• Points Travel Nerd

Which card gives me the best bang for my buck?

When I started my journey I asked this very question. The answer depends somewhat on you and your travel goals. Should you get a card that offers miles for a specific airline or hotel? Should you get a luxury card? Maybe a cash back card? To some extent, which one you choose will be determined by your goals, but for this article let's look at which one gives you the most benefits and is easy to use for travel.

To my mind there are two good choices:

  • The American Express Platinum and

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Both cards offer the users a sign on points bonus if you meet a required spend, but they also offer so much more.

Have a drink at the lounge

Lounge Access

If you are spending any time at an airport access to a lounge can make the time pass more pleasantly. Having access to a comfortable seat, food and drinks is a great perk. The Chase card offers access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide. The American Express card offers access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries and counting.

Travel Credits

Each card has a hefty annual fee. The Amex is $550 a year and the Chase card is $450. But each offer ways for you to get that back. American Express offers:

  • An Annual $200 airline fee credit.

  • Reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

  • A $200 Uber reimbursement annually

Chase offers:

  • A $300 travel credit each year and

  • Reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Upgraded Status

Having Instant status at a hotel or car rental company . American Express offers Gold status at Hilton and Marriott. That means more points at the hotels and free breakfast. American Express also offers complimentary elite status with Avis, Hertz and National.

Chase offers elite status with National and Avis, For hotels you have access to the The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. This will give you some benefits at over 900 hotels and resorts around the world. These include:

  • Daily breakfast for two,

  • Complimentary WiFi,

  • A room upgrade, and

  • if available you can get early check-in and late check-out.

More Points

With these cards you also earn more points when you spend money. American Express offers:

  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on their travel site.

  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Chase Offers:

  • Earn 3X points on Travel Worldwide

  • Earn 3X Points on Dining

  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Value of the Points

To me this is where the rubber meets the road. Generally most people value both American Express and Chase points at 2 cents per point. They both have the same spending power. However when you look at earning points with Amex, you get 2 more points per dollar for flights and Hotels. So if you spend $1500 on a trip for airfare and hotel you get

  • 4500 Chase points and

  • 7500 Amex Points

On Chase you are earning $90 in rewards and on Amex you get $150. It would seem that the Amex offers a better deal but you have to look at the other benefits and how you would use them to really make a decision.

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