If you’re a frequent traveler and can afford to spend several hundred dollars on an annual fee, the Citi Prestige card and its longtime rival, the American Express Platinum card, offer some of the plushest travel benefits you can get on a rewards card.
If you’re a heavy traveler and can afford to spend several hundred dollars on an annual fee, the Citi Prestige card and its longtime rival, The Platinum Card® from American Express, offer some of the plushest travel benefits you can get on a rewards card.
The Citi Prestige card, for example, has earned a loyal following amongst heavy travelers for its fourth night free benefit, which gives you a complimentary fourth night, no matter where you’re staying or how expensive your hotel (up to two times per year starting Sept. 1, 2019). Meanwhile, the American Express Platinum card has long reined as a favorite among elite travelers who appreciate the card’s luxurious extras, including posh airport lounges and a resort credit for select hotels.
Which card is best for you?
It depends on what kind of rewards you’re after and how much value you’re seeking to get out of your rewards card. The Platinum card is not only more expensive, but its benefits also tend to cater to high-spending cardholders who shell out a lot on airfare and prefer to stay at high-end hotels.
The Citi Prestige card, by contrast, offers more value for the money after the card’s first year and has a more interesting rewards program – including a five-point bonus on dining. But it doesn’t come with nearly as many high-end perks.
Here’s what else we found when comparing the two offers:
Citi Prestige card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
|Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900)
|Who should get this card?
Best for someone who wants a large introductory bonus: AmEx Platinum card
If you’re looking for a quick infusion of rewards in the first year, the Platinum card is the clear winner. Unlike the Citi Prestige card, the Platinum card offers a generous 75,000-point introductory bonus that’s worth as much as $892 in free travel or other card rewards. You have to spend $5,000 in the card’s first six months in order to qualify for the generous bonus, though.
Best for someone who wants a more accessible, long-term travel card: Citi Prestige card
The Citi Prestige card is a better pick for someone who wants a long-term card, but doesn’t want to make as big of an investment to maintain it. The Prestige card, for example, costs $495, which is pricey for a rewards card. The Platinum card, by contrast, charges $550 a year – a $55 difference that’s difficult to make up, even if you take into account some of the Platinum card’s more generous benefits, such as its $200 Uber credit and $100 resort credit.
Best for someone who spends a lot on dining: Citi Prestige card
The Citi Prestige card awards great bonus points for purchases that cardholders are likely to make regularly, such as an evening out on the town or a quiet family dinner. For example, it offers 5 points per dollar on dining. The card also offers the Citi Private Pass, which allows cardholders exclusive access to presale tickets and VIP events.
The Platinum card, by contrast, only offers bonus points on big ticket purchases, such as flights and hotels, making it harder to earn a significant number of points when you aren’t traveling.
Rewards on $300 monthly restaurant spend
|Citi Prestige card
|$300 x 5 points x 12 months x 1.11 cent average point value = $200
|$300 x 1 point x 12 months x 1.19 cent average point value = $43
Best for someone who spends a lot on air travel: AmEx Platinum card
The Platinum card has a slight edge over the Citi card when it comes to air travel purchases, making it a good card for someone who frequently books flights and hotels. The Platinum card offers a generous 5-point bonus for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with an airline or with American Express Travel and another 5 points on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. The Citi Prestige card, on the other hand, offers 5 points for air travel, but only 3 points per dollar on hotel purchases.
Because American Express membership rewards points are worth slightly more than Citi Thank You points, you’ll be able to buy more with the points you earn. For example, if you spend $5,000 a year on air travel, you’ll collect nearly $300 worth of rewards just by using your Platinum cad. With the Citi Prestige card, you’ll earn around $225.
Rewards on $5,000 annual air travel spend
|Citi Prestige card
|$5,000 x 5 points x 1.11 cent average point value = $225
|$5,000 x 5 point x 1.19 cent average point value = $298
That said, the Prestige card does offer a more generous travel credit, helping make up for its lower rewards value. Citi Prestige gives cardholders $250 a year to pay for any travel expense, including airline tickets. The Platinum card, by contrast, gives cardholders $200 and only allows the credit to be used for incidental expenses, such as baggage fees.
Best for someone who frequently spends more than three nights at a hotel: Citi Prestige card
The Citi Prestige card offers a more generous hotel benefit that, in some cases, surpasses the value of the Platinum card’s hotel bonus. Cardholders who stay at one hotel for at least four nights in a row and charge the full hotel bill to their Citi card will be credited with the fourth night free (up to two times a year beginning Sept. 1, 2019). Even with the upcoming cap, the benefit could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year in hotel bills if you frequently travel for longer than a few nights. The Prestige card benefit works no matter whether you stay in a hotel that costs $100 a night or $300 a night.
It doesn’t take multiple trips to see a big benefit: Just one fourth night in a mid-range hotel, for example, could potentially save you as much $100 or more, depending on where you stay – earning you well above what you would get with the Platinum card. Charging a four-night stay at a hotel that costs $150 a night to your Platinum card, for example, would net you $35.70 in rewards. Charging the same stay using your Prestige card, by contrast, would only net you $14.99 – but you’d also get your fourth night free, saving you $150.
Average rewards value for 4 hotel nights ($150/night)
|Citi Prestige card
|($150 x 3 points x 3 nights x 1.11 cent average point value) + $150 free night = $165
|($150 x 5 points x 4 nights x 1.19 cent average point value = $36
Best for someone who wants luxury perks on their vacations: AmEx Platinum card
Both the Citi Prestige and the American Express Platinum card offer a variety of hotel perks, including early check-in, late checkout, room upgrades when available, complimentary breakfast and free WiFi. The Platinum card, however, also includes a free upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors Gold status – giving cardholders access to even more privileges and special perks at Starwood, Marriott and Hilton hotel properties. Additionally, the Platinum card boasts a bigger and more luxurious network of airport lounges.
Citi Prestige vs AmEx Platinum card travel perks
|Citi Prestige card
Overall, the Citi Prestige card offers more value and potential than the Platinum card – especially if you use the fourth night free benefit both allotted times per year. However, the Platinum card offers more comfort and convenience and is an ideal card for those who enjoy a little luxury.