Published On: Tue, Dec 12th, 2023

Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards: Which is the best?

Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards: Which is the best?
Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards: Which is the best?


American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points are two of the most highly sought-after transferable currencies among travel enthusiasts. These points can unlock incredible redemptions in aspirational locations like the Maldives and Bora Bora. Both programs offer a range of travel rewards credit cards and redemption options, including transferring points to airline and hotel partners or booking travel through the respective bank’s portal.

However, it’s important to note that not all points hold the same value. While both Amex Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valued at approximately 2 cents per point, according to TPG, the best choice depends on your spending habits and travel objectives. Now, let’s delve into a comparison between these two programs to see how they measure up.

Transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

American Express Membership Rewards

Amex partners with 18 different airline programs and three hotel chains. Here’s the current list of Amex airline partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

And these are the Amex hotel transfer partners:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy

You can book flights or hotels through Amex Travel, but transferring points to a partner and then redeeming them (more on that a little later) typically results in the best redemption value.

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Park Hyatt Sydney. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer points to 11 airline programs:

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  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase also partners with three hotel programs:

  • IHG One Rewards
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

All transfer ratios are 1:1, and you must transfer in 1,000-point increments.

To decide which program is better for you, you’ll want to consider the transfer partners you’ll use most for your travel goals.

Remember that it’s possible to use one airline’s miles to book award flights on another if they’re partners or part of the same alliance. For example, even though United Airlines isn’t an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner, you can book United award flights by transferring Amex points to Air Canada or Singapore Airlines (as they are Star Alliance partners).

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value

Earning points with Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

American Express Membership Rewards

Earning Amex points has become more accessible thanks to revamped card options such as the American Express® Business Gold Card and American Express® Gold Card, both offering generous welcome offers. Despite a once-per-lifetime policy for welcome offers, the wide range of cards that earn Membership Rewards points makes it relatively easy to accumulate a substantial points balance.

Here are some of the cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points:

The information for the Amex Green has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Some of these cards come with great welcome offers. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express offers 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. According to TPG’s monthly valuations, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, making this 80,000-point bonus worth $1,600. That is more than double the card’s $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Related: Which is the best American Express credit card for you?

Another way to earn Amex points is through targeted Amex Offers. You’ll see all the Amex Offers you have available on a given card if you scroll down on your online account page or by tapping the “Offers” tab in the Amex app.

These offers come from various merchants, including travel providers, restaurants, clothing and jewelry stores, and more. Generally speaking, Amex Offers come in one of three forms:

  • Spend $X, get Y number of bonus points
  • Spend $X, get $Y back
  • Get additional points per dollar spent at select merchants

While some offers will give you cash back for meeting a specific spending requirement, many offer points.

If you hold multiple Amex cards, it’s important to check all of them to ensure you’re maximizing the available offers. Additionally, reviewing the terms of each Amex Offer you add to your cards is crucial, as some may exclude gift card purchases.

Amex Offers can be combined with online shopping portals and bonus categories. Consider using a shopping portal aggregator to determine which portal offers the highest return for a specific purchase. This way, you can make the most of your purchase.

Related: How to earn bonus cash back or Amex points on your online shopping purchases with Rakuten

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase offers three cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points, all of which have substantial welcome bonuses:

There are also four cards offered by Chase that, on their own, don’t allow you to transfer points to travel partners. However, if you have one of the cards mentioned above, you can transfer points to that account and then move them to airline and hotel partners.

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Remember that the Chase 5/24 rule may limit your ability to get approved for these cards. If you’re new to points and miles, your best bet is to apply for the Chase cards you want first.

Bonus points categories with Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

American Express Membership Rewards

We recommend maximizing everyday spending on several Amex cards by taking advantage of bonus categories. For example, the Amex Gold earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide. In comparison, the Amex Platinum earns 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or via Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel.

Related: Best credit cards

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase offers a range of cards that provide ample opportunities to earn points through bonus categories. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points per dollar on dining and select streaming services, 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target and Walmart), 2 points per dollar on other travel, and 1 point per dollar on all other expenses.

The Ink Business Preferred extends the bonus categories with 3 points per dollar on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases made with social media and search engines (on up to $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year, then 1 point per dollar), and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on all travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining worldwide, and 1 point per dollar on other expenses. This includes bonus categories like ride-hailing services and food delivery. Moreover, Sapphire Reserve cardholders will automatically earn 10 total points per dollar on Lyft rides when using their card, valid until March 2025.

Remember to assess your spending habits to determine which program suits you best. The Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred might be more suitable if you spend significantly on general travel. On the other hand, if you frequently spend on airfare or dining, it’s hard to beat the Amex Platinum’s 5 points per dollar or the Gold card’s 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants.

Related: 6 little-known Chase Sapphire Reserve perks

Redemption options with Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate rewards

Even though you can’t transfer Amex or Chase points to American AAdvantage, you can book American Airlines awards with British Airways Avios. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

As easy as it is to earn transferable points, you don’t want to keep them just sitting in your account — you want to burn them. Just like the ways to earn points, all redemption options aren’t created equal.

American Express Membership Rewards

With Amex, you have many ways to score your dream redemption. Some of these are more valuable than others.

For instance, you could use Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for All Nippon Airways to fly ANA’s The Room business class for 145,000 points round-trip from the West Coast (or 170,000 from the East Coast).

You can also use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to fly Hawaiian Airlines between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. Business-class awards cost 40,000 points one-way between Hawaii and the West Coast or 65,000 points between Hawaii and the East Coast.

You can also use the Amex Travel portal to find a preferred room and then pay with points — valued at 0.7 cents each — or cash. You can book various hotels, including those in Amex’s Fine Hotels + Resorts program. You won’t usually earn hotel points or elite credits for third-party bookings.

Related: Here are 9 of our favorite ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points

Chase Ultimate Rewards

With Chase, you can book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal and redeem points to pay for your plane tickets, hotel stays, rental cars or experiences. If you’re a holder of the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Business Preferred, each point is worth 1.25 cents. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece toward redemptions through the portal.

While you can use your Chase points through the Ultimate Rewards portal (and there are some instances where it would make sense), you’ll usually get better value by transferring to a travel partner. One of our favorite ways to redeem Chase points is to transfer them to World of Hyatt and redeem them at low-category or high-end properties.

As with Amex, some transfer partners are more valuable than others. For example, we don’t usually recommend transferring Chase points to hotels (except Hyatt), as you’ll typically get more value moving your points to airline partners. And you’ll usually get more bang for your points when you redeem them for high-value first- and business-class international award flights.

Related: Sweet spots: The best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Bottom line

Choosing between these two programs depends on your preferences, but there’s no reason why you can’t collect both types of points.

With a valuation of around 2 cents each for both Chase and Amex points, you can’t go wrong with either transferable currency. Chase Ultimate Rewards is a great choice if you’re aiming for remarkable redemptions like Hyatt stays in the Maldives or Star Alliance business-class tickets to Europe or Asia. Additionally, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s 100,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $8,000 in the first three months of account opening makes it easy to accumulate a substantial amount of points quickly.

Amex Membership Rewards is a solid option for affordable award redemptions using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. While Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of Chase, Amex often offers targeted transfer bonuses that can help you secure discounted premium-cabin awards to Japan.

Maintaining flexible and diverse points and miles balances will give you the most options when redeeming your rewards regardless of your preferred currency.


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