OUR FAVORITE PARTNER CARDS

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Credit card issuers continue to up the ante with premium credit cards. While the benefits may be superb, how many $500 annual fees can one person afford? We’re analyzing four premium credit cards to help you decide which one is right for you.

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express was long the standard of premium credit cards. But with so many competitors entering the market in the last few years, American Express has tweaked the benefits recently to stay competitive.

Cardholders love this credit card for its lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credits, and $200 Uber credits. Of these four premium credit cards, the American Express Platinum is the only card that offers exclusive access to lounges not available to the others.

The airline credits, however, are the most restrictive. Cardholders must designate one airline at the beginning of the year. You also cannot use the credit to purchase a flight. Only ancillary charges with your chosen airline count towards the credit allowance.

American Express added the Uber credits and $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credit in 2017. If you don’t use the benefits during the designated window, they expire. These restrictions make it harder for cardholders to use the entire benefit.

However, when booking a hotel reservation, the perks of the Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts are superb. The Hotel Collection offers $100 resort credit, room upgrades, and 5x points on the charges. Fine Hotels & Resorts provides room upgrades, daily breakfast for two, guaranteed 4 pm late checkout, complimentary wifi, and a $100 amenity with The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been the most popular premium credit card since it was introduced in August 2016. It launched with a 100,000 point bonus offer and applications exceeded expectations. Demand was so robust, that the bank quickly ran out of the metal used to make the credit card.

Cardholders love the Reserve card for its robust earning power and points flexibility. The credit card earns 3x points on travel and dining worldwide and offers a $300 annual travel allowance. The credits can be used towards any expense that codes as travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns Ultimate Rewards points, which are some of the most valued in the travel world. These points can be redeemed for cash, used to book travel, or transferred to partners. When booking travel, one Ultimate Reward point is worth 1.5 cents. This means that 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points can book $750 worth of travel.

Primary rental car insurance is a unique benefit of this card. Many premium credit cards offer secondary coverage to pay for damage after your personal auto insurance pays their share. With primary rental car insurance, your personal auto insurance is not involved unless there is damage beyond the rental car.

Citibank Prestige

The Citibank Prestige card was recently reintroduced with a $495 annual fee, new benefits, and some changes to existing benefits. This credit card offers 5x points on travel and dining and 3x points on hotel and cruises. All other purchases earn 1x.

Citi ThankYou Points can be transferred to 15 airlines. Most transfers are 1:1 and there are occasional bonuses that provide an extra 25% miles.

I’ve had this credit card for several years, but am unsure if I will renew it again. Many of the best benefits have been stripped since I became a cardholder. It used to offer three free rounds of golf each year, Admirals Club lounge access, and an unlimited 4th night free on hotel reservations. Plus, the points were worth up to 1.6 cents per point when booking flights on American Airlines.

The current bonus offer is for 50,000 ThankYou points which can be redeemed for $500 in travel. The Citi Prestige includes a $250 travel credit, Priority Pass Select membership, and 4th night free on hotel stays. The travel credit can be used to book anything that codes as travel. The 4th-night free benefit is available when booking through ThankYou.com. This perk will be limited to two times per year for bookings made after September 1, 2019.

US Bank Altitude

The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card launched with a big splash but hasn’t been talked about much since. With 3x points on mobile payments, this premium credit card is an excellent choice for people that love to use Apple Pay or Google Pay.

The points are worth up to 1.5 cents each, so mobile payments can earn 4.5 cents towards travel with the 3x earning power. The US Bank Altitude credit card does not have any hotel or airline transfer partners.

Cardholders receive an annual travel credit of $325. This credit can be used for purchases directly from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains, and cruise lines.

If you use wifi while flying, you’ll appreciate the 12 complimentary Gogo in-flight internet passes each year. Benefits also include Priority Pass Select, TSA Precheck or Global Entry reimbursement, and perks from Silvercar, GroundLink, and Relais & Chateaux.

Premium Credit Card Showdown Comparison

This chart provides a side-by-side comparison of some of the most important details of each credit card. These details will help you determine which premium credit card pairs best with your travel personality.

BankAmerican ExpressChaseCitibankUS Bank
Credit CardPlatinumSapphire ReservePrestigeAltitude
Authorized User$175 for first 3
$175 each addt’l
$75 each$50 each$75 each
Welcome Bonus60,00050,00050,00050,000
Bonus worth of travel$600$750$500$750
Bonus RestrictionsOnce per lifetimeEvery 48 months2 years from open or closed card within ThankYou familyNone
Spend Requirement$5,000 in 3 mos$4,000 in 3 mos$4,000 in 3 mos$4,500 in 3 mos
Spend Bonus5x flights and hotels with Amex Travel
1x on all others
3x travel & dining
1x on all others
5x flights & dining
3x hotels & cruises
1x on all others
3x on travel & mobile wallet
1x on all others
Point Value1.9 cents2.1 cents1.7 cents1.5 cents
Transfer Partners17 airlines
2 hotels
9 airlines
4 hotels
15 airlinesNone
Lounge AccessCenturion Lounge
Delta Sky Club
Priority Pass
Plaza Premium
Air Space
Escape Lounges
Priority Pass SelectPriority Pass SelectPriority Pass Select
Other Perks$200 airline credit
$200 Uber credits
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue
TSA PreCheck / Global Entry
Hotel Collection benefits
Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits
Hilton Honors Gold status
$300 travel credit
Points worth 50% more when redeeming for travel
TSA PreCheck / Global Entry
Primary Rental Car insurance
4th night free when booked at ThankYou.com
$250 travel credit
$325 travel credit
TSA PreCheck / Global Entry
12 Gogo Inflight passes

Which Premium Card Card Is Right For You?

Before spending your hard-earned money on a credit card annual fee, make sure that the benefits align with how you travel and which categories you spend the most. If you’re going to invest that much into a credit card, you’ll want to maximize the perks.

The American Express Platinum is ideal for travelers that use Uber regularly and enjoy airport lounges. People that prefer flexibility will want the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Travelers that book longer hotel stays will benefit from 4th night free with Citi Prestige. And if you like to use your phone to pay at the register, the US Bank Altitude is right for you.

Which premium credit cards do you have? Are there specific perks that you just cannot live without? Let us know in the comment section below.

 

Lee Huffman

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Premium Credit Card Showdown: Which One Is Right For You?
5 (100%) 4 vote[s]

1 Comment On "Premium Credit Card Showdown: Which One Is Right For You?"
  1. Derek|

    Would like to see the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card as part of this comparison.

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