points

Beyond the initial welcome offer bonus, you'll earn points every time you swipe your card to make a purchase. At a minimum, you'll earn 1x point for every dollar you spend – or much more.

With all three of these cards, you'll earn bonus points on specific spending categories, helping you add to your stash of points. But they vary wildly, so let's look at what's available on all three of these cards.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants (including takeout) and on all travel purchases.

You'll also earn 10x points per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals and 5x points per dollar spent on air travel booked through the Chase Travel portal after the first $300 spent on travel purchases annually.

Finally, you'll earn 10x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides – only through March 2025.

All other purchases earn 1x point per dollar spent.


The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

With the Capital One Venture X card, you'll earn 10x Venture Miles on hotels and rental cars and 5x Miles on flights booked through the Capital One Travel Portal.

But most importantly, you'll earn 2x miles for every other dollar you spend on the card, no matter what.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

With the Amex Platinum Card, you'll earn 5x points per dollar spent on airfare directly with any airline, or through Amextravel.com. You'll also earn 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked through Amextravel.com. That 5x points on travel benefit is capped on up to $500,000 spent each year.

You'll earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Because you can earn 5x points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, we think the Platinum Card is the best card for booking flights.

Related reading: The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Your Amex Platinum Card


Which Card is Best?

The answer to this question will largely depend on where you spend the most money.

Earning 2x miles per dollar spent on all purchases is a pretty nice feature on the Capital One Venture X Card. That makes it a great “set-it-and-forget-it” card to maximize your spending without a spreadsheet to remember which card is best for each purchase.

With the Platinum Card, you only earn bonus points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex. Outside of those categories, there are simply better options for your spending.

No matter which card you hold, the best way to maximize your spending likely involves other cards in combination with one (or more) of these cards.

That said, we think the Sapphire Reserve is a great option as it will earn you 3x on dining and travel – two big spending categories. But again, this category will largely come down to where you are spending money.

Winner: *chase sapphire reserve*


*chase sapphire reserve*


Using Points to Book Flights

All three cards allow you to easily book travel through a co-branded travel portal.

These travel portals are essentially online travel agencies (OTAs), much like Expedia or Kayak. And as you'll see, two of the three banks will incentivize you with bonus points to book through their portal.

But which card offers the best incentive to actually book through their portal?


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

In addition to the bonus points you'll earn for booking travel and paying cash through Chase's travel portal, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the Sapphire Reserve are also worth more when you go to redeem them for travel purchases through the portal.

When you use points through Chase Travel℠, They're worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed towards travel. That means if you wanted to book a flight that cost $500, you would only need to use 33,333 points to cover that cost.

Read more: How to Book Flights Through Chase Travel


The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

With the Capital One Venture X, you'll have a few options for using your miles outside of their stable of transfer partners.

First, you can simply cover travel purchases with your miles. Just use your Venture X card to pay for any travel expenses, then log in (after that purchase posts to your account) and remove that purchase from your statement.

Using this method, each mile is worth 1 cent. That means you can cover a $500 flight (or any other travel purchase) with 50,000 Venture Miles.

Read more: 9 Unique Ways to Use Capital One Miles for Travel

You'll also have access to the Capital One Travel portal. Similarly, when booking flights, hotels, or rental cars through the travel portal, they will be worth one cent each, so a $500 purchase could be free by using 50,000 miles. However, we don't think it makes sense to use your points through Capital One Travel directly.

Capital One does offer a few other benefits through the portal to incentivize cardholders: Think price drop protection, the ability to freeze flight prices (for a fee) before booking, and predictive analytics powered by Hopper that can help cardholders zero in on the best time to book their flight.

Related reading: Does Capital One Travel Have a Pricing Problem?


The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the Platinum Card from American Express, you can use your Membership Rewards points to book through the Amex Travel portal. But Amex doesn't provide you with any sort of incentive to do so: Each point is worth 1 cent toward travel.

That means a $500 flight could be completely covered using 50,000 Membership Rewards points.


Which Card is Best?

This is an easy one. Only the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides an incentive to book through their travel portal by making your points worth more.

Each Chase Ultimate Rewards point will be worth 1.5 cents towards any booking made through Chase Travel℠ – more than you'll get with its two competitors.

Winner: *chase sapphire reserve*


*chase sapphire reserve*


Airline & Hotel Transfer Partners

All three of these cards earn transferrable points, allowing you to send them directly to a dozen or more airline and hotel programs. While it can be daunting, it's the key to getting more value out of your points.

