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TravelCredit card showdown: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold

Credit card showdown: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold


When it comes to travel rewards cards, you usually get what you pay for in terms of bonus categories and perks. This is why we usually compare cards within a single category to try to find the best premium rewards card or the best no-annual-fee cards.

The problem is that the American Express® Gold Card doesn’t fit cleanly into any category. It straddles the line between entry-level and premium, offering high-value foodie bonus categories at a manageable annual fee.

Today we’re looking at how it stacks up against the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, one of the all-around best cards for travel and dining.

Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold comparison

Let’s start with a quick overview of each card’s highlights:

Chase Sapphire Reserve American Express® Gold Card
Annual fee $550 $250 (see rates & fees)
Welcome offer 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership. (Note: You could be targeted for a higher offer through CardMatch)

This offer is subject to change at any time.

Bonus categories 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rental purchases through Chase Travel℠

10 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025.)

5 points per dollar on flights purchases through Chase Travel

3 points per dollar on travel and dining

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

4 points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar)

3 points per dollar on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Annual statement credits $300 annual travel credit

Up to $10 monthly dining credit at the following partners: Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations (up to $120 annually). Enrollment is required

Up to $10 monthly Uber credit in the form of Uber Cash that can be used on U.S. Uber rides and Uber Eats orders (up to $120 annually). Enrollment is required

Other card benefits Priority Pass Select membership

Access to Chase Sapphire Lounges

DoorDash DashPass membership and $5 monthly DoorDash statement credits through December

Lyft Pink membership

Global Entry / TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Baggage loss and delay insurance

Up to a $100 property credit when booking eligible stays of two nights or more through the Amex Hotel Collection

Trip delay reimbursement*

Baggage loss or damage reimbursement**

*Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

**Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold Welcome offer

Both cards offer valuable welcome offers that can help fund your next big trip.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers new applicants 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

THE POINTS GUY

Meanwhile, the Amex Gold Card offers 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. TPG values Membership Rewards at 2 cents a piece, making the Amex Gold’s offer worth $1,200. Meanwhile, we value Ultimate Rewards points at 2.05 cents each, making the Sapphire Reserve bonus worth $1,538.

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However, you could potentially be targeted for 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first three months for the Amex Gold through CardMatch (offers are subject to change at any time).

Of course, the bonus value is only one piece of the equation. You also need to make sure you’re eligible to apply for either of these cards, as both Chase and Amex have different restrictions on welcome bonus eligibility.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve. Its public welcome offer provides more value.

Related: Try TPG’s CardMatch tool to see if you pre-qualify for a higher welcome offer

Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold benefits

This is where we start to see the biggest differences arise, as the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium, luxury travel card with the perks to match.

Let’s start with the most important benefit that can help offset the card’s $550 annual fee: a $300 annual travel credit. This credit is automatically applied to a wide range of travel purchases, including airfare and hotels.

WINGTIPS/FACEBOOK

The Sapphire Reserve also comes with a full-fledged Priority Pass Select membership, including guesting privileges and access to Priority Pass restaurants (through July) and access to Chase Sapphire Lounges for cardholders and up to two guests. With the Reserve, you’ll also get access to a premium concierge service, a Global Entry / TSA PreCheck application fee credit and several useful travel and baggage insurance policies.

Cardholders also enjoy an included minimum of one year of free food delivery with DoorDash DashPass (when activated by December 31).

The Amex Gold rewards foodies with an up to $10 monthly dining credit valid at the following merchants: Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Cardholders also receive up to $120 in annual Uber Cash issued in $10 monthly increments and valid on Uber rides or Uber Eats purchases. If you max out both benefits, you’ll wind up with $240 in annual statement credits, almost completely erasing the card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve. It offers more perks in just about every category than the cheaper Amex Gold. Ultimately, though, you’ll need to see which card’s benefits you’ll be able to use easily.

Related: How to use the Amex Gold dining credit

Earning points on the Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold

Here’s how the two cards stack up when it comes to earning points on your purchases:

Chase Sapphire Reserve American Express Gold Card
Earning rates 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rental purchases through the Chase travel portal

10 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025)

5 points per dollar on flights purchased through the Chase travel portal

3 points per dollar on travel and dining

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

4 points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar)

3 points per dollar on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

The Amex Gold is clearly designed to be a foodie-friendly card, and that’s reflected in the bonus categories.

That 4 points per dollar on groceries (an 8% return based on TPG’s valuations) is one of the best earning rates you’ll find from any card. The Amex Gold also has an edge when dining at restaurants, as its 4 points per dollar (8% return) again wins out over 3 points per dollar (6.15%) on the Sapphire Reserve.

PEKIC/GETTY IMAGES

For travel, the cards tie in airfare purchases made directly with the airline, but the Sapphire Reserve is stronger for all other travel purchases. Travel bookings, including hotels, group tours, rental cars, and even parking meters and tolls all earn 3 points per dollar on the Sapphire Reserve versus 1 point on the Amex Gold. Like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Amex Gold’s airfare bonus is limited and only applies to purchases made directly with the airline or at amextravel.com.

Winner: Amex Gold. These cards target slightly different audiences, but even before adjusting for the lower annual fee, the Amex Gold offers a higher earning potential.

Related: Which purchases count as travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Redeeming points on the Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold

TPG values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2.05 cents and Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents, but the programs each have strengths and weaknesses that could cause you to pick one over the other.

Chase points can be redeemed for travel through Chase Travel℠ or for other items such as gift cards and even as a statement credit. You’ll also get a 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel through Chase Travel.

ROB LEWINE/GETTY IMAGES

With Amex, you can redeem your points for travel directly through AmexTravel.com or, if you’re like TPG writer Ryan Wilcox and prefer the simplest options, for gift cards and statement credits.

In both cases, though, you’ll usually be better off transferring your points to one of Chase or Amex’s transfer partners for maximum value.

Winner: Tie. Both travel programs are comparable and extremely valuable.

Transferring points on the Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold

The Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards programs have several high-value transfer partners in common, including Virgin Atlantic, Singapore KrisFlyer, Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards and British Airways Executive Club.

Amex points will probably come out ahead if you’re primarily looking to fly long-haul premium cabin flights, thanks to 1:1 transfer partners such as ANA Mileage Club and Air Canada Aeroplan. Chase has fewer airline transfer partners but is much better for those looking to redeem points for hotel stays, thanks to 1:1 transfers to World of Hyatt.

NICK ELLIS/THE POINTS GUY

Transfer partners are the best way to maximize your points, especially if you want to stay at luxury hotels or fly in fancy premium cabins. However, if you value simplicity and flexibility, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers another redemption option that might interest you.

Winner: Tie. Factors such as your travel preferences and home airport could easily push you to one program over another.

Related: Why all travelers should earn transferable points

Should I get the Sapphire Reserve or Amex Gold?

If you’re eligible for both of these cards, they make an all-star pairing, and there’s a real case for having both in your wallet. These two cards complement each other very well regarding benefits and earning and redeeming points. But if you must pick between one or the other, though, you’ll have to decide if you want better earning rates and a lower annual fee (Amex Gold) or luxury travel benefits (Sapphire Reserve).

Related: Are premium credit cards worth the annual fee?

Bottom line

Despite not technically being a premium card, the Amex Gold gives the Chase Sapphire Reserve a run for its money in several different categories.

These two cards complement each other quite well but also target slightly different audiences. The Amex Gold is a go-to card for all things food-related, while the Sapphire Reserve focuses on luxury travel experiences.

For more details, check out our full reviews of the Amex Gold and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.


Apply here: Amex Gold

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred


For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

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