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Amex Platinum vs. Visa Black Card vs. Citi Prestige: Who Wins?

by on August 26, 2014 · 39 comments

in American Express, Citi, Credit Cards, Lounges, MasterCard, Membership Rewards, Priority Pass, ThankYou Points, TPG Contributors, Visa

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Rewards credit cards come in a wide variety of flavors. Today TPG Contributor Nick Ewen looks at the bonuses, benefits, and other aspects of three premium cards to see how they stack up against one another.

With the economy slowly recovering, travel providers and financial institutions have stepped up their games to try to woo high spenders. We’ve seen this with both Delta and United going to revenue-based elite status qualification, and credit card issuers are following suit. Premium cards that require fees of multiple hundreds of dollars have been around for a while, but there’s a renewed push to expand their respective memberships, as evidenced by Citi’s recent updates to the Prestige card and ThankYou Rewards program.

In this post I’ll compare three “premium” cards to see which one is best to have in your wallet: Visa Black Card, American Express Platinum, and Citi Prestige.

Which premium credit card is best for you?

Which premium credit card is best for you? (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

First, my methodology. I’ll compare these cards across ten different categories: annual fee, current sign-up bonus, points earnings, direct points redemptions, transferring points, fee credits, perks, coverage, customer service, and lounge access. In each category, I’ll select a winner (who will receive 2 points), a runner-up (who will receive 1 point), and a last-place finisher (who will receive 0 points). The highest point total at the end will be crowned “Best Premium Credit Card,” though keep in mind that your rankings may differ depending on how you value certain benefits. Let’s get started!

ANNUAL FEE

Visa Black Card: $495 per year, plus $195 for each authorized user.

American Express Platinum: $450 per year, plus flat $175 fee for first three authorized users (and $175 per user for additional cards).

Citi Prestige: $450, plus $50 for each authorized user.

Analysis: It’s hard to make these comparisons without taking into account fee waivers (see below), because those can “cover” some of the annual fees. However, I give the slight edge to the Citi Prestige, given the lower fee for adding authorized users and the fact that additional cardholders have access to lounges starting on October 19.

Winner: Citi Prestige
Runner-up: Amex Platinum

The Amex Platinum Card.

The Amex Platinum Card currently offers the best sign-up bonus (40,000 points) among these three premium cards.

CURRENT SIGN-UP BONUS

Visa Black Card: 25,000 points after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days.

American Express Platinum: 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Citi Prestige: 30,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.

Analysis: The relative value of the points is an important consideration here. In his August monthly valuations, TPG lists ThankYou points at 1.5 cents and Membership Rewards at 1.8 cents each. That means the sign-up bonuses for Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum are worth roughly $450 and $720, respectively. Visa Black Card points can be redeemed for airfare at 2 cents apiece, so the sign-up bonus is ostensibly worth up to $500.

Even though it requires a higher initial spend, jumping from 30,000 to 40,000 points is significant enough to secure a win for the Platinum Card in this category and the Visa Black Card is #2 with a $500 sign-up bonus.

Winner: Amex Platinum
Runner-up: Visa Black Card

New bonus categories on the Citi Prestige include airlines, hotels, and entertainment purchases (like movie theaters). Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

New bonus categories on the Citi Prestige include airlines, hotels, and entertainment purchases (like movie theaters). (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

POINTS EARNING

Visa Black Card: 1 point per dollar spent everywhere.

American Express Platinum: 1 point per dollar spent everywhere.

Citi Prestige: From now through October 19, 2 points per dollar on dining, 1 point per dollar everywhere else; starting October 19, 3 points per dollar on airlines/hotels/car rentals, 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment, 1 point per dollar everywhere else.

Analysis: Dining is a big category for spending by itself, but when you factor in the new bonuses that kick in this October, the Prestige card wins this category hands down. Runner-up is a bit more complicated. Even though the Visa Black card doesn’t offer any bonus categories for spending, it does have the added benefit of redeeming points for flights at double the normal value (see below). The American Express Platinum Card offers double points for booking travel through their website, but you you can also use it to book through other online shopping portals (and use the Visa Black Card as well) so that Amex travel extra point isn’t a game changer. At the end of the day, the Visa Black Card gives 2% back across the board when you redeem for travel, which is more than Amex Platinum offers (only 1% back on travel or more if you know how to maximize transfers, though there have been a lack of solid transfer bonuses lately), so I give the edge to the Visa Black Card.