But the list of options varies from card to card. Here's what each card and points program offers.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase is a titan in the travel rewards industry, and that’s due in large part to some excellent transfer partners.

With 11 airline and three hotel partners, Ultimate Rewards points are a must for any frequent or aspiring traveler. 

Ultimate Rewards points will transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all programs. That means one Chase Ultimate Reward point equals one hotel point or airline mile.


ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
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


Read up on Chase transfer partners, including how to transfer your points and which options here are best!


The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One is a somewhat recent addition to the world of transferable points – and they've steadily added more partners.

You can now transfer points from great credit cards like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to 15 airline partners and three hotel chains. For years, these transfers weren't as lucrative as other banks.

Capital One improved their transfer partners years back by making nearly all of them 1:1. That means 1 Capital One Venture mile gets you 1 airline mile or hotel point.

Here's the list of options:


ProgramTypeRatioTransfer Time
Air Canada Aeroplan Airline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
Avianca LifeMilesAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific AsiaMilesAirline1:1Up to five business days
Emirates Airline1:1Instant
EtihadAirline1:1Up to 1 day
EVA AirAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
TAP Air PortugalAirline1:1Same day
Turkish AirlinesAirline1:1Same day
Virgin RedOther1:1Same day
AccorHotel2:1Up to two business days
WyndhamHotel1:1Same day
Choice HotelsHotel1:1Same day


Read our guide on how to transfer Capital One miles!


The Platinum Card® from American Express

American Express currently has 18 airline transfer partners and three hotel partners for a total of 21 transfer partners – more than you'll find from any other credit company.

While that flexibility and easy earning opportunities make Membership Rewards points a must for any frequent traveler, there are a few downsides to keep in mind.

First, American Express charges a very small fee (.06 cents per point) on transfers to domestic airlines. So if you transfer 100,000 points to Delta or JetBlue, you’ll get charged $60. These fees are capped at $99.

And note that, unlike Chase, there are several partners to whom your Amex points don’t transfer on a 1:1 basis. For example, transferring 1,000 points to JetBlue would get you just 800 TrueBlue points.

Here’s the full list:


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 PacificAirline1:1Instant
IberiaAirline1:11-3 days
Qatar AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
Choice PrivilegesHotel1:1Instant
Hilton HonorsHotel1:2Instant
Marriott BonvoyHotel1:1Instant


Read our full guide to Amex transfer partners, how they work, and how to get the most out of them!


Which Points Program is Best for Transfers?

The answer to this question largely depends on which partners you will use the most.

As you'll see, there is a lot of overlap between the three programs. For example, you can transfer points from all three banks to Air Canada Aeroplan, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and more.

Capital One's largest weak spot is that it doesn't have a U.S.-based airline transfer partner. Chase has United, Southwest, and JetBlue, while Amex has Delta, JetBlue, and Hawaiian.

Chase really stands out because points transfer to all its partners on a 1:1 basis. That includes World of Hyatt, the most valuable hotel loyalty program in the world and arguably the best transfer partner of all three banks, period.

It's close, and your specific travel goals could sway this one way or another. But Chase ekes out a win here.

Winner: *chase sapphire reserve*


*chase sapphire reserve*


Travel & Other Statement Credit Credits

All three of these premium travel credit cards offer statement credits for different things that can drastically offset the out-of-pocket expense you'll pay to hold these cards.

Some are easier to use than others. But no matter which card you carry, using these credits is the key to making the annual fee math work.

Let's take a look at what each card offers.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Just for holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll get an annual $300 travel statement credit.

This annual travel credit is one of the most lucrative benefits of any travel credit card … and it's also one of the easiest to use. With that $300 travel credit, you can essentially think of the Sapphire Reserve's annual fee as being $250 a year.

Any purchase that Chase considers travel will qualify for the $300 annual travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And that covers a lot of ground, including many expenses you might not normally consider “travel.” While by no means exhaustive, here's a list of some charges that will trigger the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit:

  • Airline (airfare, baggage fees, seat selection, etc.)
  • Airbnb, VRBO, or other home-sharing platforms
  • Campgrounds
  • Car rentals
  • Cruise lines
  • Hotels
  • Parking (ramps, lots, meters)
  • Public transport
  • Taxis or rideshare (Uber & Lyft)
  • Timeshares
  • Tolls
  • Trains
  • Travel Agency services
  • Thrifty Traveler Premium

For a full list of purchases that Chase will code as travel, visit the FAQs on Chase's credit cards rewards page.

In addition to the $300 annual statement credit, Sapphire Reserve cardholders also get a $5 monthly DoorDash credit.

