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The American Express Platinum Card and Citi Prestige are both phenomenal cards for people who travel frequently and highly value access to airline lounges, but each card has its own positives and negatives. We’re going to take an in-depth look at each one to determine if they make sense for you and which one would be a better option.
We’re going to get into more detail below, but the short answer is:
Get the American Express Platinum Card if you frequently travel alone and value the card just for its travel perks, or spend a lot on airfare.
Get the Citi Prestige Card if you frequently travel with others, often have hotel stays that are four nights or longer, or want this card to be a primary spending card – it has nice bonuses on travel, dining, and entertainment spending.
Here’s a rundown of the main features of each card:
Platinum Card from American Express: You get a $200 Airline Fee Credit up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline (not including air fare), Airport Lounge Access and Priority Pass Select Lounge Access, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit, Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status, No foreign transaction fees, and 5x points on airfare purchased directly from the airline. There’s a $550 annual fee.
Citi Prestige: $250 Annual Airline Credit (including air fare), American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access and Priority Pass Select Lounge Access, Global Entry Fee Credit, 4th Night Free at hotels, No foreign transaction fees, 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels, 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, and 1 ThankYou Point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There’s a $450 annual fee.
First we’ll look at a head to head comparison of benefits that are similar between the two cards and then we will look at additional benefits that are exclusive to one card or the other.
Both the American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige offer an airline fee credit, but they are a little different in how the credits are executed, as well as the amount of the credit.
For starters, the credit for the Citi Prestige is $50 higher – $250 instead of $200. In addition to being higher, the credit for the Citi Prestige is easier to use. The $250 fee credit for the Citi Prestige card can be applied to any flight related expense that is charged to your Citi Prestige card. This includes baggage fees, seat selection fees, and even the flight itself!
The fee credit for the American Express Platinum card applies only to incidental flight-related expenses like baggage fees, seat selection fees, and meal purchases aboard one qualifying airline. It cannot directly be used to purchase airfare, though in some cases a gift card purchase may trigger the fee credit. Those gift cards can later be used to purchase airfare.
Advantage: Citi Prestige
The Citi Prestige Card has far superior rewards for spending when compared with the American Express Platinum Card.
The American Express Platinum earns a flat 1 point per dollar spent on most purchases, but does earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline or with American Express Travel. That’s a big deal if you buy a lot of flights each year.
The Citi Prestige earns 3 points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels, 2 points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Advantage: Citi Prestige if you don’t buy a lot of flights.
The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to many airline mile programs 1:1, including Delta SkyMiles, ANA Mileage Club (for some great award prices on international flights), Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and more. The partners are really useful if you want to save a lot of miles to travel in international business or first class.
The Citi Prestige lets you transfer points to several airlines as well, including many of the same as American Express, but it’s missing a U.S. carrier (you can’t transfer to Delta SkyMiles for example), which is a deal breaker for a lot of people.
Our thinking is you’ll like the Amex points better if you are saving up for big international business / first class tickets, and you’ll like the Citi Prestige better if you want to use your points for basic flights on American Airlines without the hassle of airline mile blackout dates and availability restrictions.
Advantage: Amex Membership Rewards
Lounge access is perhaps where these two cards seem to be the most similar but are actually very different. Both cards provide airport lounge access in a variety of ways.
The American Express Platinum card will give you access to American Express Centurion Lounges. These lounges are brilliant, but currently only exist in a handful of airports. Those airports include: New York La Guardia (LGA), Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas (DFW), Seattle (SEA), Miami (MIA), Houston (IAH), and San Francisco (SFO).
There are also Centurion Clubs and Platinum Studios in a handful of international locations. Those are: Mexico City (MEX), Buenos Aires (EZE), Rio de Janeiro (SDU), Sao Paulo (CGH), Mumbai (BOM), and Delhi (DEL).
The American Express Platinum card also gives access to AirSpace lounges, of which there are five in the US. These are located at Baltimore (BWI), New York John F. Kennedy (JFK), Cleveland (CLE), and San Diego (SAN). At all of these locations you receive access for yourself and up to two guests.
Holding the American Express Platinum card will also give you access to Delta Sky Club lounges when flying Delta same-day. You only receive access for yourself for free. Up to two additional guests can be brought in for $29 each. If you have authorized users added to your credit card account (which incurs a fee), they will also receive access to Delta lounges for free when flying Delta same-day. As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
Both cards give a Priority Pass Membership as one of the benefits of having the card.
Priority Pass is a network of hundreds of lounges around the world, and is significantly more valuable for international travel than for travel within the US. You’ll find a Priority Pass affiliated lounge at most big airports outside the U.S.
With both credit cards, you will have access to these Priority Pass lounges for yourself,and up to two guests no matter what airline you’re flying.
Advantage: A draw
Hotel Elite Status: As part of your card membership, you are given both Hilton and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status. This means free breakfast at a lot of Hilton hotels and bonus points earning, late checkout, and upgrade possibilities at Hilton and Starwood Hotels.
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Credit: If you travel frequently, you’ll be happy to skip the long security and immigration lines when you’re traveling. You will be reimbursed for the fee to apply for either one of these programs.
Boingo Internet Access: Boingo has more than a million hotspot locations worldwide, and with the Amex Platinum card you will receive a complimentary Boingo Preferred Membership giving you unlimited access to all of them.
Car Rental Privileges: Upgrade National Executive status which gives you access to Emerald Aisle cars. When renting with Avis, up to 25% off. When renting with National up to 20% off. When renting with Hertz, up to 20% off your rental or 25% off the best contract rate on Hertz Prestige Collection weekend rentals as well as a 10% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points for your rental. With Hertz you also get a 4-hour grace period for all rental car returns when you use your Platinum Card and special discount code to book.
4th Night Free at Hotels: Whenever you stay at a hotel for at least four consecutive nights, your fourth night will be free. Note that you do need to book your stay through Citi’s Travel Concierge Service in order to obtain this benefit. But the Concierge can book the lowest available rate, including the rates only available directly from a hotel’s website, so this is a really powerful benefit that works at hotels expensive and cheap. Just about any hotel in the world is eligible for this fourth night free benefit, so it’s not hard to more than make up your annual fee with a couple of trips each year.
Global Entry Credit: If you travel frequently, you’ll be happy to skip the long security and immigration lines when you’re traveling. You will be reimbursed for the fee to apply for Global Entry.
Both the Citi Prestige and American Express Platinum cards are great travel cards to have.
The downside is that they both come with a pretty hefty annual fee, and many of their benefits overlap so it doesn’t make sense to have both. The biggest consideration when deciding which card to carry is how often you travel with other people and whether you want the card to be a primary spending card.
If you travel with others frequently, want the 4th free night hotel benefit, or you want this card to be a front-of-the-wallet card thanks to its spending category bonuses, the Citi Prestige is hands down a better option.
If those aren’t necessarily true about what you’re looking for, then it makes sense to take a deeper dive into some of the other benefits of the cards like the fact that the Citi Prestige offers three free rounds of golf per year or that the Amex Platinum gives you access to their awesome Centurion Lounges.
Ultimately, the card that is right for you depends on your travel preferences.
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