Did Amex Just Kill A Chase Credit Card?

American Express and Chase

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There has been quite a bit going on in the credit card world in recent weeks and most of it appears to have been triggered by the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (CSR). Chase’s new credit card has been stealing most of the limelight thanks to its 100,000 sign-up bonus combined with good spending category bonuses….but Amex has been hitting back….sort of.

The 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers are some of the best category bonuses we’ve seen from a rewards credit card and Amex has tried to fight back by introducing, for the first time, a spending category bonus on its personal Platinum charge card.

From 6 October the Amex Platinum personal card offers 5 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent directly with airlines or for air travel booked through Amex. Although this move was clearly aimed at helping Amex compete with the CSR it may have had the effect of making a different Chase credit card irrelevant for a lot of people.

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Chase issues the British Airways Visa card and for the past few years the card’s has offered the following earnings:

  • 3 Avios/$ spent directly with British Airways
  • 1 Avios/$ spent everywhere else

Chase British Airways VisaBut the Chase British Airways Visa (CBAV) isn’t the only way you can collect Avios through credit card spend – British Airways is also an Amex transfer partner.

At 250:200 the transfer ratio from Amex to British Airways isn’t great and that’s primarily what’s kept the CBAV as the best card for anyone looking to collect Avios via British Airways spend….until now.

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While the best category bonus on any Amex Membership Rewards card has been 3 points/$ it has made sense to use the CBAV for all spend with British Airways…..but the introduction of a 5 points/$ category with the Amex Platinum changes that.

The Math

For a $1,000 British Airways fare here’s what each card earns:

  • Chase British Airways Visa – 3,000 Avios (at 3 Avios/$)
  • Amex Platinum Personal Card – 5,000 Membership Rewards Points (at 5 points/$)

Using the 250:200 transfer ratio the 5,000 Membership Rewards points can be converted to 4,000 Avios – 1,000 more than would be earned using the CBAV.

And the news gets better for the Amex Platinum card.

Amex likes to offer bonuses on the transfer of its points to partner programs and we often get a bonus on the transfer of points to British Airways.

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The most recent such bonus that Amex offered saw the transfer ratio from Amex to BA increased to 250:300 so, using the same example as above, that would see the Amex Platinum personal card earning 6,000 Avios or double what the Chase Visa offers.

Does the Chase British Airways Visa offer better travel protection than the Amex Platinum card?

The Amex Platinum card is known for not providing as extensive travel protection as a lot of other cards but, after taking a look at what the Chase British Airways Visa offers…..

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……I can’t see too much that you don’t get with the Amex Platinum card (if I‘ve missed something please let me know in the comments).

Are there any other benefits to the Chase British Airways Visa?

Yes, if you spend $30,000 on the card Chase/BA will issue you with a “Travel Together” voucher (valid for two years) which allows you to redeem two award seats for the Avios price of one….but you still have to pay the taxes and fees for both travelers.

If you are able to manufacture a significant amount of spend then $30,000 may not be a high bar to clear….but for most people that’s a lot of spending that could be better used elsewhere.

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I’m guessing that there aren’t a lot of CBAV card holders spending $30,000 with British Airways so that means a lot of the spend needed to get the Travel Together voucher would have to be done while only earning 1 Avios/$…and that’s a huge waste.

When other credit cards are offering 2-5 points/miles per dollar on things you buy every day putting that spend on the CBAV means that you’re missing out on significant earnings.

When you add together those lost earnings and the fact that you still have to pay British Airways’ appalling taxes & fees on the companion award ticket I don’t think the Travel Together voucher offers value for most people.

So why would you put any spend on the Chase British Airways Visa Card?

I guess some would argue that the Amex Platinum card is much more expensive as it costs $450/year compared to the $95/ year fee for the CBAV…but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

With the CBAV the $95 annual fee cannot really be offset against anything unless you can persuade Chase to give you a retention bonus while there are clear ways to reduce the cost of the Amex Platinum.

Here are the cash savings you can get from the Amex Platinum:

  • $200 in airline fees/year
  • $100 Global entry fee spread over the 5 year Global Entry membership is worth $20/year

So those reduce the annual fee to $230 and then you get….

  • Entry to Amex Centurion Lounges for the card holder and two guests
  • Priority Pass Select membership (access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide)
  • Hilton HHonors Gold Status
  • Starwood Gold Status
  • Boingo Preferred WiFi plan

…and quite a bit more too.

And all of those together are worth considerably more that the remaining $135 difference ($230 – $95) to the CBAV annual fee.

Bottom Line

For everyday spend nothing has changed – you’re still much better off using credit cards like the Amex Everyday cards, Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card, Citi’s ThankYou cards or a host of other options.

For spend on British Airways you’re better off earning 5 points per dollar on the Amex Platinum Card than the 3 Avios per dollar on the CABV.

Spending on the Amex gives you the option to either convert those points into more Avios than the CBAV would have earned you anyway or to hold them as Membership Rewards points which you can use for a lot more things than just Avios.

The fact it that, for a lot of people (i.e those who don’t manufacture spend), the Chase British Airways Visa card simply isn’t very useful anymore – The Amex Platinum personal card just killed it.

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