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Premium Credit Card Comparison: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige vs. Amex Platinum

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Now that Chase has entered the premium segment of the credit card market with its new Sapphire Reserve card, it’s time for a comparison of the premium offerings from the three primary travel rewards credit card issuers, Chase, Citi and Amex. We rank each of these cards in a variety of categories and come up with a winner.

One significant item to note upfront is that Citi recently announced massive changes to the Prestige card which will be going into effect July 23, 2017. Therefore, for the Prestige card we will have current and post-change variations in our rankings as the decision points which change dramatically. All three cards once carried a $450 annual fee, but now Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum charge a $550 annual fee, and Citi Prestige charges $495.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveCiti Prestige (current and post-changes) AMEX Platinum
Sign-Up Bonus50K UR50K TYP 60K MR

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card currently has a sign-up bonus of 50K Ultimate Rewards, which is one of the the best publicly available bonus offers for any card on the market right now. The Citi Prestige card has a bonus of 50K ThankYou Points and the Amex Platinum card has a bonus of 60K Membership Rewards.

The Sapphire Reserve card once offered a huge bonus of 100k UR, which didn’t last long, but at the time it was offered, this card won the sign-up bonus category in a landslide. Since now all three cards have more or less the same number of points for their current bonuses, we will break the tie by going with the more valuable currency, which is Amex Membership Rewards over Citi ThankYou points due to Amex’s stronger network of transfer partners.

Rankings:

1. Amex Platinum
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
3. Citi Prestige

Points Earning Rates

The table below displays the bonus categories for earning points with each of these cards. For all categories not listed, cards earn one point per dollar.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveCiti Prestige (current and post-changes)AMEX Platinum
Points Earning Rates3x on Dining and Travel worldwide5x on Air Travel and Restaurants

3x on Hotels and Cruise Lines
5x on Flights and Hotels

The Citi Prestige wins this category not only due to its strong earning rates, but also the number of categories with increased rewards Citi offers. Chase defines travel category broader that Amex – it is not restricted to traditional expenses such as airline tickets or hotels, but applies more broadly to things like Uber and Airbnb. Amex Platinum brings up the rear with only two narrow bonus categories – flights booked directly from airlines or through the Amex Travel portal, and hotels booked on the Amex Travel portal.

Rankings:

1. Citi Prestige
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
3. Amex Platinum

Transferable Points Program

Each of these cards is part of a transferable points program that allows cardholders to transfer points to a wide variety of hotel and airline partners. Both Amex and Chase have a relationship with one of the three major domestic U.S. carriers – Amex with Delta and Chase with United. Points transfer from both programs to these carriers at a 1:1 ratio. Citi, unfortunately, has not become a full partner with American Airlines, so none of these programs transfer to Americans’ AAdvantage program.

All three programs allow transfers to Singapore Airlines, which is a great carrier, but that doesn’t differentiate any of the programs.

Each program also has at least one hotel transfer partner; however, the value of hotel points is far less in almost all cases than for any decent airline mile program. The one exception is Hyatt which is a Chase transfer partner. Starwood (current Marriott) also has a valuable points program and Amex MRs transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

While the list below is not comprehensive it summarizes the list of transfer partners to some of the most useful.

Chase Sapphire ReserveCiti Prestige (Before and After Changes)AMEX Platinum
British Airways
Flying Blue
JetBlue
Emirates
Singapore Airlines
Southwest
United
Virgin Atlantic
Aer Lingus
Iberia
Aeromexico
Asia Miles
Avianca LifeMiles
Emirates Skywards
Etihad Guest
Eva Air
Flying Blue
JetBlue TrueBlue
Jetprivilege
Malaysia Airlines Enrich
Quantas Frequent Flyer
Qatar Privilege Club
Singapore Airlines
Thai Royal Orchid Plus
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Aeroplan
Alitalia MilleMiglia
Asia Miles
British Airways
Delta SkyMiles®
Etihad Guest

Chase and Amex both have strong programs while Citi’s is a bit lacking. We give the nod to Chase due to United having a more valuable currency than Delta, however both have a worthwhile hotel partner.

Rankings:

1. Citi Prestige

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
3. Amex Platinum
Travel and Miscellaneous Benefits

In the table below we summarize the broad spectrum of other benefits offered by each of these cards. This is where we really start to see big devaluations for the Citi Prestige card after the changes go into effect.

compare-premium-rewards-cards-table

*The Sapphire Reserve user guide indicates complimentary access for travel companions.

The Citi Prestige has been the king of all-around travel benefits before the devaluations were announced and the Sapphire Reserve launched. The broad-based and easy to use airline fee credit effectively reduces the annual fee to $200, which can easily be recouped for many with the three free rounds of golf or lounge access.

The guest privileges for the Prestige card lounge benefits are especially generous. However, the pending loss of Admirals Club access, loss of free golf, and the devaluation of points redemptions for airfare gut the value of this card. It can still be a solid card for many, especially those with many paid hotel stays of 4+ nights, but once the changes go into effect it will not be the great card it is today.

Amex is stingier with its benefits as the lounge access rules require you to pay for guests (except as its own small network of Centurion Lounges) and the airline fee credit doesn’t include airfare. Amex does have the best all-around benefits however, with two solid mid-tier hotel statuses and the Fine Hotels & Resorts program which comes with guaranteed benefits (usually worth at least $100 per stay).

The Sapphire Preferred card doesn’t have quite as wide a variety of benefits, although it does have the largest and most broad-based travel credit and best point redemption values.

Rankings:

1. Citi Prestige (current)
2. Amex Platinum
3. Chase Sapphire Reserve
4. Citi Prestige (post-changes)

Final Ranking:

Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card benefits new

1. Citi Prestige (current)
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
3. Amex Platinum
4. Citi Prestige (post-changes)

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

UGC Disclosure: 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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