Which Mid-Tier Travel Card is the Best?: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Citi Strata Premier vs. Amex Green

Hi, credit card lovers!

Choosing the right travel credit card can significantly improve your ability to maximize travel rewards and benefits. Mid-tier travel cards offer great bonuses, benefits, and fees, making them ideal for occasional travelers who want to earn rewards without breaking the bank. This blog post will compare three popular mid-tier travel cards: the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Strata Premier, and Amex Green. We aim to help you determine which card best fits your travel style and spending habits.

Meet the Mid-Tier Travel Cards

Meet the Mid-Tier Travel Cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Strata Premier, Amex Green

Before making a detailed comparison, let’s meet the recommended contenders to understand their core offerings.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Mid-tier travel card

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual Fee $95

Intro Offer

  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points *After spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Earning Category

  • 5X on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target, and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points per dollar on all other travel purchases
  • 1X point per dollar on everything else

Benefits

  • $50 annual hotel credit
  • A 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel through the Chase travel portal
  • 10% anniversary points bonus points
  • No foreign transaction fees

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a popular mid-tier travel card known for its generous rewards on travel and dining. It’s particularly favored for its flexible points redemption options through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. It’s a solid choice for frequent travelers with a reasonable annual fee and strong travel protections.

Citi Strata Premier

Mid-tier travel card

Citi Strata Premier

Annual Fee $95

Intro Offer

  • 60,000 ThankYou® Points – after spending $4,000 in the first three months after account opening.

Earning Category

  • 10X Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.
  • 3X Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases.
  • 3X Restaurants, Supermarket, Gas / EV charging stations.
  • 1X on all other purchases.

Key Features

  • $100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit: Receive a $100 discount on a single hotel stay of $500+ booked at CitiTravel.com.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Travel Insurances
  • Purchase protections
  • Transfer Partners: You can potentially get excellent value by transferring points to airline partners. The Premier may be needed to unlock certain transfer sweet spots, even if you have the points pooled from another Citi card.
  • Points Expiration: Your points stay active as long as your account remains open and in good standing, providing you with long-term benefits and security.

The Citi Strata Premier card is designed for those who want to maximize their rewards on travel-related expenses. It offers high earning rates for bookings made through CitiTravel.com and provides valuable benefits like an annual hotel credit. This card is ideal for travelers who frequently use Citi’s travel portal and want to earn significant rewards on everyday purchases.

Amex Green

Mid-tier travel card

Amex Green

Annual Fee $150

Intro Offer

  • 40,000 Membership Rewards Points – after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first six months of Card Membership.

Earning Category

  • 3X points: Travel
  • 3X points: Transportation
  • 3X points: Restaurants (worldwide), delivery, and takeout (in the U.S.)
  • 1X on all other purchases.

Key Features

  • $189 Clear® membership: Up to $189 per year in statement credit
  • $100 LoungeBuddy: Up to $100 per year in statement credit
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Travel Insurances

The Amex Green card is a premium travel card offering extensive travel and transit rewards. With benefits like no foreign transaction fees and credits for CLEAR® Plus and LoungeBuddy, it appeals to travelers who want a high-end experience. Although it has a higher annual fee, the card’s perks can offset this cost for frequent travelers.

Overview of Mid-Tier Travel Cards

Mid-tier travel cards are designed to offer valuable rewards and benefits without the hefty fees associated with premium travel cards. These cards typically provide bonus points on travel and dining purchases and various travel protection benefits, making them an excellent choice for travelers who want to earn rewards and enjoy travel perks without a high annual fee.

When choosing the right card, you must consider how you travel, where you spend the most, and what benefits are most valuable. A well-chosen travel card can help you earn rewards faster, save money on travel expenses, and provide peace of mind with travel protection benefits.

