Chase Ultimate Rewards vs American Express Membership Rewards | Which Points Program is Better?


Hey, how it’s going everyone? Hope you all are having a great week. It’s Ernest from Trip Astute. Make sure you’re sitting down before you
start this video, since today we are going over a controversial and heated topic. I’ll be comparing Chase Ultimate Rewards
to American Express Membership Rewards, and sharing which one I think is better. (light chiming music) The two biggest players in the points and
miles game are Chase and American Express. I know Citi is also in the game with their
ThankYou Rewards program, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to compare the
Chase Ultimate Rewards program to the American Express Membership Rewards program. I know this question comes up a lot during
my credit card consultations. A lot of people want to know whether I think
Chase is better than American Express, and whether they should wait until they are under
5/24 to pursue more Chase cards or build out their American Express cards. So today, I’m going to share my personal
opinion on both programs. Obviously, it’s just my opinion, and you
might feel completely different about it. But for those of you who are new to the points
and miles hobby, or even new to one of these rewards programs, I’m hoping my analysis
is helpful. And if you’re an experienced points and
miles nerd, I would love to hear your thoughts on which program you prefer and why. Before we get started, if you’re new here,
welcome to our channel. Trip Astute is a travel channel that is focused
on sharing ways to make travel easier, affordable, and more enjoyable. Traveling can be stressful and expensive,
so we’re looking for ways to help you maximize your experience through travel tips, points
and miles, and innovative gear. If that sounds interesting to you, please
consider subscribing. To be fair, I want to compare both programs
in a couple of different categories and share the pros and cons of each. I’ll be looking at point earnings, point
redemptions, benefits, acceptance, customer service, downgrade options, and approval and
welcome offer rules. So, let’s jump in. For points earnings, it’s a bit of mixed
bag. For both Chase and American Express, there
are multiple personal and business credit cards that earn in different rewards categories. However, I will say that Chase lacks a card
that offers a bonus category in groceries, which is often a big spending category for
people. Chase does have the Freedom card which usually
has at least one quarter where you can earn five points per dollar on grocery spending. However, I do wish that Chase would add a
grocery category to one of their cards, as I think it’s an area where American Express
has the upper hand. On the flip side, I dislike how American Express
has more restrictive bonus categories. For example, while the American Express Gold
earns four points per dollar on dining out and groceries, it’s only valid for US merchants. While the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve
earn bonus points on dining out even when outside the US. Also, since travel is a bonus category for
the Chase Sapphire cards too, you don’t have to think twice about earning a bonus
at a hotel restaurant since it might code as a hotel instead of an actual restaurant. In summary, both have fairly equal earning
potentials, especially if you get multiple cards that offer different bonus categories. However, Chase is definitely lacking when
it comes to grocery purchases. And while I like American Express’ bonus categories,
I do find them to be a bit more restrictive. So for me, it’s a tie for both programs. Moving on to point redemptions, I personally
find Chase Ultimate Rewards points to be a lot easier to redeem. Chase might not have as many airline travel
partners as American Express, but they seem to have the ones that I personally use the
most, like Southwest and United. Also, we often use our points toward Hyatt
and have been able to get some amazing redemptions, even at some of Hyatt’s more budget hotels. I also like that I can use the Chase Travel
Portal to redeem points. It might not be the highest redemption value,
but getting 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point isn’t horrible either. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to redeem
for boutique hotels or even tours, which I think is very handy. In fact, check out our video on how and when
to use the Chase Travel Portal for more information. I do have friends that absolutely love and
prefer American Express points. A friend of mine loves to fly ANA to Japan
and she finds the point transfers to be very lucrative, especially for business class travel. It’s definitely possible to get a lot of
value from American Express points, but I think you’re mostly limited to air travel
redemptions. And I’d even argue that the best value redemptions
are for business and first-class travel, which may or may not be your style. I know personally that while I love the idea
of luxury aspirational travel, I personally would rather be able to travel further and more
often with my points, which means that I’m more inclined to fly on budget airlines or economy. Again, this is going to be a very personal
choice and will really depend on your travel style, destinations, and personal spending. American Express does offer bonuses at times
on their points transfers, which is something I wish Chase would offer. However, while I love this aspect of Membership
Rewards points, I dislike that they charge a fee to transfer points to domestic travel
partners. Also, redeeming points on the American Express
Travel Portal yields you a much lower redemption rate, so I don’t recommend using it unless
you’re determined to use your points at whatever value you can get. Lastly, for the sake of simplicity, I’m
not going to cover American Express versus Chase cash back redemptions. I know there are American Express cards that
can help you get to get a higher cash back redemption rate, but that’s a whole another
topic and video. So, in summary, Chase has more flexible redemption
types and options with hotel and travel portal bookings. Though they lack additional bonuses and have
less airline travel partners to choose from. American Express, on the other hand, has more
airline travel partners and offers bonuses certain times of the year on transfers, but
also charges a fee to transfer points to domestic carriers. I personally prefer Chase points, so I’m
going to give this category to them. But again, your travel preferences and style
will dictate which program is a better fit for you. Next up are benefits. This is also a mixed bag. Both Chase and American Express offer benefits
on their cards. I think you’ll find that American Express
does offer credits on more of their cards, though the catch is that they tend to be a
bit more restrictive. For example, the Gold and Platinum card both
have an airline incidental fee credit, but you can’t use it toward paying for flights. I know you buy gift cards, but even that is
kind of a workaround solution since it’s not officially supported by American Express. Also, American Express often requires you
to redeem your credits over the span of a year. For example, the dining credit on the Gold
card is $120, but you can only redeem $10 per month at select restaurants and ordering
services. You won’t find as many credits on Chase’s
cards. However, if we look at the Chase Sapphire
Reserve, it has a $300 annual travel credit, which you can basically redeem all at once. Plus, since Chase is fairly liberal with what
they qualify as travel, it’s so easy to redeem the credit. In fact, I often tell people that though the
