Is the Citi Prestige® Card Now Better Than The Platinum Card® from American Express?

With new changes coming to the Citi Prestige® Card,  a lot of people will be wondering how the new Prestige holds up to a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also recently underwent some changes. There are a lot of different factors to consider, but here’s my take on the comparison with a final winner chosen at the end.

Charge card vs Credit Card

The Citi Prestige is a credit card the American Express Platinum is a “charge card.” A charge card must be paid off in full each month or else you face a hefty monthly fee. The benefit to a charge card like the Platinum is that you’re not restricted to a credit limit and so you have a little more flexibility — you just need to be able to keep yourself in check to make sure you’ll pay off your balance in full each month.

To me, the added flexibility for spending is a nice plus for the Platinum, although if you don’t make large purchases, this probably doesn’t mean much to you.

Transfer partners

The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards, which transfer out to several partners. Here are the transfer partners of Membership Rewards.

Airlines

  • Delta Skymiles
  • Club Premier AeroMexico
  • Aeroplan Air Canada
  • Flying Blue Air France/KLM
  • MilleMigilia Club Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avios British Airways
  • El Al
  • Emirates Skyrewards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic

Hotels

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton HHonors
  • SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest)

Citi Thankyou Points

The Citi Prestige earns Thankyou Points and Citi has fairly recently added a lot of new travel partners. These partners are:

citi-logo

Airlines

  • Air Jet Privilege
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • EVA Air
  • Eithad Guest
  • Flying Blue (Air France, KLM)
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotels

    • Hilton HHonors (Get 1,500 HHonors Bonus Points for 1,000 pts)

Typically, the transfer partners are one of my first considerations when considering a travel rewards card but with two cards like these, which are heavy in the benefits department, more weight should probably go to which benefits will fit better into your travel lifestyle.

Still, although I’d give more consideration to the benefits, I would have to say that Membership Rewards edges out Thankyou Points here. Specifically, having ANA, Aeroplan, and now British Airways and Iberia Avios at a 1:1 ratio makes Membership Rewards stand out. And even though I can’t stand Delta SkyMiles, it does help having a legacy carrier as a partner. Citi still has decent partners but their best partners overlap with Membership Rewards, such as Asia Miles, Singapore, Flying Blue, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, and Etihad. Thus, the Platinum Card takes this one.

Both programs can get you closer to flying in Singapore Suites.

Sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card

The Platinum Card offers a standard public sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. The 60K offer is the standard offer available to the public, but it’s also possible to receive 75K or even 100K offers.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is now offering a 75,000 sign-up bonus after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months.

Both of these sign-up offers are great but I’d go with the Platinum.

Even though the standard public offer is higher for the Prestige (for the time being), it’s still possible to get a 75K or 100K sign-up bonus offer on the Platinum and the minimum spend requirement is $2,500 lower.

Something else to think about is the Citi 24 month rule which prevents you from earning another ThankYou point earning card for 24 months. While American Express imposes a once per lifetime rule for bonuses, there’s many other ways to earn Membership Rewards, so earning the bonus on the Platinum Card doesn’t limit you from other earning opportunities like the Prestige does.

I like Amex’s transfer partners more than Citi’s so I’d rather have 60K Membership Rewards with plenty of chances to earn more Membership Rewards to use on travel partners I love, than 75K ThankYou Points with no chance to earn more ThankYou Points until 24 months later.

For all of these reasons, the Platinum Card wins out.

Bonus Categories

The Platinum Card

  • 1X on all purchases
  • 5X on airfare purchased directly with the airline
  • 5X on hotel stays booked through the Amex Travel Portal
  • 1X on all other purchases

Citi Prestige

  • 3X on air travel and hotels
  • 2X on dining and entertainment
  • 1X on all other purchases
Both cards offer bonus earning potential on hotel stays but only the Prestige gives you bonus points on direct bookings.

I’d wager that the Citi Prestige offers the better overall bonus earning potential for most people. It’s nice that you can earn 3X on hotels purchased directly with the hotels (thus retaining elite perks) and the 2X on dining and entertainment is nice. The Platinum’s 5X on airfare is fantastic but for people who fly with points most of the time and eat out a lot, there’s not much earning potential with the Platinum, so the Prestige wins this.

Benefits

Platinum Card

Las Vegas Centurion Lounge.

Citi Prestige

  • $250 airline credit (which can be used for broader expenses, such as airline tickets)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access for you and up to two guests for free
  • Complimentary night at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive-night booking (now bookable with points at 1 cent per point)
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check
  • Rental car benefits like express check-in, free upgrades, and discounts with status
  • Add authorized users for $50 each
  • Concierge service

In my opinion, the Platinum Card is superior here. The Prestige has two main perks going for it. It’s got a $250 airline credit that can be used on just about any airline-related expense, making the annual fee an effective $200 for many. The 4th night free benefit has the potential to be extremely valuable but only if you would be able to put it to use.

On the other hand, the Platinum Card offers probably the best lounge access out of any credit card. Together the $200 airline credit and $200 Uber credit knock down the $550 annual fee to an effective $150 but that’s only if you can put those perks to good use. But the Platinum card also offers elite status with Hilton and SPG (and thus Marriott), so there’s a lot of additional value there.

It really comes down to how you utilize each of the perks but I’d say that for me, I value the lounge access and hotel elite status that I put to use way more than a 4th night free benefit, which I rarely do. I also easily use up 100% of the Platinum’s Uber and airline credits making the true effective annual fee of the Platinum $150. So the winner here is the Platinum, although if I used the 4th night fee benefit a few times a year, the outcome might be different.

Protections

Protections for purchases and travel aren’t usually a priority for many but these protections can be extremely valuable when things go wrong. The Amex Platinum has a number of quality protections but not as many as the Citi Prestige. Specifically, the Citi Prestige offers protections on baggage delay, trip delay/cancellation, and price protection. Since the Prestige offers more protections, it easily takes this category.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee

Platinum Card

  • $550, not waived

Citi Prestige

  • $450, not waived

As already shown, the effective annual fees of these cards can be as low as $150 for the Platinum and $250 for the Prestige when you factor in travel credits. This slants in favor of the Platinum Card but it’s admittedly much easier to use the $250 airline credit of the Prestige versus the $200 airline and uber credits of the Platinum. Another plus for the Prestige is that some have had success with getting a $350 annual fee when they apply in-branch. Because the annual fee is lower for the Prestige, it wins this.

The winner

I think it’s a pretty tight race between the Prestige and the Platinum Card (tighter than most give it credit for). Personally, the winner for me is the Platinum Card because I love all of the benefits and its effective annual fee is only $150 for me. I also prefer the Membership Rewards transfer partners more.

However, you might choose the Prestige over the Platinum Card if you don’t have use for the $200 Uber credit, Centurion Lounges, and/or can put the 4th night free benefit to use each year to save hundreds on hotel stays.

So because these cards are so close, it all depends on how you will make use of the cards but for me, I’m rolling with the Platinum Card for now.

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