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Reader @SmellTheTea asked the following question on Twitter:
@OneMileataTime would you suggest citi prestige AND Amex Plat both in th wallet and why?
— Thinker (@SmellTheTea) March 30, 2015
It’s an interesting question, given that both cards have $450 annual fees. In general no one likes paying annual fees, and as consumers we rationally try to minimize them as much as possible.
But I’ll also gladly admit that I spend a couple of grand a year in credit card annual fees. That sounds horrible on the surface, though in practice I get more back in annual benefits than it costs me, from free hotel nights to lounge access to airline fee credits.
So the above reader is asking specifically about the The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card. Can it make sense to have both of them? I’d say absolutely… under some circumstances.
Each has a $450 annual fee, so with that in mind let’s look at the recurring benefits you get for each card:
Sign-up bonus aside, here are some of the recurring benefits you get each year for having the Amex Plat:
- $200 annual airline fee credit ($400 the first year, since your annual fee is based on cardmember year, while your airline fee credit is based on calendar year)
- Access to Boingo hotspots
- Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Access to Delta SkyClubs (when traveling on Delta-operated flights)
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Access to the American Express Centurion Lounges in Dallas, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, etc.
Sign-up bonus aside, here are some of the recurring benefits you get each year for having the Citi Prestige® Card:
- $250 annual airline credit, which can even be applied towards airfare ($500 the first year, since your annual fee is based on cardmember year, while your airline credit is based on calendar year)
- Access to Admirals Clubs when flying American/US Airways
- Priority Pass Select membership with complimentary guesting privileges
American Airlines Admirals Club Honolulu Airport
Crunching the numbers
Assuming you value the airline credits at face value, you’re making money on the cards the first year. But let’s look at the years beyond that.
Again, assuming you’re valuing the airline credits at face value, the annual fee of the American Express Platinum Card is essentially $250, while the annual fee on the Citi Prestige® Card is essentially $200.
As an American Executive Platinum member, the Citi Prestige® Card is worth it to me for the Admirals Club access alone, since there’s no other way I know of to get access so inexpensively. As an Executive Platinum I’d otherwise pay a minimum of $350 per year for lounge access.
The Citi Prestige® Card and American Express Platinum both comes with Priority Pass with guesting privileges.
With that in mind, how do I justify the $250 annual fee on the American Express Platinum Card? While some of the other benefits are useful, for me the access to American Express Centurion Lounges and access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts alone justifies the annual fee.
Two of the airports I transit most often are New York LaGuardia and Dallas, both of which have Centurion Lounges. Miami is getting one soon as well, which is another one of the airports I transit most frequently. Frankly I would pay $250 for access to Centurion Lounges alone, based on the frequency with which I transit through those airports.
Spa at the Amex Centurion Lounge Dallas
While many American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts properties overlap with Virtuoso, some don’t. I make at least a couple of stays a year at properties participating in Fine Hotels & Resorts but not Virtuoso, so having access to the program adds a lot of value.
Having both the The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card won’t make sense for everyone. That being said, despite some of the benefits overlapping, I think there are plenty of cases where it can make sense to have both cards.
As the airlines have sort of sided with their respective co-brand credit card issuers, there’s not a single credit card that gets you into most lounges anymore, which is why in some cases your best bet is to have multiple cards.