This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

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When it comes to credit card rewards programs, American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards stand out as two of the best options available. These programs have gained a loyal following among savvy consumers seeking to maximize their credit card spending and points. With robust rewards potential and plenty of high-value transfer partners, they allow cardmembers to save money on travel using points. While both programs offer tremendous value for those looking to make a travel budget using points and miles, deciding between the two can be overwhelming. 

If you’re getting started with points and miles, this guide will help you decide which of these programs will be most beneficial for you. We’ll compare the best travel credit cards for earning points in each program and the best ways to redeem points. Here’s everything you need to know about how American Express Membership Rewards stacks up against Chase Ultimate Rewards: 

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Membership Rewards vs. Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Transfer partners are an important factor when comparing the two programs. American Express Membership Rewards has 21 transfer partners, while Chase Ultimate Rewards has fourteen. The two programs have the following ten transfer partners in common, so you may not need both programs to access a diverse pool of loyalty programs:

  • Aer Lingus, AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Amex Membership Rewards has several exceptional transfer partners that Chase does not. They include All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club and Avianca Lifemiles. ANA has some of the cheapest business class fares to both Europe and Japan, costing about half of what programs like United MileagePlus charge for the same tickets. Amex also routinely offers transfer bonuses to certain partners, like Avianca Lifemiles. Your next award redemption can be much more attainable thanks to transfer promotions like these. 

While Amex has more transfer partners, they largely consist of foreign reward programs that the average traveler might not be familiar with. Some of them offer exceptional value, but there’s a greater learning curve in figuring out how to maximize these rewards. If you’re more comfortable with domestic loyalty programs, then Chase Ultimate Rewards might be a better fit for you. 

Chase is also one of the few programs that partner with World of Hyatt – arguably the best hotel loyalty program, with some of the lowest award redemption rates. Chase also partners with Southwest and IHG Rewards Club. While Southwest isn’t the best use of points, it can be a good option for domestic travelers who need to top up their accounts for an award flight. 

Here’s a closer look at how you can maximize each program:

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ANA Japan's esteemed “The Room” business class
ANA Japan's esteemed “The Room” business class © Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

Amex Membership Rewards

Amex Membership Rewards has 21 transfer partners: 18 airlines and three hotel programs. The airline partners largely consist of foreign rewards programs that offer exceptional value. For example, you can fly round-trip to Europe in business class for just 88,000 ANA Miles. ANA is a Star Alliance carrier, meaning you can redeem miles for flights on United, Air Canada and Lufthansa – often for less than these programs charge.

The transfer ratios are 1:1 except where noted:

  • Aer Lingus Aerclub
  • AeroMexico Rewards (1:1.6)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan 
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Choice Privileges 
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • HawaiianMiles
  • Hilton Honors (1:2)
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (5:4)
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privileges Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

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Chase Ultimate Rewards

There are fourteen Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners: Three of them are hotel loyalty programs, while the remaining 11 are airline frequent flyer programs. Most of Chase’s transfer partners also partner with Amex, except for IHG Rewards Club, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus and World of Hyatt. 

World of Hyatt is really the crowning jewel of Chase transfer partners. World of Hyatt is the only major hotel loyalty program that still publishes an award chart. Free nights start at just 3,500 points and even top-tier hotels cost 45,000 points or less. Compare that to Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, which routinely hike top-tier award nights to 100,000 points or higher. 

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

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Other ways to redeem points

While transferring points to airlines and hotels is the best way to use them, it’s not the only option. Both Amex and Chase allow cardmembers to redeem points towards fixed travel redemptions, cash back and statement credits, gift cards and when checking out at select retailers. This isn’t the best way to maximize your points, but it’s an option if you don’t want to deal with figuring out loyalty program award charts and rules. Overall, Chase Ultimate Rewards comes out ahead of Amex when it comes to the value-per-point on these redemptions: 

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Flying into Venice Airport, Italy
Flying into Venice Airport, Italy © iStockphoto / Getty

Fixed travel redemptions

Chase Ultimate Rewards offers better value for your points when you use them for these redemptions. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each towards Chase TravelSM portal bookings for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card cardholders and 1.5 cents with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Meanwhile, Amex cardholders can redeem their Membership Rewards for Amex Travel hotel bookings at 0.7 cents and 1 cent each towards airfare.

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Cashback and statement credits

American Express cardmembers can redeem points for statement credits at 0.6 cents each, while Chase cardholders get 1 cent per point. Through Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program, points are worth an extra 25% on select categories. Currently, the only qualifying categories include charitable donations.

Gift cards

Both Amex and Chase points can be redeemed towards gift card purchases at 1 cent each. That’s significantly less value than you’d get by transferring points or redeeming them for travel at a fixed rate. But if being able to redeem points for gift cards is important, it’s worth noting that Amex and Chase let you do it at the same rate.

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Retail purchases

Amex and Chase cardholders can redeem points at checkout through PayPal and Amazon. At 0.8 cents per point, Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth slightly more than Amex Membership Rewards, which are worth 0.7 cents each.

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Credit credit cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards

American Express and Chase both offer popular credit cards for different consumer types. Amex has nine credit cards that earn Membership Rewards, while Chase has three. Amex cards also have higher welcome bonuses than Chase, making it easy to earn lots of rewards quickly. It’s not unusual to see bonuses of 100,000 points or higher for cards like the American Express® Gold Card* and The Platinum Card® from American Express*. Plus, Amex routinely offers generous bonus point offers through its Amex Offers portal, including 5X points with Amazon and popular travel merchants. 

Chase credit cards are still exceptional, especially when you factor in the flexibility of its rewards. But Chase’s 5/24 rule might impact your eligibility for a card. That being said, Chase credit cards are popular for a reason and that’s because their annual fees are generally reasonable, they offer generous rewards on everyday spending and their points are easy to redeem.