The credit can be redeemed by DashPass members in the DoorDash app and Reserve cardholders can accumulate the credit for up to three months before expiration (for a maximum of $15 total credit to redeem).

Like every other card on this list, there's also a credit of up to $100 to cover the cost of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Finally, Reserve cardholders get one year of complimentary Instacart+ with up to a $15 monthly Instacart statement credit through July 2024.

Related Reading: Is Chase's Sapphire Reserve Card Due for a Refresh?


The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Like the Sapphire Reserve, the Venture X card offers an annual $300 travel credit. But there is a catch…

In order to get the $300 credit, you must book your flight, hotel, or rental car through the Capital One travel portal. Booking directly with an airline, hotel, or other travel companies won't cut it.

That may seem like a downside to some travelers who would much rather book their travel directly with an airline, hotel chain, or rental car agency. Still, it should be incredibly easy for almost any traveler to use up that $300 credit each year.

If you can use this credit, it automatically makes the card's $395 annual fee more like $95 each year.

And starting in your second year of membership, you'll automatically get 10,000 Venture miles after paying your annual fee. These miles are worth a minimum of $100. With these two credits alone, you can easily get $400 in value for a card that costs you $395 a year.

Like every other card on this list, there's also a credit of up to $100 to cover the cost of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

Last but not least, we have the Platinum Card. This card offers so many different credits each year, keeping track of them feels like a full-time job.

But using these credits is the key to justifying the Platinum Card's $695 annual fee. Here's a list of the credits the card offers:

  • $200 Airline Incidental Fee Credit: Each year you hold the Platinum Card, you get a $200 credit to use with one U.S. airline of your choice. The credit is intended to be used for incidental fees like checked bags, change or cancelation fees, seat assignments, lounge access, and more … but there are some workarounds you can use to put that credit toward covering airfare instead. Check out our guide on how to maximize Amex airline fee credits!
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get a $200 annual statement credit for prepaid hotel bookings through the Amex Travel booking portal. This credit only applies to Fine Hotels + Resorts® or Hotel Collection properties, which include some great resorts and hotels around the globe. Notably, stays at Hotel Collection properties require a minimum stay of two consecutive nights.
  • $200 of Annual Uber Cash: Each year you hold the Platinum Card, you get up to $200 toward Uber Cash. You get $15 each month, and $35 in the month of December (for $200 total annually).
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Cardholders can get up to $240 in annual statement credits for select entertainment services, with monthly installments of $20. But this benefit is incredibly restrictive: It currently only applies to purchases or subscriptions with Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
  • $300 Equinox Gym Credit: Get up to a $300 credit annually to use for Equinox gym memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+. The credit is doled out in one lump sum each calendar year.
  • $100 Annual Credit for Saks Fifth Avenue: Each year of card membership, you will get two $50 credits to be used at Saks Fifth Avenue stores. One $50 credit is available from January through June, with another available from July through December.
  • Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: Like every other card on this list, there's also a credit of up to $100 to cover the cost of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry on the Platinum Card.
  • A $189 Credit for CLEAR® Plus: Platinum cardholders now get a $189 annual credit for the privately run security program. Just pay for your membership with your Platinum Card and the credit should kick in automatically.
  • Monthly Walmart+ Credit: Cardholders receive a $12.95 monthly credit to cover the cost of Walmart+, the retail giant's response to Amazon Prime with free shipping, same-day local delivery, and discounts at the gas pump. This also includes a Paramount+ membership.


Which Card has the Best Statement Credits?

There's a lot to unpack with these statement credits – especially with the laundry list of them on the Amex Platinum Card.

While the Amex Platinum offers a ton in terms of potential dollar value, many of these require a lot of effort to use … and others have questionable value in the first place. Plus, several are “use-them-or-lose-them” benefits that don't roll over from month to month.

That's why we think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the winner in this category. It doesn't offer nearly as much in pure dollar value, but they are incredibly easy to use to help offset the annual fee.

Winner: *chase sapphire reserve*


*chase sapphire reserve*


Lounge Access

When it comes to making your next trip or long layover better, nothing goes further than getting airport lounge access.

At the very least, you’ll find comfortable seating with a place to charge your phone, high-speed Wi-Fi, and free food and drinks. Some lounges take it to the next level with over-the-top amenities and great design.

While there are many ways to get airport lounge access, the easiest way boils down to what’s in your wallet: All three of these cards can get you into more than 1,300 airport lounges (and counting).

Here's what each of these cards offers.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Sapphire Reserve offers Priority Pass lounge access – making it one of the best options for airport lounge access as it opens the door for you and up to two complimentary guests at more than 1,300 lounges across the globe.

