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AMEX Platinum vs. Citi Chairman - The facts

AMEX Platinum vs. Citi Chairman - The facts

Old Aug 7, 2006, 11:58 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: San Francisco
Programs: UA 1K, Citi Prestige, AMEX Platinum, SPG Gold
Posts: 721
AMEX Platinum vs. Citi Chairman - The facts

NOTE: As of September 15, 2006, Citibank may no longer be offering
the Chairman card to new customers. Supposedly they will soon be
launching a replacement card. If you search through these boards, you
will find much speculation (fueled by comments from Chairman card
CSRs) that the new card may have a higher fee than the Chairman card
and improved benefits. However, for the moment no one posting here
knows anything definitive.


The Citibank Chairman card and American Express Platinum card both
cost approximately $300-400 per year and seem to be competing for the
same customers. Both cards offer some interesting benefits to justify
the price, but the details differ significantly between the two cards.
Worse yet, much of the "fine print" on the cards' benefits is only
available once you have already signed up for and received the card.

This thread is an attempt to do a factual comparison of the two cards'
benefits so as to help anyone deciding between the two cards or
thinking of switching from one to the other. For each benefit, I list
which card seems to have better terms.

I have carried the AMEX Platinum for over 5 years, and just recently
got a Chairman card. I've based the information here on my reading of
the two card agreements and on people's experiences with the cards.
If you have relevant experience or other information about the two
cards' benefits, please post to this thread. I regularly update this
message to reflect additions and feedback from others.

Another high-end Amex credit card is the Centurion, which costs $2,500
per year (unless you got it before a certain date), but whose benefits
should be strictly superior to the Platinum card. While this thread
is about the comparably priced Chairman and Platinum cards, if people
have experiences in which the Chairman card compares favorably to the
Centurion card, these, too, are relevant as they mean the Chairman
card benefit is likely better than the Platinum one. More information
about Platinum and Centurion card benefits is available here:
http://www.geocities.jp/ctwxg845/platvscent.html

Please double check your card agreement before relying on anything in
this post, as there may be errors or outdated information here.

* Cost

PLATINUM: The Platinum card costs $395/year. Extra cards are
$150/year. You can also get a business version of the Platinum card
for $300/year, which has almost the same benefits as the personal card
except for some shopping benefits and the ability to contact the
concierge on-line. Note, however, that business credit cards in
general offer less consumer protection. The following web site has a
discussion of this issue:

http://www.smartmoney.com/consumer/i...=smallbizcards

CHAIRMAN: $400/year. Additional cards are free, but do not come with
additional PriorityPass cards (which you need to get airport lounge
access). Also, expenses from additional credit cards cannot be
separated out on the web site, as with Platinum.

* Warranty extension: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: If you buy something with a warranty of five years or less,
doubles the warranty up to one year. So a five year warranty becomes
a six year warranty.

CHAIRMAN: Doubles the warranty, but only if original warranty is less
than one year. So a one year warranty becomes two years, but an
18-month or 5-year warranty is not extended.

* Best value guarantee: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Called the "price protection program." If you buy
something and find a print ad with a cheaper price within 60 days, you
can get back up to $1,000.

PLATINUM: The program is limited to $250, and will soon be phased out
if it hasn't been already.

* Return protection: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: You can return anything you buy up to a $300 refund within
90 days of purchase, even if the store won't take it back.

CHAIRMAN: No equivalent benefit.

* Purchase protection plan: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: Protects purchased items for 90 days against theft, damage,
or loss, for up to $10,000. Doesn't cover theft from unlocked or
unsecured vehicles, but appears to cover theft from a secured vehicle.

CHAIRMAN: Protects purchased items for 90 days up to $500 against
many types of theft and damage, not including theft from a vehicle
(locked or unlocked).

* Web site: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: Allows you to see your statements and recent activity. You
can also download your full statement in PDF format, or print a
nice-looking summary of a custom subset of your transactions. Both of
these features are useful for getting reimbursed--for instance if you
want to print out business expenses but not personal activity, or if
two different organizations want a copy of your credit card statement
for reimbursing different expenses. However, there is often a lag of
a few days before transactions show up. Some people report
occasionally hitting little glitches on the web site.

Platinum also allows you to contact concierge on-line. I find this
convenient when traveling overseas when using a real telephone is a
pain. (Though these days Skype let's you call U.S. 800 numbers free
from your computer). You can also book travel on-line, but I find the
interface incredibly bad. Both concierge and on-line travel booking
require a separate username and password from your main login, which
is even more of a pain.

