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Travel rewards are a strong magnet for many people shopping for credit cards, yet some rewards have more magnetism than others.
In judging the Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Prestige® Card, it’s clear that all three would benefit travelers. But each card’s value may vary depending on what type of traveler you are.
Among the three cards, the Platinum Card® from American Express provides the most value if you’re a big spender and a big traveler. Why? The card offers five points per $1 spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year as of Jan. 1, 2021, then one point per $1) and hotels.
Roman Shteyn, co-founder of RewardExpert, a service that helps people maximize travel points and miles, points out that you can transfer your points from the Platinum Card® from American Express to redeem directly through 22 hotel and airline loyalty programs.
But not all points are created equal, so it’s just as important to focus on what your points are worth in these loyalty programs, not necessarily how many vendor options you have.
Check your card’s rewards program terms and conditions to learn what your points may be worth when transferred to a loyalty program.
The welcome bonus for the Platinum Card® from American Express is 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases with your card within your first 6 months from account opening. That’s more points than most other offers we’ve seen.
- Best for rewards points
- Best for card benefits
- Best for annual fee
- What to consider when applying for a rewards card
- Which card is right for you?
When American Express raised the annual fee for the Platinum Card® from American Express, it also boosted the Membership Rewards® points for prepaid hotels to five points per $1. That followed a previous point increase for airfare to five points per $1, which as of Jan. 1, 2021, applies on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year, then drops to one point per $1 spent.
So if your travel involves a lot of airlines and hotels, the Platinum Card® from American Express will likely help you earn the most rewards.
If you’re more of a diner than a traveler though, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Citi Prestige® Card are more attractive. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can earn three points per $1 spent on restaurant dining around the world. The Citi Prestige® Card also gets you five points per $1 at restaurants.
The Platinum Card® from American Express, on the other hand, may only get you one point per $1 at restaurants.
Some of the benefits offered by the three cards aren’t that different. For instance, none of the cards charges foreign transaction fees.
But the Platinum Card® from American Express stands out in a couple of ways.
The Platinum Card® from American Express has 22 hotel and airline points-transfer partners — more than both the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Prestige® Card. In other words, you’ve got more options for points transfers with the Platinum Card® from American Express. Just remember that your points’ value will vary when transferred to partners.
At $550, the annual fee for the Platinum Card® from American Express matches the annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® ($550) and is higher than the Citi Prestige® ($495) card.
But if you’re able to take advantage of the elevated rewards rate and other perks with the Platinum Card® from American Express, it may be worth it.
What to consider when applying for a rewards card
When you’re shopping for a rewards card, ask yourself this: What kind of consumer am I?
If you’re a hard-core traveler, a rewards card such as the Platinum Card® from American Express might be a wise pick. If you travel a fair amount but don’t consider a hotel room your second home, a rewards card such as Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Citi Prestige® Card may make more sense.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® tracks more closely with a typical consumer’s spending habits: Dining and everyday travel, such as taxi and subway rides, are eligible for more rewards points than the Platinum Card® from American Express.
The Citi Prestige® Card, on the other hand, may work out well for travelers who fly and dine frequently, since it offers an excellent rewards rate (five points per $1) for air travel and restaurants.
That being said, the benefits of all three cards can be quite valuable. But only if you make regular purchases and — since the travel rewards are the most valuable — if you travel at least a few times a year.
In other words, if you’re looking for a credit card to cover just emergency expenses, these cards probably aren’t right for you.
Which card is right for you?
Shteyn says the best card among this trio depends on what type of consumer you are. If you’re a big traveler and it’s important for you to access the hotel and airline partners that apply for this card, the Platinum Card® from American Express probably makes the most sense for you.
While the Platinum Card® from American Express most benefits the high-spending, high-flying consumer, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® better serves the “average consumer,” according to Shteyn. Why? For one thing, an annual $300 travel credit applies to more than just airfare and hotels. It also covers taxi fares, train and subway rides, and parking fees.
Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers three rewards points per $1 for dining.
As for the Citi Prestige® Card, it’s no slouch. You can score a whopping five points per $1 spent on air travel and restaurants, three points per $1 on hotels and cruise lines, and one point per $1 for all other purchases.
In short, while we’ve crowned the Platinum Card® from American Express the winner out of these three cards, what’s best for you may vary depending on your spending habits and personal preferences.