You can also eat for free at a growing list of Priority Pass-affiliated airport restaurants at no cost. You'll get a credit of $28 for yourself or around $56 if you are dining with a guest. Just a couple of uses of this benefit each year can take a huge chunk out of the credit card's $550 annual fee. Of the cards in this matchup, only the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers these airport dining credits.

But now, Chase is following in the footsteps of both American Express and Capital One by launching their own Sapphire-branded airport lounges. To date, only the locations in Boston (BOS), Hong Kong (HKG), New York LaGuardia (LGA), New York City (JFK), and Washington, D.C. – Dulles (IAD) are open, but the bank also has plans for lounges in several other U.S. locations.


chase sapphire lounge boston
Chase Sapphire Lounge in Boston (BOS)


Read More: How to Access Chase Sapphire Lounges


Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the new kid on the block when it comes to lounge access.

After years of planning and months of building, Capital One finally has its own branded airport lounges. There’s just three so far: an incredible new space in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), a lounge at Washington D.C. – Dulles (IAD), and a location in Denver (DEN). But there is also a space coming to Las Vegas (LAS) at some point in the future.

The bank is also planning exclusive dining spaces called Capital One Landings in New York City-LaGuardia (LGA) and Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA). While these are expected to open sometime in 2024, little is known about what they'll offer or how to get in.

Incredibly, Capital One also does not charge for Venture X authorized users. You can add up to four authorized users to your account at no additional cost. Best of all? Those authorized users will get their own lounge access with the ability to bring complimentary guests as well.


capital one lounge seating
Capital One Lounge in Dallas (DFW)


Like the other two cards on this list, the Capital One Venture X will also get you a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that will get you and up to two guests complimentary access to over 1,300 airport lounges across the world. Even your authorized users will get their own Priority Pass membership.

Better yet, there is no limit on the number of guests you can bring with you to Priority Pass lounges. That's different than the Priority Pass access you'll get from both the Platinum Card and the Sapphire Reserve. Both cards cap Priority Pass guests at two per visit.

However, while the Priority Pass membership issued from Venture X used to include access to a growing list of Priority Pass-affiliated airport restaurants at no cost like the Sapphire Reserve, Capital One axed this benefit in 2023.

Finally, Capital One has also added access to Plaza Premium Lounges, opening the doors to dozens more lounges abroad and at home. The Plaza Premium name also includes several lounges at the Cancún (CUN) airport; and Avianca lounges throughout Colombia; among others.

Here’s the full list of Plaza Premium lounges.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card is without question the top dog of credit cards offering complimentary airport lounge access.

No card will get you into more airport lounges than the Amex Platinum Card, period. Just by holding this credit card, you get access to the following lounges. Hold tight – it's a long list.

For starters, there's Amex Centurion Lounges.  American Express’s signature collection of airport lounges scattered across the U.S. (and increasingly abroad) put many other lounges to shame.

With more than a dozen locations around the U.S. and abroad, these lounges have set the bar high. Each and every Centurion Lounge offers food curated by local celebrity chefs; free beer, high-end wine, and cocktails; and even spa services in some locations. There’s comfortable seating, power outlets, quiet spaces to work, and more.

Read more: Master Guide to Amex Centurion Lounges: Locations, Access & More


JFK centurion airport lounge access
American Express Centurion Lounge – New York City (JFK)


However, Amex recently clamped down on free guest access and started charging $50 each for guests over the age of 18, and $30 for guests under the age of 18. Guests two years and younger will be complimentary. This change went into effect in February 2023. And still, crowding is inevitable at these lounges … if you can even get in the door.

There are currently Centurion lounges in Seattle (SEA), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), San Francisco (SFO), Las Vegas (LAS), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL), New York City-LaGuardia (LGA), New York City (JFK), Hong Kong (HKG), Denver (DEN), Phoenix (PHX), Charlotte (CLT), Los Angeles (LAX), and London-Heathrow (LHR), and and Atlanta (ATL). New locations are underway in Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) and Newark (EWR), too.

If you frequently travel through any airport with a Centurion Lounge, the Platinum Card can be a slam dunk for that reason alone. Check out our YouTube video review of the Centurion Lounge in Denver (DEN).


Like its competitors, the Platinum Card also offers Priority Pass Select membership, a network of more than 1,300 lounges across the globe. But access to Priority Pass restaurants was nixed a few years back.

Next, if you often fly Delta, the Platinum Card might just be the best card for you. That's right, not a Delta credit card.

