Which is Better - Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Platinum?

Which is Better - Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Platinum?

Ideally, we think it is best to get both cards, but if you can only get one, we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the one to choose.

A number of readers who have visited BestCashCow’s tables on the best sign up bonuses and best overall cards have written in to ask which card is better – the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the American Express Platinum card.

The American Express Platinum card is an excellent card to consider if you can get a targeted offer.  Targeted offers through Cardmatch routinely offer 100,000 American Express points after spending $10,000 in three months.  Those who live in affluent zip codes in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles routinely get offers in the mail as high as 150,000 American Express points after spending $20,000 in three months.  (If you have a business in New York or California, you will receive multiple mailings with the 150,000 offer on the Platinum business card).

The Platinum card – in both its personal and business versions - comes with all sorts of benefits, including access to Delta lounges and Amex’s own new Centurion lounges that are already in Dallas, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and La Guardia.  The card comes with a $450 annual fee (not waived the first year), but that fee is easily offset by a $200 annual airfare credit that - if timed correctly - can be received in the year you apply for the card and the following year.  You will come out ahead if you and as many as 3 additional cardholders take advantage of the Global Entry credit (a $100 value for each person). 

We find that Amex points can have a value as high as 3 cents per point, but that is only if you transfer these points to Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer program.  Those inclined to make that transfer can extract as much as $4,500 from a 150,000 point sign up bonus (see this article on great Krisflyer redemptions).  Unfortunately, card members looking at other redemptions are likely to find Amex points less valuable, perhaps much less valuable.  While British Airways presents good value as a transfer partner, points will no longer transfer on a 1-to-1 basis after November 2015 (they will be 5-to-4), and extracting meaningful value from the Delta and Virgin Atlantic programs seems to become more difficult by the day.  Transferring points at 3-to-1 to Starwood is just silly.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card only gives you 40,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership (this offer is occasionally raised to 50,000 points).  However, your usage of the card will deliver more points more quickly as the card delivers 2 points per dollar spent on restaurants and travel.   The card has no fee the first year, and is $95 per year thereafter. 

While the card itself gives fewer benefits that the Amex card, one important feature is that it provides primary insurance coverage on rental cars (something that no Amex card does any longer).  It also has great customer service and no foreign transaction fees.  However, the real shining benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card when compared to the Platinum card or even to Citibank’s ThankYou cards is that Chase points offer more transfer opportunity that are more valuable than any other credit card.  In addition to Singapore which is also a 1-to-1 transfer partner of Amex and Citi, Chase points can be transferred to United, Hyatt, British Airways and Amtrak at a 1-to-1 rate.   The wealth of valuable transfer partners leads BestCashCow to put a value of Chase points as high as 3.4 cents per point (versus only 3 cents on Amex and Citibank points assuming they are transferred to Singapore only).  In turn, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card figure prominently on point our lists of the best cards for the sign up bonus and the best cards for continual spend.

These days many flip or churn credit cards in order to get multiple sign up bonuses.  Neither of these cards is particularly good for flipping.  Amex’s rules prohibit card applicants from getting a sign up bonus a second time on the same product (their rules are slightly more lax for business cards).  Chase now rejects all Sapphire Preferred applicants who have applied for more than 5 credit cards in the prior 24 months regardless of their credit scores.  Therefore, people should view either of these credit cards as a core card to use for many years, and not one to be flipped or churned.

Ideally, we think it is best to get both cards, but if you can only get one, we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the one to choose.

Image: scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are those of the author, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank advertiser, card issuer, airline or hotel.

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