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is $450, it’s really more like $150 since it’s
so easy to get the travel credit. Even for me, I’ll often see parking expenses
get credited on my account, which is, unfortunately, a common expense for me since we live in LA. If we compare lounge access, the American
Express definitely wins since their Platinum card offers access to Centurion lounges. Both Chase and American Express do have concierge
services, though I have to admit that I’ve never used it. Also, when looking at things like primary
car rental insurance and trip delays, the Chase Sapphire cards offer a lot more protection
as part of their membership. On the other hand, purchase protection is
more seamless on American Express cards since you file a claim with American Express and
not a third party. This is not the case with Chase. I’m not saying that it doesn’t work, but
my experience is that it’s often easier when it’s processed by the same company as the
card issuer. American Express card members also get a free
membership to ShopRunner, which is like Amazon Prime for other retailers. Also, I really like the way that American
Express does their offers. All you have to do is activate the offer,
rather than going through a portal. This means that you can potentially double
up on rewards by using a cash back portal or a discount coupon with your purchase. I know that Chase recently started to do offers
as well, but I think that American Express is way ahead in this regard. In summary, American Express offers credits
on more of their cards, though they are more restrictive to redeem. American Express also tends to have better
lounge access, concierge service, and purchase protection. They also have an incredible offers program
as part of their membership. However, Chase has much easier to redeem credits
and better car rental and trip delay coverages. It’s a bit of a toss-up since they both offer significant value, though in different ways. But if you’re some who can maximize the
benefits of your American Express cards, there is probably more there to take advantage of. Even with higher annual fees on their cards,
there is a lot of benefits included. So, I’m giving this category to American
Express. Next up is acceptance. This is one is pretty simple. You’re going to have more acceptance with
a Visa or Mastercard over American Express. It’s not much of an issue here in the US,
but when traveling abroad, it can be difficult to find places that will accept American Express
cards. So, Chase takes this category. In terms of customer service, I’ve had great experiences with both the service reps from Chase and American Express. Though I would probably give the edge to American
Express, mostly because they have a fantastic chat functionality on their website. I’ve asked the reps to downgrade cards over
chat, and they’ve been able to do it without any problems. Speaking of downgrade options, this is an
area where Chase definitely has the advantage. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or
Preferred card, you can always downgrade your card to a Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, or even
a basic Sapphire, which isn’t even listed on the Chase website. American Express, on the other hand, is a bit
more complicated. If you have an American Express Platinum or
Gold card, and you want to downgrade, your only option is the Green Card, which still
has an annual fee. You can’t downgrade to an Everyday card,
even though it also earns Membership Rewards points, since the Everyday card is a credit
card and the Platinum, Gold, and Green card are charge cards. This presents some issues for those of you
that don’t want to cancel cards since it can temporarily hurt your credit score. So, in this category, I have to say that Chase
definitely has the advantage. While American Express does have a lot of
cards, including a mix of charge and credit cards, it isn’t easy to downgrade their
charge cards since there isn’t a no-annual-fee charge card in their lineup. Lastly, approval and welcome offer rules! Chase is notorious for some of their strict
approval rules like 5/24 and 2/30. If you’re not familiar with them, see our
videos on the topic. However, these rules usually result in people
wanting to build their Chase portfolio before American Express. I recommend that strategy as well since you
can essentially disqualify yourself from getting Chase cards if you get too many other cards
within a 24 month period. Also, a lot of people will go the small business
card route in order to get around the 5/24 rule. Basically, you need to be below 5/24 to get
a business credit card, but once you get one, it doesn’t count against your 5/24 total. If you qualify for a business card, it’s
definitely a great way to go. Business cards provide some of the best welcome
offers and bonus categories. If you’re interested in small business cards
or want to understand whether you may qualify, check out our video on the topic. American Express has fewer restrictions when
it comes to getting approvals. However, they do have a once in a lifetime
rule for their welcome offers. For example, if you had the American Express
Platinum card in the past and received the welcome offer, but then canceled or downgraded
the card, you won’t be able to get the welcome offer again if you apply for the card. So in, this category, I have to give the upper
hand to American Express. Though, if you do have any interest in building
a Chase card portfolio, then you should start with them since their cards are much more difficult
to get due to these rules. When we tally up the points, you can see that
it’s tied, which is what I expected. Both programs offer a lot of value, especially
if you’re able to take advantage of the benefits. Though if I could only earn one points program,
I would say that I prefer to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That shouldn’t be a surprise to those of
you that have been watching my channel for a while. I just find that the program seems to meet
my travel needs, and I feel like I’m able to get a lot of value from the points. And I don’t think I’m the only one that feels
this way either. When I asked the question on my Community
tab a few months ago, I noticed that about 60% of you felt the same way. That being said, I still think it’s a good
idea to diversify and build multiple points programs. Things change all the time in this hobby,
and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m focused on another program within the next three years. Though I kind of hope not, especially since
I love my collection of Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards. I was going to say sixfecta, but I’m pretty
sure that’s not the right terminology. In fact, if you know that the equivalent of
“trifecta” is for six cards, let me know. Which flexible points program do you prefer? Do you earn multiple currencies, or do you
focus on just one? Let me know in the comment section below. If you’re interested in applying for a new
credit card, we would love it if you used our link in the video description or on our
website. It’s an easy way to support our channel,
especially if you’ve found our content to be valuable and helpful. Also, if you need any help with determining
what your next credit card should be, sign-up for our free card consultation service. You basically fill out a questionnaire and
schedule a 15-minute video or audio call with me to review your recommendation. Hope enjoyed the video and found it useful. Please give us a thumbs up and consider sharing
the video with others. It really helps with growing our channel and
community. Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.

