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

May 5, 2022

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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 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first six months.
Annual fee $95. $250 (see rates and fees).
Earning rates
  • 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal.
  • 5 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2025.
  • 5 points per dollar on each Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchase over $450 through June 2022 (maximum earning of 25,000 total points).
  • 3 points per dollar on dining.
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.
  • 3 points per dollar on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar on travel.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants. 
  • 4 points per dollar on U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Point valuation* 2 cents. 2 cents.
Perks
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards.
  • Cardmember anniversary bonus — earn 10% of your points back each year.
  • Up to $120 annual dining statement credit (up to $10 monthly). Enrollment through the Amex website is required.
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 monthly credits). Enrollment is required.
  • $100 hotel experience credit when you use your card to book a stay of two nights or more through Amex’s The Hotel Collection.
Travel protections
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
  • Primary car rental insurance.
  • Baggage insurance.
  • Trip delay reimbursement.
  • Travel and emergency assistance services.
  • Baggage insurance (underwritten by Amex Assurance Company).**
  • Trip delay reimbursement (underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company).**
  • Rental car insurance (underwritten by Amex Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.).**

*Point valuations calculated by TPG, not the issuer.
**Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

Welcome offer

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses on the market — earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from 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 $750 of “free travel” if you redeem directly through the Chase portal — but more on that later.

The Amex Gold Card currently has 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.

While the Preferred bonus is obviously higher, keep in mind that you have an additional three months to earn the Amex Gold’s offer compared to the Sapphire Preferred. 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 less, the Amex Gold gives you twice as long 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 review

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Earning

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers useful bonus categories, but 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 triple points.

Keep in mind that Chase also earns 5 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2025, plus 5 points per dollar on each Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchase over $450 through June 2022 (max earn of 25,000 total points).

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

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants.
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).
  • 3 points per dollar 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 and a 6% return, respectively. They are more generous than the bonus categories on the Sapphire Preferred, but also more restrictive. In addition to the $25,000 cap each calendar year on the 4 points per dollar supermarket bonus, it only applies in the U.S.

Winner: Amex Gold. A card that earns rewards on groceries and dining at restaurants is important to have in your 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 Sapphire Preferred.

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 14 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 Sapphire Preferred 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, if you have the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get a 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel, making your points worth 1.25 cents each. 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 time learning how to hunt for award space.

Additionally, you can use points on some non-travel purchases through Chase’s 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 and baggage loss and delay insurance. 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.

The Amex Gold offers a number of excellent benefits, including:

  • Up to $120 annual dining statement credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Amex Gold Card at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Baand select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash: Earn up to $10 in Uber Cash monthly for Uber Eats and Uber rides in the U.S. You must add the card to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit. This perk is a monthly statement credit similar to the Uber Cash on The Platinum Card® from American Express. Enrollment is required.
  • Up to $100 in hotel credits: Cardmembers who use their card to book a stay of two nights or more through Amex’s The Hotel Collection receive a $100 on-site credit for qualifying activities. Depending on the property, this could include dining, spa treatments or other activities.

Cardholders will also receive the following travel protections:

  • Baggage insurance: If your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged when you’re traveling with a common carrier and you purchased your ticket with the Amex Gold, you’ll be eligible for up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage. For New York State residents, there is a $10,000 aggregate maximum limit for all covered persons per covered trip. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.**
  • Trip delay reimbursement: If you purchase your trip with the card and your travel is delayed more than 12 hours because of a covered reason, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement of up to $300 for eligible expenses such as meals, lodging and toiletries per covered trip. You are allowed up to two claims per eligible card account every 12 months. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.**
  • Rental car insurance: Use your card to pay for an entire car rental and decline the agency’s collision damage waiver and you will receive secondary coverage for damage or theft. There are exclusions to what types of rentals are covered, which regions or territories coverage is available in and other conditions to be aware of, so be sure to read your benefits guide. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.**

**Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

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 Sapphire Preferred 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 is 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 Chase credit cards, including the Sapphire Preferred.

Chase also has another restriction: current holders of either the Sapphire Preferred or the premium Sapphire Reserve, as well as anyone who has received a bonus for either card in the last 48 months, will be ineligible for a new 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 the company 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 4 points per dollar 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, click here.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox and 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.