Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. the Amex Gold Card: Which one is right for you?

Feb 26, 2021

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For many, the $500-plus annual fees that come with ultra-premium travel credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express aren’t justifiable. Unless you’re traveling somewhat regularly and utilizing the full lineup of perks and credits, it may not be worth it to add those cards to your wallet right now. However, both Chase and Amex have excellent cards that fall beneath their premium versions — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the American Express® Gold Card.

While both of these cards act as the sister cards to their luxury counterparts, there are a lot of differences between the two. Today, we’re walking through a side-by-side comparison of these cards to help you figure out which is right for you (or whether both can be used in tandem in your wallet).

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In This Post

Comparison overview

Card Chase Sapphire Preferred Card American Express Gold Card
Welcome bonus 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months
Annual fee $95 $250 (see rates & fees)
Earning rates
  • 5x on Lyft through March 2022
  • 2x on dining
  • 2x on travel
  • 2x on groceries through April 2021
  • 1x on everything else
  • 4x on dining at restaurants 
  • 4x on U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com
  • 1x on everything else
Point valuation* 2 cents 2 cents
Perks One year of complimentary DashPass membership with DoorDash
  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits (enrollment required for select benefits)
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 monthly credits)
Travel protections
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Baggage insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • Global Assist hotline

 

*Point valuations calculated by TPG, not the issuer. 

Sign-up bonus/welcome offer

The Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to offer one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses on the market — earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at an even 2 cents each, making this bonus worth $1,200. At the very least, you’re guaranteed to get $1,000 of “free travel” if you redeem directly through the Chase portal, but more on that later.

The Amex Gold Card is currently offering a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first six months of account opening, worth $1,200, based on TPG’s valuations.

These offers are similar, but keep in mind that you have an additional three months to earn the Amex Gold’s offer compared to the CSP. Plus, you could be targeted for a higher welcome offer on the Amex Gold through the CardMatch tool or through a referral link (offers subject to change at any time). And Amex has brought back the bling with the return of the Rose Gold card.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Winner: Amex Gold. Even though you’re getting the same amount of points, the Amex Gold gives you a longer period to earn the bonus. Plus, there’s the potential to earn an even higher bonus through the CardMatch tool.

Related: American Express Gold card review

Annual fee

While both cards may fall into the “mid-tier” category, the Amex Gold does come with a significantly higher annual fee than the Sapphire Preferred, at $250 (see rates and fees). The Chase Sapphire Preferred only charges $95 per year. Of course, the Amex Gold does come with higher earning rates and more perks and credits to help offset the cost of the annual fee. But if you aren’t spending enough to offset the cost of the Amex Gold, you may want to go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred only charges $95 per year, which is a more modest annual fee for anyone shopping for a mid-tier credit card.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Earning

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers simple and useful bonus categories: unlimited 2x points on all travel and dining purchases. That works out to a 4% return based on TPG’s valuations. The real highlight isn’t just the categories themselves but how broadly they’re defined.

Travel means the standard hotels and airfare, but it also includes Uber, parking meters, limousine rentals and a whole host of other pleasant surprises. You’ll find the same thing with dining, as everything from bars and restaurants to food trucks and meal delivery services will earn you double points.

Keep in mind that Chase also comes with 5x on Lyft through March 2022 and 2x on groceries through April 2021.

However, the Amex Gold shines brighter when it comes to its earning structure:

  • 4x at restaurants
  • 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel
  • Terms apply

With Membership Rewards points worth 2 cents each based on TPG valuations, these bonus categories translate to an 8% return (4x) and a 6% return (3x), respectively. They are more generous than the bonus categories on the CSP but also more restrictive. In addition to the $25,000 cap each calendar year on the 4x supermarket bonus, it only applies in the U.S.

Winner: Amex Gold. Especially in 2021, a card that earns rewards on groceries and dining at restaurants is important to have in your card lineup. The fact that the Amex Gold also earns at a higher rate puts this card on top, even if the bonus category definitions are more limited than the CSP’s.

Related: Why the Amex Gold is the perfect ‘in-between’ credit card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Redeeming

Both of these cards are similar in that they earn some of the most valuable transferable points currencies around. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are a fan favorite, thanks to 13 incredibly valuable hotel and airline transfer partners, including United, Southwest, Hyatt and British Airways.