Winner: Citi Prestige
Runner-up: Visa Black Card

The Visa Black card highlights the benefit of booking flights with their points compared to the Amex Platinum (though their math is a bit off, since Membership Rewards actually gets you 1.25 cents/point!)

The Visa Black Card website touts the benefit of booking flights with their points compared to the Amex Platinum.

DIRECT POINT REDEMPTIONS

Visa Black Card: Points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, and merchandise at a rate of 1 cent apiece, or to book airfare through the card’s Exclusive Rewards program at 2 cents apiece.

American Express Platinum: Membership Rewards points can only be redeemed for cash, gift cards, merchandise and travel at 1 cent per piece.

Citi Prestige: ThankYou points are also worth 1 cent apiece when used for gift cards or merchandise; they can also be used to book flights at 1.33 cents each (or 1.6 cents apiece on American or US Airways).

Analysis: All three cards offer you the ability to redeem points for cash, gift cards, and other items through their respective rewards malls, but at just 1 cent per point, that’s a very poor value. However, if you’re interested in using your points to book flights directly (which can be a good strategy for earning and/or retaining elite status, since these flights do accrue elite-qualifying miles/segments), the Visa Black card is the definite winner here, giving you a redemption value of 2 cents per point (compared to a measly 1 cents/point on the Amex Platinum or 1.33-1.6 cents/point on the Citi Prestige, a value that’s good enough to land in the runner-up position).

Winner: Visa Black Card
Runner-up: Citi Prestige

 

 You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to 17 airlines and 4 hotels.

You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to 17 airlines and 4 hotels.

TRANSFERS AND OTHER REDEMPTION OPTIONS

Visa Black Card: None

American Express Platinum: Membership Rewards points can be transferred to any of 17 airline partner and 4 hotel partners.

Citi Prestige: After adding 8 airline transfer partners in July, yesterday ThankYou Rewards added a ninth partner (Air France/KLM) to go along with their existing hotel partner (Hilton HHonors).

Analysis: Unfortunately, Visa Black Carddoes not offer cardholders any ways to transfer points, so this is a two-horse race. As of right now, I give the edge to the American Express Platinum. Keep in mind that Citi ThankYou points previously weren’t transferable at all, so this category isn’t the blowout that it was just over a month ago. In fact, the new ThankYou Rewards transfer program includes 6 unique partners not included in Membership Rewards: EVA Air, Etihad, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar, and Thai. Unfortunately, these partners do not include a single U.S.-based airline, and Hilton HHonors is currently the only hotel option (and is also a part of Membership Rewards). This increased variety of partners coupled with (somewhat) frequent transfer bonuses (like this one to JetBlue) offered by Membership Rewards pushes the Platinum Card to victory.

Winner: Amex Platinum
Runner-up: Citi Prestige

Global Entry is one of the best time-saving travel tools out there

Global Entry is one of the best time-saving travel tools out there, and both Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige cardholders are reimbursed the $100 fee every 5 years.

FEE CREDITS

Visa Black Card: None.

American Express Platinum: $200 per calendar year towards airline fees (such as baggage fees, in-flight food/drink purchases, and change fees); $100 credit for Global Entry or $85 credit for TSA PreCheck (once every 5 years).

Citi Prestige: Currently offers a $200 credit per cardmembership year for airline fees; starting October 19, this amount is being increased to $250 and expanded to include flights as well as fees; $100 credit for Global Entry every five years.

Analysis: Pre-October 19, the Platinum Card would be the winner, as it offers a $200 credit per calendar year, giving cardmembers the possibility of getting two credits during the first year of account opening. However, Citi Prestige cardholders will soon be offered not only a higher amount, but also a more flexible credit, specifically including airfare as a qualifying expense. While reports indicate that smaller denomination gift cards count towards the Amex Platinum credit, they are specifically excluded under the T&C of the card, so the Citi Prestige (come October) will be the clear winner in this category.

