Cash point value
Cash is *the* most flexible reward and while travel hackers tout the virtues of transferring points to airlines and hotels, for many people cash is the option to redeem points the most accessible and useful. In this area, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card shines. One of Ultimate Rewards’ many redemption options is statement credit or cash back. When redeemed for cash rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards® are worth 1 cent each and redemptions can be made easily on Chase.com.
If you redeem your points for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase will sweeten the offer and give you 25% more value for your points when you redeem them for travel. When redeemed for travel, your points are worth up to 1.25 cents each, or 10,000 points worth $125 for travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This higher value is also possible when redeeming for other specific purchase categories via “Get Your Money Back”.
American Express offers options to cover card fees or pay with points at a number of merchants, which is close enough to cash back for comparison. Unfortunately, these redemptions pay 0.5 to 0.7 cents per point, which pales in comparison to the cash back value you can get from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Lower annual fees
Annual fees aren’t everything, but they can eat up a significant chunk of the value of premium credit cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card’s $95 annual fee is far less than the hefty $250 per year fee charged by the American Express® Gold Card.
If you’re considering a card with an annual fee, weigh the value of the benefits you’ll receive from the card against the card’s annual fee to see if paying a premium credit card is right for you.
Travel insurance benefits
Both the American Express® Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer travel insurance benefits that can protect you if something goes wrong while traveling with your card. Both cards provide rental car loss and damage insurance, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card benefit is primary insurance, while the American Express® Gold card benefit is secondary insurance.
In addition to coverage for your rental cars, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card adds Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance, Trip Delay Insurance, and Lost and Delayed Baggage Insurance. We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has the best travel insurance you can get on a card with a $95 annual fee.
Both cards also offer a travel assistance service that can make medical and legal referrals, but the costs of the services provided are the responsibility of the cardholder.
Terms apply to American Express Travel Rental Loss Damage Waiver*trip cancellation and interruption insurance*trip delay insurance*delayed baggage insurance*and travel assistance service*.
Transfer partners for US-based travelers
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and American Express® Gold Card offer a long list of airline and hotel transfer partners. Expert mileage and points users will certainly find many points of interest in both programs, but for most US-based travelers, Chase Ultimate Rewards has the edge over American Express Membership Rewards, if only slightly. .
Both cards offer transfers to international airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, Air France/KLM and British Airways, which can be used to book both international award tickets and US domestic flights via partner airlines of each program.
As for North American transfer partners, Chase includes United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and JetBlue TrueBlue. American Express offers transfers to Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan. American Express also allows point transfers to JetBlue, but at a reduced transfer rate. Unless you frequently travel to Canada or Hawaii, Chase’s transfer partners will likely be more helpful for US-based travelers.
Finally, American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards offer point transfers to hotels. Chase and American Express partner with Marriott Bonvoy. American Express offers point transfers to Choice Privileges and Hilton Honors, while Chase offers point transfers to World of Hyatt and IHG Rewards. For many, the most valuable hotel transfer partner will be Hyatt, as it offers lower reward costs than other hotel loyalty programs, giving Chase the edge when it comes to hotel partner transfers.
For most travelers looking to transfer points, Chase will offer more value on average, but your travel habits will determine the value of each bank’s transfer partners to you.