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TPG reader John sent me a message on Facebook to ask about credit card benefits:
“Which is better for authorized user benefits: Amex Platinum or Citi Prestige?”
One common feature of premium travel rewards credit cards is that they offer benefits not only to the primary cardholder, but also to authorized users. Since the cost to add users is generally much less than the primary annual fee, issuing cards to friends and family is an easy way to get extra value from your account. The two cards John asked about are great examples, since both of them offer lucrative perks to secondary cardholders. However, in a head-to-head competition, one of them is the clear winner.
The Citi Prestige Card allows you to add authorized users for just $50 each annually. Those users get full access to Priority Pass lounges, and even get their own allotment of two free guests. That comes in handy when you’re traveling with extended family or a larger group, since guests normally have to pay $27 each for entry. Authorized users can also use the dedicated Citi concierge service, and of course they’ll earn bonus points for spending on airfare, hotels, dining and entertainment.
By comparison, the Platinum Card from American Express charges $175 annually to add up to three cardholders, then $175 for each additional cardholder beyond that. The cost per person is comparable to Citi Prestige if you add exactly three users to your account, but the benefits they receive are much more rewarding. For starters, authorized users get free entry to Priority Pass lounges (without guest access), as well as the Amex Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta).
In addition, authorized users get complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, Boingo Wi-Fi and access to perks and discounts through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. Perhaps most impressively, each additional cardholder is eligible for a $100 Global Entry application statement credit. The $200 annual airline fee credit is the main benefit that doesn’t apply to authorized users individually (though their purchases do qualify for reimbursement).
While Amex Platinum is more rewarding for authorized users, both cards offer an excellent array of benefits to primary cardholders. If you’re deciding between them, you’ll need to take into account other perks of Citi Prestige, including the 4th Night Free benefit at hotels, the higher $250 air travel credit (which is valid for airfare), Admirals Club access and more.
For more on these two cards and adding authorized users, check out these posts:
- Why You Should Add Authorized Users on Your Amex Platinum
- Why You Should Add Authorized Users on Your Citi Prestige
- Adding Credit Card Authorized Users — Benefits and Bonuses
The Platinum Card® from American Express
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