CHAIRMAN: Can get your statements or recent activity on-line, but
print-outs look less official (might need to go photocopy your real
statement), and no subset feature. No web pages describing the card's
benefits (other than the one PDF file here
http://www.smithbarney.com/pdf/chairmanbook.pdf, which is a
bit out of date at this point).

There is also a concierge service you can use on-line at
http://myconcierge.vipdesk.com/, which allows you to browse a database
of frequently asked questions about different destinations. The
on-line concierge service is the same as for many other Citibank
cards. It is separate from and inferior to the personal assistants
you get by calling the Chairman card number. Thus, while the database
may be useful, you should probably direct any non-trivial requests to
the personal assistants you get by phone. Also note that some of the
information in the database may be out of date--for example, under
"What is the most affordable airport ground transportation?" for SFO
they list Cal Train but not BART.

* Virtual credit card numbers: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Allows you to create virtual credit card numbers that can
be revoked. Never again forget about things like web site
subscriptions that "auto-renew", because you can limit a virtual
credit card number to one transaction, to a particular expiration
date, or even to a dollar amount. (Note: Citibank's virtual credit
card numbers provide the same functionality as MBNA's "ShopSafe"
service. However, Citibank's web interface is less convenient; each
time you access it you must type your password to sign in, then accept
a license agreement to launch a flash application, then re-type your
password when the flash application launches.)

PLATINUM: Had a similar but inferior service called
"privatepayments", which was canceled several years ago.

* Foreign transactions: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: Adds 2% to the exchange rate.

CHAIRMAN: Adds a 3% fee, which shows up as a separate transaction on
your statement. (I think--haven't tried it, but they state 3% and
this is what other Citibank cards do.)

[But why pay any foreign transaction fee? I recommend also carrying a
free card with no foreign transaction fee. For example, the
CapitalOne No Hassle Rewards Visa, which gives 1% cash
back. (http://apply2.capitalone.com/9629/8/index.jsp)]

* Companion airline tickets: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Allows you to get a free domestic or international
companion ticket in either coach or first class. Works on the "big 5"
US carriers. For a domestic ticket, the cheapest ticket on the route
must be around $400, and you can find out immediately. Depending on
where you live, many people find the benefit never works for them.
Out of SFO, however, I've been offered a price for domestic tickets
25% cheaper than the best I could find on Orbitz.

For an international ticket, you must buy a full-price Y fare in coach
(and probably full-price in F, too). There is an "international desk"
that may need to research your tickets and get back to you, though
I've also been quoted an international fare directly.

PLATINUM: The benefit only works for international tickets in
business or first class, and only on foreign airlines. It also
appears the tickets have to be full-fare, which may be more than twice
as expensive as a discounted business-class ticket.

* Miles/Points: depends

CHAIRMAN: Runs their own frequent-flyer-like Thank You (TY) points
system. You get one point per dollar spent on most purchases, and
three points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, parking, and drugs.
Each of these so-called "purchase points" can be matched with a
"flight point", which you earn for any plane ticket bought with the
Chairman card, including tickets for other people.

If you earn more flight points than purchase points (easy to do if you
buy tickets for other people), flight points effectively halve the
cost of all awards, and you can earn rewards very quickly. For
instance, you can get a free coach-class domestic or Canada ticket
after spending only $12,500 (or even just $4,200 on triple-point
purchases). Moreover, you still get regular airline miles for all
flights you take--including award flights redeemed with TY points.

One drawback is that you cannot combine TY points with airline
frequent flier miles. Moreover, premium cabin C/F tickets are much
more expensive in TY points than in frequent flyer miles, and TY
points cannot be used to upgrade tickets. Another downside is that
the TY-point cost of trips is not precisely spelled out anywhere,
though some guidance is available here:

http://www.citibank.com/us/cards/car...vel-sample.htm
https://www.thankyounetwork.com/faq.jspx

The following thread is also a good resource:

http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=529921

It sounds like often award tickets are on AA, and sometimes on UA,
while you are less likely to get a free ticket on Skyteam airlines
such as Delta, Continental, and Northwest.

