The Citibank Prestige Credit Card: Why I Think It Is Better than the American Express Platinum Card

recently applied for the Citibank Prestige credit card in branch after an offer for 60,000 Thank You Points for being a Citigold customer which is an offer all Citigold customers can get. If you read enough blogs in the points/miles community you’ll see the American Express Platinum card continuously mentioned and advertised while there is little to no mention of the Citi Prestige card. I’ve had various Platinum cards for the last 3 years but after looking at the benefits of the Citi Prestige, I believe the Citi Prestige card is a better fit for most people who want/need/have a premium credit card with a large annual fee. Here is my argument for the Citi Prestige over the American Express Platinum card.

Key benefits of the Citi Prestige:

CitiPrestigeCard

  • Signup Bonus: 60,000 Thank You Points with a reduced annual fee of $350 for Citigold Customers with 15% Annual Relationship Bonus (otherwise 30,000 Thank You Points with $450 annual fee is the standard offer) for spending $3,000 in 3 months and $15,000 total within the first year
  • Type of Points: Thank You Points, which transfer to 11 foreign airlines and Hilton. The points can be used directly towards travel on American/US Airways at 1.6 cents per point and all other airlines at 1.33 cents per point. Note: Points do not actually transfer to AA, rather you redeem them at a rate of 1.6 cents per point via Citibank’s travel portal. 
  • Airline Credit: $250 Annual Airline Credit with no restrictions (for example, you can buy airline tickets and use the credit that way)
  • Spending: 3x Bonus Category on Air Travel & Hotels, 2x Bonus Category on Entertainment & 1x on Everything Else
  • Airline Lounge: American Airlines Admiral Club Access for you and immediate family or up to 2 guests
  • Other Lounge Access: Priority Pass Select Membership for you and immediate family or up to 2 guests
  • Hotel Benefit: 4th Night Free on any hotel booked through Citibank’s travel provider, Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  • Elite Status: Avis Preferred (due to being a World MasterCard)

Other benefits include $100 Global Entry credit, 3 free rounds of golf annually, trip protection, price protection, concierge service, no foreign transaction fees and more.

Key benefits of the American Express Platinum:

AmexPlatinumCard

  • Signup Bonus: 40,000 Membership Rewards Points with annual fee of $450 after spending $3,000. Some people earlier this year have reported success getting 100,000 point offer via the CardMatch tool but I wouldn’t expect many people to see this offer
  • Type of Points: Membership Rewards, which has a strong portfolio of airline transfer partners. There are also a few hotel transfer options, none of which are appealing. Points can be also be redeemed towards travel at a rate of 1.25 cents per point if you have the Business Platinum card
  • Airline Credit: $200 Annual Airline Credit. Must choose just one airline. Meant to be for actual fees but airline gift cards in specific dominations on some airlines will trigger the credit
  • Spending: 1x on Everything
  • Airline Lounge: Delta SkyClub access for cardholder only. Additional guests are $29 each.
  • Other Lounge Access: Centurion & Airspace Lounges. Priority Pass Select Membership though additional guests are $27 each.
  • Hotel Benefit: Fine Hotel & Resorts
  • Elite Status: Starwood Gold, Hertz Gold Plus, Avis Preferred and National Rent a Car Executive Status.

Other benefits include $100 Global Entry credit, free wifi via Boingo (personal card) or GoGo (business card), OPEN savings (business card), car rental coverage, concierge service, no foreign transaction fees and more.

So Which Card Would You Rather Have?

Looking at the various categories I defined above, it seems the Citi Prestige is a clear winner in 5 categories including signup bonus with lower annual fee, airline credit, spending, airline lounge and other lounge access. I will give the nod to the Platinum card in 2 categories including type of points and elite status while I’m calling the hotel benefit category a draw since both have their respective good uses.

I think for most people the Citi Prestige is better “premium” card as for $100 less annual fee, I think you actually get more benefits than the American Express Platinum.  This is especially true if you are an American Airlines flyer as there is no way to transfer American Express points to AA. Being able to redeem Thank You Points at a rate of 1.6 cents per point and earn elite miles/redeemable miles for flying on American is a great perk. On top of that, I like that I can generate additional points with the category bonuses, making this card better for spending compared to the American Express Platinum.

The bigger selling points to me are the significantly better airline credit and lounge access program. Not only is the airline credit $50 greater, I like that I can actually buy an airline ticket to use my credit or that I can use my credit across many different airlines instead of just one per American Express. Additionally, the lounge access for me personally is better since I tend to fly American more and I can bring my wife in with me no problem. While I do lose out on the Centurion lounges, there are only a handful of them spread across the country and I’ve yet to visit one.

The Platinum card does still make sense for those loyal to Delta since it includes Delta SkyClub access and Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta. That said, the Platinum card should not be used for everyday spending since there are many better cards out there for spending (not just the Prestige). Admittedly, I do prefer the airline transfer partners in Membership Rewards over Thank You Points as I could only see myself transferring points to Singapore in the Thank You Points Program while I’ve transferred Membership Rewards to Delta, British Airways, JetBlue, Virgin America and Hawaiian in the past (mostly to top off for award redemptions). Lastly, the SPG Gold elite and rental car elite status is worthwhile if you frequently stay at Starwood hotels or rent cars frequently. I do wish the Prestige would add more benefits regarding elite status.

