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- The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card® from American Express are two of the most popular premium credit cards for frequent travellers.
- I’ve had both, and love their rewards programs equally. However, there’s one area in which the Chase Sapphire Reserve wins out for me: travel insurance.
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also offers decent travel insurance if you’re looking for a credit card with a lower annual fee.
As a self-proclaimed credit card rewards junkie, I’ve had both of what most would consider the two most popular premium travel credit cards: the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card from American Express. If I had to choose between the two, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an easy winner in my book, although probably not for the reasons you’d assume.
The battle between the two credit cards most beloved by frequent travellers is never-ending. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers more flexible travel credits, but the AmEx Platinum has better luxury perks for some. The AmEx Platinum nets you more points on airline tickets than the Chase Sapphire Reserve but fewer on dining. Some prefer the travel partners associated with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards system, while others prefer those that come with American Express’s Membership Rewards system.
However, the reason I prefer the Chase Sapphire Reserve has nothing to do with rewards.
Instead, it has to do with travel insurance. Even though I’ve rarely had to use it, the travel protections offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve save me hundreds of dollars per year.
Comparing travel insurance between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the AmEx Platinum
When it comes to travel insurance, the AmEx Platinum offers surprisingly little for a premium travel credit card. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers what are arguably the best, most extensive travel insurance and travel-related protections of any credit card on the market.
Keep in mind that you must purchase your travel with your credit card in order to receive the protections explained below.
The AmEx Platinum does offer very generous emergency medical evacuation, which is one form of insurance that’s often overlooked but extremely important given that the cost of medical evacuation, should you ever need it, can easily reach six figures.
However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve does offer emergency evacuation coverage of up to $US100,000, although in some situations, even that might not be enough. That being said, the Reserve beats out the Platinum in all other categories.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of very few credit cards to offer any emergency medical and dental insurance, which covers medical and dental care deemed medically necessary while you’re travelling. This benefit also covers ambulance services.
If your trip is ever delayed or cancelled and you’ve already prepaid your hotel or tours, trip cancellation and trip delay reimbursement come in handy. You do have to have cancelled or been delayed for one of their approved reasons, which include accidental injury or illness, loss of life, severe weather, jury duty, or a change in military orders. If you qualify, you’ll be reimbursed for any non-refundable reservations you made.
How I save money with the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel insurance
Murphy’s Law for travellers seems to be that if you fly often enough, you’re bound to have your luggage lost at some point. In fact, I’ve had mine lost completely, never to be found again, on two occasions. The budget airline I flew with the second time offered me next to nothing in reimbursement for my lost items – I got a check in the mail for $US92. Luckily, I was able to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve’s generous lost baggage insurance to recoup the rest of what I lost.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also offers primary rental car insurance, meaning it kicks in first, whereas the AmEx Platinum offers secondary rental car insurance, meaning it only kicks in after your regular insurance pays out. The big benefit of primary rental car insurance is that if you’re ever in an accident with a rental car, you don’t have to worry about reporting it to your regular car insurance company and watching your premium increase.
I take advantage of the rental car insurance on my Chase Sapphire Reserve every time I book a rental car while travelling. The last time I rented a car in Costa Rica, I brought my printed out letter from Chase verifying that my credit card comes with collision insurance, so I only had to purchase the liability insurance (credit cards don’t come with liability insurance). This saved me about $US130 on a 10-day rental.
I’ve also stopped purchasing travel insurance. I used to buy a travel insurance plan for every international trip I went on, and given that I travel frequently, I was spending hundreds of dollars each year. When compared to the benefits offered by my Chase Sapphire Reserve, the travel insurance I was buying didn’t offer a lot more.
A cheaper alternative: the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Both the AmEx Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve come with hefty annual fees: $US550 and $US450, respectively. While the perks, travel credits, and rewards they offer more than make up for the fees if you travel regularly, some people might not be ready to drop that kind of cash on a credit card.
Luckily, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers almost the same travel protections as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and it comes with a low annual fee of $US95. You’ll still get primary rental car insurance and the same level of trip cancellation, trip delay, lost luggage, and delayed luggage reimbursement. However, the card offers no emergency medical/dental benefit and no medical evacuation coverage.
While the AmEx Platinum comes with plenty of tempting perks and rewards – like 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel – ultimately, the peace of mind I get from knowing that my travels are insured is priceless.
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