Should I Get the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Preferred?
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TPG reader Matt emailed me to ask:
“I am currently 22 and undecided if I should invest in an Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I do enjoy traveling, mostly to Las Vegas (and I’m a fan of the Centurion lounge) and on cruises. I’m aware of the annual fees for both cards, but was seeking your personal recommendation as to which I should apply for.”
Right off the bat, knowing very little about Matt except that he’s 22, I would assume that since he’s young, his income probably isn’t high. The $550 annual fee for The Platinum Card from American Express may be excessive if you’re on a tight budget. For that reason, my gut says the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the better bet. The annual fee is a relatively low $95, and is waived the first year, making it a much more affordable card. The earning potential is also higher on that card, as you get two Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining.
However, Matt did mention he loves the Centurion Lounge. Entrance to those lounges without the Amex Platinum is $50 (for other Amex cardholders), so a lot of the answer depends on how much he’s going to that lounge and paying for it out of pocket. If you go to Vegas twice a year and visit the lounge there on your way in and out of McCarran, you’ll save $200 with the Platinum card, or even more if you travel with a friend.
The $200 airline credit brings the annual fee down to $250 (which is five entrances to the Centurion lounge if you look it that way), and the card has a variety of other perks. However, many of those perks are only good if you’re staying at high-end hotels or buying premium concert tickets and want access to events.
In general, getting the Amex Platinum only makes sense if you can really take advantage of all the benefits. If it’s lounge access you’re after, you could consider getting the Amex Everyday card, which accrues Membership Rewards points, has better earning than the Platinum card, and will allow you to access Centurion Lounges (at $50 per visit) for as long as you have the card. If you’re only visiting the lounge a couple times a year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Everyday with no annual fee are probably the better bet. You can use the Sapphire Preferred as your main card and build up the balance, and use the Amex Everyday to enter the Centurion Lounge.
Of course, if you have a higher budget, you could go ahead and get both cards, but if you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with annual fees, get the the Sapphire Preferred and Everyday cards.
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