Bottom Line – The Citigold & Citi Prestige Combo is the Way to Go

While I opened my Citigold account to take advantage of the 30k American Airlines offer, I also did it knowing I was going to apply for the Citi Prestige in the next month or two. By applying for the Prestige now, I lock in a $100 savings on the annual fee as well as the 15% Relationship Bonus. Once the miles post, I will downgrade my checking account to Basic to avoid any fees. I don’t remember where I saw this but someone reported still getting Citigold benefits after downgrading their account and reps even thanked him for having a Citigold account, though it really wasn’t a Citigold account (if you remember who posted about it, please share in the comments). If that’s true, the net annual fee for the Citi Prestige after the annual credit is just $100 which is a fantastic price to pay for American Airlines lounges access and you still get to enjoy the other benefits of the card.

For opening one bank account and one credit card, I’ll gain 30,000 American miles + ~75,000 Thank You Points after hitting the minimum spending amounts. Just the Thank You Points alone are worth $1,200 if redeemed for American Airlines flights while I’ll conservatively value the 30,000 AA miles at $450. I’ll also earn $500 in airline travel credit (since it is a calendar year benefit I can take advantage of this benefit twice) and another year of AA lounge access (worth $450, which is perfect since I just cancelled my AA Executive card). My total benefits earned are about $2,600 and it only cost me $350, which is a great deal. For those considering an American Express Platinum card, I’d strongly consider doing this combination (there is also an offer for 40k Thank You Points) before pulling the trigger on the Platinum card.

Note: I have no affiliate links anywhere on my site. This post is an attempt to bring an undermentioned card some more publicity since the bigger bloggers tend to ignore it while pumping the American Express Platinum card even though I think the Prestige is a better card, especially when combined with a Citigold account. And when they do post about the Prestige, they do not mention the way to get this much better signup offer as well as the extra cash or miles from the Citigold account. 
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My Experience Applying for the Citi Prestige 60,000 Points Offer In Branch

When I opened up my Citigold account for 30,000 American Airline miles, I had my eye on applying for the Citi Prestige credit card as a Citigold member since Citigold members received a $100 discount on the annual fee. If you apply in a physical Citibank branch, there is an offer for 60,000 Thank You Points which is double the standard online offer of 30,000 Thank You Points. Since my post on my experience on opening the 30k AA Citigold account was pretty popular, the following is my experience opening the Citi Prestige card in branch. Spoiler alert: Everything worked out as advertised but you need to read my hilarious exchange with the Citibank banker on the benefits of the card below.

Citi Prestige Offer for Citigold Members

Citi Prestige Offer for Citigold Members

I went to my local branch on Saturday February 28th and told a banker I’d like to apply for the Citi Prestige card as a Citigold member. He instantly knew what I was talking about and produced the offer above (sorry for the bad snapshot, only picture I have of the offer). Before letting me apply for the offer, he asked if he could go over the benefits of the card and I mistakenly agreed. Hilarity ensured, here are just two of the blatantly wrong items the banker told me.

Banker: The card gives you $100 Global Entry Credit, which allows you to save $100 on airport taxes for trips outside the United States.
Me: Umm, I think Global Entry is a program that allows for an expedited entry into the United States after international trips.
Banker: No, I used it on a trip to the Dominican Republic to pay for the additional taxes on the airline ticket that the airline didn’t charge me for.

Umm what?!?! I didn’t bother correcting him because I think I was so floored with his response. It gets better. Next exchange –

Banker: The best benefit of this card is a four night free stay anywhere.
Me: I don’t think so, it says *fourth* night free, not that all four free nights are free.
Banker: No sir, that is incorrect. I am sure it is four free nights, I’ve confirmed this in the past.
Me: I’m pretty sure I’m right it’s the fourth night free. Can we ask someone else to confirm?

He proceeds to call some internal Citibank banker phone center and they quickly confirm that it is just the fourth free on stays and that the stays have to be booked through Citibank’s travel program. He claims someone previously gave him “bad information.” Also I didn’t mention that he claimed to already have this card! Seriously, you can’t make this crap up! I must have a thing for bad customer service from Citibank.

Anyway, I finally cut him off about the benefits and that I’ve seen enough to apply for the card. I proceed to fill out the application, he looked it over for maybe 5 seconds and then lets me know he will fax it over to continue the application process. Note: At no point, did he verify my account was actually a Citigold account. I filled in my Citigold account number myself and unless he checked it after I left (doubtful), he trusted that it was an actual Citigold account number and not just another Citibank checking product account number. There have been several reports of being able to get this offer in branch without having a Citigold account (here and here) and after my experience, I agree this to be true though in my example, it is highly dependent on the banker. I obviously didn’t have a bright one…

I knew it would take a few days for the application to appear on Citibank’s side so I started checking on Tuesday March 3rd by calling the automated application status line at 1-888-201-4523. The system failed to my find application until Thursday March 5th, so it took 4 business days for Citibank to process the application. This appears to be in the normal time range of 3-4 business days to wait after your banker submits the application for you.

At that point, my application was marked as pending which meant a call to the reconsideration department at 1-800-695-5171. My call was a little different than normal as the agent kept putting me on hold every 3 minutes and after about 12 minutes, he asked if he could call me back since “he still had to look through a few things.” At this point, I was a little worried and assumed if it was taking this long, it wasn’t a good sign.

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About a half hour later, the same rep called back and said the delay was due to a discrepancy between my credit report as I recently closed my Citibank Executive AA card and my credit report still showed it as open. Nonetheless, he was able to offer me a credit line of $9,200 but asked if I wanted more. Considering the higher spend requirement on this card, I asked for $15,000 (I’m pretty sure I could have asked for more) and all he needed to do was get a second signature on the application which took him another few minutes. He came back on the line and congratulated me on my new Citi Prestige card!

Even though I still haven’t received my card yet, I am excited about this new addition to my credit card portfolio (up to 21 active cards). Stay tuned for my full review of the card and why I think you should strongly consider the Citigold + Citi Prestige combo.