Which Is The Better Card: AmEx Platinum Or Citi Prestige?

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Understandably most consumers like to shy away from cards with $450 annual fees. That sounds scary. But as I’ve explained in the past, it certainly can make sense to apply for and keep a card with a $450 annual fee, and in many cases can even make sense to hold onto multiple cards with high annual fees.

Which brings me to a question asked by reader Kelly:

I have been trying to decide between The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card. I know you said it can make sense to have both. But I only want to pay one annual fee. Which should I apply for?

These are both credit cards with a high annual fee ($450 for the Prestige, $550 for the Platinum) which I have, and I value them both immensely. But which is better in absolute terms?

Let me first quickly recap some of the most significant benefits of the two cards:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Delta-SkyClub-New-York-LGA-05
Get Delta SkyClub access with the AmEx Platinum Card

Citi Prestige® Card

  • A $250 annual airline credit (with your first year’s annual fee you actually get two of those — that’s $500 of airline credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee)
    A fourth night free hotel benefit
    The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
    A $100 Global Entry fee credit

Westin
Get a fourth night free at hotels with the Citi Prestige Card

What are the actual differences between the cards?

All that is nice, but when you break it down, which card is actually more compelling? Let’s talk about some of the subtle differences between the cards:

  • The Citi Prestige® Card offers an airline credit worth $50 more per year, and it’s good on all airline purchases, including tickets (meanwhile The Platinum Card® from American Express specifically offers an airline fee credit)
  • The Citi Prestige Card has the same Priority Pass membership and guesting privileges, while the AmEx Platinum Card gets you into The Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs
  • The Citi Prestige Card offers an amazing fourth night free hotel benefit, which can save you thousands, while the AmEx Platinum Card gives you access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, which can also be quite valuable
  • The Citi Prestige Card is much more lucrative for everyday spend, as it offers 3x points on air travel and hotels, 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment, and 1x point for all other purchases; meanwhile the AmEx Platinum offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines and 1x point per dollar spent on everything else

Bottom line

These are both cards I hold onto, since I think they’re both valuable, and more than justify the annual fee with my travel patterns.

That being said, if I could only have one card, I’d probably go with the Citi Prestige® Card. Factoring in the bigger (and less restrictive) airline credit, the better return on everyday spend, the fourth night free hotel benefit, the better Priority Pass membership, etc., it really is an extremely compelling card.

However, I think The Platinum Card® from American Express could be a better fit if you would get a lot of use out of The Centurion Lounges or Delta SkyClubs.

AmEx-Centurion-Lounge-Miami-Airport-12
Access The Centurion Lounge Miami with the AmEx Platinum Card

Which of the two high annual fee cards do you value more?

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Comments

  1. Do I need to use the $250 airline credit on a airline item that’s $250 or less? As in, if I buy a $400 ticket on United using the Prestige card, will it automatically subtract $250 in airline credit and leave $150 in charges?

  2. I had a family friend as me this question recently as he was debating between the two. My take is that if you are only going to sign up for one of these cards, and you think you will have it in the long-run, it basically comes down to what airline you fly the most. If you fly Delta or if you have a Centurion Lounge in your home airport, you go Amex Plat. If you fly AA, you go Citi Prestige. With that said, and as you point out there are many reasons to have both. I know I am personally just waiting for the 100k Prestige offer to come my way despite having an Amex Plat for many years now that I don’t intend to cancel.

  3. Is it really only since you “moved” into a transient life, and from a physical address, that you find this value in the 4th night benefit? I don’t recall you mentioning this perspective much previously. I ask because a 4-night stay is a strange proposition to us – we’re typically only a day or two in a hotel per visit. But your focus certainly seems to have changed in terms of recommending this card, and I wonder if it’s a travel change related to lack of roots.

    I also understand YMMV and to many this is a great option. Just curious as to your experience.

  4. “Which of the two $450 annual fee cards do you value more?”

    Neither, since they’re not available outside the US…

  5. I don’t know about the situation in US, but in Australia, Amex is not as widely accepted as visa/Mastercard. I know other countries in Europe, Singapore and Japan it’s similar. Simply for that reason, I would have Citi Prestige over Amex.

    However, Amex in Aus generally have a higher earn rate than visa/Mastercard. So I also hold two, and use AMEX whenever I can.

  6. I fly United and leave near SFO. The decision was very easy.
    But I’ll get the prestige in a couple months and transfer the signup bonus to KrisFlyer.

  7. If you live in the US, it’s easy to get the miles/points as you can pretty much charge any amount on a credit card. You go to Hong Kong, Thailand, UK, etc and decide to charge $2.00 on a credit card???? They will scream at you!

  8. No mention that the Prestige AF drops to $350 with a Citigold account, which can then be canceled?

  9. Do you know of a current Amex Platinum offer that gives more than the 40,000 signup bonus after $3,000 spend at this time? I missed out on the 150k signup last month.