Card Comparison

Earning Rate / CategoryChase Sapphire Preferred
Citi Strata Premier

Amex Green

10xHotels, car rentals, and attractions booked through CitiTravel.com
5xTravel booked through Chase
3x•Restaurants
•Online grocery
•Select streaming services
•Air travel
•Hotel
•Restaurants
•Supermarkets
•Gas stations/EV charging stations
•Travel
•Restaurants worldwide
•Transit
2XTravel
1xOther purchasesOther purchasesOther purchases

These cards offer a variety of bonus categories that can significantly boost your rewards, depending on your spending habits. Whether you frequently book travel, dine out, or make online grocery purchases, each card has unique strengths that cater to different spenders.

Fees and Bonuses

Here’s a comparison of the fees and welcome bonuses for each card, considering the benefits that can offset the annual fee and the point value boosts:

FeatureChase Sapphire PreferredCiti Strata PremierAmex Green
Annual Fee$95$95$150
Welcome Bonus60,000 points70,000 points40,000 points
Spend Requirement$4,000 in 3 months$4,000 in 3 months$3,000 in 6 months
Estimated Value of Bonus~$750 (1.25¢/point)~$700 (1¢/point)~$400 (1¢/point)
Year 1 Profit$705 (Includes $50 hotel credit)$705 (Includes $100 annual hotel credit)$539 (Includes $189 CLEAR® Plus credit and $100 LoungeBuddy credit)
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi Strata Premier both rank No.1 with the highest estimated value and year-one profit, considering their respective credits that offset the annual fee.
  • The Amex Green comes in third, offering valuable benefits like the CLEAR® Plus and LoungeBuddy credit. These benefits significantly offset its higher annual fee, making its year-one profit competitive.

Each card’s worthiness depends on your lifestyle, spending habits, and how you plan to use your reward points. Let’s examine the benefits each card offers.

Rewards and Benefits

Rewards and Benefits of Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Strata Premier, Amex Green

Travel Rewards

Each card offers substantial travel rewards tailored to different types of travelers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal: This includes flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.
  • 3x points on travel (general): Covers a broad range of travel expenses, including transit like trains, taxis, and rideshares.

Citi Strata Premier:

  • 10x points on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked through CitiTravel.com: A significant earning rate for those who frequently book through Citi’s travel portal.
  • 3x points on air travel: Includes flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 3x points on other hotel purchases: Includes hotels not booked through CitiTravel.com.

Amex Green:

  • 3x points on travel, including flights, hotels, tours, campgrounds, and vacation rentals: A broad travel category encompassing various travel-related expenses.
  • 3x points on transit, including trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways: This specifically caters to various modes of transportation, distinct from general travel expenses.

Each card has unique strengths in its travel rewards categories, catering to different types of travelers.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred combines travel and transit into a single broad category, making it straightforward to earn points. In contrast, Amex Green separates general travel and specific transit expenses, providing more tailored rewards for transit-related spending. The Citi Strata Premier, however, does not include a transit category, focusing instead on high rewards for hotels, car rentals, and air travel.

Travel Credit

Each of these cards provides travel credits to offset annual fees and add extra value:

Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • $50 Hotel Credit: Valid on hotel bookings made through the Chase Travel Portal. This credit is issued every account anniversary year, making it a valuable benefit for those who book travel through Chase. It helps to offset the annual fee, providing additional value to cardholders.

Citi Strata Premier:

  • $100 Annual Hotel Benefit: Valid on hotel bookings of $500 or more made through CitiTravel.com, excluding fees and taxes. This annual credit can be particularly beneficial for travelers who frequently book higher-value hotel stays, effectively reducing the cost of their accommodations and offsetting the card’s annual fee.

Amex Green:

  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Available every calendar year, this credit covers the cost of a CLEAR® Plus membership, which expedites security screening at airports and select venues. This is a significant benefit for frequent travelers who value time-saving services.
  • $100 LoungeBuddy Credit: Also available every calendar year, this credit can be used to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy, enhancing the travel experience with comfortable and convenient airport lounges.

These travel credits are intended to boost the value of each card by providing significant savings on travel-related expenses. Cardholders can use these credits to lower their overall travel expenses and maximize their card’s perks.

