/Amex and Chase points are the two most valuable types of credit card rewards — here are their biggest differences

Amex and Chase points are the two most valuable types of credit card rewards — here are their biggest differences


This post contains links to products from our advertisers, and we may be compensated when you click on these links. Our recommendations and advice are ours alone, and have not been reviewed by any issuers listed. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

If you’re looking for a credit card that earns you rewards on all your purchases, you have no shortage of options. You can choose a luxury travel rewards card like The Platinum Card® from American Express
, which offers perks like airport lounge access, elite hotel status, and annual airline fee credits**. You can also choose a card with a much lower annual fee and more basic benefits like the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

The Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred earn points in two different programs — American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, respectively. Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards are easily the two most popular flexible programs available today, but there are differences in the cards that accrue these points and how the programs themselves work for consumers.

So how do you decide which program makes the most sense for you?  If you’re in the market for a new travel credit card but can’t decide between Chase points and Amex points, this guide should make the decision much easier.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are flexible rewards you can earn with top Chase credit cards, including:

Note that you can also earn Chase Ultimate Rewards with cash-back credit cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited, but that these points don’t transfer to airline and hotel partners unless you have an annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card.

When you start earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll notice right away that there are so many ways you can redeem them. You can cash in points for gift cards and merchandise, and you can even use them to stop on Amazon.com or the Apple Store. You can also redeem rewards for experiences and travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

With premier travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and Ink Business Preferred card, you can also transfer points 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners. This means you’ll get 1,000 airline or hotel points for every 1,000 points you transfer to Chase partners.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be especially valuable when you transfer points to airline and hotel partners. For example, you could transfer points to the World of Hyatt program and stay in a luxury hotel that might cost $1,000 or more per night.

You could also transfer points to an airline partner to redeem for a business or first-class flight. In the example below, you could transfer just 58,000 Chase points to Air France-KLM Flying Blue then book a business-class flight from New York City to Paris on a Boeing 777-300 ER for just $210.77 in airline taxes and fees.

NYC to Paris

You can transfer Chase points to airline partners like Air France-KLM Flying Blue for award flights.

Holly Johnson


The same flight could cost as much as $8,200 or more if you booked it as a one-way, although one-way flights with this airline are typically pricey compared to round-trip flights with this airline.

NYC to Paris 2

You’ll often get the most value when you transfer points and redeem them for business or first-class flights.

Holly Johnson


Either way, one of the main benefits of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is the fact that, if you have one of the premier travel credit cards like the
Sapphire Preferred, you have the option to explore all the rewards opportunities with Chase hotel and airline transfer partners.

However, you don’t have to redeem these rewards for travel. You can also cash in points for statement credits or gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point, or even for merchandise through the Chase portal.

Regular APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable


Chevron icon
It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High sign-up bonus starts you off with lots of points
    • Strong travel coverage
    Cons
    • Doesn’t offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
    • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
    • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
    • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
    • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
    • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
    • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.


    Read Our Review

    Read Our Review
    A looong arrow, pointing right

    Pros of Chase Ultimate Rewards points

    • You can get more value for your points when you redeem them for travel through the Chase portal. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, you’ll get 50% more travel when you use points in the portal. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred, on the other hand, you get 25% more travel.
    • Chase Ultimate Rewards cards offer significant sign-up bonuses that let you rack up points quickly. Chase cards come with generous welcome bonuses. This includes the Chase Ink Business Preferred, which gives you 100,000 points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Chase lets you pool points with a partner or spouse that lives at your same address. This is a huge benefit for families who want to pool all their points together to maximize redemptions.
    • Chase lets you pool all your points in a premier travel credit card account before you redeem. For example, you can pool points earned with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom Unlimited into your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve account to get 1:1 transfers to airlines and hotels. 
    • Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back feature gives you great value when you use points to cover dining and groceries. Chase introduced the Pay Yourself Back feature during the coronavirus pandemic to give cardholders a non-travel option for using points. It lets you redeem your points on eligible cards to cover dining, grocery, home improvement, and eligible charity purchases at a rate of 1.25 or 1.50 cents per point, depending on the card you have (through September 30, 2021).

    Cons of Chase Ultimate Rewards points

    • Premier Chase travel credit cards all charge an annual fee. The only real “downside” of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is the fact that all the top cards in this program charge an annual fee.

