American Express recently slammed Chase for being 18 months behind it, no matter what it did. I hold a different view.
Doug Buckminster, President of the American Express Global Consumer Services Group, said:
JPMorgan is staffed by a whole bunch of AMEX alums who at least know our historic playbook and I always assume are 18 months behind whatever feature or functionality we introduce. They’re going to show up with a knocked-off version.
Of course the glaring exception was the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which caught American Express by surprise. But now American Express says its Platinum membership is up 60% and half of the new accountholders are under 35 years (that explains the lounge crowding…).
But back to Buckminster’s statement. Is American Express 18 months ahead of Chase? Or might it be the other way around? Because I can think of 18 reasons why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is ahead of American Express Platinum:
- Priority Pass on Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with restaurant access, unlike the American Express variant.
- Chase does not charge an excise tax on transfers to domestic partners, unlike American Express.
- Chase customer service is typically not offshore, unlike American Express, when you call the number on the back of your card.
- Chase offers Sapphire Reserve customers $300 in annual travel credit versus $200 on American Express.
- Chase allows you to use your travel credit on any travel purchase (airline tickets, hotels, taxis, Uber, etc.) while American Express only discounts ancillary purchases from one pre-selected airline.
- Sapphire Reserve customers earn 3x the points on all hotel stays while American Express does not offer a bonus unless you book the hotel directly with American Express (and potentially forfeit elite benefits).
- Chase allows easy transfer of Ultimate Rewards points between a household member.
- The Hyatt partnership with Chase is perhaps the single most valuable hotel partnership in the industry.
- When redeeming miles per travel, American Express offers only 1 cent per point while Chase offers 1.5 cents per point.
- AMEX airfare bonus must be booked directed with the airline while Chase airfare bonus can be booked from any source.
- Chase offers Sapphire Reserve customers primary coverage on car rentals while American Express only offers Platinum customers secondary coverage.
- Chase gives you 3x the points on dining versus 1x on AMEX.
- Chase offers $2,500 in emergency medical or dental coverage, AMEX offers nothing.
- Chase offers up to $10,000 in trip interruption insurance, AMEX offers nothing.
- Chase offers up to $500 for trip delays more than six hours, AMEX offers nothing.
- Chase offers up to $100/day for delayed baggage (up to five days) while AMEX offers nothing.
- Chase annual fee is $450 versus $550 on American Express.
- Chase-issued Visa cards are accepted in more places around the world than American Express.
Here’s the bottom line for me: as much as I love Centurion Lounges (when I can find a seat) and appreciate the many Membership Rewards transfer partners, if I had to choose only one card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum, I would choose Chase. Better transfer partners (Hyatt, United), better earnings on travel and dining, my primary spend on the card, and better direct redemptions via the travel portal.
I love my American Express Platinum card and will keep it. I could come up with at least 18 reasons why American Express is 18 months ahead of Chase as well. But the idea that American Express does everything better than Chase is laughable. American Express has much to learn from its competitor in Manhattan.