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.
And Amex makes you jump through hoops to get your credits. Very restrictive…must pick one airline, must be for charges that are rare in most cases etc. Chase makes things easy; Amex just wants breakage.
I think Doug’s point is not about benefit to the customer.
Ultimately the measure of a company is profitability, not how many perks it offers customers. If a company offers freebies that customers enjoy, without figuring out a parallel way to convert the loyalty gained, into $ back to the company, then it’s only half the job done.
Don’t get me wrong here, as a customer I absolutely consider the CSR to be miles above Amex Platinum (with the only exception being for frequent fliers).
But the point of being ahead or behind will be decided only in the long term; three years of the CSR is too short to comment. There is a likelihood that the ease of redeeming its perks has made it an easy target for gamers who will use it only for the 3% categories and annual perks, and nothing else.
100 percent agree. Chase is ahead of AMEX
Ummmm Amex will have new travel benefits in 1 Jan 2020.
Chase hasn’t refreshed anything. They made a huge buzz with CSR and nothing since.
I don’t think chase is interested in bringing a huge influx of card holders anytime soon.
Voting with my wallet I think your right. Chase’s UR points system is more lucrative and easier to use than what Amex offers with their MR points.
You can put together Amex card combinations that will earn more or equal MR reward points as what Chase permits but with one major exception. The Chase freedom card earns (when paired with a UR earning card) 1.5x points on all spending where with Amex the best you can do on regular spending is 1x. That’s a key advantage to Chase. Combine that with better and more useful transfer partners and I’ve personally not been able to make a case for moving my spend from Chase to Amex.
An interesting question for those of us who don’t accrue huge numbers of points is whether or not to split spend between currencies or go all in with one currency. Personally I’ve felt like I’m better off concentrating my spend because dividing it would result in smaller and less useful pools of points compared to one larger pool that then permits a bigger redemption.
My one exception to this has been Hilton Amex cards. With base earning rates at 3x and meaningful status a benefit of the cards I find that I benefit from pushing some of my spend to these cards which gives me a pool of points I can use when needed for hotel stays. That then enables me to focus my UR points on flight redemptions which I find a better value than Hotel redemptions personally.
121 Pilot Depends on your redemption goals.
Example if you looking for lie flat awards for 2, to Australasia or even other places sometimes it’s easier to pull together with 1-ways on different routes.
You might transfer MR FF going and return using UR FF partner on a different route completely.
I try to have enough Skymiles, AA, UA, AS, MR, UR for the cheapest Biz saver fares. (55K~80K pp) at least until a devaluation comes. This gives you many more options.
I look at 8+ flight time as the minimum to use miles for Biz awards. Otherwise cash PE tickets are often reasonable alternate and tolerable depending on hard product and destination.
Having formerly worked for AMEX I can state that all US Platinum Cards were serviced in North America. Personal cards all came through Ft Lauderdale while Business Platinum accounts were handled from Phoenix. There are other card types that might be serviced from overseas though.
I think this is a really YMMV situation. My impression so far is that West Coast to Asia seems cheaper (by miles) with Amex, while to Europe is slightly cheaper with Chase. But this was before United going dynamic…
Um I disagree AmEx doesn’t offer a ‘travel credit’ they offer a pathetic excuse for the appearance of an airline credit that they make as difficult to use as possible for an ‘elite’ product, fee reimbursement on a single domestic airline for 12 months.
The GC route at least allowed you to redeem for travel on a few airlines (yes some converted GC to cash -but same with travel credits is possible on any elite card).
Yes, I know I can still jump through some hoops to use for travel –but why when CSR, USB AR, etc allow simple painless, mindless annual travel credit redemption. Uber/eats they count on breakage or additional spend, Sak credit -pfft would rather have $50 Amazon GC than $100 Saks credit. SpG Gold, Hilton Gold, Avis, Emerald, meh
Delta lounge (maybe).
Plat. Crap categories other 5X for direct booked flights.
Killing Restaurants with PP, and the overcrowded and negative devaluations to Centurion lounge (as well as opening to DL Reserve card in 2020).
Cancelled our Plat card last month after AF posted.
So the CSR is a keeper unless they kill travel benefits (6hr flight, luggage, etc) or PP Restuarants.
While it’s not a Plat benefit, I got the AmEx gold earlier this year to use as my primary card for dining (4x points) and I’ve been very disappointed that their definition of dining excludes any restaurants that use Square or other mobile processing platforms. As I am SF-based about half of the restaurants I go to use Square (even sit-down places) and more than anything it is just annoying to have to try to figure out whether the restaurant is using Square before deciding which card to pay with.
I kept the CSR to still use for travel, but if half my restaurant spend isn’t earning 4x points on the AmEx Gold then it’s probably not worth the annual fee for me (esp with GCs no longer counting for the travel credit) and I’ll cancel when the annual fee comes due next year.
I will laugh the day Amex reads your post as says your an idiot and takes the cards away from you. You bash them like a spoiled child becaise you can’t get your way. Shame you don’t just grow up and cancel them. You seem like a hypocrite.
Your reading comprehension needs work. Read the last paragraph.
Appropriate screen name.
Your comment sounds more like a spoilt angry child than anything in the article.
Wow. I worried for a moment you had degraded yourself into CC pushing. Refreshing to see you did not.
Great post! As an award traveler, I look for cards that can maximize my ability to redeem for premium cabins, and Chase has that with the CSR. Number 1, 2 and 5 are probably the most important to me.
Amex platinum and priority pass lounge are a joke. I am a airline employee and while on vacation I can’t access the priority pass lounge because of my stand-by status. They only accept confirm status. That includes the centurion lounge( where is the benefit of the annual membership fee? ).Looking forward to move to sapphire.