All links in our content provide compensation to Slickdeals. Applying for and maintaining consumer credit accounts is an important financial decision, with lasting consequences, and requires thought, planning and comparison shopping for the offer that best suits your personal situation. That's why we offer useful tools to evaluate these offers to meet your personal objectives. Be sure to verify all terms and conditions of any credit card before applying.

HomeCredit CardsAmerican Express Membership Rewards Points vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: Which is...

American Express Membership Rewards Points vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: Which is Better?

Amex and Chase both offer great rewards, read more to find out which work best for you.

Advertiser Disclosure: Most products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation. However, opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® and the American Express Membership Rewards programs both provide flexible rewards, primarily for travel. But depending on your travel habits and how you want to use your credit card rewards, one may be better than the other.

Here’s a guide to help you understand both the benefits and drawbacks of each program and how to determine which is the better fit for you.

Quick Navigation

American Express Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

friends travel in San francisco
Unsplash

On the surface, Amex points and Chase points have a lot in common. You can redeem your hard-earned rewards in a variety of ways, including travel, cash back, shopping and more. You can also transfer your Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs for more high-value redemptions.

But when you dig deeper into the details, you’ll notice that there are some significant differences in redemption values, transfer partner options, credit card earning rates and more. Here’s what you should know if you’re trying to decide which program to go all-in with.

Earning Rewards

Both the Amex Membership Rewards program and the Chase Ultimate Rewards program offer a handful of credit cards that you can use to earn rewards. While most of these cards offer bonus categories, some provide a flat rewards rate on all of your purchases.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

Cards that offer opportunities to earn Amex Membership Rewards include:

Some of these cards come with enticing welcome offers along with bonus points for certain spending categories. Examples of such cards include the following:

American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95 (free for the first year)
Welcome Bonus: $300
Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1%-6% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95 (fee waived for the first year)

Intro APR: Enjoy introductory 0% APR on new purchases for the first 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate applies.

APR: The card charges a variable APR on balances, depending on your credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card earns 6% cash back per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 each calendar year (then 1%) and 6% back on select U.S. streaming services. You’ll also earn 3% back on gas from U.S. gas stations and transit expenses, including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, buses and more. All other eligible purchases earn 1% back.

Welcome Bonus: New cardholders can earn $300 after spending $3,000 with the card during their first six months of card membership.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Households who spend enough each year on groceries and gasoline to justify the expense of an annual fee.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card
It’s rare for a cash-back credit card to charge an annual fee, but it’s even more unexpected to earn a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and with select streaming services. Big families will undoubtedly offset the cost of the annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

Many large households will naturally spend $6,000 annually at supermarkets, and with 6% cash back — the card returns $360 of your budgeted grocery bill. That’s nearly four times the annual fee (after the free introductory first year).

This credit card may also be ideal for families who spend a lot of time commuting around the city and who also have multiple U.S. streaming subscriptions, too. The Blue Cash Preferred Card is definitely designed to help busy households maximize their cash-back earnings.

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card is designed to help on-the-go households maximize cash-back earnings. While this card carries an annual fee, which is rare for a cash-back product, large families that spend heavily on gas and groceries will most likely spend enough to offset the $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first 12 months.

The card earns 6% back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 each calendar year (then 1%) and 6% back on select U.S. streaming services. You’ll also earn 3% back on fuel purchases at U.S. gas stations and 3% on transit expenses, including parking, tolls, bus fare and more. All other eligible spending earns 1% cash back.

New cardholders have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus of $300 once they spend $3,000 with the card during their first six months of card membership. Learn more with our full review of the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card


Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Welcome Bonus: $200
Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1%-3% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: Enjoy introductory 0% APR on new purchases for the first 15 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate applies.

APR: The card charges a variable APR on balances, depending on your credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card earns 3% cash back per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 each calendar year (then 1%) and 2% back on gas from U.S. gas stations. All other eligible purchases earn 1% back.

Welcome Bonus: New cardholders can earn $200 after spending $2,000 with the card during their first six months of card membership.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Households who frequently purchase groceries and gasoline, but not in quantities high enough to justify paying an annual fee.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers good value among cash back rewards card competitors with no annual fee. Between its competitive grocery rewards rate and $200 welcome bonus offer, it’s easy to extract a lot of value from this card.

Cardholders earn cash back rewards of up to 3% on every purchase, with bonuses for eligible grocery store and gas station purchases in the U.S. and 1% on standard purchases everywhere else.

If you want to earn cash back on everyday purchases but don’t feel like your household budget is high enough to justify a more premium card with an annual fee, this card might be a good choice.

For a card with no annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers an impressive amount of value. Right off the bat, new cardmembers can earn a $200 Welcome Bonus after spending $2,000 on purchases during the first six months of card membership.

