Sapphire Reserve vs Citi Prestige vs Amex Platinum

Everyone wants the best possible travel rewards credit card when they sign-up and these three cards are serious contenders. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ being the newest card to enter the stage, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity for a credit card showdown to see which of these cards really goes above and beyond the rest. 

I love a good showdown.

Last year when rumors of the Chase Sapphire Reserve were first leaked, I got really excited. With tons of great features, the $450 annual fee seemed a bit steep - especially compared to my Chase Sapphire Preferred® that only has a $95 annual fee - but the premium cardholder benefits won me over pretty easily.

Still, the Citi Prestige® and Platinum Card® from American Express are powerhouse cards with comparable rewards and similar annual fees, so it's not so easy to write-off any of these options. 

All of these cards are designed to help you earn valuable points and make traveling a bit easier, which is always a good thing.

Let's jump into the features of each of these cards to see how they compare. 

Sign Up Bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

Citi Prestige®: 40,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $3,000 on new purchases within 3 months of account opening

Platinum Card® from American Express: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on new purchases within 3 months of account opening

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Runner-up: Platinum Card® from American Express

Here's why: The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ stands above the competition in this category with its generous sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points, which are valued at $750 if you redeem for travel through the online portal.

Here's a "value" breakdown of all three cards' sign-up bonuses (when redeemed towards travel):

  • ChaseSapphire Reserve℠: 50,000 points = $750 value
  • Amex Platinum Card®: 60,000 points = $600 value
  • Citi Prestige®: 40,000 points = $532 value

Earning Points

Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x points on all travel and dining and 1x on everything else

Citi Prestige®: 3x points on airfare and hotels, 2x on dining and entertainment, and 1x on everything else

Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 1x point per dollar spent on most purchases, and 2x points on travel booked directly through American Express.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Runner-up: Platinum Card® from American Express

Here's why: The Sapphire Reserve℠ offers 3x points on travel and dining, which, when compared to the Citi Prestige® card's 2x on just airfare and hotels, is a no-brainer for earning points. 

Redeeming Points

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠: Points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards travel booked through Chase's Ultimate Rewards travel center, or transferred to 7 airlines and 4 hotel partners on a 1:1 basis

Citi Prestige®: Points can be redeemed for travel reservations, gift cards, merchandise, and loan repayments, or transferred to 14 airline partners or the Hilton HHonors program

Platinum Card® from American Express: The American Express Membership Rewards program offers 17 airline and 3 hotel transfer partners, or points that can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, or travel reservations

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Runner-up: Platinum Card® from American Express

Here's why: Once again, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ take the cake. 

It's awesome to get 1.5 cents per point towards any travel reservation, and Chase makes it incredibly easy to transfer points to miles. 

American Express has great transfer partners, but otherwise, its points are only worth one cent each towards travel reservations. Not the worst, but certainly not the best.

Transferring Points

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Chase points transfer to 11 different airline and hotel partners on a 1:1 basis, and since transfers are usually instantaneous, you can see your points transfer in real-time. This is an especially great feature when you're actively planning a trip and want to see how many points you're working with to get to your destination.

Citi Prestige®: Points transfer to 14 airline partners or the Hilton HHonors program, and the transfer can take anywhere from 24 hours to four days to complete (and see in your account).

Platinum Card® from American Express: 17 different airline transfer partners and 3 hotel partners. Transfers are usually instantaneous but can take up to three days depending on the transfer partner.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Runner-up: Platinum Card® from American Express

Here's why: The Ultimate Rewards transfer partners are amazing, and include airlines like Southwest and United that aren't part of any other program on a 1:1 basis. So while the American Express Membership Rewards program offers more airline transfer partners, the points don't always transfer 1:1, which can be a bummer. This one really depends on your preferred airline(s) to fly when traveling.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Mileage Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt (hotel)
  • Marriott Rewards (hotel)
  • IHG Rewards Club (hotel)

Amex Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air France / KLM
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways
  • Delta
  • El Al
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • jetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Best Western (hotel)
  • Choice Privileges (hotel)
  • Hilton HHonors (hotel)

Citi ThankYou Points Transfer Partners

  • Asia Miles
  • Eithad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hilton HHonors (hotel)

Lounge Access

Chase Sapphire Reserve: This card offers Priority Pass lounge access for the cardholder, authorized user(s), and any other traveling companions without having to pay an additional fee to enter.

Citi Prestige®: Access to the Priority Pass Select lounges for the cardholder and one guest. It's worth noting that access to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge was recently discontinued for new applicants, which is a bummer.

Platinum Card® from American Express: Access to Delta Sky Clubs and Priority Pass Select lounges for just the cardholder. Access to the American Express Centurion clubs for the cardholder and guests.

Winner: Platinum Card® from American Express

Runner-up: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Here's why: American Express offers cardholders access to three lounge networks with several locations throughout the US, while Chase only offers cardholders access to Priority Pass lounges, which are great, but there aren't as many in the US. What is nice, however, is that Sapphire Reserve cardholders can bring their travel companions into the lounges with them at no additional cost (as long as there's room in the lounge).