Winner: Citi Prestige
Runner-up: Amex Platinum

American Express' Fine Hotels & Resorts programs offers benefits at over 750 luxury properties worldwide.

American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts programs offers benefits at over 750 luxury properties worldwide.

PERKS

This category encompasses a wide variety of benefits, so I thought it would be best to capture them all in a table:

 

Visa Black Card

American Express Platinum

Citi Prestige

Foreign Transaction Fees

None

None

None

Private Jets

None

Premium Private Jet Program

Citi Prestige NetJets Program

Airline

None

International Airline Program lets you bring a companion when you buy a qualifying refundable ticket

15% discount* on first/business; annual complimentary coach companion ticket*

Airport

None

Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi (over 1 million hotspots)

15% discount on MasterCard Airport Concierge services at over 450 airports worldwide

Hotel perks

Black Card VIP Program, offering special treatment at over 3,000 hotels & resorts

Fine Hotels & Resorts, offering benefits at over 750 hotel partners worldwide

4th night free on all hotel stays booked through Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Hotel Elite Status

None

Complimentary SPG Gold

None

Car Rental Elite Status

National Emerald Club

Complimentary Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold, and National Executive Club

Complimentary Avis FIRST, National Executive Club, and Sixt Platinum

Ground Transportation

None

The Limousine Program

World Elite chauffeured car program

Cruises

Black Card VIP Program includes cruise lines, offering VIP treatment with numerous cruise lines

Cruise privileges, offering benefits on specific lines

Discounts on cruises booked through Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Entertainment

You can redeem points for exclusive experiences (e.g. Super Bowl, Fashion Week, etc.)

Preferred Seating program, By Invitation Only, and Premium Access to purchase tickets and attend exclusive events

Citi Private Pass and Global Events & Experiences to purchase tickets & access special events around the world

Other

Luxury gifts from world-renowned brands (like Ray Ban) for both primary and additional cardholders

Membership in Neiman Marcus/Bergdorf Goodman’s InCircle program

3 complimentary rounds of golf each year at over 2,400 courses around the world

* Both the 15% first/business discount and companion ticket for Citi Prestige must be booked through Spirit Incentives, and both benefits will disappear on October 19, 2014.

Analysis: This is a much closer call, since the benefits vary quite a bit depending on the card. The hotel perks are great, and the Visa Black Card clearly offers more variety in terms of properties (3000+ compared to 750+ with the Amex Platinum). However, if you value free travel more than luxurious on-property benefits (like upgrades, free breakfast, etc.), the Citi Prestige be your winner. Foreign transaction fees, cruises and the “other” section above are pretty much a wash (unless you’re an avid golfer or LOVE to shop), and the Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum are also basically even when it comes to private jet access, ground transportation, and entertainment offerings.

However, I give the edge to the Platinum Card here for a few reasons. First, the Platinum Card comes with better elite status: SPG Gold (no hotel status on the Citi Prestige) and Avis/Hertz/National elite status (compared to Avis/National/Sixt on the Prestige). While the Citi Prestige does offer Avis FIRST rather than just Avis Preferred, I’ve had both of these statuses over the last several years, and I didn’t experience anything notable difference. In addition, I feel that Hertz outweighs Sixt, so that’s another leg up for the Platinum Card.

Second, Citi will discontinue its companion airfare benefit in October, while the Amex Platinum will continue offering it. While this benefit clearly doesn’t apply to everyone (given the typically high price of refundable tickets), at least some TPG readers have been able to take advantage of it (see the comments).

Third, I prefer added perks during hotel stays of any length rather than a free night specifically for a four-night stay, so for me, the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefit edges out the new free night benefit on the Citi Prestige. Finally, complimentary Boingo wireless is a great perk. I’m still amazed when I travel through an airport without free Wi-Fi, and 9 times out of 10, the paid network is Boingo. These benefits kick the Platinum Card to the top.

Winner: Amex Platinum
Runner-up: Citi Prestige

Many aspects of these cards prevent your travel and shopping lives from turning into a debacle.

The coverage provided by these cards can help prevent your travel and shopping experiences from turning into a debacle.

