Premium credit card comparison: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige vs. Amex Platinum

1
Ivan Marc/Shutterstock.com
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

With the majority of premium credit cards charging annual fees of $450 or more, most people choose one or two of their favorites and go without the rest. After all, many of the cardholder benefits luxury travel credit cards offer—like airport lounge access and credits for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry—tend to overlap. With such hefty fees for premium credit cards, you don’t want to pay for perks you already have and don’t really need.

The best premium travel credit card is different for everyone, but many people prefer to pay for a flexible card that lets them redeem rewards in more than one way. Top options include the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Citi Prestige® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and it’s easy to see why. Note, however, that the Citi Prestige Card is currently not open to new applicants.

While each of these card options lets you earn rewards in different programs (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, respectively), all three of these cards offer superior travel benefits and rewards you can redeem for travel, gift cards, merchandise and more.

Main details

Which premium travel credit card should you invest in this year? The following chart provides an overview of each card’s fees and highlights.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Citi Prestige Amex Platinum
Welcome bonus Earn 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 100,000 points when you spend $6,000 on your card within six months of account opening
Rewards rate
  • 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 10X points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X points on hotel stays and car rentals through Ultimate Rewards (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 5X points on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 3X points on general travel (after earning your $300 travel credit) and dining
  • 1X points on other purchases
  • 5X points on airfare and restaurants
  • 3X points on hotels and cruises
  • 1X points on other purchases
  • 10X points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (during first 6 months of card membership)
  • 5X points on airfare and hotels booked directly or through the American Express Travel portal (on up to $500,000 per calendar year)
  • 2X points on prepaid car rentals through the Amex Travel Portal
  • 1X points on all other purchases
Intro APR 16.99% to 23.99% variable APR 16.99% to 23.99% variable APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable APR
Annual fee $550 $495 $695

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige vs. Amex Platinum highlights

As you can see, all three of these rewards credit cards come with lucrative rewards rates as well as annual fees. However, there are some details that help each of them stand out, as well as differences in their rewards programs. We compared each card and its unique offerings to see which one beats out the others in categories you care the most about.

Welcome bonus winner: Amex Platinum

The Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus of 60,000 points (after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months) is worth $600 in statement credits or gift cards or $900 in travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but you can also transfer 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners.

On the other hand, the Citi Prestige promises to award you 50,000 points, worth $500 in travel, when you spend $4,000 in the first three months and redeem through the Citi ThankYou travel portal. However, you have the option to transfer points to popular airline partners that can lead to a much higher rate of return.

The Amex Platinum now offers a higher bonus—100,000 points when you spend $6,000 on your card within six months of account opening (worth $1,000). You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to an array of travel partners where you may get outsized value for each point you redeem.

Rewards rate winner: Citi Prestige

The Chase Sapphire Reserve only gives you 3X points on travel and dining (and 10X points on Lyft purchases through March 2022) after you earn your $300 travel credit, and the Amex Platinum only gives you 5X points on airfare booked directly through an airline or flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. While the Amex Platinum does offer limited-time rewards (10X points at restaurants worldwide and when Shop Small in the U.S.), this rate is only available during the first six months of your card membership. The rest of your purchases with either card will only net you 1X points for each dollar you spend.

With those details in mind, the Citi Prestige is the most lucrative card in this category if you spend a lot on travel and dining. You’ll earn 5X points on airfare and restaurants, 3X points on hotels and cruises and 1X points on all other purchases, which could lead to a considerably higher rate of return over time.

Annual Fee winner: Citi Prestige

The Chase Sapphire Reserve charges new cardholders $550 per year and the Amex Platinum charges $695 a year, while the Citi Prestige comes in at $495 per year. If you value each card’s perks, benefits and rewards programs the same, this makes the Citi Prestige a slightly better value for the long haul.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

None of these travel credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, meaning you’ll never have to pay an additional fee to use them for purchases made outside of the United States. With no foreign transaction fees across the board, all three of these cards tie in this category.

Which card earns the most?

Most people apply for luxury travel credit cards because they travel fairly often and already spend a lot of money in the process. After all, premium credit card perks like airport lounge access and annual travel credits are geared to people who are likely to maximize them to the hilt.

But, which of these credit cards could actually help you earn the most points over the course of a year? That all depends on which categories you spend the most in and how often you use your credit card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige vs. Amex Platinum Card spending example

If you often travel and also use your credit card for your regular bills, all three of these travel credit cards could help you earn a considerable amount in rewards. But consider this example that shows how many points you might earn by using your credit card for travel and regular purchases throughout the year.

Monthly spending:

  • $24,000 per year ($2,000 per month) on regular purchases, including groceries and gas
  • $12,000 per year ($1,000 per month) on flights booked with airlines
  • $6,000 per year in restaurant spending ($500 per month)
  • $3,000 in cruises per year (on cruise per year, on average)

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you would earn 87,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year—24,000 points on regular purchases, 36,000 points on airfare, 18,000 points on dining and 9,000 points on cruises. Note that you only earn 3X on travel after you earn your $300 travel credit.

With Amex Platinum, you would earn 60,000 points on airfare and 3,000 points on cruises. Let’s say your restaurant purchases qualify for Amex’s “Shop Small” rewards category 50 percent of the time. That’s $1,500 ($250 per month for six months), at a rate of 10X points, earning you 15,000 points. The rest of your restaurant spending would come out to $4,500 at a rate of 1X, earning you an additional 4,500 points. So your total first-year earnings would be 82,500 points.

With the Citi Prestige, on the other hand, you would earn 123,000 points per year—24,000 points on regular purchases, 60,000 points on airfare, 30,000 points on dining and 9,000 points on cruises.