  10. Why does no one ever mention the international airline program with Amex? If you’re paying for business class there’s potential to save a ton. It’s not always the case, but generally paying for JAL business roundtrip between LAX and NRT you can easily save ~$1600 with the Amex platinum.

  11. When a spouse transfers TY points to your account, they have a 90 day expiration date…how do you then know which of those points out of your new larger, combined balance is applicable to that rule? LIFO, or FIFO?

  12. I think you shortchange the AMEX Platinum card. The FHR program has some awesome deals, including buy x get (x+1)th night free on many properties at various times and has all sorts of special property benefits (usually a $100 meal credit). Also, there are specials for cruises.

    Not to mention the BOGO (not counting fees) on International BC air on many airlines (published fares, and yes, discounted BC counts – as long as you book through AMEX). I used this in 2014 for a BC ticket to France to have my wife accompany me on a business trip on DL.

    The Concierge program has been able to allow me to score hard to get tickets before they went on sale to the general public.

    But what about the *UNLIMITED* credit limit? I have used the card to pay for as many as 3 BC tickets to Asia (when the price on NW was around $8K per), no questions asked.

    And once, when I was going to be “late” with a payment because a reimbursement would not hit before the due date, I called and they said “No problem, as long as we get payment before the next closing date”.

    So, how does Citi stack up against that?

  13. The annual fee of AmEx Platinum in US is only $450!? How cheaper!!
    It costs JPY130,000+Tax (about $1,057+Tax) in Japan.
    The application of Platinum is invitation from AmEx only here.
    The additional benefits are SPG Gold, Accor Platinum, etc., but are these valuable??
    I don’t know if access to Centurion Lounge in US is allowed.

    I wish I could live in US!

  14. Not to pile on, but you also didn’t mention that Amex Platinum grants you automatic SPG Gold status. This has the additional benefit for Delta flyers of allowing you to earn crossover SPG points: every MQD on Delta gets you one SPG point.

  15. Something else to mention is what do you think you’ll want to do with your points? AmEx has better transfer partners for many people.

    @Michael Kao – “I don’t know about the situation in US, but in Australia, Amex is not as widely accepted as visa/Mastercard.”

    IME, it depends on where you are in the US. In big cities or suburban areas AmEx seems to be pretty well accepted, if a bit less than Visa/MC. In more rural or less populated areas, you’ll definitely have problems.

    @Jay – The Merecedes-Benz Platinum has 50K after spending 3K in 3 months. https://www262.americanexpress.com/apply-card/personal-card/012/16580

  16. Lucky: of all the lounges you could use to promote the Platinum card, my gosh, the Miami lounge is the biggest lounge disaster in the country right now. Amex actually contacted me after my visit to ask about my experience there a week ago. They know it’s bad. I left that lounge hoping that Spirit would open up a lounge and teach Amex how to run it.

  17. Remember that the Amex Platinum card has “”NO PRESET SPENDING LIMIT what so ever. So everywhere you go, you don’t have to worry about your spending ability because you can spend as much as you like on the card but the balance has to be paid in full each month” and the card looks more prestigious than the Citi. 9 out of 10 everywhere when you flash the Amex Platinum card out of your wallet,people would stare and give a WOW factor to it.
    Ofcause, the Amex Centurion lounge are amongst the best airport lounge in the US.
    The Fine Hotel & Resort program are terrific and unbeatable!
    The Concierge team at Amex are far more helpful than the Citi.

  18. A hidden value of the Amex Plat card is the Amex offers. Despite $450 + $175 for three additional users, in the last year I have earned (aside from the $200 Rebate)

    – $300 = $75 * 4 users Smart and Final offer
    – $80 = $20 * 4 from Amex offers on Amazon
    – $200 = 50 * 4 from Hilton offers on Amazon
    – $120 = $30 * 4 from Small Business Saturday.

    This doesn’t include the small offers. All in, a minimum of $700 in straight cash (statement credits) along with $200 in gift cards for American Airlines. Essentially getting paid $225 this year for lounge access. Forget all the other benefits. That being said, I still got the Prestige card because $200 to use the AA lounge seems like a fair price.

    For people who know how to maximize an Amex card, you are short-changing the Platinum card’s value.

  19. Well, that’s an easy choice for us non-Amerikans, Lucky — neither! Ineligible if you do’;t have a US of A SSN,
    I REALLY wish you’d finally realize that many (if not most?) of your readers are not from the mighty USA, and simply insert the word ‘American’ into your headers.
    Otherwise, great blog!

