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Understandably most consumers like to shy away from cards with $450-$550 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:
- $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, Miami, New York, San Francisco, etc.
- A Global Entry fee credit
- 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
- Up to $200 in Uber credits each year
- 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 statement credit as reimbursement for your Global Entry fee
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 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 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 Platinum Card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines and 1x point per dollar spent on everything else
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.
Which of the two high annual fee cards do you value more?