January 22, 2021

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It’s Time to Fly

American Express Platinum vs Citi Prestige: Credit card comparison

11 min read

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express has long been one of the best premium rewards credit cards available. For its part, the Citi Prestige® Card has added some new perks to remain competitive. Both cards carry high annual fees — $550  (See Rates) in the case of the Platinum Card, and $495 for the primary cardmember on the Citi Prestige® Card. However, each card more than makes up for the cost by offering a wide variety of valuable benefits.

Choosing one of these cards over the other isn’t easy, but the fact that Amex recently launched one of the best welcome offers ever on the Platinum Card might lend some clarity to your conundrum if you’re trying to decide between the two. 

Here are the main elements to consider if you’re trying to figure out whether The Platinum Card® from American Express or Citi Prestige® Card is a better rewards credit card for you.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Featured Reward

75,000 points after you spend at least $5,000 in your first 6 months of account opening

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
    • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
    • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
    • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
    • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
    • $550 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.
    Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    Cons
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards

    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

     

    *(Note: New Platinum Card® cardmembers can earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months of card membership)

    Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige welcome bonus

    You can earn tens of thousands of bonus points with either card, but The Platinum Card® from American Express debuted a phenomenal offer that blows the Citi Prestige® Card out of the water.

    With the Platinum Card, you’ll earn 75,000 points after you spend at least $5,000 in your first 6 months of account opening. New cardholders will also earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, within the first six months of account opening (then 1x).

    Altogether, that means a total potential of 225,000 bonus points if you spend the full $15,000 in the 10x categories. Although it requires more spending to max out than the Citi Prestige® Card, you also have six months to do it, compared to just three with the Citi card.

    The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

    Both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards are transferable points, which makes them very versatile when it comes time to redeem. However, the sheer difference in earning potential from these bonuses — 50,000 points versus up to 225,000 points — puts The Platinum Card® from American Express in the lead.

    Winner: The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Both cards are impressive earners. Not factoring in its current introductory offer, The Platinum Card® from American Express accrues 5x points on flights booked either through Amex Travel or directly with airlines (this will only be on up to $500,000 per calendar year in purchases starting in 2021, then 1x). It also earns 5x on prepaid hotel reservations made through Amex Travel, and 1x on all other purchases.

    The Citi Prestige® Card earns bonus rewards in a diverse array of categories that should come in handy whether you’re traveling or not. It offers 5x points on air travel (including tickets booked directly with airlines, but also through third-party agencies like Expedia) and dining (including most food delivery services). The card also earns 3x points on hotels and cruises, and 1x on everything else.

    The Citi Prestige® Card earns more points in more categories — it’s as simple as that.

    Winner: Citi Prestige® Card

    Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou redemption options

    Of course, the other side of the rewards formula is how you can actually redeem your points, and here the two cards differ dramatically.

    American Express Membership Rewards

    American Express Membership Rewards are among the most versatile points out there thanks to the variety of ways you can redeem them. You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to 19 airline frequent flyer programs (soon to be 18 once El Al Matmid drops out in 2021) and three hotel loyalty programs. Transfers are at a 1:1 ratio with a handful of exceptions, as noted below.

    American Express Membership Rewards airline partners:

    • Aer Lingus AerClub
    • Aeromexico Club Premier (1:1.6)
    • Air Canada Aeroplan
    • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
    • Alitalia MilleMiglia
    • ANA Mileage Club
    • Avianca LifeMiles
    • British Airways Executive Club
    • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
    • Delta SkyMiles
    • El Al Matmid (50:1, only through December 31, 2020)
    • Emirates Skywards
    • Etihad Airways Guest Program
    • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
    • Iberia Plus
    • JetBlue True Blue (1:0.8)
    • Qantas Frequent Flyer
    • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
    • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

    American Express Membership Rewards hotel partners:

    • Choice Privileges Rewards
    • Hilton Honors (1:2)
    • Marriott Bonvoy

    Amex points are also worth 1 cent apiece when you redeem them for flights through Amex Travel, and about 0.7 cents each for hotels and other travel booked through there. You only get 0.6 cents per point for statement credits and by redeeming for purchases made on Amazon.com.

    Citi ThankYou Rewards

    You can transfer ThankYou Rewards to 16 Citi airline partners, including many of the same ones as Amex, but no hotel programs.

    Citi ThankYou Rewards airline partners:

    • Aeromexico Club Premier
    • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
    • Avianca LifeMiles
    • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
    • Emirates Skywards
    • Etihad Airways Guest Program
    • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
    • InterMiles (formerly Jet Airways JetPrivilege)
    • JetBlue TrueBlue
    • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
    • Qantas Frequent Flyer
    • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
    • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
    • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus (transfers are currently suspended)
    • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
    • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

    Citi Prestige® Card cardholders get a value of 1 cent per point when booking travel through the Citi ThankYou travel portal or redeeming for gift cards or toward student loans or mortgages. There’s less value when you when cash in points for other things — for example, you’ll get just 0.5 cents per point for cash back and 0.8 cents for Amazon purchases.

    Given the more numerous (and better for US-based travelers) transfer partners that Amex offers, most people are better off with Membership Rewards points.

    Winner: The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Comparing Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige benefits

    Travel and shopping credits

    Both cards offer statement credits worth hundreds of dollars that can help offset their steep annual fees — but they are quite different.