54 thoughts on “Chase Ultimate Rewards vs American Express Membership Rewards | Which Points Program is Better?

  1. Which points program do you prefer? What other factors should people consider when looking at these two programs? 🤓

  2. I personally love both Chase and AMEX as they both have their advantages. I have 2 Chase cards (Freedom and Sapphire Preferred) and have 4 Amex cards (Gold, Schwab Platinum, Starwood, and Everyday). The one thing that most of us know is to never throw all yoru eggs into one basket (One points program) as the rules and change at anytime for both the good and the bad

  3. I like both but I only use MR points for airline transfer partners, mostly life miles but BA has good redemptions on AA domestic flights. I'll use UR points on the chase portal for the 1.5 cpp redemption but I'll also transfer points to Hyatt where I've gotten as high as 4 cpp

  4. Hello!
    How does purchase protection work?
    If I buy a $1200 iphone with chase card and lose it,will they reimburse the money?Do I have to probide then any proof of losing the phone?
    Thank you!

  5. Hey there. Love your videos! I’m a MR guy and have a question about the Gold $10/month dining credit…can I buy a Grubhub gift card (or a gift card from any of the participating places) and have that qualify for the credit?
    Thanks!

  6. I feel like you could've focused more on the details of points redemption rather than comparing specific cards from each. Good content nevertheless.

  7. I like Chase and AMEX. I use both. There are places that do not allow AMEX in which I use my Chase. It all depends. I use Chase overseas and to rent cards. I use AMEX for domestic grocery and restaurants. And if I can’t use AMEX I use Chase.

  8. Videos are getting better and better Ernest! very crispy and clean! Would love to see how to use Chase points with airline partners and how to maximize airfare redemption. Totally enjoy your videos !

  9. Nice channel! I like them both I totally agree that URs are better for hotels and travel excursions. I need them both I use MRs to fly United so I only use for airfare as well.

  10. Some very nice photos under number 2. I think it's not fair that you can't down grade an open credit card like the gold or green to a revolving credit card like the basic every day card? so your right Chase wins there Have you been on American Express's site with you logged in? When transferring points or wanting to redeem points when I had the Green card when I wanted to get rid of the card I wanted to use my points for a hotel stay in the Philly area and all the account mgrs. said to me you don't have enough points I think somebody said to me that I need 90,000 points it was all about not having enough points.

    now I never had a chase card that transfer points until now but i'm not keeping the sapphire preferred I will probably down grade to the basic which doesn't transfer points. But for every body who does have the Sapphires I'm going to say that Chase has better transfer programs?

    have you ever used the concierge service on the Reserve?