Travel Benefits

Beyond earning points, each card provides various additional benefits that can enhance your travel experience. Here’s a refined comparison of these benefits:

Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip, with a maximum of $40,000 per 12-month period.
  • Trip Delay Insurance: Up to $500 per ticket for delays over 12 hours or requiring an overnight stay.
  • Primary Rental Car Insurance: Covers rental cars booked with the card.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: Up to $100 per day for five days for baggage delays over 6 hours.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged luggage, with a maximum of 2 claims every consecutive 12 months.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $500,000 coverage for common carrier travel accidents.
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance: Yes.
  • Roadside Assistance: Yes.

Citi Strata Premier:

  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: Up to $5,000 per round-trip travel, with a maximum of $10,000 per consecutive 12 months.
  • Trip Delay Insurance: Up to $500 per ticket for delays over 6 hours.
  • Secondary Rental Car Insurance: Primary outside the country of residence.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per trip ($2,000 for NY residents), with a maximum of 2 claims every consecutive 12 months.
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance: Not provided.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Not provided.
  • Roadside Assistance: No.

Amex Green:

  • Trip Delay Insurance: Up to $300 per trip for delays over 12 hours, with a maximum of 2 claims every consecutive 12 months.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Up to $1,250 for carry-on and $500 for checked luggage, with a maximum of $10,000 for NY residents per covered trip.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: Up to $1,250 for carry-on and $500 for checked luggage, with a maximum of $10,000 for NY residents per covered trip.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Coverage is provided through the Global Assist® Hotline.
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance: Global Assist® Hotline.
  • Roadside Assistance: No.

Summary

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Offers comprehensive travel protections, including high coverage for trip cancellation/interruption and primary rental car insurance, making it ideal for travelers seeking extensive travel insurance benefits.
  • Citi Strata Premier: Offers a significant annual hotel credit and higher trip delay insurance coverage for shorter delays. However, it lacks travel accident insurance and provides primary rental car insurance only outside the country of residence.
  • Amex Green: This card focuses on additional perks like CLEAR® Plus and LoungeBuddy credit, solid lost luggage, and baggage delay insurance. However, its trip delay insurance is lower than the other two cards. Travel accident insurance is tied to the Global Assist® Hotline, which provides assistance and coverage.

Retail Insurance Benefits

Retail Insurance Benefits of Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Strata Premier, Amex Green

In addition to travel benefits, each card offers different retail insurance protections to provide peace of mind when making everyday purchases. Here’s a detailed comparison of these benefits:

Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • Purchase Protection:
    • Covers new purchases for up to 120 days against damage or theft.
    • Up to $500 per claim.
    • Maximum coverage of $50,000 per year.
  • Extended Warranty:
    • Adds 12 extra months to the original manufacturer’s warranty.
    • Coverage up to $10,000 per claim.
    • Maximum of $50,000 per account.
    • Valid on manufacturer warranties of 3 years or less.
  • Return Protection:
    • Not available.
  • Cell Phone Protection:
    • Not available.

Citi Strata Premier

  • Purchase Protection:
    • Covers new purchases for up to 90 days against damage or theft.
    • Up to $10,000 per claim.
    • Maximum coverage not specified.
  • Extended Warranty:
    • Adds 24 extra months to the original manufacturer’s warranty.
    • Coverage up to $10,000 per claim.
    • Maximum coverage not specified.
    • Valid on manufacturer warranties of 5 years or less.
  • Return Protection:
    • Not available.
  • Cell Phone Protection:
    • Not available.

Amex Green

  • Purchase Protection:
    • Not available.
  • Extended Warranty:
    • Adds 12 extra months to the original manufacturer’s warranty.
    • Coverage up to $10,000 per claim.
    • Maximum of $50,000 per calendar year.
    • Valid on manufacturer warranties of 5 years or less.
  • Return Protection:
    • Not available.
  • Cell Phone Protection:
    • Not available.