COVERAGE

This is another category that is best captured in a table:

 

Visa Black Card

American Express Platinum

Citi Prestige

Car rental coverage

(Damage or theft)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Travel Assistance

(Lost cards & travel documents; medical & legal recommendations)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Baggage Loss or Damage

Up to $3,000

Up to $2,000 for checked luggage and $3,000 for all luggage

Up to $3,000

Baggage Delay

Yes

No

Yes (delay of 4+ hours)

Trip Delay Coverage

Yes (for delays of 12+ hours)

No

Up to 4x/year for delays of 6+ hours

Trip Cancellation / Interruption

Yes

No

Yes

Travel Accident Insurance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Emergency Evacuation & Transportation

No

Yes

Up to $100,000

Roadside assistance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Purchase Protection
(Covers damage, theft, or loss of purchased items within 90 days)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Extended Warranty
(Adds one year to manufacturer warranty)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Return Protection
(Reimbursement when merchant won’t accept a return within 90 days of purchase)

No

Yes

Yes

Price Protection

No

No

Refunds price difference within 60 days of purchase

Fraud Detection / Prevention with Zero Liability

Yes

Yes

Yes

Identity Theft Protection

No

Yes

Yes

Analysis: These benefits can be highly valuable, even though they don’t get the same attention that the other flashier ones do. All of these cards include significant coverage for unforeseen circumstances: car accidents in rental cars, travel assistance while abroad, lost/damaged bags, roadside assistance, and retail purchase protection. However, the clear winner (with yes for all these sections) is the Citi Prestige. By offering emergency evacuation coverage, price protection, and identify theft protection, the card definitely outmuscles the others.

The race for second is closer. I like that the Visa Black Card covers delayed baggage and delayed trips, and when you add in trip cancellation/interruption coverage, that pushes the Black Card into its first runner-up position.

DISCLAIMER: This information was gathered from the respective cards’ websites and through phone conversations with customer service representatives. Please be sure to review the specifics of each benefit to know whether or not they apply. Some have slightly different levels of coverage, while others are only provided under certain circumstances. This table is just a general look at the different coverages included on each card.

Winner: Citi Prestige
Runner-up: Visa Black Card

24 hour concierge service, like that offered by the Visa Black Card, provides assistance for any and all travel, entertainment, and gift needs.

24 hour concierge service, like that offered by the Visa Black Card, provides assistance for any and all travel, entertainment, and gift needs.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Visa Black Card: 24-hour concierge service, offering assistance with entertainment planning, gift arrangements, business services, and more.

American Express Platinum: Platinum Card Concierge, which helps with restaurant reservations, planning special events, and many other requests.

Citi Prestige: Citi Prestige Concierge, helping cardmembers arrange gifts, leisure activites, and other travel and entertainment requests.

Analysis: Each of these cards offers personalized assistance day and night, so this category is a straight-up tie.

Winner: All three (or no one, depending on how you look at it).

The SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow's T4 is a great option for Amex Platinum cardholders (and will be for Citi Prestige cardmembers after October 19th!).

The SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow’s T4 is a great option for Amex Platinum cardholders (and will be for Citi Prestige cardmembers after October 19th).

LOUNGE ACCESS

Visa Black Card: Offers cardholders membership in Lounge Club, providing unlimited access to over 350 lounges in 200 cities worldwide.

American Express Platinum: Provides complimentary access to Delta SkyClubs (when traveling on Delta) and American Express Centurion lounges in Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, and LaGuardia (San Francisco and Miami locations will open in the fall and early 2015, respectively); also provides Priority Pass Select membership, with over 600 locations (though guests are $27 each, and it does not include United Club Lounges).

Citi Prestige: Currently provides complimentary access to Airport Angel lounges, with over 600 locations worldwide; starting October 19, this card will also offer Priority Pass Select membership, though immediate family or up to 2 guests are admitted with no charge; primary cardholders can also access AA Admirals Clubs.

