Is Amex Platinum or Citi Prestige Better for Lounge Access?

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TPG reader Matt emailed me to ask about airport lounge access:

“What’s the difference between the Priority Pass benefit for Citi Prestige versus Amex Platinum?”

There are plenty of credit cards that offer lounge access of some kind, but the number of lounges covered and the level of access granted vary widely between them. The Citi Prestige Card and the Platinum Card from American Express are among the top options — both cards advertise Priority Pass Select lounge access, but closer scrutiny shows that the two benefits are not equal.

Priority Pass is a network of more than 850 lounges worldwide. Many of these lounges belong to one airlne program or another, but Priority Pass membership gets you in regardless of which carrier you’re flying. The Platinum Card offers access to both primary cardholders and authorized users. Guests are allowed, but you’ll have to pay the standard guest entry fee of $27 per person, which is charged automatically to your card upon admission.

In contrast, the Prestige Card offers access to all the same lounges (authorized users are again included), but also allows complimentary admission for up to two guests. You’ll still have to pay the $27 entry fee for additional guests, but that small difference in benefits could save you $54 each time you visit a Priority Pass lounge. That gives Citi Prestige a leg up specifically with respect to Priority Pass, but there’s more to the story, as both cards offer access to other lounges as well.

The Platinum Card will get you into Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re traveling with Delta), as well as the swanky Amex Centurion Lounges in New York (LaGuardia), Miami and a slowly increasing roster of other US cities. For its part, Citi Prestige offers access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs (when you’re traveling on AA), which are a bit of a mixed bag, as Kevin Song discovered during his recent tour of 12 different lounges in five cities.

If you plan on bringing guests with you into Priority Pass lounges, Citi Prestige is your best bet.
If you plan on bringing guests with you into Priority Pass lounges, Citi Prestige is your best bet.

If you’re deciding between these two cards based solely on lounge access, I think the choice comes down to which airports you frequent and whether you routinely travel with other people. I’m a fan of the Centurion Lounges, and if there’s one in your home airport (or an airport you transit through frequently), then I’d go for Amex Platinum. On the other hand, if you cover a lot of territory with friends, family or business associates, then Citi Prestige will make your lounge visits more affordable.

If you don’t fit squarely in either of those categories, then check out the lounge options in your favorite destinations and see which ones float your boat. Your decision might come down to where a Sky Club or Admirals Club lounge is positioned in a given terminal. Of course, there are plenty of other benefits to consider, so check out what each card has to offer before you apply.

For more on Citi Prestige, Amex Platinum, Priority Pass and airport lounges, see these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Citi Prestige® Card

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  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay at hotels booked through Citi Prestige® Concierge
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Balance Transfer Credit Rating
N/A 15.49%* (Variable) $450 See Terms Excellent Credit