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The Game Changers!!!

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Hello everyone, welcome back to Pack Your Points. My points and miles journey started because of two travel credit cards, The Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card by Amex. So today, I’d like to talk about why I fell in love with both, what I don’t love and my personal thoughts on my experience with each of them.

Before we start, I have to confess, I had two airline credit cards prior to knowing about the CSR and Amex Platinum. We used airline miles to book a full trip to Santorini, flights, hotel and rental car! Yet, it still did not register to me there could be bigger and better possibilities with points and miles. Ok back to the two top travel credit cards out today.

First up, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR). Here’s a glance of the main perks and benefits:

  • $300 travel credit (all travel)

  • 3x on all travel

  • 3x dining

  • 10x Hotels and Rental Cars and 5x on Airfare booked through the Chase UR portal

  • 50% bonus redeeming points through Chase UR portal (50k = $750 instead of the normal 50k = $500)

  • Priority Pass Select

  • Primary Rental Car insurance

  • Top Travel and baggage insurances

  • Purchase Protections

  • Lyft Pink Membership

  • DoorDash DashPass, Grubhub+ and Seamless+

  • And much more not listed…

Annual fee $550

What I love:

  1. The $300 travel credit is the most obvious thing to love. Chase’s travel category is broad, so everything except gas pretty much counts towards this credit. If you spend at least $300 on travel a year, the effective annual fee is at $250.

  2. 3x on all travel was the reason this card caught my eye! As an expat, I knew how much value I could get from tolls, parking, trains and rental cards. This is where the Chase Sapphire family of credit cards shine overseas. With CSR and CSP being VISA, you’re able to pay 99% of the time.

  3. The 50% bonus when redeeming points on the UR portal is a huge feature, especially for those booking flights and hotels not looking for elite status qualifications. This means instead of getting 1 cent per point (cpp), you get 1.5 cpp. This allows you to consistently get high value for your UR points. When transferring UR points out to partners you will get anywhere from 1 to 3 cpp. ***posts coming soon about transfer partners and how to get the best value for your transferable points***

What I don’t love:

  1. The 10x and 5x categories when booking through the UR portal sucks for those who have elite status. When booking through websites, majority of the time you won’t get your points. Only Amex has given me status thus far when booking. This is important for me because I want the perks from my elite status.

  2. The newly added perks are strictly for US based customers. When the annual fee went up by $100, myself and many others hoped it would mean great credits or benefits were coming. The additions were for Lyft, US food delivery websites and a Peloton credit. All of which an expat overseas can’t benefit from. Your miles may vary (YMMV) so some this was great but for me this was a big turn off.

  3. The UR transfer partners for expats are the weakest of the big 3 transferable points companies (Amex, Chase & Citi). Transferable points are a big deal because you can get outsized value from transfer partners, mainly airline specifically. Chase’s best option has becoming point redemptions with Hyatt in which you almost always get outsized value.

Final Thoughts:

I’ve upgraded to the CSR for one year to see how it fits with my spending habits and downgraded once that year was up! ***blog post coming soon about this process*** The CSR is too US base driven for my spend and travel habits. The travel credit and getting 3x on all travel is great but when compared to other cards that have a lower annual fee, it just didn’t make sense for me to hold the CSR any longer.

If I lived in one of the big cities in the US this card would be a perfect fit because you get 3x on trains, and tolls. The Lyft Pink membership with getting 10x per dollar spent, plus all the food delivery additions would be great too. But for now, the CSP as my back up travel card for when a travel company doesn’t accept Amex, works perfect for my wallet!

Next up, The Platinum Card by American Express. Here’s a glance of the main perks and benefits:

  • 5x Airfare

  • The best airport lounge access (Centurion, Priority Pass, Delta, etc.)

  • $200 Airline Incidentals

  • $200 Uber credit (monthly)

  • $200 Amex Travel credit

  • $179 Clear credit

  • $100 Saks Fifth credit

  • Cell phone insurance

  • Fine Hotels Resorts

  • Travel and Baggage insurance

  • Purchase Protection

  • Marriott and Hilton Gold elitestatus

  • And much, much more

Annual Fee $695 (up from $550)

What I love:

  1. The airport lounge network is one of a kind. Holding The Platinum Card for airport lounge access alone can justify it’s annual fee. This card allows you to enter Delta Sky Club on any Delta ticket purchased where only the top two Delta elite status tiers have access!

  2. The 5x on all airfare purchased is the best in its class. This with some of the best travel insurance included makes it a tough combo to beat.

  3. This card is packed with so many credits, when talking about them I always forget to add something.

  4. The newly added cell phone protection made this card even better. Saves me $20 a month.

What I don’t love:

  1. The annoying thing with Amex, which is more of a complaint, is that majority of their credits are broken up to monthly statements. Yes it is still saving but I’d love if I could just spend that Uber credit in 4 trips instead of having to save $15 per month and lose whatever I don’t use.

  2. The Amex Platinum is almost strictly a airline card because it lacks other useful bonus categories. Once in awhile we use it for FHR which gives 5x on the initial payment and big purchases for the insurance but other than those once in a blue purchases, it’s airlines or wallet.

Final Thoughts:

The Amex Platinum is my favorite card. It fits my wife’s and I’s travel habits perfectly. We don’t use all the credits to the max but we make up for it with how often we use lounges and the 5x back on flights. Yes, Amex makes you work to use theirs credits in full, but when you’re offered that many options it’s hard to make a good argument for them to change.

For the comparison, there honestly isn’t one. I’ve seen all the YouTube videos and blog facing these two off but they’re completely two different type of cards. The one similarity they have is that they’re both Transferrable points credit cards.

The CSR is a do it all travel card that’s packed with great perks for the everyday US based traveler. Big city like NYC and LA are where the CSR shines. Also, if you want one travel credit card, the CSR might be your best option!

The Amex Platinum is a very specific branded card, luxury airfare card! There the best at that category and it’s not close. But if you’re looking for a do it all card, the Amex Platinum isn’t going to do it. Amex set there Transferable points cards up to be a family that all depend on one another. So you’ll have to commit to Amex or have multiple Transferable points companies to maximize.

I hope my post to day was helpful and you somewhat enjoyed it. I’ll be writing blog post about all my favorite and most useful travel credit cards as time goes on. Also, I’ll get some posts in about a few of the top credit card companies. Just remember, this is my personal opinion about credit cards that I personally held in my wallet.

Until next time, before you pack your bags, don’t forget to PACK YOUR POINTS!

I am not a financial advisor and highly recommend doing your own homework about the credit card you want to apply for! All of the content on my website, page and channel are for entertainment purposes only.

If you’d like my opinion or help in forming an idea of what works, I’m here to help.

Here are REFERRAL LINKS to the credit cards mentioned in today’s post. By using them to apply, you’ll be supporting the website and channel because when approved, I’ll receive bonus points and miles as well!

*Be sure to check the public offer on the credit cards website to compare which is best for you!*

Schwab Platinum Card by Amex

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!

Platinum Card by Amex

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!

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