Analysis: Lounge access is likely one of the greatest justifications for paying hundreds of dollars in annual fees to have one of these cards. To examine the differences, I’ll start with the present situation. For the next two months, Citi Prestige cardholders get Airport Angel access before transitioning to Priority Pass. On the whole, this looks to be a significant net positive. By my calculations, Airport Angel only has a handful of lounges unique to their program, including 2 in Nashville, one in Cincinnati, and locations in Senegal and Qatar. Priority Pass, on the other hand, has lounges in 22 unique countries, including 8 in Venezuela and several in the Caribbean and Central America.

The program also has MUCH wider coverage in the U.S. when compared to Airport Angel: cardholders can access Alaska Board Rooms in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and Anchorage; Air France/KLM lounges in Boston, Chicago, and Houston; the British Airways Galleries lounge in Washington-Dulles; the Virgin America Loft in LAX; plus lounges in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Jose (CA). One other big omission from Airport Angel: SkyTeam’s lounge at London-Heathrow, which is accessible to Priority Pass members. I visited this lounge back in 2013 and really enjoyed it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.54.50 PM

Citi Prestige will transition from Airport Angel to Priority Pass in October, expanding their lounge offerings for cardholders.

Once the Citi Prestige transitions to Priority Pass on October 19, both this card and the American Express Platinum have a HUGE advantage over the Visa Black card, as Lounge Club is far inferior when it comes to locations. In fact, my research indicated that all but one of the 350+ lounges in the Lounge Club network are also in the Priority Pass network. The lone exception is that Lounge Club has two locations in San Jose, Costa Rica: VIP Lounge Costa Rica and VIP Santamaria. Priority Pass only allows cardholders to access the first of those.

By my calculations, Priority Pass offers 326 unique lounges in 190 additional airports when compared to Lounge Club. While the vast majority of these are in far-flung destinations, there are several examples of large international airports and popular tourist destinations where Priority Pass can get you further: Auckland, Bali (2 lounges), Beijing (5 additional locations to go with the 2 shared with Lounge Club), Buenos Aires (Priority Pass gets you into the Star Alliance lounge there), Dubrovnik, Glasgow, Papeete (Tahiti), Paris-ORY, and St. Petersburg (Russia), to name a few. China in particular is a big winner with Priority Pass: 38 airports on the mainland compared to just 8 for Lounge Club (both also provide access to lounges in Macau and Hong Kong).

A few other notable locations included with Priority Pass but not with Lounge Club: the Virgin America Loft at LAX, the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge in LaGuardia (Lounge Club has no locations at LGA), and the SkyTeam lounge in Terminal 4 of London-Heathrow.

See what's on tap at Delta's Sky Club bars.

Amex Platinum cardholders can access Delta Sky Clubs, but guests set you back $29 each!

Given this information, it’s clear that Priority Pass surpasses Lounge Club when it comes to lounge access provided on these cards. But which is better, the American Express Platinum or the Citi Prestige?

From now until October 19, I would give a slight edge to the Platinum Card. While Priority Pass does outshine Airport Angel in terms of locations, Citi Prestige cardholders are allowed to bring immediate family or guests into lounges with them (Amex Platinum cardholders must add those family members/guests as an authorized user or else pay the $27 fee per visit). While the American Express Platinum also includes Delta SkyClub access, the Citi Prestige includes AA Admirals Club access. The deciding factor is really the American Express Centurion lounges; even though there are still very few locations, these lounges have set the bar high for other airport lounges in the U.S., and I hope to see more like them in the future.

Once October 19 rolls around, I give the nod to Citi Prestige. Both cards are enrolled in Priority Pass, and the two cards are even with SkyClub access (Platinum) and Admirals Club access (Prestige). American Express Platinum gets a slight bump for having the Centurion lounges. However, Citi Prestige gets the victory in my book because of its guest policy. American Express Platinum cardholders are required to pay a $27 fee per guest when visiting either a SkyClub or a Priority Pass lounge. Citi Prestige cardholders can bring in immediate family and up to 2 guests. Keep in mind that individual lounges may have different policies, so be sure to investigate specific locations either online (here for Lounge Club and here for Priority Pass) or by downloading apps for the respective programs.

Winner: Citi Prestige
Runner-up: Amex Platinum

Citi prestige benefits

Based on my methodology, Citi Prestige edges out the Amex Platinum for the title of “Best Premium Credit Card.”