Just for holding the card, you will receive complimentary access to any Delta Sky Club so long as you are flying Delta. You will not, however, be able to bring guests in for free – you can pay for up to two guests for $50 each.

That said, starting on Feb. 1, 2025, you'll be limited to accessing Delta Sky Clubs just 10 days per year.

With over 200 locations & partner lounges worldwide, you don’t have to try terribly hard to find one if you are flying with the airline. Check out our full reviews of the Delta Sky Club lounges in Atlanta (ATL), Washington D.C. – Reagan (DCA), Phoenix (PHX), Seattle (SEA), Austin (AUS), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), San Francisco (SFO), and the incredible new locations in Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago O'Hare (ORD), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP).

Read more: How to Access the Delta Sky Club


delta sky club entrance in Austin, TX
The Delta Sky Club in Austin (AUS)


Finally, in addition to the top-notch lounges above, the Amex Global Lounge Collection will get you into a handful of other smaller lounge networks.

The Escape Lounge – Centurion Studio Partner lounges network is solid – in fact, it's a great alternative to the Delta Sky Club at our home airport, the Escape Lounge MSP at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). Like Priority Pass and the Centurion Lounges, you will be able to bring up to two guests with you on each visit free of charge.

There are also domestic lounges at Oakland (OAK), two lounges in Phoenix (PHX), Reno-Tahoe (RNO), Sacramento (SMF), Cincinnati (CVG), Columbus (CMH), and others, as well as a few lounges in the U.K. in Manchester (MAN) and London Stansted (STN). See the full list of Escape Lounge locations in the U.S. here.

Read more: Escape Lounge – Centurion Studio Partner Minneapolis (MSP) Review


escape lounge airport lounge access
The Escape Lounge at Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport (MSP)


Plaza Premium Lounges are some of the best that you'll find in Europe and Asia – and two U.S. locations at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and, most recently, Orlando (MCO).


Which Card Offers the Best Lounge Access?

There's no question that the Platinum Card opens the most lounge doors. As Capital One and Chase work to build out a network of their own lounges, that calculus could change. But right now, this is an easy choice.

Winner: *amex platinum*


*amex platinum*


Instant Hotel & Rental Car Status

Just by holding these cards, you'll get automatic status in certain hotel and car rental programs. None of these cards will offer any level of airline status.

Here's what is on the table in terms of status.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you won't get any automatic hotel status. You will, however, get National Car Rental Executive status just for holding the card.

Once you enroll, you get access to the Executive area, allowing you to choose any car as long as you book a full-size vehicle (or above). You'll also be able to completely skip the check-in counter which is a game changer.


national car status


The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X also doesn't provide any sort of hotel elite status. But just for holding the Capital One Venture X, you'll get complimentary Hertz Presidents Circle Status.

As the highest level of elite status in their Gold Plus Rewards program, President’s Circle elite members who book an intermediate car or higher get guaranteed upgrades to the next available car class or the ability to choose a car from the President’s Circle Ultimate Choice aisle.

Members can also skip the counter when renting a car, have access to a dedicated Hertz Rewards customer service line, and have the ability to add an additional driver at no cost.

This benefit is available for both primary cardholders and Venture X authorized users. Just beware that this benefit is currently slated to disappear at the end of the year.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

Just for holding the Platinum Card, you'll get automatic Gold status with both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. These are both mid-level statuses that can provide space-available upgrades to a better room type, among other worthwhile perks.

Hilton Gold and Diamond status holders and up to one guest will each get a food and beverage credit during their stay at U.S. properties – depending on which Hilton brand they are staying at.

  • $10 per day at Hilton Garden Inns
  • $15 per day at full-service Hiltons (and $18 per day in high-cost areas like San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C.)
  • $15 per day at lifestyle brand Hiltons like Curio Collection or Canopy (and $18 per day in high-cost areas)
  • $25 per day at luxury brand Hiltons like Conrad and Waldorf Astoria

Traveling abroad? It's better, as this only applies to U.S. properties. You'll get free breakfast when staying at Hiltons outside of the U.S.

On the rental car front, Platinum cardholders will get both Hertz Presidents Circle and National Executive status.


Which Card Wins?

This one is easy, too. The Platinum card offers status with Hilton, Marriott, National, and Hertz just for holding it.

Winner: *amex platinum*


*amex platinum*


Travel Insurance Protections

One of the biggest reasons to hold a premium travel credit card is for the built-in travel insurance protections they can offer.

Here's a look at what coverage is available on each card. Consider yourself warned: There is a lot to digest here.


Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Here's a look at everything the Sapphire Reserve offers.


Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

By booking your rental car with your Sapphire Reserve, you can decline the rental car agency's collision damage waiver (CDW) and receive primary car rental insurance coverage for damage or theft. By declining the coverage offered by the rental agency, you can save yourself quite a bit of money.

Generally speaking, you'll be covered for any physical damage or theft, up to the cash value of the vehicle. Chase caps this amount at $75,000.

Because of this cap, Chase does not exclude “high-value motor vehicles” and exotic cars from coverage on the Sapphire Reserve as it does on the Sapphire Preferred.

Read More: All About the Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance Benefit


Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance

If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for your pre-paid non-refundable travel expenses.

This includes passenger airfare, tours, and hotels booked with your Sapphire Reserve Card. There is a maximum benefit amount of $40,000 for a twelve-month period.

Chase lists the following examples as situations that would be covered, but notes that it isn't an exhaustive list:

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or sickness experienced by the cardholder, a traveling companion, an immediate family member of the cardholder, or a traveling companion.
  • Severe weather that prevents the start or continuation of a covered trip.
  • Terrorist action or hijacking.
  • Jury duty or a court subpoena that cannot be postponed or waived.

You would not be covered for the following situations:

  • Travel arrangements canceled or changed by a common carrier, tour operator, or any travel agency unless the cancellation is the result of severe weather or an organized strike affecting public transportation
  • Change in plans or financial circumstances
  • A pre-existing condition
  • Traveling against the advice of a physician
  • A declared or undeclared war
  • Trips that exceed 60 days in duration are not covered
  • Financial insolvency of the cardholder’s travel agency, tour operator, or travel supplier


Trip Delay Reimbursement

If you book a trip with your Sapphire Reserve Card and your common carrier (airline, bus, cruise ship, or train) is delayed for a covered reason for six hours or more, or overnight, you can receive reimbursement for expenses like meals, lodging, toiletries, and medication up to $500 per ticket per trip.

Still, this coverage is only applicable for a trip away from the cardholder's city of residence and it has to be less than 365 days long.


Lost Luggage Reimbursement

If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.


Baggage Delay Coverage

If your baggage is delayed six or more hours at your final destination, you can receive reimbursement of up to $100 per day for five days for incidental purchases like clothes, toiletries, electronic charges, and more. That's identical to the Sapphire Preferred Card.


Travel Accident Insurance

When you pay for your airfare, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your Sapphire Reserve card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1 million.


Emergency Medical & Dental Benefits

Cardholders and eligible family members can receive up to $2,500 for emergency dental or medical treatment should anything happen when traveling 100 miles or more from home.


Roadside Dispatch

If you have a roadside emergency, you can receive up to four free $50 service calls each year for vehicle breakdowns, tows, tire changes, lockout service and more. Simply call Chase at 1-800-847-2869 to start a claim.


Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Here's a look at everything the Venture X Card offers.


Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Like other cards on this list, by booking your rental car with your Capital One Venture X Card – or the miles you earn with the card – you can decline the rental car agency's collision damage waiver (CDW) and receive primary car rental insurance coverage for damage or theft. By declining the coverage offered by the rental agency, you can save yourself quite a bit of money.

Generally, you'll be covered for any physical damage or theft, up to the cash value of the vehicle. Capital One does not reference a cap on this coverage similar to the $75,000 cap Chase puts in place on rentals for Sapphire Reserve cardholders.

Because of that, there shouldn't be any exclusions for high-value vehicles or for certain brands.

Read More: All About the Capital One Venture X Rental Car Insurance Benefits


Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance

If something goes seriously wrong on your trip like an accident, illness, or death that forces you to cancel or cut it short, you’re covered for up to $2,000 per person in expenses incurred from the common carrier (airline, bus, cruise ship, or train) – and a spouse and any dependent children are eligible.

One thing to note is that Capital One doesn't mention tours or hotels booked with your card as Chase does on its Sapphire Cards. That said, it is likely that only common carrier transportation would be reimbursed.

The following situations qualify:

  • The death, accidental bodily injury, disease, or physical illness of you or an immediate family member of the cardholder
  • Default of the common carrier resulting from financial insolvency. The death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness must be verified by a physician and must prevent you from traveling on the trip.

Again, the kicker here is that the trip must have been paid for with the Capital One Venture X Card or with miles earned from the card.


Trip Delay Reimbursement

When your trip is delayed, it can often mean more than just lost time.

A trip delay can be caused by weather, aircraft maintenance issues, or even emergency situations, and it can create additional expenses for lodging, food, toiletries, and more that you weren't expecting to pay.

