Premium credit card comparison: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige® vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express

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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® and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and it’s easy to see why. 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.

Comparison Overview

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® The Platinum Card® from American Express®
Welcome bonus Earn 50,000 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 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening
Rewards Earn 3x points on travel (after earning your $300 travel credit) and dining and 1x points on other purchases; also earn 10x points on Lyft purchases (through March 2022) Earn 5x points on airfare and restaurants, 3x points on hotels and cruises, and 1x points on other purchases Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly through an airline or through the Amex travel portal; 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through the Amex travel portal; 1x points on all other purchases
Annual fee $550 $495 $550
Travel benefits
  • $300 annual statement credit for travel purchases
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
  • Up to $60 in Doordash Credits in 2021 and 2022 
  • One year Lyft Pink membership
  • Up to $250 statement credit for travel
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
  • Complimentary 4th night on qualifying hotel bookings
  • Up to $200 airline fee credit on a qualifying airline
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber credits
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck 
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership plus Centurion Lounge membership and Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta
  • Terms apply

Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Citi Prestige® vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express highlights

As you can see, all three of these rewards credit cards come with similar travel perks and benefits, as well as annual fees. However, there are definitely 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, and here’s what we found.

Welcome bonus winner: Tie

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® bonus of 50,000 points (after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months) is worth $500 in statement credits or gift cards or $750 in travel when redeemed through the Chase portal, but you can also transfer 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners. On the other hand, the Platinum Card® from American Express® offers a slightly higher bonus — 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening. These points are only worth one cent per point in value each when you book travel through AmexTravel.com, however, making this welcome bonus worth $600. Then again, 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.

The Citi Prestige® promises to award you with 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. Again though, you have the option to transfer points to popular airline partners that can lead to a much higher rate of return.

With all these details considered, these welcome bonuses are fairly equal. You can secure at least $500 in value with each of them, but you may receive a greater return depending on how you redeem your points and if you transfer them to airline or hotel partners.

Rewards rate winner: Citi Prestige

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® only gives you 3x points on travel and dining after you earn your $300 travel credit, and the Platinum Card® from American Express only gives you 5x points on airfare booked directly through an airline or flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com. 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 far and away 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

Both the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card charge $550 per 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® slightly better value for the long haul.

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. The Platinum Card® from American Express spending example

If you travel often and also use your credit card for your regular bills, all three of these travel credit cards could put you ahead. 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 airfares
  • $6,000 per year in restaurant spending ($500 per month)
  • $6,000 in cruises per year (two cruises per year, on average)

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you would earn 96,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year — 24,000 points on regular purchases, 36,000 points on airfare, 18,000 points on dining, and 18,000 points on cruises. Note that you only earn 3x on travel after you earn your $300 travel credit.

With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you would earn 96,000 points per year  — 24,000 points on regular purchases, 60,000 points on airfare, 6,000 points on dining, and 6,000 points on cruises.

With the Citi Prestige®, on the other hand, you would earn 132,000 points per year — 24,000 points on regular purchases, 60,000 points on airfare, 30,000 points on dining, and 18,000 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 Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Why you should 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 and 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.

As of January 2020, 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 $120 in Doordash credits spread out over 2020 and 2021.

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, statement credits, and merchandise from Apple.com or Amazon.com.

Chase 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 to qualify for this credit card, which usually means having a FICO score of 740 or higher.

Why you should get the Citi Prestige®

Considering the generous 5x and 3x categories the Citi Prestige® card 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 Platinum Card® from American Express, 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 fourth night free 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, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and an annual travel credit good for up to $250 in travel purchases per year.

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 student loans or your mortgage, or for charitable gifts to select non-profits.

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
  • 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

You can also transfer your points to the Sears Shop Your Way program at a ratio of 1:12 points, but we don’t recommend it.

Recommended credit score

Applicants for the Citi Prestige® need good or excellent credit to qualify, which usually means having a FICO score of 670 or higher.

Why you should get The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is usually best for frequent business travelers who book airfares directly with airlines or airfares 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, The Platinum Card® from American Express 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

This card comes with an up to $200 airline fee credit that’s good for incidental purchases, as well as up to $200 in Uber credits that are doled out on a monthly basis ($15 per month and $35 in December). You’ll also get a credit for up to $100 toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck, as well as 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 and secondary auto rental insurance.

Redemption options

The Platinum Card® from American Express 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 1,000:1,000 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 ones, 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 are 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 the Citi Prestige credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.