American Express Membership Rewards has its own suite of valuable partners, including Delta, Air Canada, Avianca and also British Airways.

TPG values both loyalty currencies at 2 cents each, but your travel habits might make one currency better than the other.

For example, if you live in a Delta hub, you might get more value out of Membership Rewards points, while those who have a coveted Southwest Companion Pass can get some insane value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards. I’ve personally found Avianca LifeMiles to be one of the most rewarding programs for my long-haul travels, and so I have a slight preference for Amex points over Chase.

There is one clear redemption benefit that the CSP has over the Amex Gold, which is specific to the card itself and not the points. Both Chase and Amex offer a pay with points option through their respective travel portals. However, CSP cardholders will get a 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel, making their points worth 1.25 cents each (which is also why the CSP bonus is worth “a minimum” of $1,000). If you’re new to the world of points, these direct redemptions can be a low-effort way to get some free travel without having to spend any time learning how to hunt for award space.

Additionally, you can use points on some non-travel purchases through Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back program.

Winner: I give the Chase Sapphire Preferred a slight edge here, but it’s easy to imagine scenarios where the Amex Gold Card and Membership Rewards points would be more valuable.

Perks and travel protections

(Photo courtesy of GrubHub)
Use your Amex Gold annual dining credit at food delivery service Grubhub. (Photo courtesy of GrubHub)

In exchange for a $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers many travel perks, although they all fall into the category of things you hope you don’t have to use.

These perks include rental car insurance, trip delay and cancellation insurance, baggage loss and delay insurance and several other lesser-known benefits. These are a great safety net while you travel, but they don’t do much to enhance your day-to-day life when everything is going according to plan. Because of a partnership with DoorDash, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders also currently get a complimentary year of DashPass, the food delivery service’s membership plan.

The Amex Gold Card now has a much higher annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees) — which is not waived for the first year, as it was with the Premier Rewards Gold Card — but it offers up to $240 in annual statement credits to offset that higher fee. The credits break down as follows:

  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits — Cardholders will receive a $10 monthly credit that can be used at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Shake Shack. Enrollment required for select benefits.
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash — Cardholders will receive a $10 monthly credit in the form of Uber Cash that can be used on U.S. Uber rides and Uber Eats orders. Just remember to add your card to the Uber app to receive this benefit. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Cardholders will also receive baggage loss and damage insurance, as well as double points on hotels booked through the Amex Hotel Collection and an up-to-$100 property credit on stays of two nights or more.

Another great benefit of the Amex Gold Card is the ability to access Amex Offers, which offer valuable cash back or bonus points on purchases you already planned to make. While many Amex cards get you access to Amex Offers, some of the most rewarding offers are highly targeted, so having another card couldn’t hurt.

Winner: While the CSP is a good value for the price, the Amex Gold Card ends up costing less out of pocket if you’re able to max out the Uber and dining credits. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Don’t forget: Bonus eligibility

Unfortunately, just because you want a credit card and its bonus doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get it.

Chase and Amex each have their own rules that will restrict a different subset of customers from applying for these cards. With Chase, there’s the infamous 5/24 rule. Generally speaking, this means that if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months, you’ll be automatically rejected for most credit cards, including the CSP.

Chase also has another restriction, so that current holders of either the CSP or the premium Sapphire Reserve, as well as anyone who has received a bonus for either Sapphire in the last 48 months, will be ineligible for a new CSP bonus.

With Amex, the restriction is much simpler, and it comes in the form of the “once per lifetime” bonus policy. While Amex limits the number of total credit cards you can hold with them at once, in terms of bonuses, the primary question is if you’ve ever had this card before. Amex even added a tool to its website that will tell you if you’re ineligible for a welcome offer before you pull the trigger and apply for the card.

Related: Ultimate guide to application restrictions

Bottom line

Eligibility aside, there are pros and cons to each of these cards depending on your spending patterns and redemption goals.

Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be a “this or that” decision; there’s room for both of these cards in a well-developed points strategy. The Sapphire family, whether you have a Preferred or Reserve, includes some of the most valuable credit cards on the market, but the 4x bonus categories on the Amex Gold beat anything that Chase offers in terms of return on spending. These cards complement each other well, and I plan on keeping both of them in my arsenal.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.