While you'll be on the hook to cover the expenses upfront, you may be eligible for reimbursement.

  • As long as your airfare was booked at least in part with your Venture X Card, you are eligible for up to $500 if your travel is delayed by six or more hours or forces an overnight stay.
  • You, your spouse, and your dependent children under 22 years of age are automatically covered if they are traveling with you.
  • You must also be traveling outside of your home city to be eligible.


Lost Luggage Reimbursement

Lost luggage reimbursement is something you typically don't think about until it happens. Did an airline lose or damage your luggage – or did it get stolen?

  • As long as you paid for your airfare with your Venture X Card, you can get up to $3,000 to replace or repair the bag and its contents (or $2,000 per bag for New York residents).
  • The cardholders and all immediate family members are covered.


Baggage Delay Coverage

The Capital One Venture X Card does not offer any baggage delay coverage.


Travel Accident Insurance

Venture X cardholders will be automatically insured for up to $1 million against accidental loss of life, limbs, sight, or speech as long as the entire cost of your fare was charged to the card.


Emergency Medical & Dental Benefits

The Capital One Venture X Card does not offer any emergency medical or dental coverage.


Cell Phone Insurance Protection

As long as you pay your cell phone bill with your Capital One Venture X card, you can get reimbursed up to $800 for repair or replacement if your cell phone is stolen or damaged.

Here is what you need to know about how this cell phone coverage works:

  • This insurance benefit applies if you're a Venture X cardholder and pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card.
  • You must have paid with your card in the billing cycle before the month the incident occurs.
  • The cell phone coverage applies to all lines listed on the account. So if you have a family of four, all lines are covered.
  • You will need to pay a $50 deductible for each claim
  • The benefit can be used twice in any 12-month period, and you are eligible for reimbursement of up to $800 per claim.
  • It's supplemental coverage, so if you have an insurance policy through your carrier or through the device manufacturer itself, this coverage would not be valid.
  • If your device has been stolen, a police report must be filed within 48 hours of the event to be eligible for coverage.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

Last but not least, here's the coverage you'll get with the Amex Platinum Card.


Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

If you are booking a car rental on your Amex Platinum Card, it's important to understand the differences between primary and secondary rental coverage.

Most travel credit cards out there offer only secondary rental car coverage. If you get into an accident or your car is damaged with secondary coverage, you'd have to file a claim with your personal insurance policy before turning to your credit card company for help. That means you'll have to pay your deductible – and your auto insurance premiums will likely go up, too.

With primary rental car coverage, you can skip your own policy and file a claim directly with the policy issuer. That's what you get on both Chase Sapphire Cards as well as the Capital One Venture X Card.

Unfortunately, the Amex Platinum card comes with complimentary secondary car rental coverage – assuming you use your card to cover the cost of the rental. Amex will give you the option to purchase primary rental coverage, and if you don't have another card (like a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, or a Capital One Venture X), it may be worth comparing the rates through Amex with the rates you can receive directly through the rental agency.


Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance

Amex also offers trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage for Platinum cardholders as long as you purchase your entire roundtrip ticket with your Amex Platinum card.

But note that caveat: It must be a roundtrip ticket. That stands in stark contrast to other cards on this list, which offer coverage even for one-way bookings. There are some data points that Amex covers multi-city bookings, but that's not set in stone.

Amex covers the cardholder, any traveling companion, family member of the eligible traveler, or family member of the traveling companion, and will receive up to $10,000 of coverage per trip, and a maximum of $20,000 per card in a 12-month period.

Examples of covered events include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Bodily Injury or Illness: If you, a traveling companion, or a family member of either, experience an accidental injury or become sick, causing you to cancel your trip.
  • Bad Weather: If extreme weather causes your trip to be canceled or disrupted, there could be coverage.
  • Change in Military Orders: For the cardmember and/or spouses or domestic partners.
  • Terrorist Action: Or hijacking
  • Jury Duty: Or other qualifying legal obligation
  • Uninhabitable Dwelling: of either the cardmember or traveling companion
  • Quarantine: Imposed by a physician


Trip Delay Reimbursement

If you book a round-trip and pay the full amount with your Platinum Card and your common carrier (airline, bus, cruise ship, or train) is delayed for a covered reason for six hours or more, or overnight, you can receive reimbursement for expenses like meals, lodging, toiletries, and medication up to $500 per ticket per trip. You can have up to two covered trips in a rolling 12-month period.

However, this coverage is only applicable for a trip away from the cardholder's city of residence and it has to be less than 365 days.