While it’s difficult to judge the two programs on their credit card offers, the choice comes down to your individual spending habits, preferences and the benefits you value in a card. That’s why plenty of consumers choose credit cards from both issuers. Here’s a closer look at credit cards that earn Chase vs. Amex points:

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American Express Gold card
American Express Gold card © Eden Batki / The Points Guy

Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points

Amex Membership Rewards is known for its strong lineup of premium travel rewards cards, such as The Platinum Card, which offers generous travel perks, including access to airport lounges and statement credits for travel expenses. However, the card has a steep $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), which is why the American Express® Gold Card is a more affordable option with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). 

The Gold Card earns 4X rewards on dining and and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), which are two of the largest spending categories for most consumers. Amex also has several no-annual-fee cards that are much more budget-friendly.

It’s worth noting that Amex Membership Rewards has a one-per-lifetime rule for credit card welcome bonuses that will impact your eligibility for these cards. If you’ve received a welcome bonus for an Amex card in the past, you likely won’t receive it again.

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express* ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 120,000 points after spending $15,000 within the first three months of card membership.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express* ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 80,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first six months of card membership.
  • American Express® Business Gold Card($295 annual feen – $375 if application is received on or after 2/1/24 – see rates and fees): Earn 70,000 points after spending $10,000 within the first three months of card membership.
  • American Express® Gold Card* ($250 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 60,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of card membership.
  • American Express® Green Card* ($150 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first six months of card membership.
  • Business Green Rewards Card* ($95 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card* ($95 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 15,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first six months of card membership.
  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express* ($0 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card* ($0 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn 10,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first six months of card membership.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card © The Points Guy

Chase credit cards that earn UltimateRewards points

Chase offers three credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, including one business card. The annual fees range from $95 to $550 and even the highest fee is partially offset by annual statement credits and other perks. The best card depends on your spending habits. If you’re looking for a business card, the Ink Business Preferred offers a substantial welcome bonus and generous category bonuses at a reasonable annual fee.

If you’re looking for a credit card that earns high rewards on everyday spending, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be your best option. If you’re in the market for a premium credit card that offers generous travel rewards, the Sapphire Reserve could be worth it since the $300 annual travel credit partially offsets the annual fee, along with the Global Entry application fee credit.

If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can convert your cash-back rewards from a Chase card into points. This benefit is invaluable because Chase cash back cards earn high rewards in popular spending categories and carry. They can help you earn maximum rewards on everyday spending without paying an annual fee.

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited® ($0 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cashback. Cardholders enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases.
  • Chase Freedom Flex® Credit Card ($0 annual fee, see rates and fees): Earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn 5% cash back on combined gas station and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

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How to choose the best program 

Choosing between American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards depends on your specific spending habits, travel goals and preferences. Both programs offer versatile redemption options and even have ten transfer partners in common. The difference comes down to specific transfer partnerships that you might be able to maximize, based on your preferences. 

If you’re a Hyatt loyalist, the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt can be invaluable. But if you frequently redeem miles for international travel, then Amex Membership Rewards’ partnership with ANA Mileage Club can help you save up to 50% on the cost of an award ticket. And if you plan on redeeming your points for anything other than travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards provides more favorable redemption rates.

After evaluating which program best suits your rewards goals, you should review the different credit cards offered by each program. It’s important to get a credit card that aligns with your spending habits. If grocery shopping is a big expense, then the Amex Gold Card’s 4X earn rate at US supermarkets can help you accrue points at a higher rate than if you were to opt for a Chase Sapphire Preferred. If travel is a big expense for you, then you might benefit from the Sapphire Reserve's 10X rate on hotels and rental cars booked through Chase TravelSM.

These considerations can help you hone in on the best program (and credit card) for your specific needs. Some consumers end up investing in both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. After all, a diversified rewards portfolio is key to avoiding program devaluations and having flexibility in case of blackout dates. Thanks to a wide credit card portfolio, it’s possible to earn rewards with both programs without breaking the bank.  

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does Chase or Amex have better rewards?

Chase and American Express both offer great rewards programs. The best program depends on your specific preferences and how you plan to redeem your points. The two programs provide many of the same transfer partners and redemption options. Chase has more favorable redemption rates for direct travel bookings. Meanwhile, Amex’s inclusion of ANA Mileage Club makes it a popular choice for travelers who want bargain prices on international travel.

Is it worth having an Amex and Chase card?

Having both an Amex and Chase card can be worth it if it helps you earn more points on everyday spending. Both programs offer excellent redemption options and numerous credit cards for every consumer type.

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Denver Airport's American Express Centurion Lounge
Denver Airport's American Express Centurion Lounge © Zach Griff / The Points Guy

How much are Amex points worth?

Amex points are worth 0.6-1 cent towards retail purchases, gift cards and statement credits. However, you can get much more value from them by transferring points to an airline program and redeeming them for international business or first-class travel.

How much are Chase points worth?

Chase points are worth at least one cent towards non-travel redemptions. Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can redeem points towards travel bookings at 1.25 cents each, while Sapphire Reserve's cardholders can redeem them at 1.5 cents. As with Amex points, you can double or even triple the value of your Chase points by transferring them to airlines for premium flights.

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Is Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Gold better?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is better for travel enthusiasts since it earns generous rewards on travel and offers valuable travel perks. However, the Amex Gold Card is better for maximizing everyday purchases, since it earns up to 4X points on dining and US supermarket spending. The Amex Gold also carries a much lower annual fee ($250) than the Sapphire Reserve ($550), but the best option really comes down to personal preference.

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*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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