    Citi Prestige statement credits

    The Citi Prestige® Card offers the more straightforward perk: Each calendar year, cardholders simply receive up to $250 in statement credits toward travel purchases — everything from airfare and hotel stays to cruises, commuter transportation, and even parking — which makes it easy to maximize this benefit. Folks with this card also get a statement credit of up to $100 once every five years for either the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.

    If you’re a Citi banking customer with a Citigold account, you can also claim up to $145 in statement credits (and $25 for each authorized cardholder on your Citi Prestige® Card account) after paying the card’s annual fee each year.

    Amex Platinum statement credits

    By contrast, The Platinum Card® from American Express extends several different types of annual statement credits. First is up to $200 per calendar year in airline fee credits. Each January, cardholders can choose one eligible US airline with which to use those credits. They can be put toward things like checked bags, seat assignments, inflight purchases, and more.

    Platinum Card cardholders get up to $200 each year in Uber credits — $15 each month plus an extra $20 (for $35 total) in December. These credits can be applied to rides or Uber Eats orders. They also get up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue shopping credits each calendar year, which is split up into $50 for January to June and $50 for July to December.

    Cardmembers also get up to $100 once every four years for a Global Entry application fee statement credit or $85 once every 4.5 years toward TSA PreCheck.

    Aside from the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck perks, Platinum Card members get up to $500 per year in value from their statement credits, but they’re a bit harder to use thanks to timing constraints and the limitations of the purchases to which the airline fee credit applies. The Citi Prestige® Card’s travel credit is much easier to use, but also a lot less money.

    Winner: The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Airport lounges

    Citi Prestige airport lounge access

    Like other premium cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Citi Prestige® Card allows cardholders to enroll in Priority Pass Select, and offers access along with immediate family members or up to two guests at over 1,300 airport lounge locations worldwide.

    Amex Platinum airport lounge access

    The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can register for Priority Pass Select, too, but can also enter Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, and get into Amex’s own swanky Centurion Lounges along with up to two companions, as well as a handful of Airspace and Escape Lounges.

    Winner: The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Other travel benefits and protections

    Citi Prestige perks

    The Citi Prestige® Card features one standout travel benefit: Cardholders can book up to two hotel stays per year through ThankYou.com with the fourth night free.

    Depending on where you use this, it can be worth up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. Unfortunately, Citi no longer offers much in the way of travel protections, though its purchase protection against damage or theft is up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year and will cover items up to 90 days after purchase. 

    Interestingly, the card does extend cell phone protection of up to $1,000 per claim and $1,500 per 12-month period with a $50 deductible.

    Amex Platinum benefits

    The Platinum Card® from American Express includes the following travel and purchase protections:

    • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per 12-month period
    • Trip delay coverage up to $500 starting at six hours
    • Baggage loss and damage coverage up to $2,000 per person per trip for checked bags and $3,000 for carry-on
    • Purchase protection up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per calendar year

    The The Platinum Card® from American Express truly sets itself apart for travelers by offering elite status with both Hilton and Marriott, and allowing members to book hotels through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. Amex FHR sometimes offers third- and fourth-night-free rates at luxury hotels around the world, plus statement credits for on-property purchases like meals or spa treatments, depending on the hotel. 

    Winner: The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Limited-time pandemic benefits

    Given both cards are primarily geared toward travelers, but global travel is still pretty much at a standstill, Amex and Citi have added limited-time perks to their cards in order to keep their customers loyal.

    The Citi Prestige® Card $250 annual travel credit has expanded the categories that qualify to include purchases at supermarkets and restaurants through the end of 2020. It also earns 5x points on online, cable, and streaming purchases through the end of the year, with a bonus cap of 7,500 points (so $1,500 in spending).

    American Express has added a number of interesting benefits during these troubled times. Most recently, the issuer announced that Platinum Card members, among other cardholders, can register for 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass. This is valued at $9.99 per month and includes waived delivery fees and 5% off eligible restaurant delivery orders of $15 or more, and $0 delivery fees on grocery orders of $30 or more in select markets.

    Annual Fee

    $495 for the primary cardmember

    Regular APR

    16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • $250 travel credit (applies to most travel purchases)
    • Priority Pass membership
    • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every 5 years
    • 4th night free on any hotel stay (twice per year starting Sept. 1)
    Pros
    • 4th Night Free hotel benefit can save you lots of money if you maximize it
    • Annual travel credit of up to $250 that applies to eligible purchases automatically
    • Lots of bonus categories for earning points
    • Cell phone protection
    Cons
    • High annual fee
    • Citi points aren’t the most convenient option for many travelers

    Both The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card are excellent rewards credit cards thanks to lucrative earning rates on a variety of purchases and valuable annual statement credits. Each racks up points that strategic travelers can transfer to over a dozen airlines (and a few hotels in the case of Amex), which adds another layer of versatility to each.

    Given the spectacular current welcome offer on The Platinum Card® from American Express — not only is it more points overall, but you also have more time to meet the minimum spending requirement — if you’re considering these two cards, go for that one first. You can always apply for the Citi Prestige® Card later and wait to see if it raises its welcome bonus to remain competitive.

    That said, either card will be useful to have in your wallet if and when you begin traveling again thanks to excellent perks that can save you time and money both at home and on the road.

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