Summary

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Provides robust purchase protection and an extended warranty, making it an excellent choice for those who frequently buy expensive items and want additional coverage.
  • Citi Strata Premier: Offers the highest level of purchase protection and the most extended warranty coverage, which is ideal for comprehensive purchase protection.
  • Amex Green: While it lacks purchase protection, it offers a solid extended warranty benefit, making it valuable for those who purchase items with more extended manufacturer warranties.

These retail insurance benefits can add significant value to each card, depending on your purchasing habits and the need for protection from your investments. Each card’s unique offerings can cater to different needs, so consider which benefits align best with your spending patterns.

Application Rules

Application rules of Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Strata Premier, Amex Green

Opening an account for any of these cards is relatively straightforward, but there are some essential rules and requirements to consider before applying:

Credit Score Requirements:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Requires good to excellent credit (typically a score of 700 or higher).
  • Citi Strata Premier: Requires good to excellent credit (usually a score of 700 or higher).
  • Amex Green: Requires good to excellent credit (generally a score of 700 or higher).

Important Rules Before Applying:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, you may not be approved if you have opened five or more credit cards from any issuer in the past 24 months.
  • Citi Strata Premier: Citi has a 1/8 and 2/65 rule, meaning you can only be approved for one Citi card every eight days and no more than two Citi cards every 65 days.
  • Amex Green: American Express allows a maximum of five Amex cards, including personal and business. Additionally, Amex’s “once in a lifetime” rule means you can only receive the welcome bonus once per card product.

Which Card is Right for You?

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Ideal for those who:

  • Seeking a simple rewards program.
  • Don’t mind managing partner benefits and credits.
  • Want to earn rewards on a wide range of travel, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.
  • Frequently buy groceries online and spend significantly on streaming services.
  • Seek comprehensive travel protections, such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary rental car insurance, and lost luggage reimbursement.
  • Value having more domestic travel protection and transfer partners, including three major domestic airlines.
  • Have other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards® points, allowing pooling and maximizing points.

Citi Strata Premier

Best suited for those who:

  • Want a simple, straightforward travel card.
  • Looking to maximize points quickly with a single card.
  • Looking for a card that offers excellent benefits for both travel and cash back.
  • Ok, with travel rewards that only include airfare and hotels.
  • Spend a lot at gas stations, EV charging stations, and supermarkets.
  • Looking for essential travel protection and a top-notch extended warranty?
  • Have other Citi cards to earn ThankYou® points, facilitating point transfers and redemptions.

Amex Green

Perfect for those who:

  • You can utilize both CLEAR® Plus and LoungeBuddy credits, maximizing these travel perks.
  • Looking for a card that’s great for travel and transit expenses.
  • Want to earn rewards on travel and transit, including flights, hotels, tours, campgrounds, vacation rentals, and various modes of transportation?
  • Seek the best transfer partner program, which includes a wide range of airline and hotel partners.
  • Willing to pay a higher annual fee for premium benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees, solid lost luggage, and baggage delay insurance.

Summary

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Ideal for travelers who book travel through Chase, value robust travel protections, and want flexible rewards. Its high travel rewards, comprehensive travel insurance, and reasonable annual fee make it a strong contender for frequent travelers who value flexibility and protection.
  • Citi Strata Premier: This program is best suited for those who want to earn rewards on everyday purchases, including gas stations, supermarkets, and air travel. The high earning rates for hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked through CitiTravel.com make it perfect for travelers who frequently use Citi’s travel portal.
  • Amex Green: This card is ideal for those who can use the CLEAR® Plus and LoungeBuddy credits. It is excellent for travel and transit expenses and offers broad earnings on various travel categories. The fact that there are no foreign transaction fees and comprehensive travel protection benefits, including lost luggage and baggage delay insurance, make it a strong choice for frequent international travelers.

Ultimately, the best card for you will depend on your travel habits, spending patterns, and the rewards and benefits you value most. Consider how each card aligns with your lifestyle and travel goals to make the most informed decision.

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