For frequent travelers, a premium card can elevate your travel experience. Whether it’s great rewards, huge bonus offers, or VIP perks, these credit cards can provide a lot more value to cardmembers than what they charge in annual fees.
Three of the best premium travel cards on the market include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express, and the Citi Prestige (no longer available for applications). Which card is best? We intend to find out.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express vs. Citi Prestige: Highlights of all three
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Amex Platinum
||Citi Prestige (no longer available for applications)|
|Welcome bonus||Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10x points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first 6 months)||Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening|
|How rewards are earned||10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, and hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else||5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases||5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases|
|Redeeming points for travel||Redeem for travel through Chase or transfer to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners||Redeem for travel through Amex or transfer to one of Amex’s airline or hotel partners||Redeem for travel through Citi or transfer to one of Citi’s airline partners|
|Travel credits||$300 annual travel credit||Up to $200 annual Uber credit (enrollment required)||$250 annual travel credit|
|Lounge access||Priority Pass Select; entry includes yourself and two guests||Centurion Lounge, International American Express lounges, Priority Pass Select, Delta Sky Club, Escape Lounge, Airspace Lounge; guest policies vary by lounge network; enrollment required for select benefits||Priority Pass Select; entry includes yourself and two guests or immediate family members|
|TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Credit||Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee||Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee||Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee|
|Concierge access||Visa Infinite Concierge||Platinum Concierge||Citi Prestige Concierge|
|Other benefits||50% more value when booking travel through the Chase travel portal, 1 year of Lyft Pink membership, DoorDash credits, special rental car privileges, elite benefits with certain hotel brands, various trip protections, Reserved by Sapphire dining reservations benefit coming soon||Uber VIP status, elite status with Hilton and Marriott, complimentary benefits at select hotels and resorts, car rental privileges, by-invitation-only experiences, various trip protections||25% more value when redeeming points for air travel; complimentary fourth night with each hotel stay of four or more consecutive nights, various trip protections|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None (See rates and fees)||None|
|Fee to add authorized user||$75||$175 for up to three additional cards, then $175 per card after that; no fee for Gold cards||$75|
|Annual fee||$550||$695 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)||$495|
|Recommended credit score to apply||Excellent||Excellent, Good||Excellent|
|Learn how to apply||Learn how to apply|
One thing to note is that while the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige are true credit cards, the Amex Platinum is not. Unlike typical credit cards, the Amex Platinum allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all, so you may be required to pay your balance in full each month. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, it may be better to compare the other two more directly.
Travel and purchase coverage, compared
In addition to perks that make a trip go more smoothly and add a little luxury, it’s also helpful that you can sleep at night knowing your card has you covered if something goes wrong. Fortunately, this is also an area where these credit cards excel.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Amex Platinum||Citi Prestige|
|Rental car coverage||Primary coverage of up to $75,000||Secondary coverage of up to $75,000; primary coverage can be purchased for much lower than what the car-rental company charges||Secondary coverage of up to $75,000 in the U.S.; coverage is primary when used overseas|
|Trip cancellation/trip interruption||Up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per trip||Not offered||Up to $5,000 per trip|
|Trip delay reimbursement||Up to $500 per ticket||Not offered||Up to $500 per traveler per trip|
|Travel accident insurance||Up to $1 million in coverage||Up to $500,000 in coverage||Up to $1 million in coverage|
|Emergency evacuation and transportation||Up to $100,000 in coverage||Up to $100,000 in coverage||Up to $100,000 in coverage|
|Emergency medical and dental||Up to $2,500||Up to $20,000 for medical, up to $1,000 for dental, and up to $1,000 for prescriptions||Not offered|
|Baggage loss, delay, or damage||Up to $100 per day for five days if delayed; up to $3,000 per passenger if lost||No coverage for delayed baggage; up to $2,000 for lost checked baggage, up to $3,000 for lost checked and carry-on luggage; up to $10,000 total for all covered people per trip||Up to $500 per covered traveler per trip if delayed; up to $3,000 per traveler per trip ($2,000 for NY residents) and up to $10,000 total per trip if lost|
|Roadside assistance||Up to $50 per incident 4X per year||Will pay for eligible services up to 4X per year||Dispatch only|
|Purchase protection||Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year||Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year||Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year|
|Return protection||Up to $500 per item and up to $1,000 per year||Up to $300 per item and up to $1,000 per year||Up to $500 per item and up to $1,500 per year|
|Extended warranty protection||Extends original warranties of up to three years for another year||Matches the original warranty for up to two additional years||Extends original or purchases warranty for another two years for a maximum of seven years from the purchase date|
|Price protection||Not offered||Not offered||Up to $200 per item and up to $1,000 per year|
|Cell phone protection||Not offered||Up to $800 per claim with a $50 deductible and up to two claims per 12-month period||Up to $1,000 per claim with a $50 deductible and up to $1,500 total per 12-month period|
Main differences to note
All three travel rewards credit cards have a lot of similarities in the features they offer. But there are some key differences to note. For example, the Amex Platinum offers the most value in the form of perks but falls a little short with trip protections.
On the flip side, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a wide array of travel insurance benefits but doesn’t provide as many perks as the Amex Platinum.
On the rewards front, the Amex Platinum doesn’t do so hot, offering just one point per dollar on most of the purchases you’ll make. If it’s rewards and bonus categories you’re after, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige are a much better match.
