If you’re an adventurer interested in the crème de la crème of travel experiences, you can expand your vacation opportunities and collect a few more stamps on your passport with the right travel credit card. Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Prestige® Card are among the most exclusive credit cards available on the market.

Both are great cards to consider if you enjoy top-tier travel luxuries like airport lounge access and robust travel credits. But, which is better? Well, the answer to that question depends on your personal spending habits and travel preferences. These two cards offer similar features and identical welcome bonuses but differ slightly in their earning rates and points valuations.

Card comparison overview

Features Chase Sapphire Reserve Citi Prestige
Welcome bonus 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months
Rewards rate 3X points on dining and travel worldwide immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, a total of 10X points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 1X points on everything else 5X points on air travel and restaurants, 3X points on hotels and cruise lines and 1X points on all other purchases
Introductory APR None; Variable APR of 18.49 percent to 25.49 percent None; Variable APR of 16.99 percent to 23.99 percent
Annual fee $550; $75 per authorized user $495; $75 per authorized user

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige highlights

Although both of these cards are among the most prestigious travel cards available on the market, they differ in ways that could end up making one better for you than the other. Take a look at which card wins in categories like sign-up bonus, rewards rate, annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Sign-up bonus winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Both the Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige require cardmembers to hit the same spending target of $4,000 within the first three months. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 60,000 points worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. In comparison, the Prestige card offers 50,000 points only worth $500.

Rewards rate winner: It depends

The best card for you depends on which categories you spend the most money on.

Although the Sapphire Reserve’s 3X rewards rate is nothing to scoff at, the Citi Prestige offers travelers quite a boost with its 5X and 3X travel categories. If you spend a significant amount of money on airfare and dining each year, the Citi Prestige allows users to quickly recoup its steep annual fee.

On the other hand, if you prefer to book travel through a travel portal, you can get significantly more value for your points when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Annual fee winner: Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige charges a $495 annual fee, while the Sapphire Reserve charges cardmembers $550 each year.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

Both the Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige boast no foreign transaction fees. For cardmembers, that means you can travel internationally without worrying about accruing additional fees in interest for using your card abroad.

Which card earns the most?

The Citi Prestige beats out the Sapphire Reserve with its impressive earning rate of 5 points per dollar on air travel and restaurant purchases. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve is ideal for travelers who can get the most value out of their points using transfer partners.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige

Curious how these cards’ rewards would shake out over the course of the year? Well, it depends on where you tend to spend your money and how you redeem your points. Let’s say you spend $4,000 each quarter (including your first three months of account ownership) with the Sapphire Reserve. You’ll immediately be eligible for $900 worth of bonus points (when redeemed for travel) thanks to the sign-up bonus of 60,000 points. Add on the $300 travel credit and you’re already up by $500 after subtracting the annual fee. Not to mention, if your purchases are all eligible travel purchases, you’ll earn 48,000 points over the course of a year.

Spending the same amount with the Citi Prestige yields similar results. The 50,000 points (earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months) are worth only $500 in travel, but with the card’s sign-up bonus, you neutralize the annual fee. Add in the $250 travel credit, and you’re up by $255 over the year, not including the thousands of points you’ll have built up over the year.

Why you should get Chase Sapphire Reserve

Even with the $550 annual fee, the Sapphire Reserve is worth the cost if you’re a frequent traveler. It’s an especially great card if you have varied travel expenses like rideshare or camping costs.

Additional benefits

The Sapphire Reserve boasts excellent benefits, like a travel statement of up to $300 that covers a wide range of travel purchases, such as train fares and campground fees. Plus, if you don’t want to wait at the airport gate with the rest of the masses, cardmembers get free Priority Pass Select membership. With this membership, you receive exclusive access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world and meal credits at different airport restaurants and bars.

In addition, you’ll receive up to a $100 application fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry costs, so you can spend less time in line for security and more time living it up in your fancy airport lounge hideaway.

Redemption options

The best use of your Sapphire Reserve points is for travel. Specifically, you can extract the most value by transferring your points to a loyalty program, since they can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio. You can easily convert your 60,000 Chase points to airline miles and then redeem those miles for an expensive flight. Cardmembers also have the choice to redeem points for cash back at a rate of a penny per point, or for gift cards and select products and services.

Recommended credit score

You’ll need an excellent credit score to be approved for this card.

Why you should get the Citi Prestige

In order to make the most of the Citi Prestige card, it’s important that most of your travel expenses originate from airfare, travel agencies and eating out. The card is worth its annual fee if luxury perks are important to you. It’s easy to neutralize that hefty annual fee by taking advantage of the card’s travel credit and fourth-night-free hotel room offer.

Additional benefits

Every calendar year, cardmembers receive up to a $250 travel credit, which is automatically applied to eligible travel expenses. When you book a hotel stay of at least four consecutive nights through Citi’s travel portal, ThankYou.com, you can get a complimentary fourth night. The benefit is capped out at two nights a year, but it’s a nice perk that can come in handy if you regularly stay at hotels.

Redemption options

Points can be redeemed for travel, special experiences, a statement credit, cash, gift cards or donations to charities. You can also easily transfer points to different loyalty programs that include Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and TrueBlue.

Recommended credit score

You’ll need an excellent credit score to be approved for this card.

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige and the Sapphire Reserve are some of the most exclusive credit cards, and each card offers its own value depending on the user. If you’re a frequent traveler who can take advantage of niche perks, the Sapphire Reserve might be the best choice. And if you can take advantage of the higher-earning rate categories of the Prestige, you might be able to create a lucrative travel financial strategy. Either way, both of these prestigious travel cards can deliver an elevated experience that helps you maximize your travel and get on a plane to your next vacation destination sooner.

The information for the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by bankrate.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.