PLATINUM: You get one membership reward point for each dollar
charged. The card currently offers double points for everyday
purchases, but this feature will be phased out in October 2006.
Membership rewards can be converted to frequent flyer miles for the
following airlines: Airtran, ANA, AeroMexico, Air Canada,
Continental, Delta, El Al, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue,
Mexicana, Southwest, and Virgin. For most airlines, membership
rewards convert to frequent flyer miles at a 1:1 ratio and there is a
fee of $0.40 per 1,000 points transfered (capped at $50 per
transaction). Periodically there are bonus offers when transferring
to frequent flier programs--for example, a 25% bonus when transfering
over 10,000 points to Delta frequent flyer miles. However, note that
the list of airlines does not include United or American airlines.

BOTTOM LINE: Platinum is best if you want to redeem points for
upgrade awards--as long as you can purchase tickets from one of the
supported airlines.

Chairman is best if you want free coach-class travel. Chairman may
also have a slight edge for premium travel when you factor in the
airline's frequent flyer miles--which you get even on free tickets.
For example, say you are an AA flyer. A business-class trip to Europe
costs 165,000 TY points, which you would have after flying 82,500
miles AND charging $82,500. After redeeming TY points, you still have
82,500 AAdvantage miles, plus mileage for your free trip, for a total
of around 90,000 AAdvantage miles--enough for another free Business
class trip to Europe. With Platinum, any combination of charging
$90,000 OR flying 90,000 miles gets you 90,000 miles on Delta,
Continental, Northwest, or any of the other partners (which do not
include UA or AA). So you could fly sooner with Platinum, but in the
long run will get fewer free trips.

Another factor to consider is your primary airline. If you primarily
fly American or United, the AMEX membership rewards will be less
useful to you. Conversely, TY award tickets, which are often on AA
(and sometimes UA), will not help you earn miles or status on Skyteam
airlines such as DL, CO, or NW.

* Lounge access: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Priority pass gets you and at least two guests into some
lounge in most airports for free, regardless of what airline you are
flying. However, the lounge may not be run by the airline you are
flying, so it won't help with irregular ops.

PLATINUM: You get lounge access with two guests when flying Delta,
Continental, or Northwest airlines, but you have to be flying the
airline that corresponds to the lounge. Many fewer international
lounges are available than with Chairman's priority pass. Platinum
also gives you Eurostar lounge access.

[As someone who predominantly flies United, I see this as a big
advantage for Chairman. However, if you fly one of the three Platinum
airlines, Platinum may be better. In particular, if you live in New
York, the Delta crown room in JFK Terminal 2 is a combined Crown
room/Business elite lounge providing a great light meal
service--fantastic benefit! This was particularly wonderful when
flying cheap domestic Song flights, which left from Detla's
international terminal. Don't know what domestic flights get you in
now.]

* Baggage Insurance: CHAIRMAN

PLATINUM: Adds $500 to base insurance of checked bags, and gives you
$1,250 of insurance for carry-on bags.

CHAIRMAN: Adds $3,000 of insurance per occurrence for lost/damaged
baggage.

* Trip insurance: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Get up to $1,500 if you miss a flight because of a medical
emergency or death in the family.

* Private jet rental: ?

No idea because I've never chartered a jet... I suspect only a small
fraction of cardholders do, and this benefit is mainly included to add
an aura of exclusive luxury to the cards.

* Car rental status: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: National emerald club (but you have to keep signing up every
year if you don't use it), Avis Preferred Select, and Hertz #1 Club
Gold with a complimentary one-class upgrade. More information is
available on this web page:

https://www124.americanexpress.com/c...talpartner.jsp

CHAIRMAN: no equivalent

* Car rental insurance: depends

CHAIRMAN: Collision damage waiver (secondary to your own insurance),
up to $50,000. Applies world-wide, but excludes some cars, like
off-road vehicles.

PLATINUM: Collision damage waiver (secondary to your own insurance).
Excludes cars rented in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,
and New Zealand. Only valid for cars originally priced at most
$50,000. Other restrictions apply, similar to the Chairman card, such
as no antique or exotic cars. Platinum also gives you up to $5,000 of
medical insurance in case of accident for each person in the car, and
$200,000 of death/dismemberment insurance for the card holder and
$20,000 for each passenger. Total payout is limited to $300,000.

WARNING: There are reports on the AMEX board
(http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=580152) that
the American Express CDW does not apply if any coupons are used in
conjunction with the rental--for instance if you used a coupon to get
a discount or a free day. If you are paying anything other than the
full "rack" rate for your car, you should probably contact AMEX to
verify they will still cover you in the event that you select the CDW.

