Premium Credit Cards: Which One Should You Keep?

By: John Tunningley

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Ultimately, as we try out premium credit cards, we find ourselves having to make decide which one is right for us.. This isn’t an easy decision to make as the cards with higher annual fees often come packed with some of the best perks.  

So, let’s take a look at some premium credit card options and see what if they are worth a spot in your wallet.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card took the miles and points world by storm in 2016. when it was launched with a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Beyond the bonus though, it also has some great perks that make this a go-to card for many who enjoy traveling.

Here are some of the perks that it offers cardholders:

  • 3x points per dollar on travel and dining
  • $300 annual travel credit automatically credited to your statement and can be used for just about any travel purchase from rail tickets to uber rides to parking fees to airline tickets
  • Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited guest access
  • Primary insurance on rental cars
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement (after 6 hours)
  • Points are worth 1.5 cents each in the Chase Travel Portal
  • Ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card comes with a $450 annual fee.


The Platinum Card from American Express

One of the heavy hitters for many years and often seen as a status symbol of the elite is the The Platinum Card from American Express. This card has perhaps the longest list of benefits with many that can help offset the $550 annual fee.

These benefits include:

  • 5x points per dollar on flights booked directly through an airline
  • 5x points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel
  • $15 Uber credit every month plus a $20 bonus in December for a total of $200 in credit per year
  • $200 airline fee credit that can cover things such as checked bags
  • The most extensive lounge access of any premium card:
    • Centurion Lounge
    • Priority Pass partner lounges (with 2 free guests)
    • Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta)
    • International American Express lounges
    • Airspace lounges
  • Gold elite status with Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi with the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan
  • No annual fee for American Express Gold cards for authorized users
  • Free Shoprunner membership for free 2-day shipping at select merchants
  • 1:1 point transfers with Membership Rewards partners


The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card from American Express also provides a number of benefits, many of which overlap with The Platinum Card from American Express.

For $450 you get the same access to airport lounges across the globe and the same $200 airline fee credit but there are some important differences:

  • 1.5x points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more
  • 35% bonus when you book with your pre-selected airline or any business or first class ticket via Amex Travel with Membership Rewards points (up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year)
  • 10 Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes per year
  • There is NO Uber credit


Citi Prestige Card

The Citi Prestige Card is the quiet candidate of the big three. It has an annual fee of $450 and the benefits include:

  • 3x points on air travel and hotels; 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • Trip delay insurance (3 hours; best in the industry)
  • 4th night free hotel benefit when hotel is booked through Citi (the average cost per night will be credited to your account)
  • $250 air travel credit automatically applied to any flight related expenses including tickets each calendar year
  • Priority Pass Select Membership (Up to 2 free guests)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Citi Price Rewind crediting you the difference if it finds a recently purchased item for a lower price within 60 days
  • Missed event ticket protection
  • 1:1 Transfer with Citi ThankYou Points partners


U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

The newcomer to the group doesn’t necessarily have as many perks to offer but with a lower annual fee of $400 and the largest travel credit, it still has some useful benefits with a relatively low cost per year.

  • $325 travel credit automatically applies to eligible travel purchases
  • 3x points on travel and mobile wallet purchases
  • 12 Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes per year
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Priority Pass Select Membership (4 visits per year and 4 individual accompanying guest visits after which it’s $27 per person per visit)
  • 1.5 cents per point redemption value when points are used through the U.S. Bank travel portal


The Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card

One of the other premium cards not often mentioned is The Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card offered by Chase. With a surprising number of benefits and an annual fee of $450, it seemed fitting to include this card in the list even though it is a hotel credit card.

  • 5x points per dollar at Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, and Marriott hotels
  • 2x points per dollar on airline tickets (purchased directly with the airline), car rentals, and restaurants
  • $100 airline discount on purchases of 2-5 round-trip tickets on the same itinerary
  • Priority Pass Select Membership with unlimited guest access
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Platinum Elite status with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton (and SPG) if you spend $75,000 within an account year (12 billing cycles)
  • $100 hotel credit (for spa, restaurants, etc.) on paid stays of two nights or longer at Ritz-Carlton properties
  • Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, SPG Gold Elite status (complimentary first year and renewed with $10,000 minimum spend on the card each year)
  • $300 annual airline fee credit
  • 3 annual Club Level upgrade certificates that can be used on paid stays of up to 7 nights
  • Receive a 10% bonus on the points you have earned with the card during your account year


The Takeaway

While each card has it’s uses, it probably doesn’t make sense to keep every card in your wallet. Let’s look at why you might keep each.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is probably the most balanced of these premium credit cards. With an easy to use $300 travel credit, the card’s effective annual fee is roughly $150, which when paired with 3x bonus categories and a Priority Pass Select membership, it can be worth keeping for many people.

Check out a more in-depth look at why you might want to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Both the business and personal versions of American Express’ Platinum card are great cards for those who fly often. With monthly Uber credits to help to help offset the annual fee of the personal version, a $200 airline fee credit, and the best lounge access among premium cards, one of these cards might be right for you.

If deciding between the two, weigh what kind of value you’d get with the 35% bonus Amex Travel redemption bonus with the business version versus the Uber credits with the personal version.

The Citi Prestige Card is a solid choice for those who often stay in one location for at least four nights. With the 4th night free benefit this card can easily pay for itself after just a few trips. Also, with the best trip delay coverage in the business, this card can be very useful if you don’t have the best luck with flight delays and cancellations..

US Bank Altitude Reserve Card lacks travel partners which reduces the value for many who like to redeem miles and points for travel but with a 3x bonus category for mobile wallet purchases, there are some people who may get enough value to keep the card.

It also comes with an easy to redeem $325 travel credit and that can help offset much of the  $400 annual fee. It can also be useful for those of you who often fly in economy class and can book cheap economy tickets through U.S. Banks portal and get a value of 1.5 cents per point.

The Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card gets its value in the Visa Infinite companion fare perk. If you travel frequently with companions on paid flights this card can be very useful as 5 uses of this benefit will provide a return on the annual fee without even factoring in the lounge access.

It is also a great card if you’re brand loyal to Ritz-Carlton properties as the Club level upgrades are amazing if you’re able to use them regularly.

Premium cards come with higher annual fees, but the perks can make the fee worth it. Ultimately, you should pick the cards with the benefits and perks that fit your travel goals and habits.


Keep traveling,


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