This card earns 3% cash back per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 each calendar year (then 1%) and 2% back on gas from U.S. gas stations. All other eligible purchases earn 1% back.

If you’re looking for a simple card to get cash back and earn a bonus on the popular groceries and gas categories, this card could fit your spending needs. Check out our full review of the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card.


Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points include:

Note that while some of these cards are marketed as cash-back credit cards, you’re technically earning Ultimate Rewards points.

Like Amex Membership Rewards, some Chase cards also provide a boost in point earnings on certain spending categories. Whether you’re looking for a consumer credit card or a business credit card, consider your spending habits to find the card that best fits your needs.

Here are a few Chase cards that offer bonus points to help with earning additional rewards for your everyday spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 80,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-5X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), as well as 3x points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This card earns 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too.

Sign-Up Bonus: New applicants can earn 80,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s $1,000 when redeeming points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who are beginning with travel rewards cards.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred actually works like having over a dozen different rewards credit cards. That’s because this credit card allows you to transfer your rewards points into miles with 11 airlines and points with three hotel programs.

Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers and highest spenders, it’s part of a family of Chase cards that has a built-in upgrade path. So when it comes time to take your travel rewards game to the next level, you won’t have to start from scratch with an entirely different credit card and rewards program.

The card has a $95 annual fee, but the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit effectively reduces that fee to $45. Plus, the credit card allows you to continue earning points through bonus categories and a 10% anniversary points boost. But when it comes time to redeem your rewards for travel, this card really shines. You can take advantage of some really strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can just book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel center.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the gold standards for earning travel rewards. This travel credit card helps users earn points quickly with accelerated rewards in everyday spending categories like travel and dining.

Cardholders enjoy perks like a $50 annual hotel credit, 10% anniversary point boost and access to the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal, powered by Expedia.

New cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus points after using their credit card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 in travel reservations booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, but potentially more when transferred to airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.


Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: Extra 1.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent) in the first year
APR: Variable APR After Intro 0% APR Period
Intro Rewards Rate: 3%-6.5% Cash Back
Standard Rewards Rate: 1.5%-5% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: This card allows new cardholders to save money with an introductory 0% interest rate on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of account opening.

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $20,000) in the first year of account opening. This bonus is valued at up to $300 in cash back, and increases rewards rates to: 6.5% cash back on travel booked through Chase, 4.5% back on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases and 3% back on all other purchases.

Rewards Rate: After the bonus 1.5% cash back intro offer period concludes, earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back at drugstores and on dining purchases and 1.5% back on everything else.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Households that prioritize cash-back rewards for everyday spending and Chase loyalists who are looking to maximize Ultimate Rewards earnings.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card

You don’t need excellent credit to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited. In fact, many cardholders report getting approved with good credit. We like that the card offers a high flat rewards rate but also provides accelerated rewards on some common everyday spending categories. You’ll also get access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which allows you to use your cash-back earnings for travel rewards, gift cards and more.

And that sign-up bonus? Adding extra value to everyday spending categories like dining and travel help elevate this card above its competitors. Add the fact that there’s a 0% introductory APR for 15 months, an extra 1.5% cash back bonus during the first year of account holding and no annual fee, and you’ll see why the Chase Freedom Unlimited is among our favorite flat-rate cards.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a valuable all-around credit card with no annual fee. This cash-back card earns a rewards rate of 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back at drugstores, 3% back on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services and a flat-rate 1.5% back on other purchases. There are no rotating categories to track, caps on how much you can earn or excluded purchase categories.

New cardholders can take advantage of its big sign-up bonus—enjoy an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent) in the first year. This bonus is valued at up to $300 in cash back, and stacks with all the above rewards rates, meaning you can earn up to 6.5% cash back. Read our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.


Can you combine points from multiple credit cards?

It’s important to note that if you have more than one Membership Rewards credit card, your points will be automatically combined. If you have multiple Ultimate Rewards cards, you can transfer points earned with one card to another card account, but they’re not pooled automatically.

Redeeming Rewards

Although there are some similarities between what you can do with Amex points and Chase points, the two programs offer varying redemption rates. In general, Chase offers more value with redemptions than American Express.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can do with your Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards and how much value you’ll get per point:

Booking Travel
Amex: Up to 1 cent
Chase: Up to 1.5 cents
Cash Back
Amex: N/A
Chase: 1 cent
Statement credits
Amex: 0.6 cents
Chase: Up to 1.5 cents
Online Shopping at Select Merchants
Amex: Up to 0.7 cents
Chase: 0.8 cents
Gift Cards
Amex: Up to 1 cent
Chase: Up to 1 cent

Keep in mind that Chase offers differing valuations based on which card you have. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for instance, you’ll get 1.5 cents per point on travel booked through Chase and on statement credits for select spending categories. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 1.25 cents per point on those redemptions.

