AmEx Points vs Chase Points: Which is Better?

Posted on April 3, 2021 in Credit Cards

Two of the most popular rewards programs are American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Both are well-known programs that offer high value and extremely flexible points, especially when it comes to travel. 

While these programs may look fairly similar from the outside, there are some crucial differences. They both have a point system that can be accumulated through using their respective credit card, that can be redeemed for a large variety of items, with an emphasis on travel. However, their redemption options, point value, credit cards, and travel perks separate them and it’s important to know which one is best for you before signing up. 

How Much Are The Points Worth?

The value of AmEx and Chase points will vary pretty significantly based on how you are planning to redeem them. However, Chase points are worth slightly more than AmEx points. This is largely because the value of the travel portal redemptions, the easiest and most common way to redeem points, is much higher for Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program than it is for the American Express Membership Rewards program

However, AmEx does offer a higher point reward for transfer redemptions. In addition, while both programs will offer a long list of transfer partners, the list is longer for AmEx. The point value for each rewards program is as follows:

American Express Membership Rewards

  • Travel portal redemptions: 0.7 to 1.0 cent each
  • Transfer redemptions: 1 to 5.0 cents each
  • Gift card redemption: 0.5 to 1.0 cent each
  • Pay with points at checkout: 0.7 cents each
  • Cashback redemptions: 0.6 cents each
  • Shopping portal: 0.5 cents each
  • Experiences: N/A
  • Average value: 1.75 cents each

Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Travel portal redemptions: 1.25 to 1.5 cents each
  • Transfer redemptions: 1 to 4 cents each
  • Gift card redemptions: 1 to 1.1 cents each
  • Pay with points at checkout: 0.8 cents each with Amazon, 1 cent each with Apple 
  • Cashback redemptions: 1 cent each
  • Shopping portal: N/A
  • Experiences: 1 cent each
  • Average value: 2.0 cents each

American Express Membership Reward Redemption Options

While Chase may offer a better value than AmEx overall, the actual value that you’ll get will depend on how you choose to redeem your points in addition to how and where you travel. 

Pay With Points At Checkout

AmEx will let you pay with your points during checkout while shopping at a large variety of online retailers. Some examples of the more popular retailers include Amazon, Best Buy, Expedia, GrubHub, Rite Aid, Saks Fifth Avenue, Staples, Ticketmaster, and Walmart. This option can be very convenient, for example, if you were to link your Membership Rewards account to your Amazon account then you would be able to automatically pay with your AmEx points every time you shopped on Amazon. However, the value you earn is fairly low, at only 0.7 cents per point.

Gift Cards

While you also have the option to redeem your AmEx points for gift cards, it’s a typically low-value rate of only 0.7 to 1 cent per point. For example, 5,000 points can get a $50 gift card to Ruth’s Christ Steak House, but it will take 7,143 points for a $50 gift card to Target. It’s also an option to redeem your points for an American Express gift card, but this value is even worse at 0.5 cents per point.

Cover Your Card Charges

This option operates mostly like cashback as you can select recent charges on your credit card and cover them using points, basically erasing them from your bill. While this is the most flexible redemption option, it is also one of the worst point values, as each point is only worth about 0.6 cents. To cover a $10 charge on your bill, it would take 1,667 points.

Booking Travel

Both AmEx and Chase offer you the opportunity to use your points to book travel through their travel portals with a standard rate of 1 cent per point. However, these redemptions are a significantly lesser value with AmEx than they are with Chase. 

For example, AmEx will offer a standard redemption rate of 1 cent per point, but it is only applicable to flights. You will only get 0.7 cents per point when you try to redeem them for hotels, rental cars, or cruises. In addition, you won’t have as many options with the AmEx travel portal, which doesn’t include tours or activities. 

Transfer Points

AmEx has the same number of hotel transfer partners that Chase has, but it has more airline partners. Overall, AmEx will allow you to transfer your Membership Rewards points to 19 different airlines and three hotel partners. The standard rate for a majority of these partners is 1 cent per 1 point, but there are a few exceptions and AmEx often runs promotions that will boost the transfer rate for specific partners. 

Shop With Points

Shopping for specific items through the Membership Rewards portal will only get you 0.5 cents per point, making it the lowest of the point value redemptions. However, the catalog does offer a very wide range of items including clothing, electronics, appliances, and home goods. While the redemption rate is typically low, AmEx does run promotions occasionally that will offer more valuable redemption rates. 

Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemption Options

Chase offers very similar redemption options to AmEx, but while Chase lacks a product catalog, it does allow you to redeem points for experiences such as concerts or exclusive events. 

Amazon And Apple

Similar to the AmEx option of paying with your point at a checkout, Chase will allow you to use your points for Amazon and Apple purchases. You will get a 0.8 cent per point redemption rate when using them at Amazon and a 1 cent rate per point at Apple.

Cash Back

Chase offers a much better cashback redemption rate than AmEx, reaching 1 cent per point. While this is not as great of a value when compared to travel redemptions, it is still a solid option if you need to redeem your points without making any travel purchases. You can redeem your point for a statement credit or have the option for cash to be deposited into your bank account. 

Experiences

Unlike AmEx, Chase offers a 1 cent per point redemption rate when you are redeeming your points for experiences, such as VIP tickets, concerts, private dinners, exclusive access to sporting events, and more.

Gift Cards

Chase points will offer a higher value on gift card redemptions at 1 cent per point. Some featured gift cards will frequently come with a 5% or even 10% discount, meaning you may be able to reach a 1.1 cent per point exchange rate in some cases. The Ultimate Rewards portal offers gift cards for a few major retailers, including Best Buy, Starbucks, iTunes, Target, and Sephora.

Transfer Points

Chase will allow you to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to a list of 10 airlines and three hotel partners at an exchange rate of 1 cent per 1 point. Unlike AmEx, Chase doesn’t normally run promotions that will boost the transfer rate with certain partners. 

Booking Travel

The Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal will offer you more value per point along with a wider range of redemption options than AmEx. The value that you get by booking travel will depend on which Chase credit card that you are using. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offer an exchange rate of 1.25 cents per point, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 1.5 cents per point. 

In addition to being able to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises, you also have the option to book vacation rentals and other activities. The activities section includes events such as tours, attraction passes, shuttles, and day trips. 

The Takeaway

There is no clear option that is best for all people as the right rewards program will depend on your specific travel and spending habits. Both are considered to be two of the best rewards programs being offered, so whichever you choose, you will save a lot of money. 

Overall Chase points are worth more than AmEx points on average and its travel portal offers a wider variety of redemption options. In addition, Chase points are much easier to stockpile, making it a wonderful option for both beginners and advanced reward program enthusiasts alike. However, AmEx can be particularly valuable for those who enjoy premium international travel

AmEx has a long list of travel-related transfer partners and a few other luxury perks as well. Ultimately, it will come down to your personal preference as to which one is the better option. 

SOURCES:

How to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points and get up to 50% more value | CNBC.com

American Express Membership Rewards: The Ultimate Guide | Forbes

Chase Ultimate Rewards | Chase.com

About the Membership Rewards Program | AmericanExpress.com 

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