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 of existence.
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 Was 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|
But Now the Two Cards Might Be Somewhat Equal
Recently, the Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus of 100k points was slashed in half, to just 50k for spending $4k, making it a lot less attractive than it used to be.
However, the Amex Platinum only offers a 60k sign-up bonus for an additional $1,000 in minimum spending ($5k total).
That makes them pretty similar when it comes to the sign-up bonus, though these can be a moving target if either company changes it.
Additionally, Chase recently made their $300 travel credit anniversary-year based, meaning you can’t double dip and get it twice before paying the annual fee a second time.
The Amex credit can still be used each calendar year, though it is more restrictive than Chase’s.
So I can no long longer say that CSR wins this battle. In fact, I don’t even know if I can recommend CSR anymore with the changes in place.
Now, the tipping point might be the Uber credit. In other words, if you actually use Uber, the Amex Platinum might be the winner. Though it also depends which rewards currency you favor.
In summary, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has much greater flexibility than Amex Platinum when it comes to the travel credit and the use of points, but they’ve made the card a lot more basic.
It made quite a splash when it was first released, but Chase has since scaled back the benefits tremendously.
A strategy going forward might be to wait for a higher opening bonus, assuming either decide to up the stakes.
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t get both cards, if you’re so inclined.
(photo: Kristin Wall)