I contacted the Chairman insurance number, and it sounds like there is
a similar restriction with the Chairman card. The Citi insurance
person told me a percentage off discount would be okay, but anything
with a free day, or any kind of package deal (e.g., car rental
purchased with airline tickets) would not qualify for the Chairman
CDW program.

BOTTOM LINE: In some situations (such as Australia, etc.), renting
with Chairman gets you insurance while renting with Platinum does not.
However, when Platinum insurance is valid, you get medical and
death/dismemberment insurance not available from the Chairman card.

* Hotel chain benefits: tie

PLATINUM: Gives you Starwood preferred gold.

CHAIRMAN: Gives you Hilton gold.

[Which is better depends on which chain you like.]

* Fancy hotel benefits: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: At a bunch of designated "Fine Hotels and Resorts" (FHR)
properties (which you can search here:
http://www134.americanexpress.com/tr...pe=pcfhrfinder),
you can get:

- A space available room upgrade
- Complimentary continental breakfast for 2
- Guaranteed late checkout (to 4 PM)
- One additional amenity depending on the property (usually things
like a spa credit, a free dinner for 2, welcome basket, etc.)

You have to book with Platinum Travel Services at the AMEX FHR
rate--sometimes not the cheapest, but very often worth it when
considering the benefits, like the upgrade and late checkout. This
benefit won't work if you are traveling for work and need to book
directly with the hotel to get a conference rate.

CHAIRMAN: Supposedly a 20% discount or something of equivalent value
at Leading Hotels of the World. See the following web page:

http://www.lhw.com/chairman

However, very little experience has been posted here about people
using the benefit. [Can anyone add anything?]

* International wireless phone rental: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Free international phone for up to a month from Planetphone.
Presumably you get reamed on the per-minute charges. Excludes non-GSM
countries Japan and South Korea.

PLATINUM: Rent a phone for $3/day and $2-$7 per minute, with $25 of
free air time if you rent for a week. Can also get a satellite phone
for $15/day.

[My recommendation: Just buy a SIM card for wherever you are
traveling to--this is discussed in the travel technology board. Both
these programs sound like rip-offs. But if you don't have a GSM phone
in the U.S., maybe you can get the Chairman loaner phone for free and
stick in your own SIM. I'd love to hear from someone whether these
phones are locked.]

* Cruise benefits: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: fti reports, "AmEx cruise benefit is nice... received two
category upgrade (i.e. from back or front of ship to midship, but
still inside to inside, balcony to balcony or minisuite to minisuite),
complimentary dinner at the specialty restaurant on board ($20/person
value), and a couple of other smaller things I don't remember. Can
book up to 3 cabins on the same cruise with these benefits."

* "Lifestyle benefits": PLATINUM

PLATINUM: Get special tickets to things.

[None of these events has ever even remotely interested me.]

* Emergency medical insurance: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: Covers medical/evacuation costs when you are more than 100
miles from your house, so long as you let them make the arrangements.
No explicit maximum mentioned.

CHAIRMAN: Covers up to $50,000 in medical expenses when traveling
more than 50 miles from your house. But... you only get the benefit
if you booked your trip with the chairman card--which seems like a
serious drawback! E.g., if you buy a plane ticket to London with the
Chairman card, then use a free Eurostar "compensation" ticket (from a
previous delayed trip) to get to Paris, you may not be covered.

* Common carrier insurance: CHAIRMAN

CHAIRMAN: Insures you for $1,000,000 against loss of life (scaled down
for various injuries).

PLATINUM: Insures you for $500,000 against loss of life (scaled down
for various injuries).

* Road-side assistance: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: When driving more than 50 miles from your house, provides
free towing, but only to the nearest facility (as opposed to AAA,
which can tow to your preferred garage with only mileage limitations).
The 50 mile requirement may soon be eliminated, too.

CHAIRMAN: If you call 1-800-MC-ASSIST they will arrange to get you
unstuck, but you will have to pay for everything. There's still a
benefit because Citibank (or mastercard) claims to have negotiated a
favorable towing rate.

* Customer service: ?

Anecdotally, I've noticed more people happy with Chairman customer
service, but not sure how to compare objectively. Getting a human on
the phone requires fewer levels of menu navigation with the Chairman
card. After punching in your card number and social security number,
the first thing you are told is to press zero to talk to someone.

