So you’re considering a mid-tier travel rewards credit card? If you’ve narrowed down your choices to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Amex Gold Card (Learn More), here’s everything you need to know about both, so you can make the decision that’s right for you.
There’s a big difference here.
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card comes with a $95 annual fee
- The Amex Gold card comes with a $250 annual fee (Compare This Card With Others)
The former waives the annual fee the first year, the latter does not. However, both come with perks and bonuses, waivers and such, that do help to offset the annual fees.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card welcome bonus is currently 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents, so that means the card’s welcome bonus is about $625.
The Amex Gold Card’s welcome bonus is 25,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months. This equals out to about $450 in travel.
Deciding between the two cards based on welcome bonuses alone, if you know you can’t meet the $4,000 spending requirement for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, then the Amex Gold Card is the best way to go. However, just keep in mind that you’ll receive $450 in travel versus $625 — this, though, isn’t too bad when you consider that you only have to spend half the amount.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you…
- 2X points on all restaurants and travel
- 1X points on everything else
The great thing about this is, the Chase Sapphire Preferred interprets “travel” very loosely. So you can earn 2X points on everything from airlines to hotels, discount travel sites to Uber, campgrounds to Airbnb, toll bridges to parking. In all likelihood, you’ll probably earn quite a bit of these “travel” points not traveling at all, but just through living your daily life.
The Amex Gold card gives you…
- 4X points at all restaurants and grocery stores
- 3X points on all travel booked directly with an airline or through Amex Travel
With the 4X points at grocery stores and restaurants, do note that the grocery store spending is capped at $25,000 annually and all grocery stores and restaurants must be in the United States.
So, based on earning potential, how do you make a choice between these two cards? Well, the Amex Gold is great if you spend a lot on restaurants and groceries but little on travel booked direct or through Amex Travel. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great if you spend a lot on travel of all kinds, but little on just about anything else.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gives you a variety of perks…but not as much value as the Amex Gold. Let’s see what you get.
Chase Sapphire Preferred extra cardholder perks and bonuses:
- Primary rental car insurance
- Trip delay insurance
- Trip cancelation protection and insurance
- Baggage loss protection
- Baggage delay protection
Amex Gold extra cardholder perks and bonuses (Learn More):
- $100 airline incidental credit (to be used toward checked baggage, advanced seat choices, etc.)
- $75 resort credit at select properties
- $10 of dining credit per month (to be used at Shake Shack, Grubhub, Seamless, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or The Cheesecake Factory)
- Access to the Amex Offers program
The Bottom Line
What’s the bottom line when it comes to choosing between these two cards?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a better choice if you plan to spend a lot on travel, all kinds of travel. You can basically travel anyway you want, anywhere you want with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and earn 2X points. While the Amex offers 3X points on travel, it’s very limited as to what kind of travel you can earn on.
However, if you spend more on restaurants and groceries than travel and you don’t mind booking direct with an airline or via the Amex travel portal when you do travel, then the Amex Gold (Learn More) might be worth it to you thanks to the travel perks alone. You get that $100 airline credit, a $75 resort credit at select properties and access to the Amex Offers program. The amount of perks that come with the Amex Gold card outweighs its heftier annual fee, making that aspect irrelevant.