OVERALL WINNER

So which card comes out on top? Tallying up the scores, I get the following:

Visa Black Card: 7 points

American Express Platinum: 11 points

Citi Prestige: 15 points

WINNER: Citi Prestige

Keep in mind that this is my own personal valuation of the various benefits offered by each card. You should analyze each benefit according to how it might serve you personally. If you always fly alone, guest lounge access may not be worth much to you. If you consistently travel with your family and stay at properties that aren’t part of Fine Hotels & Resorts, you may prefer the new fourth night free offer from the Citi Prestige. Hopefully this analysis has highlighted one thing for certain: unless something changes, the Visa Black card just doesn’t stack up. If you’re looking for a premium credit card, focus your attention on the American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige instead.

Do you have strong feelings about one of these cards? What have your experiences been with the benefits discussed above? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Miles

    “and the fact that additional cardholders have access to lounges starting on October 19.”
    Are you referring to the Admirals Club? It sounds like that feature is restricted to primary cardholders only, where-as the Amex Platinum extends SkyClub access to secondary cardholders.

  • Mark

    One advantage to the Amex Platinum Card (compared to the other two), if utilized to it’s maximum potential, is Amex Offers (formerly Amex Sync). The savings definitely help offset the annual fee substantially. That and access to the phenomenal Centurion Lounges will keep me with the Amex Plat for the foreseeable future.

  • Tony

    No, it is Priority Pass Select

  • Pete

    Worth noting on Citi Prestige that a) Flying Blue is now a transfer partner and b) when signing up in branch you can get a better sign-up bonus (30K points after spending $3,000 in 3 months with an additional 30k after spending $15,000 in the first year).

  • Jim

    Please explain ffurther the AA lounge access on 10/19 remark-not clear at all.

    Also, are you saying with the citi card you get the $200 and son to be $250 credit Every year that you renew OR only the first year you have the card. Thanks

  • thepointsguy

    Effective October 19, 2014, Airport Angel will no longer be offered, you will no longer have access to Airport Angel lounges.

    Cardholders will still have Admirals Club Access on 10/19, there is to be no change to that.

  • Jake from MSP

    In the part where you have a picture of the visa black touring only 50K points needed for a $1000 airfare, you say their math is off because Amex MR are 1.25 cpp, but that is only with the biz version so their math is right.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Some notes about the AMEX IAP:

    1) You can use this benefit an unlimited number of times throughout the year.

    2) It does not have to be a “fully refundable” ticket. I looked into a trip to France my company was sending me on and I could get my wife to join me for “free” with the purchase of a discounted BC ticket. Timing did not work out, but it was possible.

  • Michael Paul

    Suppose I had a 100,000 point offer for the Amex platinum. Having a hard time justifying the $450 annual fee since I don’t use airport lounge access and that seems to be the authors main justification for incurring the expense. 100,000 is a great offer. Would you effectively be simply buying points for a discount?

  • thepointsguy

    The $200 rebate can be used for gift cards on many airlines so $200 now and $200 jan 1= $400 back.. So 100k Amex points for $50 is a NO brainer to me!

  • Michael Paul

    I should add that I typically do not spend much money on annual fees when applying for new cards. Typically waived the first year. So that’s my baseline for choking at the $450 fee. Lots of up front cost when I could earn the same number of miles for my normal spending, without incurring that massive fee.

  • Darth Chocolate

    One problem with the analysis, is that when there is a HUGE difference in benefits, the differential in the standings is a single point.

    Now if you value SPG Gold much more than anything else on the list – too bad you only get a single point of distinction. Likewise, if you only travel on Delta, then the Lounge Access differential becomes moot.

    I am sure you could do better to differentiate between these products, and there are, in fact, methodologies to do precisely that.

  • jbr

    I was exploring the Priority Pass membership lounges and saw this caveat: “Note: Members holding a Priority Pass Select membership card and Priority Pass cardholders in the U.S. that receive their membership through a U.S. financial institution will not be allowed access to this Lounge.” Does that mean that your Priority Pass membership through Amex or Citi won’t get you in? I saw this on every airport I travel through most frequently.