A significant limitation of the Chairman card is that it is difficult
to reach customer service with an international collect call. The
card has a number for collect calls on the back, but instead of
connecting to the same place as the 800 number, it goes to regular
Citicard customer support, so you have to hold for a human and then
ask to be transfered to a Chairman card CSR. If you are traveling
with a laptop and have Internet connectivity, you might try Skype
(http://www.skype.com/), which allows free calls to 800
numbers. But clearly Platinum concierge is easier to reach from other
countries.

One limitation of the Platinum card is that it is harder to arrange a
card replacement. A Platinum card replacement can take you over half
an hour on the phone, compared to under five minutes for the Chairman
card. Also, with the Chairman card, they will tell give you a
tracking number for your new card as soon as it is sent, whereas with
Platinum you must wait until the quoted delivery day.

* Concierge service: ?

Both cards offer a concierge or personal assistant service. Again,
the Chairman requires fewer levels of touch-tone menu navigation to
speak with a human being. Anecdotally I've seen more praise for
Chairman personal assistant, but also a few complaints. See for
instance this thread:

http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=564543

As with customer service, international collect calls to the personal
assistants are difficult and require first getting transfered to a
Chairman CSR, then to a personal assistant.

In one head-to-head comparison of the Amex Centurion concierge to the
Chairman card, asking about commercial real estate, the Chairman card
seems to have come out ahead. See the following posts:

http://flyertalk.com/forum/showpost....7&postcount=41
http://flyertalk.com/forum/showpost....3&postcount=20

* Restaurant reservations: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: Has reserved tables at a bunch of restaurants in New York,
LA, San Francisco, and Miami--so you may be able to get a table you
wouldn't have without the card. Lists these restaurants on-line.

CHAIRMAN: Claims to have some special deal with restaurants in New
York and LA, but not San Francisco or Miami. No details readily
available.

Last edited by ftweb; Sep 18, 2006 at 12:39 pm
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Old Aug 8, 2006, 6:55 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Ivory Towers
Programs: DL Plat, HH Diamond, Diners Club, Citi Chairman, AMEX Plat, Merrill+, SPG Gold, Marriott Slvr
Posts: 328
...good assessment. So good that I cannot add much However, I am not at a total loss:

1. You can contact Chairman Concierge at http://myconcierge.vipdesk.com.
2. The restaurant benefit in NYC was easily when I called Chairman Concierge. If you have a restaurant in mind give them a call. They also have a list. I was told that they have reserved seats available on a first come first serve basis. They have been able to accomodate my reservations.
3. The pdf posted on the Smith Barney site is out of date. (Last time that I checked it did not mention the two free Priority Pass guests per visit.)
4. Merrill Lynch Plus is a good no-foreign transaction fee card. The rewards program is a bit restrictive, but if you spend alot it is a great card. Spend $50k and it gives you the elusive free AA club membership. Spend $20k and get your airline status matched on AA.
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Old Aug 8, 2006, 7:20 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: BOS
Programs: CO Silver; DL FO; SPG Gold; HH Gold
Posts: 880
I'm a former Amex Platinum cardholder and a current Citi Chairman cardholder (though I hold several other Amexes that I use for most of my spend.)

Originally Posted by ftweb
The Citibank Chairman card and American Express Platinum card both cost approximately $400 per year
The Small Business version of the Amex Platinum costs $300/yr, vs $395/yr for the personal version. The benefits are almost the same, but you do not get the everyday double points on the Small Business version (this can be fixed by, say, getting a personal Blue.) You also get some OPEN discounts with various merchants. One can apply for the Small Business version as a sole proprietor using his or her SSN in place of the EIN if desired.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Best value guarantee

PLATINUM: I can't find a mention of this benefit on the web site anymore, so it may have been phased out.
According to posts in the American Express forum, this benefit is indeed officially being phased out, if it has not already been.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Web site: PLATINUM
I have noted that the Amex website is often very slow and spits out errors more than it should. Additionally, the last several times I have tried to use the Membership Rewards website to redeem MR points, at the final stage the transaction (a transfer to Delta in each case) failed, forcing me to call to make the transfer. Nonetheless, I agree with your other points and that the website for the Platinum card is indeed superior (if slightly broken at times.)

Originally Posted by ftweb
Platinum also allows you to contact concierge on-line.
This is actually the ONE benefit that the Business Platinum seems to lack; you have to call them. However, one can contact the Chairman Concierge via email. I'll add more in the concierge section.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Miles/Points: CHAIRMAN
I think this one depends more on personal travel preferences. As you mentioned, premium cabin tickets are quite expensive point-wise with the TY program as opposed to with airline FF programs, so for a traveler that generally likes to spend points on those, Amex wins in my opinion.

