ESCAPE- OLOGY Magazine Issue 1 - Page 43

Citi Prestige

Annual fee: $450

Benefits: 4th night free, 3x points on air travel and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment, 1x points on all other purchases. Additionally, you receive $250 each calendar year for air travel credit including airline tickets, checked baggage, and all other airline related incidentals. You can get approved for the card in November and use the $250 for that year and then get it again starting in January - which means you could essentially offset your entire annual fee within a few months of using the card. Bottom line: Even with a hefty $450 annual fee, if you travel once annually, your fee drops down to $200. Add in one 4th night free and you're pretty much at $0 for the year and you didn't have to spend any of the fees to join Priority Pass.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual fee: $450

Benefits: 3x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. Additionally, similar to the Citi Prestige card, you get $300 each calendar year for travel credit including air, train, boat, and Uber. Bottom line: The $450 annual fee immediately drops to $150 if you travel at least once a year and spend $300 doing so (which I don't see how you cannot). This card is great to have over the Citi Prestige card if you dine out more than stay in hotels since you're getting an additional point per dollar spent on dining. Another great card to have for Priority Pass access as part of your membership.

American Express Platinum

Annual fee: $550 for the consumer platinum card and $450 for the business platinum card.

Benefits: One key standout of the platinum card is the whopping 5x points on travel booked directly through Amextravel.com. If you travel frequently, then this card is a no brainer for your wallet. The consumer card offers $200 annual credit for Uber rides and the business card offers $200 annual in preferred airline incidental fees. This means that the airline you chose (AMEX requires you to choose a preferred airline and you can update it every January), you will receive up to $200 in statement credits for incidentals like checked baggage, food, entertainment, lounge access, etc. It does NOT include airline ticket fees, or reward ticket redemption fees. However, there are some blogs out there where people have been successful in purchasing gift cards and having that trigger the $200. I am testing this theory out currently. Also, the platinum cards grant you access to a plethora of additional lounges not included in Priority Pass like the AMEX Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Club lounges. Bottom line: Either of these cards is great to have in your wallet if you can book a lot of travel through Amextravel.com. Utilizing the uber or airline credits drops the annual fee down to $350 and $250, respectively. Still a bit hefty compared to the Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

TTD Final Thoughts

There are numerous card options available for gaining access to Priority Pass lounges (and then some). For the once yearly traveler, it still makes economic sense to have one of the credit cards mentioned above in your wallet vs. paying for the Priority Pass membership directly - why throw away the points you could be gaining! So apply and sit back and relax in one of the lounges with free beverages and snacks and the comfort of not sitting in the terminal waiting to board the plane.