  20. I think the AA lounge access and DL lounge access are not apples to apples because AA allows my girlfriend in and DL does not…

  21. Guys, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
    You CAN have a US issued credit card as a non-resident, non-US citizen, without SSN, without ITIN, without US address. I’ve talked to Citi, Chase, Capital One, BofA, Wells Fargo, PNC and US Bank and all said that I CAN have any credit card I want if I’m willing to travel to the US to open a personal bank account and if I’m willing to take a security deposit against the card. Before you’d ask, it’s valid for all their cards, not just for their secured credit cards. Even Amex said that they can manage to open an account for me if I take a security deposit.

    I’m interested in applying for a Citi Prestige card like many of you so I’ve contacted Citi first and they’ve confirmed that they can issue the card for me. I’m an EU passport holder, EU resident, no SSN, no US address, no green card, no ITIN.

    So it’s definitely possible. You can’t apply only though but that’s the price. You should be happy because you’re not a US citizen, consequently you’re not a lifetime tax-slave.

  22. The Citi Prestige airfare credit is up to $250, and you can use it on multiple purchases or you can use it on one big one.

    Ie. Spend $200 on AA, Spend $100 on Delta… you will get back $250.
    Spend $500 of Delta, you get back $250.
    Spend $225 on AA, you get back $225 (and have $25 left on the table)

  23. Can I use T/U points to pay off my hotel bill that I charged to the Citi Prestige, then get the 4th night reimbursement on top of that? I wonder what the “spending value” is for T/U points towards travel…

  24. Not all benefit items are of equal importance. Specifically, lounge access is key.

    The Delta/American split mentioned by everyone above is the other central decision point, but here’s the rub: if you have a family or significant other, the Amex “no free guests” rule for both the Delta lounges and the Priority Pass lounges is an absolute deal killer.

    Sure, for the unattached and childless 20-somethings who seem read this blog, it’s not a deal killer. Great. And you do get to bring guests into the small handful of Centurion lounges (which aren’t even all that wonderful, by the way). Double great. For me, it’s still a deal killer.

    Also, if you bank with Citi and have a Gold account, three great things happen with the Prestige that aren’t mentioned above. First, the Prestige’s annual fee is $100 less, and so only $100 net. Second, you get a 15% annual bonus on all your points. And third, you get that 1.6x multiplier for buying AA/US tickets applied to all your points, including the nearly 12K per year that Citi gives you for free on the banking side.

    But back to the two main points. Do you fly Delta or AA? Do you bring guests? Everything else is just detail.

  25. @ chris — I don’t believe so, since you’d have to book it through the portal. I could be mistaken, though, and frankly I think there would be better uses of TYP.

  26. @ Mick — I really do appreciate you (and many other non-US readers) reading, but for what it’s worth 80%+ of readers are from the US.

  27. @ Jim Bob — You’re talking about the business class one? Because in my experience you can almost always find two discounted business class tickets for less than the price of one ticket under the “companion” deal.

  28. @ colleen — To clarify, didn’t mention card much before since I didn’t really take much interest in the TYP program before they added airline transfer partners. Americans are definitely “quicker” vacationers than others, as they tend to stay places for shorter periods of time. That being said, I think there are plenty of Americans who make four night stays. Admittedly part of the reason there’s the four night minimum is probably because they know many won’t be able to take advantage of it. But I don’t think it’s that abnormal to stay in a hotel for four nights.

  29. My situation led to the AMEX plat card; ability to bring 6 of us into the SFO Centurion Lounge (easiest for us to get to from our gate) next month for a long layover was key. Flying regularly to DFW for work on AA was key. Throw in the additional benefits and I’m good with the $450 fee.

    IF I weren’t flying to DFW and IF not for the long SFO layover I probably would have picked the Citi card.

  30. @lucky – yep. I wouldn’t say always, maybe 70% of the time, but there are some good exclusions I’ve found with it. For JAL in the month of Oct between LAX and NRT the cheapest I see is ~$2100/leg, so $4300 rt per person with taxes…. With the amex companion deal you can get two refundable tickets for $5800.

    Now I’m sure I could get business deals on AA or another airline, but if I want to fly paid JAL bc that’s the best deal I’ve seen.

  31. Coincidentally, I just got my Business Platinum Benefits Guide and below is the comprehensive list. Is it worth $450? You bet! Trade it for the Citi Prestige? No way! Get both? Waste of money; one or the other is all one needs…

    A. PREMIUM TRAVEL BENEFITS

    Pre-flight
    -The Boingo American Express Preferred Plan
    -Free Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre
    -2X Membership Reward Points for booking flights on AMEX Travel website
    -Beginning July 1, 2015, 30% Membership Rewards points back when Pay with Points for a flight

    At the Airport
    Airport Lounge Access Program:
    -Centurion Lounge
    – Delta Sky Clubs
    -Priority Pass Select
    -Airspace Lounges

    In-flight
    -Gogo Preferred Program
    $200 Airline Fee Credit

    Upon Arrival
    -Fine Hotels & Resorts
    -No Foreign Transaction Fees

    B. PLATINUM LEVEL SERVICES & INSURANCE BENEFITS
    -Business Platinum Concierge
    -Purchase Protection
    -Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance
    -Premium Global Assist

    C. BUSINESS TOOLS
    -No Pre-Set Spending Limit
    -Chip+Signature Technology
    -ReceiptMatch(SM).

  32. @31583 (June 30, 2015 at 5:07 am)

    Thanks for the heads-up! Something I was totally unaware of — I guess I hadn’t dug deep enough.

