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When it comes to travel and dining rewards, two credit cards stand out above the rest: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the American Express® Gold Card. With reasonable annual fees — $95 and $250 (see rates and fees), respectively — and a range of redemption options including flights, hotels and a host of other travel experiences — there are plenty of reasons to sign up for one or, even both cards, depending on how much you travel, order delivery, shop for groceries, use Uber more than Lyft or if prefer certain transfer partners over others.
Below, Select walks you through a comparison of both cards, so you can choose the one that provides the most benefits for your spending habits.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee. The American Express Gold Card’s annual fee is slightly higher at $250, which still isn’t bad when you consider other travel rewards cards can garner annual fees up to $550.
The Amex Gold Card comes with a variety of credits that can help offset the annual fee. Cardmembers can take advantage of a $120 Uber Cash annual credit ($10 per month) for rides and dining via Uber Eats (you must add your Amex Gold Card as a payment method in the Uber app in order to enroll). You can also benefit from a $120 annual dining credit ($10 per month) to use with certain delivery services like Seamless, Grubhub and Boxed, as well as restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). The credits are awarded at the beginning of every month and must be used that month or they expire.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. Unless you’re going to be making full use of the American Express Gold Card’s dining and Uber monthly statement credits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee is a better choice considering the range of benefits and overall value in travel rewards you’ll be getting.
While both cards are ideal for avid travelers, their earning opportunities vary. You can 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining worldwide, as well as 1X points for all other purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Now through March 2022, you’ll also be able to earn 5X points on all Lyft rides.
The American Express Gold Card gives you 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 annually, then 1X points afterward), 3X points when you book flights directly through the airline or via amextravel.com and 1X points on other eligible purchases.
Using data from Esri, a location intelligence firm, Select determined that with a sample budget of $22,126 you would be able to earn $2,528 in rewards using the Chase Sapphire Preferred and $2,719 in rewards with the American Express Gold Card if you took advantage of statement credits, the welcome bonuses and maximized your spending over five years (minus the annual fees).
For the purposes of this example, six spending categories were included: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general spending ($3,953).
We found the average cardholder could potentially earn a total of 28,045 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year with the Chase Sapphire Preferred — that’s 5,174 points for groceries, 2,218 points for gas, 7,349 points for dining, 4,489 points for travel, 4,862 points for utilities and 3,953 points in general spending.
With American Express Gold Card, meanwhile, cardholders could potentially earn a total of 50,387 Membership Rewards points per year if maximized properly — that’s 20,698 points for groceries, 2,218 points for gas, 14,699 points for dining, 3,957 points for travel, 4,862 points for utilities and 3,953 points for general spending.
Winner: American Express Gold Card, which could potentially yield 22,342 more points per year. Not to mention, any card that rewards you for grocery shopping and ordering takeout or delivery during a pandemic gets a gold star in our book.
As far as the best card for redeeming your hard-earned points, it all comes down to your personal preference. Chase Ultimate Rewards has 13 transfer partners to choose from, including World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards Club for hotels and United Airlines, Southwest and JetBlue for airlines.
Amex Membership Rewards offers 19 transfer partners, including Delta, Avianca, British Airways, Emirates and Etihad for airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and Radisson for hotels.
Two things make the Chase Sapphire Preferred really stand out in this category. First, cardholders can score a 25% bonus by redeeming points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, bringing their value up to 1.25 cents per point. Secondly, points can be redeemed for recent purchases through the Pay Yourself Back tool, a nifty option for those who haven’t been traveling much lately.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers more redemption options through the Pay Yourself Back tool, and a 25% bonus for booking with points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Both cards are currently offering lucrative welcome bonuses. You can earn a whopping 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening your Chase Sapphire Preferred account, while the American Express Gold Card is offering 60,000 bonus points, and you get six months to meet the $4,000 minimum spending requirement from the day your account opens.
If you’re using your 100,000 points to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, or wish to redeem them for statement credits for grocery, dining or home improvement purchases through Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature, they’ll be worth 25% more, or $1,250. If you’re redeeming them for cash outright, their value drops to $1,000.
If you’re booking flights and hotels through American Express Travel, or redeeming them for cash back, your 60,000 Amex Rewards points would be worth about $600 or $420, respectively.
Note that you’re only eligible to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you don’t currently have another Chase Sapphire card, and you haven’t received a cardholder bonus for a Chase Sapphire card in the last 48 months. Also be aware of Chase’s 5/24 rule, which means you’re more likely to be denied approval for a new Chase card if you’ve already opened five credit card accounts in the last 24 months. At the same time, you’re only eligible to receive the 60,000-point welcome bonus for the Amex Gold Card if you haven’t already had the same card or a Premier Rewards Gold Card in the past.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred, due to the sheer number of bonus points you’ll be able to earn for hitting the $4,000 minimum spend within the first three months.
Consumers with either card can benefit from:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Purchase protection and extended warranty protection
- Auto collision damage waivers for car rentals (primary insurance for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, secondary insurance for the Amex Gold Card)
- Baggage insurance and trip delay insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance services
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders enjoy these added perks:
- A complimentary one-year subscription to DashPass by DoorDash when you enroll by December 31, 2021
- Up to $60 back on Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships when you sign up by December 31, 2021
- 1:1 transfers to partner airlines and hotels when booking award travel
- The option to split larger payments over $100 into no-interest fixed-fee monthly payments via My Chase Plan
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, zero liability protection
American Express Gold Card holders enjoy these added perks:
- 12 months of access to Uber Eats Pass, including free delivery and 5% discounts on orders over $15, when you enroll by December 31, 2021 (taxes and service fees may apply and don’t count toward the order minimum). This perk is valued at $119, since Eats Pass currently costs $9.99 per month. After the complimentary year, you’ll be auto-billed at the then-current monthly rate. (Learn more about the Uber Eats Pass benefit.)
- $10 in Uber Cash each month, a total of $120 per year, to use toward rides or Uber Eats in the U.S. when you link your Gold Card to your Uber account (you have to enroll first to use this program)
- A $10 statement credit per month, up to $120 per year, when you enroll your Gold Card and order from Boxed, Grubhub, Seamless or other participating restaurants and food delivery services
- The option to pay your bill in full each month, keep a balance with interest or break up larger purchases over $100 into fixed-fee monthly payments with Plan It and the card’s Pay Over Time benefit
- $100 in credits toward spa treatments, dining and other activities when you book through The Hotel Collection via American Express Travel
- Amex Offers, which lets you earn limited-time rewards for things you’re buying anyway whether you’re shopping online or at the store (enrollment required and offers vary depending on location)
- Early access to ticket pre-sales, preferred seating and members-only events from sports and concerts to Broadway shows, as part of American Express Experiences
Winner: American Express Gold Card, for going above and beyond and offering travel and dining benefits that are more in line with premium rewards credit cards.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred, but it’s really close.
While the American Express Gold Card picked up points in the rewards and added perks categories, the Chase Sapphire Preferred stole the show when it came to the annual fee, welcome bonus and redemptions.
There’s more flexibility to redeem points for a host of travel experiences and recent purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, however, if dining, groceries and Uber are your main focus, the American Express Gold Card may be a better fit.
In the end, it all comes down to your personal preferences — as far as favorite airlines and hotel chains you’d like to redeem points for — and spending habits, though each card offers enough travel and dining perks to satisfy every traveler.
5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases
Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Foreign transaction fee
On the American Express secure site
4X Membership Rewards® points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery, plus, Uber Eats purchases) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening
Balance transfer fee
Foreign transaction fee
For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.