  • Steve

    Hope you can do a detailed evaluation of the card I dumped Amex platinum for–Ritz Carlton Visa. Impressive black metal card, $300 travel credits for airline incidentals (baggage, seats, food, etc), up to 3 weeks club level upgrade at Ritz, gold marriott status, primary insurance for car rentals, airport clubs, $100 credit on Ritz stays. Has saved me over $1000 this year.

  • i_hereby_resign

    Of course, you can receive those offers with a no fee amex card as well.

  • Cory Davis

    I was in the same boat a few months back when targeted for the 100K MR pt offer and I refused it. My rational at the time was that the $450 fee IS steep, I knew I’d be canceling the card before the next annual fee, and I was hesitant that Amex would take those points away if I did so.

    I have the gold card now and can’t even come close to justifying the annual fee of $175 as I don’t own a car living in downtown Chicago (2x gas), most local grocery stores don’t accept Amex (2x groceries), and I don’t put much spend on my cards (most goes to Chase Sapphire Preferred or Freedom).

    Those points would get me half a dozen domestic flights through British Airways, which is an excellent return. My fear of upsetting a primary issuer kept me from rolling the dice, though.

    I could actually see myself holding onto the Citi Prestige if they continue to beef up their travel partners and ESPECIALLY if they add American Airlines or British Airways.

  • Tony

    United Lounge does’t allow

  • Phil Fogel

    for travel on Amex Plat how do you get 1.25 cents per point. looks like it is less than even 1 cent per point.

  • Miles

    The Citi Prestige companion ticket actually worked on discount tickets, although only the base fare was covered – taxes and fees still had to be paid on both tickets. It did require you to book one of the cheapest fares for a particular route, so sometimes you had to fiddle with it to find a routing/airline that was acceptable to you. But I saved $1000 each time I used it, over buying the same tickets directly from the airline.

    I will definitely miss this feature.

  • Wildcat1

    I am interested in this card too, would like to see more details and a comparison with real life use, what can we all expect from it for those that don’t have status etc

  • Wildcat1

    You mention ‘Black Card VIP Program, offering special treatment at over 3,000 hotels & resorts’. I would like to see more details on what does this include as there is not much info on this perk. Is this the free upgrades etc like FHR or something different. If the same, how much location credit are they offering on average ?

    Also with regards to the VIP/Luxury gifts, would be nice to understand this as well. Lot of marketing veiling with this statement from Via, would like to understand what these truly look like. Not that this would be the reason to pick this card (Visa Black) up but if its a perk would like to know more.

    Thanks

  • rhector

    I’ve had a hard time getting the full value (1.7/1.8 cents per point) out of my Amex Platinum card. Are people just booking their travel through the Amex website to get 2x points to bring up the average? They are running a gift card promotion right now that seems to value a point at around 1.4 cents.

  • i_hereby_resign

    you need to transfer the points to frequent flyer programs to extract maximum value. for example, I recently used 18000 membership reward points for two round trip tickets RIC -> LGA thru British Airways Avios (booked with American Airlines). The going cost of those tickets is ~$365 each.

  • Trav

    True, I have 3 Amex cards currently. The Amex SPG, the Amex Plat and the Amex Business Plat. Sometimes an offer is available on all 3 cards, but most of the time an offer is specific to one of them. I don’t know how they decide what offers will show up on what card, but the best ones typically show up on my Platinum cards. These offers over the course of the year are very valuable. A recent one that was nice was a $20 statement credit when spending $20 at Amazon.

  • Trav

    The best way is to transfer points to one of their partners — especially when they have a transfer bonus in place. Example: needed to ticket DFW –> RDU earlier this year. On British Airways, that flight is only 12K Avios round trip, because it is distance based. This was last minute, and the flight was $1,000. Transferred 12K membership rewards to BA Avios and got 8.3 cents per point. If I had transferred those when there was a 50% bonus it would have been 12.5 cents per point. Don’t waste your points buying travel from Amex unless you have to for some reason.

  • Danny

    You should definitely do it!

