Travel

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

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and card details.


For many, the $500-plus annual fees that come with ultra-premium travel 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 travel cards that fall beneath their premium versions — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the American Express® Gold Card.

Learn which card in your wallet will help you reach your travel goals – just download the free TPG App.

While both of these cards act as sister cards to their luxury counterparts, there are many differences between them. 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 deserve spots in your wallet.

Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Gold overview

Here’s a quick overview that compares the key perks on the two cards (note that enrollment is required for select benefits):

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.
  • 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, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. 
  • 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).
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 monthly credits).
  • The Hotel Collection, which offers a $100 hotel experience credit when you use your card to book a stay of two nights or more at participating properties through Amex Travel.
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 are calculated by TPG, not the issuer.
**Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Welcome offer

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a compelling sign-up bonus for first-time applicants. You’ll 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 nearly-identical 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.

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While the number of points you’ll earn is identical, 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).

SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Winner: Amex Gold, which 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 fall into the “mid-tier” category, the Amex Gold comes 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 comes with higher earning rates alongside additional perks to help offset the annual fee. But if you aren’t spending enough to cover the higher 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

JOHN GRIBBEN/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.

With it, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on a few notable categories:

  • Dining, including not just restaurants but many bars, breweries, food trucks and even meal delivery services.
  • Select streaming services, including Apple, Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, SiriusXM, Spotify, and YouTube TV, among others.
  • Online grocery stores, including Instacart and many meal delivery services but excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs.

You’ll also receive 2 points per dollar on purchases Chase categorizes as travel, which includes obvious ones like hotels, airfare and rental cards. However, this also extends to things like Uber, parking meters, limousine rentals and a host of other transactions. However, this jumps to 5 points per dollar for travel booked using the Chase Travel portal (excluding hotel reservations that qualify for the $50 credit).

Finally, the Sapphire Preferred also earns 5 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2025.

These are solid rates on a wide variety of purchases. However, the Amex Gold may shine brighter when it comes to its earning structure:

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide.
  • 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.

These are more generous rates than the Sapphire Preferred, but the categories are a bit more restrictive. In addition to the $25,000 cap each calendar year on the supermarket bonus, it only applies in the U.S. In addition, you’ll only earn 3 points per dollar spent on flights, whereas the Sapphire Preferred’s bonus

Winner: Amex Gold. It’s important to have cards with strong bonus categories in your lineup, especially for common purchases like groceries and dining. The fact that the Amex Gold also earns at a higher rate puts this card on top, even if the category definitions are more limited than the Sapphire Preferred.

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

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 over a dozen valuable hotel and airline transfer partners, including United, Southwest, Hyatt and British Airways.

Meanwhile, American Express Membership Rewards has its own suite of valuable partners. This includes some that overlap with Chase — like Air Canada Aeroplan and British Airways. However, some are different, including Delta SkyMiles, Avianca LifeMiles and ANA Mileage Club.

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 transferring your Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles, while those who have a coveted Southwest Companion Pass can get some incredible value by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Rapid Rewards.

If you’re not interested in transfers, both cards offer an option to pay with points when booking through their travel portals. However, the Sapphire Preferred has an advantage in this case, as you’ll get a 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel. Amex points used in this way are only worth 1 cent apiece for flights — and less than that for hotels.

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred has 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

Use your Amex Gold annual dining credit at food delivery service Grubhub. GRUBHUB

In exchange for a $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers many travel perks, including a $50 annual hotel credit for bookings through Chase Travel and a 10% points bonus on your cardmember anniversary. You’ll also gain access to Chase Offers with the card.

However, most of the other benefits fall into the category of things you hope you don’t have to use.

This includes protections like 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 perks (enrollment is required for select benefits):

  • 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 Bar and select Shake Shack locations.
  • 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.
  • 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 details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

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. And these offers tend to be more widespread than the similar offering from Chase.

Winner: Toss-up. While the Sapphire Preferred is a good value for the price, the Amex Gold Card costs less out of pocket if you can make the most of its Uber and dining credits.

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 across all issuers in the last 24 months, you’ll be automatically rejected for most Chase credit cards, including the Sapphire Preferred.

Chase also has another restriction specific to its Sapphire lineup of cards. Current holders of either the Sapphire Preferred or the premium Sapphire Reserve — and 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 a “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 has a tool on its website that should 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

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold cards are excellent mid-tier cards, offering terrific earning rates, solid benefits and affordable annual fees.

Which card is better for you depends on your spending habits, but remember that 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.

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

Additional reporting by Emily Thompson, Ryan Wilcox and Madison Blancaflor.

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