Obviously, this is a pretty big difference that you would notice if you spent this much on travel and regular purchases throughout the year. However, like all rewards-related topics, there are still plenty of reasons you might want to pick any of these cards.

Why should you get the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is best for consumers who want to earn 3X points on travel and dining as well as 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 2022). Since you get 50 percent more value out of your points when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, this card is also ideal for anyone who loves to book boutique hotels or various travel plans without dealing with complicated airline or hotel loyalty programs.

Additional benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers cardholders Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, a credit for up to $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and up to a $300 annual travel credit that is automatically applied to travel purchases made with your credit card.

Other travel-related benefits include trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental coverage, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, emergency evacuation coverage, travel accident insurance and more.

Meanwhile, this card also comes with a Lyft Pink membership that includes 15 percent off Lyft rides and priority airport pickups, a DashPass membership with free delivery for orders of $12 or more and up to $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021.

Lastly, Chase recently announced two benefits to come in late 2021. First, Reserve cardmembers will have access to “Reserved by Sapphire,” a reservation booking service that features some of the most exclusive restaurants across the country, including Canlis in Seattle, WA, Redbird in Los Angeles, CA, SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, CA, Reverence in New York, NY and One Off Hospitality in Chicago. The other benefit to watch out for is access to Chase Sapphire LoungeSM by The Club, a new airport lounge first launching in LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).

Redemption options

When it comes to travel redemptions, the Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you cash in points for travel through the Chase portal, and you’ll receive 50 percent more value out of your points when you do. Other redemption options include gift cards, cash back, statement credits and merchandise from Apple.com or Amazon.com.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program also lets you transfer your points 1:1 to the following airline and hotel partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Air France / Flying Blue
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Recommended credit score

Applicants need an excellent credit score to qualify for this credit card, which usually means having a FICO score of 740 or higher.

Why should you get the Citi Prestige?

Considering the generous 5X and 3X categories the Citi Prestige offers, this option might be best for someone who spends a ton of money on travel each year. This card is also slightly less expensive than the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum, so it might be worth considering if you can’t see yourself paying more than $500 per year to have access to a luxury travel credit card.

Additional benefits

The complimentary fourth-night hotel benefit this card offers can be lucrative if you pay out-of-pocket for several luxury hotel stays every year, but note that you can only utilize this perk twice per year. Beyond this benefit, the Citi Prestige offers a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and an annual travel credit good for up to $250 in travel purchases per year. Through the end of December 2020, you can also redeem your $250 travel credit for supermarket and restaurant purchases charged to your credit card.

Redemption options

Like the two other cards on this list, the Citi Prestige lets you cash in your rewards in more than one way. You can redeem them for gift cards at a rate of one cent per point or for merchandise and travel through the Citi portal. You can also redeem them for payments toward your qualifying Citi student loan or mortgage, or for charitable gifts to select nonprofits.

The Citi ThankYou program also offers the following transfer partners, all of which are offered at a 1,000 points:1,000 miles ratio for this credit card:

  • Aeromexico
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Air France / Flying Blue
  • JetBlue
  • Jet Privilege
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Recommended credit score

Applicants for the Citi Prestige need excellent credit to qualify, which usually means having a FICO score of 740 or higher.

Why should you get Amex Platinum?

The Amex Platinum is usually best for frequent business travelers who book airfare directly with airlines or book flights and hotels through amextravel.com. This card is also a solid option for anyone who wants the opportunity to visit American Express Centurion lounges in cities like Houston, Dallas and Hong Kong, as well as frequent flyers who want to visit Delta Sky Clubs when they fly with Delta.

As a side note, Amex Platinum can also be beneficial for anyone who uses Uber a lot, since you can secure up to $200 in Uber credits per year.

Additional benefits

In your first year of card membership, you can get benefits that equal to over $1,400 in value. They include:

  • An up to $240 digital entertainment credit
  • An up to $200 hotel credit annually
  • An up to $179 CLEAR credit annually
  • An up to $200 Uber cash credit ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December) annually
  • An up to $300 Equinox credit annually
  • An up to $200 airline fee credit annually
  • An up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit annually
  • An up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (every four years)

You’ll also get access to Priority Pass airport lounges, American Express Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta.

As a cardholder, you’ll also receive Gold status with the Hilton Honors program and Marriott Bonvoy, a baggage insurance plan, extended warranties, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, purchase protection and secondary auto rental insurance.

Redemption options

The Amex Platinum lets you redeem your American Express Membership Rewards for travel directly through amextravel.com, and you can expect to receive one cent per point in value when you do. You can also redeem your rewards for gift cards, statement credits and merchandise, as well as for upgrades to business or first class on flights you already paid for.

American Express transfer partners let you transfer points at a ratio of 1:1 unless otherwise noted:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromexico (1,000:1,600)
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France / Flying Blue
  • Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Israel Airlines (1,000:20)
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue Airways (250:200)
  • Qantas (500:500)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Choice Privileges Rewards
  • Hilton Honors (1,000:2,000)
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Recommended credit score

You need good or excellent credit to qualify for this credit card, which usually means having a FICO score of 670 or higher.

The bottom line

All three of these premium travel credit cards are good choices, but the best one for you depends on your spending style, the benefits you prefer and the transfer partners you’re most likely to use.

We don’t really believe there’s a clear winner here when each of these travel credit cards is popular with consumers who crave different experiences and don’t necessarily travel in the same way. Chances are good that, if you travel often, one of these travel credit cards will provide the benefits and rewards you want the most.

The information about Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.