Sometimes the credit cards that are available to anybody with good credit just aren’t enough. Sometimes you want something with elite benefits. If you’re a frequent traveler and have outstanding credit and a few other qualifications, you might be eligible for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the American Express Platinum card.
If you’re considering both, which will give you the elite perks at the lowest price?
Charge Vs. Credit Card
First, these two cards are not quite the same. Every American Express gold and platinum holder knows that they’re holding a charge card – not a credit card. A charge card is paid in full at the end of each month; a credit card can hold a balance over multiple months or years.
American Express has a pay-over-time feature that makes it act like a credit card, but it’s only for larger purchases. The APR varies but expect it to be on par with other cards with similar features. Your minimum payment will always be considerably higher because it’s a charge card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Some of the benefits of this card are fantastic. Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants. Earn 1 point on all other purchases. Chase wants you to redeem your points for travel-oriented services through its partners. That’s why it gives you 1:1 point transfers with leading frequent traveler programs. If you redeem 2,000 points, it’s good for 2,000 miles or points with partner airlines and hotels.
Other perks include trip cancellation insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and – if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours – Chase will cover unreimbursed expenses up to $500 per ticket.
The APR comes in at 15.99% – toward the bottom of the range of most cards of its type – and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
But check out the sign on bonus. If you spend more than $4,000 in the first three months of having the card, you receive 40,000 bonus points. When you add an authorized user and he or she makes a purchase in the first three months, Chase gives you another 5,000 bonus points. There is also no foreign transaction fee.
One disappointing perk missing from this card is access to airport lounges. If you’re looking for the elite treatment while waiting for your next flight, you won’t get it with this card.
American Express Platinum
Whether or not it’s deserved is debated by travel enthusiasts, but when you hold the American Express Platinum card, there’s a level of prestige associated with it. But is the $450 annual fee really worth the perks?
Receive 40,000 membership rewards points when you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months. Those points can be used to pay for other charges or spent on travel packages. You will also receive statement credits of up to $200 per year to reimburse you for airline fees, along with a fee credit for TSA Pre – the program that allows you to bypass security lines.
When you travel you receive complimentary upgrades and special rates at more than 750 properties around the world, and concierge service that can help you land those hard-to-get tickets to the most popular events.
Your American Express Platinum card also comes with free access to airport lounges run by American Express, Delta and Airspace lounges.
And as with the Sapphire Preferred, there is no foreign transaction fee.
The Bottom Line
Each of these cards have many more perks than are listed here. Since the American Express Platinum card costs $450 annually, compared to the $95 you spend for Chase Sapphire Preferred (a fee waived in the first year), it had better be packed with extra perks.
The facts are that each of these cards has similar features. The major plus for the Platinum is airport lounge access and a more extensive network of travel upgrades and concierge treatment.
Unless you travel frequently and have enough free time to enjoy all the extra perks that come with the American Express Platinum (see Using Platinum Amex Benefits), it’s difficult to justify the added cost.