Amex and Chase points are the two most valuable types of credit card rewards — here are their biggest differences
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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 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.
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.
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.
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High sign-up bonus starts you off with lots of points
Strong travel coverage
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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75,000 points after you spend at least $5,000 in your first 6 months of card membership
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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
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.