Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. AmEx Platinum: Which premium credit card is best for booking flights

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Booking a flight with a credit card

  • The
    Chase Sapphire Reserve
    and the
    Platinum Card® from American Express
    are two of the most
    rewarding premium credit cards.
  • Both offer bonus reward points when you purchase
    flights, though they earn points differently, and both come with
    different benefits.
  • One easy tie-breaker: If you’re purchasing third-party
    travel insurance, you’re probably better off using the
    Platinum Card
    for your flights.

Premium credit and charge cards come with high annual fees, but
it’s easy to make up for them by taking advantage of the benefits
the cards offer and the rewards they earn. 

At least, that’s definitely the case with two of the most
popular premium cards: the
Chase Sapphire Reserve
and the
American Express Platinum
, both of which offer a ton of perks
and benefits for travelers, as well as big rewards on

Sapphire Reserve
earns bonus points on all dining and travel,
while the
AmEx Platinum
earns extra on airfare booked with the airline.
With that overlap, which is the better card to use for buying


Sapphire Reserve
earns 3x points per dollar spent on all travel
and dining purchases. The
Platinum Card
, though, earns 5x points per dollar spent on
airfare purchased directly from the airline, and prepaid hotels
booked through the AmEx Travel website.

If you’re deciding between the two cards and you tend to book a
lot of flights directly, or if you have both cards and can’t decide
which to use to buy a flight, that means the
AmEx Platinum
is the best option since it earns an extra two
points per dollar, right? Well, not necessarily.

It’s tricky to compare American Express’ Membership Rewards (MR)
points to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards (UR) points, because the most
valuable way to use both types
is to transfer them to airline frequent flyer or hotel loyalty

Learn more: The
best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

In many cases, frequent flyer “award” tickets aren’t connected
to the ticket’s cash price. Let’s say a round-trip award ticket
costs 30,000 points. The value of those points depend on the cash
price for the ticket you can get with them, and that cash price can
rise and fall. Depending on the airline and flights, either MR or
UR points could be worth more, and it might be the other way around
the next time.

Putting aside transfers, though, the most valuable way to use
points is to purchase “paid” travel with them — using MR points
in the AmEx Travel website, and UR points through Chase’s travel
portal. In this scenario, AmEx MR points are worth 1¢ each toward
tickets or hotels. Chase UR points are worth the same amount, but
Chase gives a 50% bonus to
Sapphire Reserve
cardholders, so each UR point is worth 1.5¢
for anyone with that card.

If you plan to use the points you earn to purchase travel later
on, then, 5x MR points per dollar spent on your flight this time
translates to 5¢ per dollar, while 3x UR points, each worth 1.5¢,
is worth 4.5¢. Using that fixed value as a basis, the
American Express Platinum Card
would be the better choice.

Unfortunately, if you book most of your flights through online
travel agencies, or a travel portal that your office uses, rather
than directly with the airline, the
Platinum Card
will only earn 1x point per dollar. Along those
lines, if you’re deciding between which of the two cards to open
and you also spend a lot on trains, non-prepaid hotels, taxis, or
rental cars, the
Sapphire Reserve
would be the better choice.

The Platinum Card has better airfare rewards, but the Sapphire
Reserve has better protections

While the rewards on airfare are better with the
Platinum Card
, the
Sapphire Reserve
comes with mostly better travel protections
when you use it to buy airfare. Keeping that in mind, you’ll have
to decide whether the better rewards from the
Platinum Card
outweigh the protections offered by the
Sapphire Reserve

Chase’s premium card comes with trip
and baggage delay insurance
. When you’re traveling and you’re
delayed for at least six hours, or overnight, you’re covered for up
to $500 of incidentals per person traveling with you whose ticket
was purchased with the card. That covers things like hotel
accommodations, meals, toiletries, and a change of clothing —
really, anything that can be considered a “reasonable” expense.

Similarly, if your baggage is delayed, things like clothing and
toiletries are covered up to a certain amount until your bag is

AmEx Platinum
doesn’t offer similar coverage for common travel
issues, although it does offer benefits that you’re (hopefully)
much less likely to need, like accidental death/dismemberment
travel insurance. It also covers luggage loss or damage, although
this doesn’t include baggage delays.

More points, or more protections?

If you’re deciding which of the two cards to open, and you book
a lot of airfare directly with airlines, then you’ll need to
consider which is more valuable to you: the
AmEx Platinum’s
higher rate of rewards earning, or the
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s
trip delay coverage. Of course, there
plenty of other differences
between the two cards that you
should weigh.

If you have both already, and aren’t sure which to use
to pay for tickets, it might be worth thinking about the likelihood
that you’ll need the trip delay coverage

For instance, if you’re flying trans-Atlantic on a budget
carrier like Norwegian Air Shuttle, which operates on thin margins
and doesn’t have many spare aircraft standing by — meaning that
delays tend to be longer — you might want to go with the Sapphire
Reserve. The same would be true if you’re flying routes with lots
of connections.

Alternatively, if you’re buying a lot of tickets between New
York and Los Angeles, a route which has ton of flights each day, it
might be worth going for more points. Similarly, if you’re buying a
more expensive flight, the extra points from the
Platinum Card
might be more compelling.

It’s also worth considering whether not you’ll purchase
third-party travel insurance for your trip, to cover a broader set
of contingencies. Third-party plans from providers like Allianz often offer
delay coverage, so you won’t need to worry about what your credit
card covers.

Just keep in mind that this comparison only relates to
purchasing airfare. The
Sapphire Reserve
earns more on dining and other types of
travel, so that could change the equation —
make sure to read up on the differences between the two cards

if you don’t have either of them yet.

here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Insider
Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American
Express from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: Sapphire
Reserve vs AmEx Platinum: Which premium credit card is right for

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Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. AmEx Platinum: Which premium credit card is best for booking flights