In a world where some people still refuse to pay any annual fee for their credit cards, there are others on the other end of the spectrum, paying over $1k per year by holding multiple premium cards.The key question in travel rewards credit cards is if it makes sense to hold multiple premium travel credit cards. There are many amazing cards in this category including the American Express Platinum Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (“CSR”), the Citi Prestige, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, the United Club Card and more. Although there are many options to pick in this category, I am going to talk about, in my opinion, the top two cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the AMEX Platinum Card.
Let’s start with the annual fees. CSR comes with a $450 annual fee and the Platinum Card comes with a $550 fee, for a total annual cost of $1,000. After you subtract the $300 travel credit from the CSR and the $200 Airline incidental fee credit and $200 Uber credit from the Platinum Card, the effective annual fee is $300 a year. In addition, having both cards allows you to maximize twice as many offers, such as when my Platinum Card offered me $60 back in statement credits when I spent $300 in a Hilton hotel, or when the CSR offered me 15% back on AirBnbs.
Both cards come with a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit, which is worth up to $120 a piece. You can sign up for one and then use the other credit for someone else. In addition, both cards come with a Priority Pass membership. However, the lounge access of the two cards complement each other. The CSR gives you access to the Priority Pass restaurants where you can get some or all of the price of your meals refunded, while the Platinum Card offers access to Centurion Lounges, Delta Lounges and Escape Lounges in addition to the Priority Pass lounges.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve has multiple travel protections including baggage insurance, trip delay insurance, trip cancelation insurance, trip interruption insurance and more, the Platinum Card does not, although they are now adding new travel protections in January 2020. On the other hand, the Platinum Card comes with elite status including Hilton Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold and multiple rental car statuses which is not available with CSR.
The biggest place where the CSR and Platinum Card complement each other is in the earning and burning of points. While the Platinum Card earns 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or booked through AMEX travel, the CSR earns 3x points on all travel and dining. For me, that means that I use the CSR for all travel including public transport, rideshare, trains, AirBnbs, hotels and dining. On the other hand, I use the Platinum card for all of my flights. With all of the bonus categories to earn UR points (CSR) and MR points (Platinum Card), there are multiple options available to maximize your point total.
Although both cards each have over 20 transfer partners, for the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on US domestic airlines. With the CSR, you can transfer your points to both United and Southwest, while the Platinum Card allows you to transfer to Delta. All these points transfer instantly and are at a 1 to 1 ratio. Combined, the cards cover 3 of the 4 main airlines in the US. If you wanted to use your points on American, both cards allow you to transfer to British Airways, which allows you to book American Airlines flights. The duo of having both these cards essentially allows you to have points and fly all the US airlines easily. In addition, UR points transfer to Hyatt.
Overall, while some people may argue that spending $1,000 a year on credit card annual fees is crazy, the value I get between holding both the Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card is significant and exceeds the high upfront cost. From the expanded lounge access network, to the travel insurance, to hotel status and everything in between, the combination of both cards work great together.
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