    You pay the 450 dollar fee, but you get

    100K points (worth around 1500-1800 dollars when transferred to airline partners)

    You also get a 200 dollar credit towards airline incidentals, but users report you can buy gift cards and have those credited. So it’s 200$ gift card for an airline of choice. And this benefit is by CALENDAR year, so you can get it now, get it again in January and then cancel in February. So an additional 400 in benefits.

    Those two factors alone should make it worth not. Not even counting lounge access, SPG gold, etc.

  • Nick Ewen

    As Tony mentions, I am referring to the Priority Pass Select. I believe (based on my interpretation of the T&C of the Citi Prestige card) that the current lounge access through Airport Angel is not available to additional cardholders, but Priority Pass Select WILL extend that benefit to additional cardholders.

  • Nick Ewen

    Absolutely, and I actually spoke to a customer service rep about this. I basically included everything she said in the post above. There’s no listing of hotels (like FHR) nor is there a set schedule for the luxury gifts. She did mention that if I signed up for the card I could get more information. That would be quite a pricey information request!

  • Nick Ewen

    Correct…this stipulation only applies to United Club lounges.

  • Nick Ewen

    The problem is how you define “huge.” As you point out, these differentials are not absolute and vary significantly depending on one’s travel patterns or typical spending behavior. My goal was to provide as close to an objective analysis as possible for a collection of benefits that really are subjective. Had I tried to weight the categories (or given bigger point differentials) for the benefits I value more, it would skew the results even more. By keeping a standard unit of measure, it weights all things equally and then allows readers to modify the points awarded based on what they value most.

  • Nick Ewen

    Michael, I used to ABHOR annual fees and thought that anyone who paid them was crazy. I now see why they make sense, as the most valuable benefits are reserved for cards with annual fees. If you aren’t into lounge access and don’t need/utilize Global Entry, the $450 fee is not cheap, but for 100,000 points, I would ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY WITHOUT A DOUBT apply for this card if I were in your shoes. Keeping it more long-term may not be worthwhile, but as Brian mentions, you can get a $200 credit this year AND next year and can cancel the card before the next $450 annual fee hits.

    If you do wind up cancelling the card, make sure that you have another Amex that accrues Membership Rewards points so your giant bonus isn’t taken away (the new Everyday card has no annual fee, so that’s a good option).

  • Nick Ewen

    Did you compare the price of the discounted BC ticket with the lowest BC ticket available by booking directly with the airline or through another travel agency? Even if it isn’t fully refundable, there may have still been a “premium” paid for booking an IAP-eligible fare.

  • Nick Ewen

    As Brian mentions, Citi Prestige cardholders currently have Admirals Club access and will continue to do so after 10/19. However, it is limited to the primary cardholder and guests. You can’t pay $50 to add an additional cardholder and allow him/her to get into Admirals Clubs without you. Sorry if my wording was confusing.

    The $200 (soon-to-be $250) credit on the Citi Prestige is an annual benefit that is reset every year when you renew the card.

  • iamright

    If you are a golfer, the Prestige card offers a huge benefit – three free rounds per calendar year or 6 per card period. While many of the courses are mediocre, there are many elite courses that are normally >>$150 per round. There are a number of silly restrictions like you can only book one reservation at a time – can’t get the second until you play the first. However, six rounds of golf at these courses is HUGE …. if you play golf.

  • LAKnight

    Questions on Fee Credits…

    Does it mean that we may use Citi Prestige to buy airline gift cards and get reimbursed?

    By the way, I thought we might use AMEX Platinum to buy gift cards and got reimbursed as airline credits. Does it mean we can no longer spend the $200 airline credit in this way?

  • Jim

    Thanks Nick for reply

  • Wildcat1

    Totally agree on the pricey request piece. Intrigue alone is not enough to sign up for this one :)

  • Wildcat1

    Steve, per my earlier comment any chance you can elaborate on your experience wit the RC Visa as am looking at that in comparison to the three above as well. Thanks

  • iamright

    Looks like you can get the card for a $350 fee if you apply in the branch even if you are not a Citigold customer. Applied last Thursday, called in on Tuesday to get status and today (Friday) a fancy black box arrived via UPS with my new credit card sitting prominently sitting in a pocket. I guess when they charge you for a ‘prestige’ card they want to make it special.

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