Table of Contents In this article

Why You Can Trust CNET Money

CNET Money’s mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors’ independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards
Advertiser Disclosure

CNET editors independently choose every product and service we cover. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. For many of these products and services, we earn a commission. The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site.

American Express Gold Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

The American Express Gold Card is best for foodies, whereas the Chase Sapphire Reserve is geared to frequent travelers.

CNET'S PICK
American Express® Gold Card
Learn More

American Express® Gold Card

7.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
60,000 Membership Rewards® Points Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$250
APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Rewards rate
3x - 4x Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).; Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Annual Fee
4x
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4x
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3x
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more
Best for
Annual Fee
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Learn More

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

7.8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
60,000 bonus points Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
Annual fee
$550
APR
22.49% - 29.49% Variable
Rewards rate
1x - 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠.; Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠.; Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.; Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Card perks
Rewards redemption
Travel benefits
Rewards
Welcome offer
10x
Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠.
5x
Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠.
3x
Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1x
Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Best for
Card perks
Rewards redemption
Travel benefits
Rewards
Welcome offer

If you’re looking for the right travel card, you may have come across the American Express® Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Both cards can help you earn rewards for some of your travel expenses, but they have different rewards rates, bonus categories, welcome offers and benefits.

American Express and Chase offer some of the best travel credit cards on the market today, thanks in part to their points being transferable to partner airlines and hotels. Premium travel cards from both issuers also come with lucrative rewards rates and plenty of perks, although these can vary dramatically from card to card.

So which card comes out ahead? If you’re looking for flexible rewards coupled with benefits such as airport lounge access and annual travel credits, or you want to get exceptional value when redeeming points for travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the winner. It does charge a much higher annual fee than the Gold Card, so if it doesn’t fit into your travel budget, the Gold Card is still a viable option.

Comparing annual fees

Winner: American Express Gold Card

WINNER
American Express® Gold Card
  • $250
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • $550

If you’re comparing these two rewards cards based only on their annual fees, the American Express Gold Card wins due to its much lower annual fee of $250.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $550 annual fee that can be hard to justify if you don’t use all the cardholder benefits that come with it.

Welcome offer

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

American Express® Gold Card
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
WINNER
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve welcome bonus can be worth more than American Express Membership Rewards points (according to The Points Guy) when transferred to partners and redeemed for premium travel redemptions.

At 2.05 cents each, Chase Sapphire Reserve’s welcome offer is worth $1,230, while at 2 cents each, the American Express Gold Card’s welcome offer is worth $1,200.

The American Express Gold Card gives you six months to meet the minimum spending threshold and the Chase Sapphire Reserve only gives you three months. However, it also takes $2,000 more to qualify for the Gold’s bonus. That means you’d have to spend about $1,333 monthly with the Reserve, and $1,000 per month with the Gold.

But because the value of the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s welcome offer is greater, it edges ahead.

Rewards and redemption

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

American Express® Gold Card
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
WINNER
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

When it comes to earning rewards, both of these travel cards offer attractive rates. However, the American Express Gold Card is focused more on food.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a much better earning rate for travel purchases, but mostly when you’re willing to book travel through Chase. Members even earn 10x points on Lyft rides (through March 2025).

In addition to higher reward rates, the Reserve offers better redemption options. Cardholders get 50% more value for their points when they redeem for travel through Chase, plus standard redemption options like statement credits and gift cards are valued at 1 cent per point. However, paying with points on PayPal and Amazon through Chase only gets cardholders 0.8 cents per point.

Meanwhile, Amex cardholders won’t have access to such generous redemption values. Statement credits, prepaid hotels and car rentals, for example, only net you 0.6 cents and 0.7 cents per point respectively when you redeem through Amex. Amex gift card options also come with redemption values as low as 0.5 cents per point. If you want to redeem Amex points for airfare through American Express Travel, you’ll only get 1 cent per point.

Of course, both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards let cardholders transfer their points to a range of airline and hotel partners. Both of these programs have winning partners, including Delta for Amex and United for Chase.

Card perks

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

American Express® Gold Card
  • Up to $120 in Uber cash per year for rides and eats in the U.S. when you add your Gold Card to the Uber app
  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits
  • Baggage insurance plan*
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance*
  • Extended warranties*
  • Purchase protection*
WINNER
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Up to $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (valued at $469)
  • Up to $100 credit toward Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck membership every four years
  • Complimentary 2 year Lyft Pink All Access membership (activate by Dec. 31, 2024)
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription (activate by Dec. 31, 2024)
  • Instacart benefits
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Travel delay coverage
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation coverage
  • Extended warranties
  • Purchase protection
  • Return protection

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a much higher annual fee of $550, it also has a number of perks and features to help lessen its impact.

As you can see in the chart above, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers way more perks in exchange for its $550 annual fee. Not only does it offer some of the best travel insurance benefits, but also airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit that applies to any travel purchases, a fee credit for Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck membership (valued at up to $100) and partner benefits with DoorDash, Instacart and Lyft.

The American Express Gold Card comes with significantly fewer travel insurance perks, and it only has up to $240 in available statement credits per year. That’s not surprising considering it charges less than half of the Reserve’s fee. It’s worth noting that both the $120 dining credit and the $120 Uber Cash are doled out in monthly increments of $10 that don’t roll over if you don’t use them. The dining credit isn’t flexible either, as it only applies to purchases at Grubhub (including Seamless), The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more

The bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes out ahead due to better rewards and card perks, which makes sense considering its expensive $550 annual fee. The American Express Gold Card offers fewer benefits and features but has a much lower $250 annual fee. However, it can still be a good option for people who spend a lot on dining out, U.S. supermarket purchases and airfare each year.

 

At the end of the day, the right card for you will likely come down to how much you’re willing to pay in annual fees -- and whether you prefer Chase transfer partners over Amex partners or vice versa.

For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here

*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and writer who covers rewards and loyalty programs, budgeting, and all things personal finance. In addition to writing for publications like Bankrate, CreditCards.com, Forbes Advisor and Investopedia, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love."