Published by Dan on 25 NOV 20
For those who prefer a quicker read there is a table at the end of the article comparing benefits.
This a recurring post that is consistently updated.
This topic has come up so many times that we’ve finally decided to write it all down. These are both phenomenal credit cards. Both give you hundreds of dollars worth of perks but have annual membership costs of $550. This fee is waived for service members and their spouses which means that all these perks are available for free. Just call the number on the back of the card when you receive it and let them know your situation.
Spouses are entitled to their own card and line of credit with a waived fee. Not just as an additional person on the military members card. We recommend that they open these in their own name to maximize the benefits.
When Should You Get These Cards?
In order to maximize the benefits you will want to consider the following before opening one of these credit cards:
- Open when you will have large purchases in your future: Currently Amex is giving you 75,000 (they keep alternating between 75K and 100K) points if you spend $5,000 in the first six months. Chase is offering 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. If you open one of these while moving or when you have a large known expense in your future, it will help you earn these points.
- Good Credit is Required: You will definitely want to have at least a 650. If you are not accepted the first time, continue to build your credit and try again later down the road.
- If you are Reservists/National Guard open while on AD orders: If you are on Title 10/32 AD orders you will be accepted and the fee waived the same as AD. These companies will recheck every 2-3 years and you will have the fee waived until they recheck. They will notify you when they recheck and give you 30 days to cancel the card if you’d like.
It is worth noting that these are both travel cards that have been greatly impacted by COVID 19. Amex and Chase have rolled out exceptionally generous sign up points and new benefits for a less travelled world. Opening one of these cards now will allow you to take advantage of these awesome offers. All these benefits are completely free for service members so don’t leave money on the table!
At current rates One point for Amex/Chase is worth roughly 1-2 cents. Converting to airlines miles can multiply your points between 5-10X whereas gift cards and other exchanges are usually 1.25X. Now for our two cents on these cards!
American Express Platinum
Fun fact, the Platinum is a charge card not a credit card. This means anything you spend will need to be paid off in full the next month. We love this feature because at MoneyGouge we strongly advise against ever carrying credit card debt. Amex recently announced a pay over time feature that essentially turns it into a regular credit card if you do not pay your full balance every month. We do not recommend using it.
There is no spending limit. I have literally put a $15,000 contracting job on my Amex. Whenever I have large expenses I try to put it on the Platinum because it’s a nice way to get a lot of points. These are expenses I would have otherwise used my debit card for and you need to pay them off the next month. Basically, the money is there but by using the Platinum verse a debit card or check, you can get points.
- 5X points on Airline Travel-if booked from airline website or Amex.com
- 5X points on hotels- booked through Amex.com
- 1X points on all other purchases
- Global Lounge Collection –Amex lounges and affiliate lounges in the Priority Pass Lounge Network. You can also access Delta Sky Lounge if flying Delta and the ticket is purchased with this card.
- $200 Airline Credit -select one airline, you can change once per year, this is for in flight purchases and baggage fee credit *See note below*
- $20 Uber Credit/Month and $35 in December
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status-You do not have to meet stay requirements. You get it automatically as a cardholder.
- Hilton Honors Gold Status
- Fee Credit for TSA Pre
- One year Free Uber Eats Pass
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit-This benefit will be applied as an up to $50 credit every six months if you have eligible purchases. The credit will not be applied at the time of purchase. It will be applied biannually if you use it.
- 10X Points at Eligible Gas or Grocery Stores– Applies to new applicants for the first 6 months – does not apply to current cardmembers unfortunately.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Return Protection-If you purchased an item on the Platinum and the merchant refuses a return you can be reimbursed up to $300 by Amex.
- 75,000 Points if you spend $5,000 in the first six months
- $30/month credit for purchases made with paypal
I have heard of many people using this credit to buy a $200 gift card in flight. I’ve never had this opportunity myself though. Check out the FAQ for reader feedback we’ve received. Also, the credit does not cover the cost of in flight wifi.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is structured as a regular credit card. Again, we do not recommend carrying a balance. The interest you pay will negate the benefits of the card. The point of either of these cards is to maximize the benefits.
