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TPG reader Thomas tweeted me about using credit cards for dining:
@thepointsguy – “Since both Amex Premier Rewards Gold and Chase Sapphire Preferred now offer 2x points on dining, which card are you using for that category?”
In June, American Express amped up rewards on the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, adding 2x points on dining to match the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
While I’m glad to see Amex improving card benefits, I still use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card for all dining purchases, especially on the first Friday of every month, when Chase ups the bonus to 3x points on dining (although this promotion will not be available in 2016). I love using the card for Seamless, which I use a lot to order in to the office, and you can even get 2x points on Postmates, which is a great delivery service I sometimes use to order drinks. And Chase Sapphire gives you 2x points on dining when traveling internationally, while Amex only gives you 2x in the US.
In terms of value, I give the edge to Ultimate Rewards points over Amex Membership Rewards. Chase has fewer transfer partners, but the ones it has are more valuable. I especially love the hotel partners like Hyatt, because the transfer ratio is awesome — just 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points can get you a night in a top-tier Hyatt property that could easily cost well over $1,000 per night in hot destinations such as the Maldives or Paris. As for the airline partners, United can also offer good value.
Essentially, you can get amazing value when you maximize Ultimate Rewards, so the program has really become the foundation of my award travel strategy. I suggest using your Sapphire Preferred card for dining, but when it comes to airfare, the Amex PRG takes the cake. You can generally earn 3x points per dollar spent, or 4x when you buy through Membership Rewards Travel.
Keep in mind the current welcome bonuses for each card:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred — 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months;
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — 25,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months.