    P.S…. even though I AM a tax-slave, it’s not a big issue for me — our present “Leader” notwithstanding, I appreciate Canada’s relatively good infrastructure, educational system, and above all, accessible and equitable health-care system 🙂 )

  33. @Lucky: When you say “hold on to”, does that mean you intend to keep the Prestige past 1 year? I like the benefits and am considering keeping it, but I’m not sure how churnable it is.

    Also, when I called Priority Pass (forgot my card and needed my number), they said my membership expiration was in 3 years… do you know if the Priority Pass will still be active if I cancel the card?

  34. How many $450 cards? I have 4, but I get more than $450 value out of each one: Amex Plat personal, Amex Plat Biz (for the 150k MRs), Citi Prestige (you forgot the $1000+ golf benefit), Citi AA Exec (mainly for EQMs). I’ll probably cancel one platinum card, but will maintain the other 3 for the foreseeable future.

  35. Lucky
    Just letting you know, I applied for the Prestige card through your site, and got denied. (Really??). I called up and asked for reconsideration, as my credit score(s) are more than high enough. Anyway, after a little while switching around operators, I got approved for 30.5K limit.

    I’m hoping you still get your commission – not sure it will kick in as I received the initial denial (strangely the Citi rep told me I wasn’t denied even though it was clearly there on my screen, but that I was still in process of being considered). In any event, I hope you get the referral fee – your blog is one of the most useful ones out there to me (we both appreciate the finer things in life, fly long haul, and don’t mind dropping a few bucks to improve our experience).

    Regardess, tip of the cap.

  36. @Lucky — Next time please add 10 Gogo-Inflight WiFi passes as a great ca$h benefit of the AMEX (Biz) Platinum card because @$16/pass it has a total ca$sh value of $160…on top of the $200 airline credit.

    It is a great benefit because of its practical utility for those who spend a lot of time on airplanes…like you!

  37. @ DCS — That’s a great point. In this case was trying to compare the two personal cards, but agree for the business card it’s a great perk.

  38. I have the Citi Prestige card and was calling to check on rental cars benefits. I was told and directed to complimentary National Emerald Club Executive enrollment. Was then found that this benefit is only for one year of complimentary membership. Do u know anything about this benefit?

  39. I got approved for both cards but feel I only need one. Has anything changed with these two cards? How do they compare now?

  40. I have the Amex Platinum and just picked up the Citi Prestige which (beyond its generous Airline credit and Admirals Club membership, might have been a big mistake.
    Here’s why:
    The Platinum American Express has much better “hotel benefits” especially if you like premier hotels. First you get in at a discounted rate, next you get an auto upgrade to a better room, in most cases you get breakfast, and a $100 spa credit and, if that weren’t enough you can off-set the cost by using points or combination of points and cash.
    Sometimes you also get a 4th night free which is a frequent perk.
    Unless your staying 4 days or more you get diddley squat with Citi Presige

  41. Platinum vs Privilege
    I have both. I will use my Privilege Card when I fly with American and Amex Delta when I fly Delta but use the Platinum to access the lounges. You don’t need to book with Platinum to use the Delta club and you can use its $200 airline credit to get your wife, or guest in free.
    I will use Platinum when booking Fine Hotels on their website. But when I want to stay at a hotel that is not listed I use my Citi Privilege Card to capture more points and the prospect of a 4th night free. (PS. I also have a Starwood Amex and a Delta Amex. So if the hotel I chose is either a Starwood (soon-to-be Mariott/Starwood) I use Starwood or Platinum whichever gives me a better rate. If the hotel is neither Starwood or part of the Fine hotel group, I use the Citi Privilege).
    If I fly internationally first class I pay with Platinum and my companion flies for free.
    If I had to give up one card Id shed the Citi Privilege.)

  42. I’ve been confusing the citi Prefered and Privilege. It is the Citi Privilege I’m referring to in the previous two posts.
    Sorry if I’ve confused some folks out there

  43. Im sorry to write all these posts merely to correct my errors. But I’ve been using citi Prestige. There is no such card as Citi Privilege. But if you substitute the correct card name then my posts are correct.
    I am just confused with the name, not the card or its perks.
    Again. Sorry trying just to be helpful

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