So much awesomeness in one location | Centurion Lounge

Annual Fee

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $450 plus $75 for each additional cardholder

Citi Prestige®: $450 plus $50 for each additional cardholder

Platinum Card® from American Express: $550 plus $175 for up to 3 additional cardholders

Winner: Citi Prestige®

Runner-up: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Here's why: Citi Prestige®  and the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ may be tied for having the lesser expensive annual fees, but the Citi Prestige® charges the lowest price for adding additional cardholders to the account.

Annual Travel Credits

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Cardholders receive a $300 credit each year to put towards travel expenses ("year" is defined as the date your card account was opened, not the calendar year), and a $100 credit once every four years to put towards an application for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Citi Prestige®: Cardholders receive a $250 annual airline credit plus a one-time credit of $100 towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications

Platinum Card® from American Express: Cardholders receive a $200 annual airline credit, plus a one-time credit of $100 towards Global Entry or PreCheck applications, just like the Prestige®.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Runner-up: Citi Prestige®

Here's why: The Chase Sapphire Reserve's annual travel credit is both the largest and the most flexible of the three, but the Citi Prestige® comes in second place pretty closely.

Perks

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Cardholders receive Elite status with National, Avis, and Silvercard, as well as access to perks and discounts when staying at properties in The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Citi Prestige®: Cardholders receive the fourth night free at hotels and three free rounds of golf until July 2017, when that benefit will be discontinued.

Platinum Card® from American Express: Cardholders receive gold elite status with Starwood and Hilton Hotels, plus preferred status with Avis, Hertz, and National car rentals. On top of that, cardholders also have access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, as well as Boingo Wifi hotspots. The wifi perk comes in handy almost every time I hop on a flight!

Winner: Platinum Card® from American Express

Runner-up: Citi Prestige®

Here's why: The Amex Platinum definitely has the best, and the most, perks, while the Citi Prestige® comes in second place for having some comparable perks. 

In my opinion, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has surprisingly few perks when compared to the other two cards. 

Need that wifi! | Boingo

Insurance Coverage

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Emergency evacuation & transportation
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Purchase protection
  • Price protection
  • Return protection
  • Extended warranty protection

Citi Prestige®: 

  • Missed event ticket protection
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Medical evacuation
  • Purchase protection
  • Price protection
  • Extended warranty coverage

Platinum Card® from American Express: 

  • Roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty coverage
  • Purchase protection
  • Return protection

Winner: Citi Prestige®

Runner-up: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Here's why: This category was a toughie and I won't be surprised if you disagree with my assessment.

While the Sapphire Reserve does include more coverage overall, the Prestige's 'missed event ticket protection' is a truly unique feature that allows it to edge out the Sapphire Reserve. Both cards are honestly fantastic in this category, though.

Citi Prestige for the win! \ Citi Prestige Benefits Guide

Customer Service

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Chase promises 24/7 direct access to a worldwide service team. Literally, the number on the back of the card will connect you with a real, live human within seconds. 

Citi Prestige®: Not only has the customer service for the Prestige® card been highly rated, but all Citi cards have received strong marks for customer service.

Platinum Card® from American Express: American Express consistently ranks first or second in surveys reviewing customer service (like JD Power), and the Amex Platinum is no different.

Winner: Platinum Card® from American Express

Runner-up: It's a tie!

Here's why: American Express has been known for their incredible customer service and I can personally vouch for them and say I've only ever been pleased with their service. 

Citi and Chase aren't too far behind in customer service ratings, so it's a toss-up between the two. Overall, I think both offer a good experience  – especially since each offers a direct line to a real human being.  

Overall Winner

And the winner is.....

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase has set a new standard with the release of the Sapphire Reserve by offering outstanding bonus points, fantastic benefits, and a truly incredible sign-up bonus (and I've seen plenty of new cards come and go). 

Whether you're out for a nice dinner or traveling around the globe, you'll want to use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for all dining and travel purchases from here on out to collect the incredible points. 

I love that this card not only makes it easier to earn Ultimate Reward points, but that the points themselves are some of the most valuable reward currency you can have. It really makes all the difference. 

Runner-up: Platinum Card® from American Express

It's an extremely strong contender, especially when considering the quality of the Membership Rewards program, but the Sapphire Reserve managed to swing the title in so many other categories.

Honorable Third Place: Citi Prestige®

While at one time it tried to dethrone the Amex Platinum, there are a few too many categories that have outshined the benefits of the Prestige. That being said, it is by no means a lesser card, per se. Each card is still quite powerful in its own way!

All three remain big contenders in the premium credit card space and work best for different people and lifestyles. This is just my own personal evaluation of these three cards and I fully recognize that everyone has their own needs and wants in a travel rewards card. The showdown sure was fun though, right?

Disclaimer: This content and the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been provided, commissioned, or endorsed by the credit card issuer. All information was accurate at the time of this post but card terms and conditions may change at any time. 

Which card did you think would win? Let us know in the comments below!

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