    This brings us to the American Express Membership Rewards program, which is similar to the Chase Ultimate Rewards with a few key differences.

    One thing you’ll notice right away with this program is the fact that there are so many Amex cards you can use to earn rewards. You can opt for a premium travel card like the Platinum Card if you’re willing to pay the hefty $550 annual fee (See Rates), but you can also earn Membership Rewards points with a card like the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
    , which doesn’t charge an annual fee.

    Once again, there are plenty of ways to redeem rewards in this program. With American Express Membership Rewards, you can pay with points at checkout with merchants like Amazon.com, Boxed.com, and Dell.com.

    amex pic

    You’ve got a wide variety of redemption options beyond travel with Amex Membership Rewards points.

    Holly Johnson


    You can also redeem rewards for gift cards or shop for merchandise through the Amex website. Finally, you have the option to
    book travel directly through American Express Travel, including hotels, airfare, cruises, and travel packages.

    The American Express Membership Rewards program includes the following transfer partners:

    Like the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, American Express Membership Rewards offers the most bang for your buck when you transfer points to airline and hotel partners. However, you don’t have to use these rewards for travel at all, since there are so many other ways to cash in points for gift cards or merchandise.

    Pros of American Express Membership Rewards points

    • Redeem your rewards for superior travel redemptions, including transfers to airlines and hotels. One of the biggest advantages of the Amex Membership Rewards program is the fact there are so many ways to cash in your points. However, you’ll get the most bang for your buck with transfers to airlines for redemptions in premium cabins.
    • You can earn American Express Membership Rewards without paying an annual fee. Several cards let you earn Membership Rewards without an annual fee, including the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (See Rates).
    • Some cards offer bonus points back when you redeem points for airfare. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
      gives you 35% in bonus points when you redeem points for airfare on American Express Travel (up to 500,000 points back each calendar year), while the American Express® Business Gold Card
       gives you 25% of your points back (up to 250,000 points back each calendar year).
    • You can use points to bid for flight upgrades. American Express offers the option to use points to bid for upgrades on flights you’ve already booked.

    Cons of American Express Membership Rewards points

    • Redemption values aren’t that great for merchandise, shopping, and gift cards. Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, which typically lets you get 1 cent per point in value for gift cards or statement credits, Amex redemptions aren’t that generous. You’ll normally get 0.5 cents per point to 1 cent per point for gift cards and cash, and up to 0.7 cents per point for merchandise from select retailers. Other redemption values can vary.
    • You can’t pool points with a spouse or partner. This program doesn’t let you pool points in a single account with a partner or spouse, although all the points you earn across multiple cards will collect in a single Membership Rewards account.

    How to decide between Chase points and Amex points

    If you can’t decide between Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, there are some serious questions you should be asking yourself. For example:

    • Which program has transfer partners I’ll actually use?
    • Which credit card in each program has additional benefits I’ll take advantage of?
    • Am I willing to pay an annual fee on a credit card?
    • Do I want to pool points with a partner or spouse, then redeem them together?

    Most of the time, the best rewards program for you is the one that has the transfer partners you’ll actually use. In that sense, Chase Ultimate Rewards tends to come out ahead, since it has popular transfer partners most Americans are familiar with, including Southwest Rapid Rewards, World of Hyatt, and United MileagePlus, to name a few.

    On the other hand, American Express Membership Rewards has more transfer partners in total, including ones that can be hard to transfer points to otherwise. If you’re a huge Delta Air Lines flyer, for example, you may want to stick with Membership Rewards and also pick up a co-branded Delta credit card to get benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding.

    If you really just want to redeem rewards for cash back or gift cards, Chase Ultimate Rewards is a better deal. That’s because you’ll typically get 1 cent per point in value for these redemptions, whereas American Express Membership Rewards redemptions for cash, merchandise, and gift cards are typically worth less than that. And with the Pay Yourself Back feature on the Chase Sapphire cards, your points are extra valuable toward dining, groceries, and home-improvement purchases.

    Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

    Featured Reward

    75,000 points after you spend at least $5,000 in your first 6 months of card membership


    Chevron icon
    It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    Cons
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
    • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
    • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
    • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
    • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
    • $550 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.


    Read Our Review

    Read Our Review
    A looong arrow, pointing right

    Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel.

    Original Source