With big welcome offers, both cards can fund potentially thousands of dollars in free travel. But which card will best serve your lifestyle?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and American Express® Gold Card are bloodthirsty competitors in the mid-range travel credit card market. And while they come with a handful of comparable benefits and accrue valuable points that can be redeemed in similar ways, these cards are wildly different.

If you’re a traveler (or plan to be in the near future) and you’ve narrowed your rewards credit card search to the Amex Gold versus Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, first take a look at each card’s welcome bonus:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Amex Gold — Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending at least $4,000 on purchases within your first six months from account opening.

With offers that large, either of these cards can fund potentially hundreds of dollars in free travel. But after you’ve used these bonuses, which card will best serve your lifestyle?

I’ve condensed your need-to-know info into a quick five-minute read.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the right card for you if…

You don’t want to pay a large annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card incurs a $95 annual fee. This fee is competitive with other mid-range travel credit cards — but as you’ll soon see, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you superior bang for your buck.

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review

You tend to book flights and hotel through online travel agencies

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns a rewards currency called Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. You can redeem these points a number of ways, each offering varying return rates. For example, you can:

  • Cash out your points at a rate of 1 cent each.
  • Use your points to offset your Amazon cart at checkout at a rate of 0.8 cents each.
  • Transfer your points to Hyatt for stays at luxury hotels.
  • Transfer your points to United Airlines for practically free flights to just about anywhere.
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One of the most popular ways to redeem points is by “purchasing” travel through the Chase Travel Portal. This is an online travel agency similar to Expedia or Orbitz, where you can reserve things like airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, and cruises.

If you generally book your travel through an online travel agency instead of booking direct, you’ll love that you can redeem Chase points to book travel at a rate of 1.25 cents per point through the Chase Travel Portal.

By comparison, with the rewards you earn from the Amex Gold Card, you’ll only get 1 cent per point when reserving the same travel through Amex’s travel portal.

Therefore, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s rewards are 25% more valuable for you.

You want solid travel insurance

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with some of the best built-in travel insurance of any card on the market. Here are a few coverages you’ll automatically receive simply by using the card to pay for your travel:

  • Trip delay insurance — When your flight is delayed overnight (or by 12+ hours), you can be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for things like hotel, meals, toiletries, and even clothes.
  • Baggage delay insurance — When your baggage is delayed by six hours or more at your destination, you’re eligible to get up to $100 per day for up to five days for things like clothes and toiletries.
  • Primary rental car insurance — When you decline the rental car agency’s in-house insurance, you’ll receive primary coverage for damage and theft to your rental. This can otherwise cost $12+ per day, so this is a big money-saver for anyone who frequently rents a car.

Read more: The unique Chase credit card benefits and rewards

To quickly compare these insurance benefits with the Amex Gold card:

  • The Amex Gold offers trip delay insurance for up to $300 in reasonable expenses ($200 less than the Sapphire Preferred® Card).
  • The Amex Gold offers no baggage delay insurance.
  • The Amex Gold offers secondary insurance instead of primary, meaning you’ll have to invoke your personal insurance if you wreck the car.

I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for many years and its travel insurance has saved me thousands of dollars.

Ready to get the card? Apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® 60,000-point bonus

The American Express® Gold Card is the right card for you if…

You spend a lot at supermarkets and restaurants

The Amex Gold Card earns 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year. That’s a generous return for some of the most common purchases in life.

If you’re like me, you spend about $850 per month between these two spending categories. By using the Amex Gold Card for these expenses, you’ll earn 40,800 points annually for purchases you were going to make anyway. These points can be redeemed in similar ways to Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, and can be worth:

  • $244.80 when redeeming as a statement credit (0.6 cents per point).
  • $285.60 when offsetting your Amazon cart at checkout (0.7 cents per point).
  • $408 in travel when redeeming through the Amex Travel Portal.
  • $700+ at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando when transferring Amex points to Hilton.
  • 3 one-ways (or 1.5 roundtrips) to Ireland from the East Coast when transferring points to Aer Lingus.

Again, you’ll almost always get the best value for your points by transferring to airline and hotel partners.

You eat out a lot

The American Express® Gold Card comes with a $250 annual fee. That’s $155 more expensive than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. But this price is better justified with the following annual statement credits:

  • Up to $120 in dining credits per year ($10 per month) toward Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and some Shake Shack locations.
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash credits ($10 per month).
  • The Uber Cash credits you’ll receive each month can also be used with Uber Eats — so even if you don’t often use rideshare services, you can still squeeze some free food out of it.

Pair these credits with the fact that you’ll earn 4 points per dollar on dining, and you can see that this card was built for foodies.

You maximize Amex Offers

Amex Offers are available on all American Express cards. They are targeted statement credits and bonus points for spending with certain merchants. Simply enroll your Amex Gold Card through your online account, and you’ll be automatically rewarded when you use them.

For example, I have an Amex Offer to earn 4 bonus points per dollar at Buffalo Wild Wings (capped at 5,000 bonus points). I just used it tonight and received 120 bonus points for making a purchase I had planned to make anyway.

Read more: Are Amex cards worth it?

I also have an offer for $50 off $250 spent with Marriott. I’ve already got a Marriott stay planned, so I’ll use my card for that and get a free $50 out of it.

Amex Offers change all the time, but if you monitor them with regularity, you can easily offset your credit card annual fee — and then some. I’ve done it many times.

Bottom line

If you’re trying to diagnose the travel credit card that best suits your lifestyle, you need to examine each card’s ongoing benefits in relation to its annual fee. If you’ll save more money each year than you’re paying in fees, the card is a no-brainer.

While the redemption rates of Amex points versus Chase points vary slightly, they are both perhaps the two most powerful tools for achieving free travel.

No matter what your bucket list looks like, these cards can help you expedite your wildest travel dreams.

Featured image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

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About the author

Sarah Hostetler
Total Articles: 22
Sarah Hostetler is a freelance writer and has been featured on Million Mile Secrets and The Points Guy. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.