As you consider a card based on benefits and protections, it’s important to look at the fine print to know what’s actually covered. With trip cancellation and interruption insurance, for instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers four times the maximum per trip as the Citi Prestige.
It’s also important to note that each card may differ in what’s considered excluded from coverage, so be sure to read the terms and conditions.
Which card should you choose?
There’s no single best travel credit card out there for everyone, so it’s important to know what you want out of a card to ensure you get the right one for you. Here are our thoughts about which card is best for which type of person and why.
Best premium benefits for most travelers: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Among these three premium cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides the best fit for most of the people who want elite travel perks. The card’s annual travel credit of $300 is easy to use and could effectively offset the card’s annual cost to $250 — that is, if you would have spent the money anyway.
Access to the card’s insurance protections is worth that expense alone, and when you add in airport lounge access, credits and discounts at Lyft and DoorDash, premium rental car benefits (including discounts and upgrades), special benefits at luxury hotel brands, and more, it’s hard to turn the card down.
It also offers a strong rewards program, and people who aren’t sure they’re savvy enough to maximize point value through transfer partners can still get 50% more value when booking travel through Chase.
Best over-the-top benefits for frequent travelers: Amex Platinum
If you want as many luxury perks as possible, the Amex Platinum is your best bet. The card offers free access to more airport lounge networks than any other card available to the public, and you can expect preferential treatment with two major hotel brands and three major rental car companies. Select benefits do require enrollment.
What’s more, the card offers $1,400 per year in statement credits, offsetting the annual cost completely.
Just keep in mind that the card’s rewards rates are lackluster. And if you want to get more than one cent per point when redeeming, you’ll need to transfer your rewards to one of Amex’s travel partners.
Best for lengthy hotel stays: Citi Prestige
If you often take long trips, the complimentary fourth night offered by the Citi Prestige could save you hundreds of dollars, if not thousands. The card’s rewards program is also relatively lucrative, and you can maximize the value of your rewards by transferring them to one of Citi’s airline transfer partners.
Keep in mind, though, that the card doesn’t offer as many valuable perks as the other two. Also, the complimentary fourth-night benefit will be capped at two nights per year beginning Sept. 1, 2019.
It can still be valuable, especially if you usually stay in high-end hotels and resorts. But most people may get more value from the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum.
Best overall card benefits: Chase Sapphire Reserve
When combining the value and flexibility of the card’s rewards program and its benefits, the card makes up for not achieving the Amex Platinum’s level of premium perks. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the most well-rounded of the three and, therefore, can provide the best value overall to a wider range of travelers.
Before you pick one of these or another travel credit card, however, be sure to do your research on what each card offers. Shop around and figure out what you want in a card before you settle on one. This process can take time, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Is it worth having the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum?
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum are worth having for people who spend enough on travel purchases each year. Cardholders can realistically offset the cost of the cards’ annual fees in a handful of trips per year.
Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you a $300 annual travel credit, you’ll only need to earn enough points to offset the remaining $250 of the fee. You earn 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, and hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else, and those Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 50% more when you use them towards travel on the Chase portal.
The American Express Platinum gives you more than $1,400 of value from annual credits. And since you get 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com, you can easily offset the card's annual fee if the credits and other perks are useful for your lifestyle.
Is the Citi Prestige metal?
The Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Amex Platinum cards are all constructed of a metal alloy. The Amex Platinum was once the heaviest of the three at 18 grams, but a recent upgrade to the Citi Prestige puts it at 18 grams as well. The Chase Sapphire Reserve weighs 13 grams.
What credit score do you need for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Citi Prestige card requires excellent credit as well. You can apply for the Amex Platinum card with good or excellent credit.
Remember that there’s never any guarantee you’ll be approved, and credit card issuers take into account other factors such as your income.
Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?
If you can take advantage of the card's credits and benefits, the Amex Platinum card is likely worth the annual fee. That’s because you get over $1,400 worth of annual credits, which can offset the $695 annual fee by itself. But you also have to consider earning rates and other benefits.
If you’ll use the $300 annual travel credit that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, then you need to offset an additional $250. This is likely possible through everyday spending, travel spending, and using the card's benefits.
The Citi Prestige is a bit more difficult to pin down since it has different rewards rates for airfare and hotels. But given the $250 annual travel credit, you only have $245 left of the $495 fee to offset.
Is the Citi Prestige card a Mastercard?
Yes, the Citi Prestige is a Mastercard, which means it is widely accepted at many retailers. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a Visa card, which is also widely accepted, while the Amex Platinum is an American Express card. While none of these cards have foreign transaction fees, American Express cards are generally accepted at fewer retailers in most countries.
#1 Premium Travel Credit Card
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
See how these cards compare:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
- 10X points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months)
- 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
- $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 in Uber Cash, $300 Equinox credit, $200 airline fee credit
- Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
- Select benefits require enrollment.
- $695 annual fee. Terms apply.
- See rates and fees
- 50,000 bonus point sign-up offer
- 5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants
- Up to $250 travel credit every calendar year
- Complimentary 4th night hotel stay
- Transfer points to airline partners
#1 Premium Travel Credit Card
up to 10X points per dollar
- 50,000 point sign-up bonus
- 10X points on hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards
- $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2021
- Priority Pass airport lounge access
- High annual fee
- Excellent credit required
- Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, and hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else