(Video) Sunday Reader Question: Which Program is Better: Amex or Chase?

by on March 11, 2012 · 13 comments

in American Express, Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions, Ultimate Rewards

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The following Sunday reader question comes from TPG reader Jason:

I’m fairly new to *serious* point collecting and just finished my first app-o-rama.  I got lots of great cards from Amex, Chase, & a few other banks.  From what I’ve read on your site, it seems Chase is really giving Amex a run for their money with their fairly new Ultimate Rewards program, especially since United & Southwest are both partners now.

What do you project in terms of the future of these 2 programs?  Any new partnerships on the horizon for 1:1 transfers?  If you had to choose only one for the rest of your life (just out of curiosity) which one would it be and why? 

Great question! In response, I made this video explaining what I think will be the future of each program’s transfer promotions, travel partners, and which of these two great programs I’m concentrating my efforts on.


In general:
Maximize both programs!
American Express Membership Rewards points are great for airline transfers and bonuses. Weaknesses: Hotel and other partner transfers
Chase Ultimate Rewards are great for airline and hotel transfers, like United and Hyatt 1:1. Weak bonuses.

What’s to come? It’s anyone’s guess, but I don’t have any information about future transfer partners. I’d love to see American Airlines get added to either program, but seeing how tight their relationship is with Citi, I don’t see that happening. US Airways used to be a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards so I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen, but I don’t think new transfer partners are a priority for Chase and Amex. However, I would like to see Amex improve the value proposition of their hotel rewards, since that’s a weak spot in that program in my opinion.

Which one would I choose forever? Hard to say because they both have their strong areas. Right now, I do value my Chase Ultimate Rewards points higher because of the United and Hyatt value proposition so I’d probably choose that program if I had to, but I hope I never have to make that decision!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ben

    Great post Brian! However is the Hilton option for amex transfer not considered decent? If I remember correct it’s 1000 Amex = 1500 Hilton points.

  • Dan


    I don’t watch videos, I prefer to read text. So, I might have missed some of the nuances. I have a bit of a problem with the “maximize both” strategy. The AmEx PRG comes with a $175 annual fee, which is only worth paying if one has high volumes of spend. I mean, what’s 5,000 ANA points worth to somebody who never flies ANA? Not much. If I’m splitting spend between multiple cards, I’m spreading myself thin. That $175 is a steep price to pay when I’ll have to wait years to accumulate enough points for a reward. It might make more sense to keep all of my spend on the Sapphire or SPG AmEx and save those annual fees.

  • PJ

    ouch I would love to go the other way 24/7/366. my worst sign on bons ever was the CIti Hitlton for 40K with 1K spend. Many times I asked readers here what to do it the 40K as a non elite member, I drew no clues at all.. I know for sure if i ask Hilton honors to officially transfer into United I will get not many points at all

  • Marianag

    I feel the same way. I now have Amex PRG and Chase Sapphire and I cannot justify having Amex PRG forever with such steep annual fee. Brian, how can a regular person justify Amex PRG if i am putting my expenses all over different credit cards?

  • Santorini Greece Guide

    Awesome! Thanks so much for answering my question….

    I realize it’s sort of a moot point when the “best answer” is to maximize both, but it does seem like focusing on one program could have some benefits. Personally, I really like Chase and see more long-term potential with their program: the annual fee for Sapphire Preferred is reasonable compared to Amex fees, the 1:1 transfers are quick & easy, and the NO foreign transaction fees are such a bonus if you travel abroad frequently.

    Sure, there are fewer transfer partners with Ultimate Rewards but the partners they do have are really valuable. Thanks again for answering my email!


  • Nicholas Kokas

    Is there a dedicated link for Sunday reader questions to post our questions?

    BTW long time reader first time poster! You are truly providing a service to the traveling public.

    What are your thoughts on Delta’s current mile redemption requirements? I know that their mileage search engines are VERY difficult to find those cheaper redemption’s based on your earlier blogs. To me as a customer it seems that my mileage has been devalued dramatically the last 18 or so months. I’m almost afraid to use my mileage this summer for trips to Greece because I feel that holding out on the points for a later time in the future (whether it’s a year or two or more) will give me more bang for the buck. I feel as though it’s better to just use good old American currency to pay for my trips than use mileage because in my opinion it’s a rip off. What do you think? Should we consider the value of miles like the stock market? If so in my opinion the mileage markets have crashed with Delta Airlines and I should wait for the market to rebound.


  • Rick

    Brian, I have Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points that I want to transfer to a hotel partner or a hotel gift card in the next few days. It seems that the value of transferring points to a hotel loyalty program is equal to the value of a hotel gift card so I’m thinking a gift card is the way to go (rather than trying to find a hotel with reward availability when I need it). What do you think? I’ve never used UR, but it doesn’t seem like they offer transfer bonuses like Amex MR.

  • thrashsoundly

    If you were trading UR points for MR points or vice versa, how would you compare their value? 1 UR point = ? MR points

  • Marciematassa

    I’m unclear about this card…I can accrue points and transfer directly into my UAL frequent flyer account ?

  • thepointsguy

    1 UR= 1.25 Amex.. But it all depends really. If you are looking for BA miles, Amex are more valuable with the 50% transfer bonus

  • thepointsguy

    With Sapphire Preferred that is correct.. You accrue points in a central account and can send them directly into yours (or anyone else’s) United account in increments of 1,000

  • Glen

    Love that Ultimate Rewards is transfer partner with United! I just transferred 50k points that I needed (pretty instantly) to United Mileage Plus for a DC to Cyprus to London to DC trip next month! Not happy about the $244 in fees, though. (Cyprus has a $29 airport service charge. WTF!)

    Anyway, thanks for all your wonderful posts!

  • Gregory

    I keep getting “this video is private” message. I tried all main browsers, but got the same message. Is it just me or something doesn’t work?

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