American Express offers something similar on a couple of its cards. If you have the American Express® Business Gold Card, for instance, you’ll get 25% of your points back when you book flights with points through Amex Travel, up to 250,000 total points per calendar year. With the Business Platinum Card® from American Express, it’s 35% back with a maximum of 1,000,000 points each calendar year.

Transfer Partners

If you want transferable points to give you more flexibility with your rewards, both rewards programs are solid choices. But while there are some hotel and airline partners in common, most are different, so you’ll want to consider which options you want.

One thing to keep in mind with transfer partners is that the value of your rewards can vary based on the program you’re transferring to and how you use them. For example, World of Hyatt, a Chase partner, offers an average value of 2.2 cents, according to our Points and Miles Evaluation Guide. So, transferring your Chase points to Hyatt could give you more value than what you could get from Chase.

In contrast, Marriott Bonvoy, which partners with both Amex and Chase, offers only 0.4 cents per point on average, so transferring points from either program to Marriott would cause you to lose value.

If you’re looking to maximize value with either program, international business-class round-trip flights often provide high redemption rates. But it can be tricky finding the right itinerary that squeezes the most value out of your rewards.

With that in mind, here are the transfer partners for each program:

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Chase offers a 1:1 transfer ratio for all of its hotel and airline partners, which include:

  • 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 Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Sometimes, Chase offers limited-time promotions where you can get a better transfer ratio than the standard. If you’re planning a trip, compare multiple airlines and hotels to determine which will give you the best redemption rate.

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

You can transfer Amex points to most of the bank’s partners at a 1:1 ratio, but some have less favorable rates, which are noted below. Hotel and airline partners include:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier (1:1.6)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (2.5:2)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Choice Privileges 
  • Hilton Honors (1:2)
  • Marriott Bonvoy

While American Express offers more transfer partners, watch out for the transfer ratios. Sometimes, the bank offers limited-time promotions where you can get a better transfer ratio than the standard.

As with Amex points, you’ll want to compare pricing from different airline and hotel partners to determine which will help you maximize your rewards.

Are Amex Points or Chase Points Better?

two people high five after hike
iStock

All things considered, Chase points tend to offer more value for most of its cardholders. But individual cards and transfer partners could make it more worthwhile to get a card with American Express instead.

Redemption Rates

American Express cardholders can get a lot of value from the bank’s transfer partners, but if you want to redeem your points directly with the card issuer, the best redemption rate you’re going to get is 1 cent per point — though the Business Gold and Business Platinum Cards effectively offer 1.33 cents and 1.54 cents per point on flight redemptions, respectively.

The program’s low redemption rate for statement credits and a lack of cash back make it worth considering only if you want to redeem your rewards for travel.

In contrast, most Chase Ultimate Rewards cards offer 1 cent per point for both travel and cash back, and you can get up to 1.5 cents per point in value on travel reservations through Chase and statement credits through the Pay Yourself Back option, depending on which card you have.

Transfer Partners

For this factor, it all comes down to which partners you value and will use the most. Think about your travel habits and consider which airlines and hotel brands you prefer or want to try to determine which program offers you the better value for your needs.

Individual Cards

This is where things get a bit more complicated. Within each program, you’ve got various credit cards with different welcome offers, rewards structures and card benefits. 

If you’re looking for a premium credit card, for instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a much better rewards structure, but the Platinum Card will give you far more value with its benefits — though some of the card’s perks are more difficult to maximize than others. Both cards offer similar benefits as well.

The Amex Gold Card doesn’t have a comparable option with Chase, but it’s arguably one of the best credit cards out there for groceries and restaurants.

On the other hand, if you want a no-annual-fee card, Membership Rewards doesn’t offer a solid option on the consumer side, so you’re better off with the Chase Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited. 

As with any credit card, it’s important to weigh the annual fee against the card’s rewards program and perks to determine whether you can get enough value to cover the annual fee and how much effort it’ll take. 

If it’s a welcome offer you’re after, you’ll want to compare the number of Amex points or Chase points you’ll earn and how much you have to spend within three or six months from account opening.

If you’re a true rewards enthusiast, it may make sense to sign up for both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. That way, you can get the best of both worlds. 

The Bottom Line

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards offer a lot of value to cardholders, and individual cards within each program can provide significant benefits depending on your spending habits and travel goals. 

Whether you’re trying to decide between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum Card, the Amex Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, or any other cards within each program, consider which option will give you the most value in the long run.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.