Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Why Chase Wins This Battle

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You may have heard that the Amex Platinum underwent some major changes recently. If you haven’t, the biggest takeaways are the higher annual fee and the Uber credit.

Amex Platinum will no longer charge cardholders $450 per year for the privilege of holding the card. Instead, they’ll have to fork over $550 every 365 days for the honor. Yes, you read it right, $550!

That makes it one of the most expensive credit cards available, and basically pushes it $100 above other ultra-premium offerings, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige.

It almost seems personal, as if American Express said to Chase, “If you’re going to charge $450 for your top of the line credit card, we’re going to charge $550 because ours is superior.”

And don’t get it twisted, this was clearly Amex’s rebuttal to the CSR, which has gained a cult following in less than a year.

Which Is Better: Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum?

Okay, so we know these two cards are going head-to-head with one another, which brings us to the next logical question: Which one is better?!

Well, that’s a great question, and one I can help answer with a side-by-side comparison of benefits.

As alluded to earlier, the new version of Amex Platinum has a $550 annual fee, which is the biggest highlight. The other major change is a positive one – a $200 annual Uber credit.

Yep, you get $200 per year in free Uber credit, which is actually deposited into your Uber account monthly. And that detail is important because it’s not as flexible as it sounds.

Specifically, American Express will put $15 in your Uber account each month, which can be used automatically every time you use Uber (so long as you add an Amex Platinum card as a payment option in the Uber app).

In December, you get a bonus $20 on top of the $15 monthly credit, making it an even $200 credit spread over 12 months.

The obvious problem with this is that you might take a $30 ride one month and no rides the next. Here are some other disappointing details:

– The Uber credit can only be applied to rides within the United States
– The $15 monthly ride credit expires at 11:59 PM local time on the last day of each month
– Any unused Uber credit will not carry over to the following month
– If a ride is eligible for another promotion in your Uber account, that promotion will be applied first
– You have to select the credit (indicate you’re using it) before completing your ride

In other words, plenty can go wrong here, and with the Uber credits not rolling over month-to-month, you can get a lot less than $200 out of the deal.

Meanwhile, Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you a $300 annual travel credit with far fewer restrictions. It’s such a wide category that you can use the credit for hotels, airline tickets, airline gift cards, airport parking, tolls, car rentals, cruises, discount travel sites, oh, and Uber AND Lyft. That includes UberEats…

You also don’t have to worry about using the credit each month in measured amounts – you can use it all in one day if you want. Put simply, you get $100 more than Amex is giving you and you can use it in a lot more places anytime you want.

The only upside to Amex Platinum is that they give you a $200 annual airline credit too, which of course can’t even be used for airfare – just incidentals like checked bags and in-flight snacks and drinks. Another lame benefit.

Throw in the extra $100 you have to spend on the annual fee each year and you can see why Chase Sapphire Reserve might be the better card.

Oh, and did I mention the sign-up bonus on Chase Sapphire Reserve is double that of Amex Platinum? And that Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be cashed out at 1 cent a piece, if need be, whereas Amex Membership Rewards points are really only good for transfers to airlines.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Is Better Than Amex Platinum

Card Chase Sapphire Reserve American Express Platinum
Annual fee $450 (not waived 1st year) $550 (not waived 1st year)
Travel credit $300 for any travel purchase including Uber, Lyft, discount travel websites, hotels, etc. $200 for checked bags, in-flight purchases
Annual Uber credit Can be $300 (see details above) $200 ($15 monthly, doesn’t carry over)
Global Entry and TSA Pre credit $100 for either $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA Pre
Airport lounge access Priority Pass Select Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounge, International Amex lounges
Foreign transaction fees Zero (Visa accepted mostly everywhere) Zero (Amex acceptance rate not so great)
Point categories 3X on travel and at restaurants worldwide 5X on airfare booked directly or via Amex and at Amex hotels
Authorized user cost $75 per card $175 for up to 3 additional cards
Point redemptions Can transfer to airlines or redeem for cash Only good for transfers to airlines
What is the card made of? Metal alloy Metal alloy
Travel redemption bonus 50% more value for travel redemptions via Chase (50k UR = 75k UR) Use Pay with Points when booking airfare with Amex Express Travel and earn FF miles

In summary, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has much greater flexibility than Amex Platinum.

It’s much easier to actually use the annual credits each year and you get a higher sign-up bonus, for now at least. It’s also easier to redeem the points with CSR and the annual fee is $100 lower.

Of course, there’s no reason you can’t get both cards, it’s just that right now the CSR is the better card.

(photo: Kristin Wall)

Author: Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.

2 thoughts on “Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Why Chase Wins This Battle”

  1. CSR – For Points redemption, you can transfer points to hotels as well, not just airlines or for cash. Also, there’s a difference in the Priority Passes. CSR allows “unlimited” free guests (up to what the individual lounge will allow), AMEX now (I believe starting March 30th) allows 2 free guests (up from 0 previously).

  2. Good point about the lounge, though I don’t think I’d choose one over the other based on the 7-11 sandwiches and free beer. Still think CSR is way better, though with the opening bonus changing (getting halved) it might shift.

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