Premium Credit Card Comparison

Premium Credit Card Comparison

There are a number of premium credit cards available and each one has it’s own set of benefits. Depending on your travel and spending patterns, one may be a significantly better choice for you than another. In some cases it may make sense to have more than one.

In this article we’re going to compare the major premium credit cards from American Express, Chase and Citi. U.S. Bank has also just entered the premium card market with the launch of it’s Altitude card. We’ll have more on that one next week.

Annual Fee

CardAnnual FeeAdditional Cardholder Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠$450$75
Platinum Card® from American Express$550$175 (Up to Three)
Citi Prestige® Card$450$50
Ritz Carlton Card$450$0
United MileagePlus® Club Card$450$0
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®$450$0

For the most part, the annual fees on these premium credit cards is pretty standard. The only stand-out is the Platinum Card® from American Express. The annual fee for this card was just increased by $100 in March 2017, but the increase in fees came with a slight increase in benefits (like $200 annually in Uber credits – more on this later).

The big difference in annual fees really comes by way of the authorized user fee. If you want to add your husband or kids to your credit card, you’ll want to take the authorized user fee into serious consideration.

Earning Points

CardSpending Bonus Categories
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠3X Travel, Dining; 1X Other Purchases (Ultimate Rewards)
Platinum Card® from American Express5X Airfare, Prepaid Hotels through Amex; 1X Other Purchases (Membership Rewards)
Citi Prestige® Card3X Travel; 2X Dining, Entertainment, 1X Other Purchases (ThankYou Points)
Ritz Carlton Card5X Ritz Carlton, Marriott, SPG Hotels; 2X Airfare, Car Rentals, Dining; 1X Other Purchases (Marriott/Ritz Points)
United MileagePlus® Club Card1.5X All Purchases (United Miles)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®2X American Airlines Flights; 1X Other Purchases (American Airlines Miles)

If you are looking for a credit card to be a good candidate for a daily spender, the cards worth considering are the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, Citi Prestige® Card, and maybe the . The other cards do not offer good return for daily spend, at least for most people.

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
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50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Each year, automatically receive up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card.
Earn 3X Points on travel and dining at restaurants- from airfare and hotels to fine dining and cafés.

If you already have a solid daily spender, then the spending categories for these cards might not have a lot of weight in your decision-making process.

Travel Credits

CardTravel CreditCan Be Used For
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠$300Anything
Platinum Card® from American Express$400$200 Airline Incidentals, $200 Uber Credit
Citi Prestige® Card$250Anything
Ritz Carlton Card$300Airline Incidentals
United MileagePlus® Club CardNoneN/A
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®NoneN/A

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ comes out ahead of other premium cards when it comes to the travel credit. The CSR’s can be used on any travel related purchase and happens automatically.

However, as long as you can use the travel credit, it will go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee of the card. Take, for example, the Platinum Card® from American Express. It has a $550 annual fee, but if you use both the $200 airline incidental credit and the $200 Uber credit, your fee is effectively only $150. That’s not much to pay for some of the other benefits of the card that we will go into detail about below.

Lounge Access

CardPriority Pass SelectAirline Specific LoungeOther
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠Unlimited GuestsN/AN/A
Platinum Card® from American ExpressTwo Free GuestsDelta SkyClub - When Flying Same DayCenturion Lounges(+ 2 Guests); Airspace Lounges (+2 Guests)
Citi Prestige® CardTwo Free Guests or Immediate FamilyN/AN/A
Ritz Carlton CardNot Specified, Reports Indicate Guests PermittedN/AN/A
United MileagePlus® Club CardN/AUnited Club Membership (+ 2 Guests)Star Alliance Business Lounges - When Flying Star Same Day
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®N/AAdmirals Club Membership (+ 2 Guests)Authorized Users Also Have Lounge Access

The value of lounge access is so dependent on the individual traveler. What airports do you fly out of most often? What lounges are there? Do you usually travel alone or with friends/family? Do you travel internationally or only domestically?

Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card® from American Express
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Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com

Answering these questions will help you evaluate the lounges that you will come across most often so you can choose a card that has lounge access with the most benefit to you.

Other Benefits

There are a few extremely noteworthy additional perks that should be considered in making your premium credit card decision.

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Platinum Card® from American Express

  • SPG Gold Status, Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit every five years
  • Complimentary Boingo Wifi access

Citi Prestige® Card

  • 4th night free on paid hotel stays booked through Citi
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit every five years

Citi Prestige® Card
Citi Prestige® Card
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Earn 40,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
With Citi Prestige®, you'll earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels, 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases.
Your points are worth 33% more on flights compared to non-air travel when booked through the Citi ThankYou® Travel Center.

Ritz Carlton Card

  • $100 off a round trip domestic coach airfare for two to five passengers with unlimited uses
  • $100 credit on hotel stays of two nights or more, three Club upgrades for paid stays every year
  • Gold Status for your first year; $10,000 spending requirement to maintain Gold status thereafter

United MileagePlus® Club Card

  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit every five years

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Final Thoughts

If you’re a frequent traveler and you value things like lounge access and car rental insurance coverage, there’s a good chance that it makes sense to carry at least one of the premium credit cards that we have mentioned in this article. The key is to decide which card will offer you the most value for the lowest price.

One thing that wasn’t discussed in this article is the sign-up bonuses for each of these cards. They change frequently and I think that the long-term benefits of these cards make the sign-up bonus somewhat less important. When you’re ready to apply, you should check the current sign up bonuses as that may sway you from one card to another.

CardSign-up Bonus
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. points on travel and dining at restaurants- from airfare and hotels to fine dining and cafés. point per dollar on all other purchases.
Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Membership Rewards® points for each dollar of eligible travel purchases made on amextravel.com. point for each dollar charged for an eligible purchase on your Platinum Card® from American Express.
Citi Prestige® CardEarn 40,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. points on Air Travel and Hotels. points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment. ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases.
Ritz Carlton CardTwo complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel, after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
United MileagePlus® Club Card50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United. miles per $1 spent on purchases.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.