Lost Luggage Reimbursement

If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger. To be eligible for this coverage, you need to have booked your common-carrier fare with your Platinum card or with Membership Rewards points from your card.

Here’s the coverage you can expect for lost luggage:

  • Checked Bags: Up to $2,000 per covered person, per trip
  • Carry-On Bags: Up to $3,000 per covered person, per trip
  • Specialty High-Value Items: Up to $1,000 per person, per covered trip ( Only $2,000 for New York residents), for a maximum of $10,000 per trip.
  • Combined Limit: The limit for all baggage is $3,000 per covered person, per trip.


Baggage Delay Coverage

The Platinum Card from American Express does not offer any baggage delay coverage.


Medical Evacuation & Travel Accident Coverage

You always hope you never need Medical Evacuation & Travel Accident coverage. But when and if you need it, it's invaluable. And while many cards offer this coverage, the clear winner is the Amex Platinum Card.

The Platinum Card provides medical evacuation coverage with no expense cap on trips of less than 90 days and at least 100 miles from your residence. This will exclude evacuations due to any pre-existing conditions, but there is no requirement to put any of your trip expenses on the card to take advantage of the coverage. Just for being a Platinum cardholder, you can use it if you ever need it.

Additionally, the benefits are extended to immediate family and children under the age of 23 (and under 26 if enrolled full-time in school).

One thing to note is that a Premium Global Assist (PGA) administrator from American Express must coordinate everything in order for the medical or evacuation costs to be covered. Any costs for medical transport not authorized and arranged through the Premium Global Assist Hotline Program will not be reimbursed. For more information on this from American Express, visit the Global Assist Hotline information page.

The Platinum Card from American Express will also cover up to $500,000 per person for loss of life on a trip. However, to take advantage of this coverage, you must pay for your entire fare with your Platinum card and/or Membership Rewards points.

For more information on American Express' travel accident coverage for Platinum cardholders, visit the terms and conditions page.


Which Card has the Best Travel Insurance?

So which is the best credit card for travel insurance? That depends on a number of factors and what coverage you value most.

Having one of these credit cards in your wallet is a great place to start to make sure you have at least some coverage when things go wrong. But at the end of the day, the coverage on the Sapphire Reserve is hard to beat at a reasonable price tag.

Winner: *chase sapphire reserve*


*chase sapphire reserve*


Which is the Best Premium Travel Credit Card?

This question is almost impossible to answer. They all offer a ton in terms of benefits and every traveler can (and should) weigh them differently.

If lounge access is your top priority, the Platinum Card is the no-brainer best bet. But if a $695 annual fee with a dizzying array of tough-to-use credits, there might be a better option for you.

If you simply want a premium travel credit card at the lowest price, the Capital One Venture X Card is impossible to beat. At $395 a year, it's a fraction of other cards on this list – with an easy pathway to recoup that entire cost (and then some).

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card might be in need of a refresh, it's still a rock solid premium travel card that offers cardholders an easy way to redeem their points for extra value.


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.

7 Responses

  • Good luck getting luggage delayed reimbursement from Chase reserve. They tactic is delay and asking for paperworks more than a mortgage application….essentially making it impossible to receive any credit.

  • Any insurance claim from Chase Saphhire reserve is dealing with third party asking for a tonn of paperwork. For smaller claims up to $100, I don’t even try as it is not worth the time. Chase Sapphire looks good on paper for Travel and other insurance but it is very hard to avail in reality.

  • I have the American Express Platinum. It may grant lounge access but not really worth it since every lounge I have been to in the last year is so crowded and the wait is so long, and once you get it, where does one sit? You wait in line for a tidbit, and once you get up to the food, it is all gone. One longe I went to, they had one person working, and she was so overwhelmed I got up and started helping her clear all the mess the entitled pigs left behind. So not a perk as far as I am concerned. The 200-buck reimbursement on the hotels, too, is a joke. They charge so much more for the rooms than if you book directly that the 200 plus one hundred food still does not make it worth it. The last room I considered was 400 more a night than what I got booked directly. So how is this a perk?

  • Nick, Glad I found your “thrifty” site. This is a great article!
    It would be a great service if this analysis were put on a spreadsheet for easier visual comparison.

  • Good article….spreadsheet design would be good.

    Also, AMEX Platinum also provides cellphone coverage:

    You can be reimbursed for your costs to repair or replace your damaged or Stolen cell phone up to $800, subject to a $50 deductible, for 2 approved claims per 12-month period when your prior month’s wireless bill was paid utilizing an Eligible Card Account. Terms and conditions apply.‡

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