- $300 Travel Credit-There is a broad range of things that this credit applies for. See note below.
- Fee Credit for TSA Pre
- Priority Pass Lounge Membership
- $60/year DoorDash Credit
- 3X Points on dining including eligible delivery service and takeout
- 3X Points on groceries through April 30 2021
- 3X Points on travel after using $300 credit
- 1X Points on all other purchases
- Lyft Pink Membership– 15% off all Lyft rides, three free 30 minute scooter rides/month, and priority airport pickups
- Travel Reimbursement-if flight is delayed over 6 hours up to $500
- 50,000 Bonus Points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Chase is very generous with it’s $300 travel credit. Unlike the Platinum you can apply it to a wide range of expenses such as:
Train & Bus Tickets
Until June 30th, 2021 Gas and Grocery purchases
The Sapphire is essentially giving you $300 to spend as you please per year. The year is referenced from when you opened the card whereas Amex references the calendar year.
Amex Platinum Top Three Pro’s:
- Huge Sign On Bonus of 75,000 (currently 100K) points
- Uber credit
- Centurion Lounges: These are unique to AMEX Platinum cardholders. They are only at major airports but they are insanely nice.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Top Three Pro’s:
- $300 Annual Credit applies to a lot of things (Until Jun 30th includes Gas and Groceries!) Also applies to Uber/Lyft.
- Point Structure is better for everyday purchases. 3X points on dining, travel and groceries (Through April 30th 2021)
- 50,000 Bonus Points. Still better than almost any other card and completely free as long as you meet the spending requirements.
Ready to Apply?
These cards are both awesome opportunities to make your money go further. They genuinely enhance your lifestyle too. I often run into friends at an airport lounge because we’re usually all travelling at the same time of year and everyone has a Platinum or Sapphire. I’ve also gotten a $500 shopping spree when my luggage was lost on a flight (it arrived 12 hours later).
Imagine a world where: Instead of going to the airport and fighting for a seat and a phone charger, you can go early and enjoy free food and drinks. These cards will transform your travel experience!
Money Gouge Tip
I’ve had the Platinum since 2017 and know how great it is. I’ve been really impressed with my Chase Sapphire Reserve as well. Ultimately, you will want to get both. Which one you get first depends on whether 75,000 points or $300 of spending money is more appealing on you.
|Sign Up Bonus||50,000 Bonus Points spend $4,000 in three months||75,000 Bonus Points spend $5000 in the first six months|
|Points For Airline Tickets||3X After Using $300 Credit||5X if booked on airline website or AmexTravel|
|Points For Groceries||3X through April 30 2021||10X for Limited Time|
|Points for Dining||3X and includes delivery service||1X|
|TSA Pre Credit||Yes||Yes|
|Transportation Benefits||Lyft Pink||$200/Year Uber Credit|
|Food Service Benefits||One Year Complimentary Dash Pass Membership$60 Annual DoorDash Credit||One Year Complimentary UberEats Pass|
|Spending Credit||$300 Annual Travel Credit|
$120 Peloton Membership Credit
|$200 Annual For Selected Airline|
$100 Saks Credit
|Lounge Access||Priority Pass||Priority Pass Centurion Lounge|
Have Questions? Email us. We’re here for you.
Can National Guard/ Reservists get the fee waived?
Both Amex and Chase waive the fee for Guardsmen/Reservist on Title 10/32 AD order for at least 30 days. If you open the card in this time period, you may need to scan your orders after opening but the fee will be waived. These companies recheck your active duty status every 2-3 years. If you are no longer AD at that time, they will notify you and give you 30 days to close your account before the fee applies. Until they recheck, you maintain your waived fee.
Feedback on Inflight Gift Card Purchase:
Here is what one of our readers Justin P said: I was reading your article about the Amex Platinum Travel Credit, and I have had success making it work. My airline of choice is Delta, and while you are correct in that gift cards are no longer reimbursed, split payments of flights with a gift card trigger the payment. Say a flight is $210. I purchase a $10 giftcard (out of pocket) and use it when purchasing my flight. I pay for the flight with my Amex Platinum. The additional $200 will be reimbursed by the Amex travel credit, thus using the entire annual credit.