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 apply 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, CNBC Select walks you through a side-by-side comparison of both cards, so you can choose the one that provides the most benefits for your spending habits.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
$50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 3X points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
20.74% – 27.74% 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
American Express® Gold Card
On the American Express secure site
4X Membership Rewards® points at Restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) 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
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership
Balance transfer fee
Foreign transaction fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs American Express Gold Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee. The American Express® Gold Card’s annual fee is slightly higher at $250 (see rates and fees), which still isn’t bad when you consider other travel rewards cards that can garner annual fees close to $700.
Both cards come with a variety of credits that can help offset the annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers cardholders up to $50 in annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit and up to $10 in monthly Gopuff credit (through Dec. 31, 2023).
Meanwhile, Amex Gold cardmembers can take advantage of a $120 Uber Cash annual credit ($10 per month) for rides in the U.S. 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 and Grubhub, as well as restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select 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. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases and 1X point on everything else. Now through March 2025, you’ll also be able to earn 5X points on all Lyft rides. Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred provides cardholders an anniversary bonus equal to 10% of their total purchases made the previous year. So if you spent $15,000 on purchases, you’ll get 1,500 bonus points.
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.
Winner: American Express Gold Card for a more all-around pick, since it rewards you for grocery shopping as well.
As far as the best card for redeeming your hard-earned points, it all comes down to your personal preference. Chase Ultimate Rewards has 14 transfer partners to choose from, including World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG One Rewards for hotels and United Airlines, Southwest and JetBlue for airlines.
American Express Membership Rewards offers 20 transfer partners, including Delta, Avianca, British Airways, Emirates and Etihad for airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and Choice Privileges for hotels.
One thing makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred really stand out in this category. 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. Meanwhile, points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for straight cash back.
With the American Express Gold Card, 1 point is worth a penny for flights booked through American Express Travel, and only $0.006 apiece when redeemed for statement credits.
If you decide to transfer either your Amex points or Chase points to their respective transfer partners, you’ll likely get a higher value than when redeeming through each bank’s travel portal or for cash back. When using this method, Amex and Chase point values can reach up to 10 cents per point when booking first or business class flights.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers a 25% bonus for booking with points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Both cards offer generous welcome offer bonuses. You can earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, 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 80,000 points to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, they’re worth 25% more, or $1,000. If you’re redeeming them for cash outright, their value drops to $800, which is still impressive.
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, because the bonus is worth more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
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 delay insurance
- Lost luggage insurance
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Travel and emergency assistance services
Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders enjoy these perks:
- Receive 25% more value on points redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
- $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
- Up to $10 monthly Gopuff credit through December 31, 2023
- A complimentary one-year subscription to DashPass by DoorDash when you enroll by December 31, 2024
- 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 benefits:
- $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 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.
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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 type of traveler.
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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.