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

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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.

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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!

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit