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The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card are three of the most popular luxury cards in the U.S. All come with high annual fees and on the surface appear to be similar. This can make choosing between them difficult. The easiest way to determine which card is the right choice for you is to first figure out why you want to pay $450 to $550 annually in the first place. There are many cheaper alternatives, so what do you hope to get out of one of these cards? The answer can help narrow down the search. If you don't know the answer, you can still use this resource to learn about the best parts of each of the cards.
Table of Contents
How Do The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Citi Prestige® Card Compare to Each Other?
The table below lists out all the relevant information you might want to know about the cards at hand. This can give you a bird's eye view of the most important features and components of each. In the sections below, we take a deep dive into key perks to help you better understand them.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||The Platinum Card® from American Express||Citi Prestige® Card|
|Good For…||Travelers looking for excellent spending rewards & bonuses||Frequent travelers who want solid airport lounges & customer service||Consumers looking for decent lounge access coupled with great travel credit|
|Early Spend Bonus||50,000 points ($750 value)||60,000 points ($600 value)||40,000 points ($532 value)|
|Spend Bonus Requirement||Spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months||Spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months||Spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months|
|Earnings Rate||3x points on Travel & Dining at restaurants; 1 point everywhere else (3 points on travel after you earn the $300 travel credit)||5x points on direct booking with airlines and on hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, 1 point per $1 everywhere else||5x points on Air Travel and Dining; 3x points on Cruises; 1 point everywhere else|
|Annual Air/Travel Credit||$300||$200||$250|
|Air/Travel Credit Can Be Used For…||Travel purchases||Incidentals Only (One Airline Per Year)||Incidentals + Airline Tickets|
|Rewards Rate||1.5% - 4.5%||1% - 5%||1.33% - 4%|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||$0||$0||$0|
|Network||Visa Infinite||American Express||MasterCard®|
|Credit Background||Excellent credit||Excellent credit||Excellent credit|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
Comparing Lounge Access
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with great airline lounge coverage. This is due to the fact that it provides users with access to Amex’s Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Club®. The former is one of the most highly regarded airport lounges available to travelers. They are well reviewed and come with high quality amenities not seen in most other lounges. The only downside to the Centurion lounges is how few of them there are. Currently, there's just 9 – located in major airports, including SFO, LAS and LGA. As we noted, Delta Sky Club® also comes included with The Platinum Card® from American Express. This gives access to 34 lounges, most of them located in the United States. However, you have to be travelling with Delta to receive the free admission to their lounges.
All three credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Citi Prestige® Card, come with Priority Pass™ Select membership. The website for Priority Pass™ advertises members receive access to over 900 lounges. The lounges are not standardized, and will vary in terms of the amenities they provide and quality. We estimate the value of Priority Pass™ Select to be around $399 per year.
A primary function of most good credit cards is earning rewards. They achieve this in one of two ways – bonuses and by earning points. When choosing between the premium credit cards discussed here, we generally don’t recommend weighing these too heavily. If earning rewards is all that’s important to you, there are many great rewards credit cards that can do this at a much lower cost to you.
Apart from using the rewards on these cards for cash back, or to book travel directly, they can be moved to participating travel partners. This generally increases their value. We explore this in a section below.
Long-term Rewards: Points Earning
The Platinum Card® from American Express has gotten a recent upgrade, boosting it to the top of the pack in air travel rewards rates. While the card earns 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, booking tickets directly with airlines and through AmexTravel.com each give 5 points per dollar. This translates to a 5% rewards rate -- a great improvement from its former terms.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also has one of the best rewards rates of any premium credit cards we’ve reviewed. The card earns you 3x points on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1x points elsewhere (3 points on travel after you earn the $300 travel credit). Each point is worth $0.015 when redeeming on travel through the Ultimate Rewards (UR) portal. That works out a rewards rate between 1.5% and 4.5%.
The Citi Prestige® Card has comparable, though slightly lower, rewards. The card provides its users with 5x points on airline and dining out, 3x points on cruises, and 1x point on all other spending. The ThankYou® Points you earn through this card aren’t as valuable as Ultimate Rewards points. This inhibits the card's top rewards potential. The rewards rate on the Citi Prestige® Card will vary between 1.33% and 4.0%, when points are redeemed for flights.
Short-term Rewards: Bonuses
In terms of welcome bonuses, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is once again the clear winner. Not only does the card provide the highest value among the three cards compared here, it’s also one of the best bonuses available on any credit card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
|50,000 Points||Spend $4,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening||$750|
|Citi Prestige® Card||40,000 Points||Spend $4,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening||$532|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||60,000 Points||Spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months||$600|
Bonuses can be a good way to offset the cost of the high annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers up a $750 value when you redeem your Ultimate Rewards points on travel through its online portal. That’s enough to cover your annual fee the first year, and then some.
Rewards Program Value: Transfer Partnerships
The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Citi Prestige® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® all belong to one of the three major credit card rewards programs. Each of these has their own set of airline and hotel transfer partners, that gives the rewards you earn a little extra juice.
|Amex Membership Rewards||Citi ThankYou® Points||Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Citi Prestige® Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve®|
|Airline / Hotel Transfer Partners|
The value of these will depend on where you travel the most. Overall, we consider Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program to be the most powerful. It has a good range of international and domestic airlines, and the world’s largest hotel chains. You can also transfer your points to these programs at a favorable 1:1 ratio. That isn't the case with the other programs. For example, you need 3 Membership Rewards points to get 1 Starwood Preferred Guest point – which is a bad deal.
If you’d like to know more about each of these programs, check-out our comprehensive guide.
In-Depth Look At Each Card
In case you want to find out more about the three biggest luxury cards, this section talks about each in more detail.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The newly released Chase Sapphire Reserve® quickly rose to the top of the “best credit cards” list. The combination of above-average rewards rates on travel and dining coupled with the $300 annual travel credit make it extremely valuable. As we underscored above, one of the biggest strengths of this card the fact that it belongs to the Ultimate Rewards family of credit cards. We already covered how that means you can move your points to popular airline and hotel programs. Another big advantage of this is the fact that you can combine it with other UR cards and pool your points together. For example, if you get the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom®, you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.
The one thing missing from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are brand-specific luxury perks. Some of the other $450 credit cards will typically throw in elite status with some airline or hotel chain, which can be invaluable to travelers. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express gives their cardholders automatic SPG & Hilton HHonors Gold status.
- 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within first 3 months
- Chance to bundle points with other Ultimate Rewards credit cards
- Priority Pass™ Select membership
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express has long been one of our favorite credit cards, for many years acting as a status symbol. Today it’s less special. As we see with cards like the Citi Prestige® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, many banks have imitated the formula. The new cards have, in many ways, improved on the old model. However, there are still some things The Platinum Card® from American Express hasn’t been matched on – namely customer service and luxury. Cardholders often exhibit loyalty to the card and issuer that’s been cultivated through Amex's care and effort. For example, one cardholder we spoke with lost his card. Amex shipped a replacement card overnight. The Platinum Card® from American Express throws in extra to make cardmember travel more luxurious, such as free Boingo WiFi plans, and bookings through their Fine Hotels and Resorts program. Though nothing major, these extra touches do a lot for the overall user experience.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a charge card – not a credit card. This comes with some important distinctions. First, you are not allowed to carry a balance month-to-month. You need to pay your bill in full every time. The up-side is that the card has no pre-set spending limit. This can be particularly useful to anyone who likes to make big purchases on their card, and doesn’t want to be constrained. Note that ‘no-preset spending limit’ doesn’t mean you can charge anything you want to the card. You still have a limit, though it’s flexible.
- Great lounge access due to Delta Sky Club® and Centurion Lounges
- No Preset spending limit
- Automatic gold status with Hilton and Starwood hotels
Citi Prestige® Card
For the right consumer, the Citi Prestige® Card can have the most value. This is because of the card’s unrestrictive travel credit and hotel benefits. Some other premium credit cards, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, allow their annual credit to be used only towards incidentals – that means baggage fees, seat upgrades, etc. This can be limiting for individuals who pack light and always want to fly economy. The $250 credit you get with the Citi Prestige® Card, can be applied towards all travel purchases. Therefore, even though the total value isn't as high as what we see on some other cards, you are likely to find more opportunities to use it.
Citi Prestige® Card cardholders can also get a free fourth night on hotel stays (upto twice a year). You need to make the booking through the Citi Concierge and pay for it entirely using the Citi Prestige® Card. Depending on where you stay, this benefit can be worth hundreds of dollars.
- $250 credit for all Travel purchases.
- Complimentary night at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive-night booking through Citi Prestige® Concierge (upto twice a year)
- 2.6% rewards rate on entertainment purchases