  11. Is there a total credit line limit for chase to give it to you? Like Amex if exceeding 35k in total credit card line will lead to a Financial Review

  12. I like my Amex setup. Cards are really easy to get approved and have very good signup offers. With my Amex Gold and BBP I'm able to earn points quickly and on categories that I spend on in my every day life. I live in a small city and don't travel often, so Chase doesn't work out as well for me since I don't do a whole lot of travel category spend. I'd rather earn points on everything else and save them up to occasionally travel for free. I also live near ATL so being able to easily use points on Delta flights is an advantage. Acceptance seems to be about 95%, which is good enough. I have other more basic cards I can use as a backup (Citi DC or Cap1 QS depending on whether it's domestic or foreign).

  13. Hey buddy, I gotta pay 45k in Federal Taxes. I already have the following Chase Cards;Sapphire, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business. I've already received the bonuses from these cards. Do you have any thoughts on what I should get next or how to go about paying the 45k balance? I'm interested in Travel, but really don't want to incur more annual fee cards. I'm already paying $550 a year due to the Sapphire & Business Ink Cards.

  14. I’ve been putting this comparison off. Whew, thanks for the thorough video Ernest!

    I’m just like you, SWA and Hyatt all the way.

  15. If Chase made the CSP (or CSR) have 2-3x back on dining, travel, AND groceries, that would be enough for me to abandoned the Gold Card. For me personally, UR points are worth so much more to me because of their partnerships with United and Marriott.

  16. I’ve got Chase UR, AMEX MR, and Citi ThanYou points. I do use UR a lot.

    Got 9 UR earning cards and some hotel cards with chase love my cards that I have right now with them.
    5X Freedom (most earning)
    2X ink preferred
    1 Ink Cash (most earning)
    1 sapphire reserve

    I max out freedom categories for my freedom and Ink cash cards

    My MR earning cards are
    1 personal platinum
    1 business platinum
    1 BBP (most earning)
    1 personal gold (most earning)
    1 business gold
    1 business green

    And with Citi
    I have premier as prestige makeover was upsetting for me.
    And also got 2 AA business card with them.

  17. Hey there!
    I have an Amex everyday credit card with 4k credit line.I have $2500 debt on that card.
    Should i ask for a credit line increase now with that balance?
    I raised the limit once 7 months ago
    Thanks!

  18. Hey Earnest!
    I have a Chase Freedom unlimited card and have it for 6 months,got approved for $8k.Can I ask for a credit limit increase of $12k in total with 725 credit score?
    What’s your opinion from your experience whether I am asking a lot or it’s okay? And do they do hard pull upon credit lime request online?
    Thank you!

  19. I'm only a minute into the video right now in real time and I'm going with Chase.  I don't have an Amex that earns MR (only BCE, which is cash back), but Chase on paper looks to have way more flexibility.  Good point at Chase having no grocery card, I use my Amex for that when the grocery category isn't a bonus on the Freedom and Disc It.

  20. I’m loving AMEX. May try for a Chase Saphire but right now it isn’t a priority. I’m more likely to use the grocery option, and the side benefits are wonderful. For example, as a disabled vet, the Uber credit sitting there for an emergency trip to the VA is handy. I would rather travel in business and be more comfortable even if I don’t get to go as often. And yes, I’ve been checking out Shoprunner!

  21. I prefer chase for its simplicity. I use my card points for investing, converting it to cash and amex doesn't let me do that unless i had the schwab platinum card and thats out of my budget right now.

  22. I believe the UR is more flexible than the MR. There is one thing that I still struggle with is that AMEX is not accepted everywhere I go internationally.

  23. One Chase UR trick with Southwest: if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve it's actually almost always better to call Chase to book Southwest flights rather than transferring points to Southwest. Why call? Although you can't book Southwest flights online via the Chase travel portal, you CAN book Southwest with UR points by calling (see TPG article link on this below), and you can get 1.5x on your points that way (as opposed to the approximately 1.4x you get by transferring to Southwest). It's even better than that because your flight becomes a normal revenue booking so you earn 6 points/$ on the fare, which means if you spend 10000 UR points on a $150 Southwest fare, you earn back 900 Southwest points worth about $12.60, making the effective redemption rate closer to 1.62 cents/point or about 14% better than transferring points! — as for MR vs UR — currently my strategy is to work up to getting both, because, though I also prefer economy travel, I find that Delta can offer some great deals on short haul domestic flights, either directly through Delta's program or using Virgin Atlantic — there are times when getting a last minute short haul flight can be much cheaper via an award ticket on Delta than any other airline including Southwest (we just did this with Delta). So eventually my plan is to go for the Amex Gold card to use with grocery spend just to have a cache of MR points for short haul flights (I currently have only the Amex Plat which I use for electronics purchases).

    https://thepointsguy.com/news/southwest-chase-tickets-booked-chase-ultimate-rewards-points/

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