Also, the Chairman card currently appears to award TY flight points if you pay the taxes on an award ticket with the card. This is assumedly not intentional and not a proper benefit, so your mileage may vary (quite literally), and expect this to disappear sometime. There are also reports of TY flight points posting without enough regular TY points to match, but if this is still the case, I'm sure they're working on fixing it.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Lounge access: CHAIRMAN
In the US, Priority Pass seems to mostly provide access to DL, CO, and/or NW lounges in most locations, some UA lounges, and various others to fill in the gaps. So if you are a DL/CO/NW/UA flyer, there is a higher chance your lounges may be covered by Priority Pass than with other airlines. Of course, international lounge access is far superior.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Car rental insurance: ?
The Chairman Card also provides coverage in various countries (Ireland, Australia, others) that Amex excludes. Not sure of the specifics on what Amex's exclusions are.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Hotel chain benefits: tie
Also note that one can get Preferred Plus status with Starwood (Gold minus the 50% point bonus) by having a Starwood Amex at $30/yr. Of course this has nothing to do with either card, but in my opinion makes HH Gold slightly more valuable. And there are of course other ways to get status at each... so I'd agree this really is a tie.

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Concierge service: ?
I have used both for similar tasks, but not for the same task. In almost every case, the Chairman Personal Assistants performed the task better and more quickly. They have also performed highly involved tasks (involving calling quite a few foreign numbers to research various things) that I do not believe the Amex Platinum concierge would do. In my personal experience I rate the Chairman Personal Assistant significantly better than the Amex Platinum Concierge.

As I noted above, the Chairman Concierge can be contacted via email. Responding to a prior email from them works well, as should sending an email from a registered address. Additionally, they've been quite happy to call me back at an foreign number on a couple of occasions after calling or emailing them and requesting that.

I agree that someone needs to assign several varied tasks to both concierge services simultaneously to come up with a clear winner in an objective fashion.

Actually, if anyone wants to try this out, I have a good test case. I just recently made perhaps the oddest concierge request I've ever done: I was having an argument with a friend about the potential miniscule calorie content of Listerine Pocket Pack breath strips since they're obviously stated as zero. I emailed the Chairman Personal Assistants from a Treo and asked them to kindly research the actual calorie content of this product. About half an hour later they responded after having contacted the manufacturer by phone with the information I requested, along with additional details on the general makeup of the product and a list of ingredients. Anyone want to pose this same question to the Amex Concierge and see how well they perform?

Originally Posted by ftweb
* Restaurant reservations: PLATINUM
Additionally, Amex seems to have the ability to occasionally find availability at restaurants that are otherwise fully booked, simply due to their brand name power with merchants.

* Customer service: CHAIRMAN

One button press after entering your card number and SSN with the Chairman Card. Amex's phone tree is a huge pain by comparison. Also, I have not once have had to hold for a customer service representative at Citi, whereas I have experienced long holds on occasion with Amex. The actual representatives seem to be more proactively helpful at Citi, as well as able to directly handle more tasks (e.g., card replacement, issues with other Citi cards, TY points, etc) than Amex, where you are often transferred with long hold times for things such as the above.

Last edited by karthik; Aug 8, 2006 at 7:33 am
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Old Aug 8, 2006, 7:35 am
  #4  
mia
Flyertalk Posting Legend Moderator: Credit Card Programs, American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Diners Club, Signatures.
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Miami, Mpls & London
Programs: AA & Marriott Perpetual Platinum; DL & HH Gold
Posts: 49,079
<<Business version of the Amex Platinum costs $300/yr, vs $395/yr for the personal version. The benefits are almost the same, but you do not get the everyday double points >>

This becomes irrelevant in October 2006 because American Express is eliminating double points for Everyday Spending on all cards. However, the personal Platinum card also provides some benefits for shopping at Neiman Marcus, Saks, etc that someone somewhere may find beneficial, and these are not included in the Business version.

dennis
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Old Aug 8, 2006, 8:08 pm
  #5  
 
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I could not find the cost for additional cards on the Chairman site? Anyone have the number? Could sway my decision.
MIFlyer is offline  
Old Aug 8, 2006, 8:37 pm
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by MIFlyer
I could not find the cost for additional cards on the Chairman site? Anyone have the number? Could sway my decision.
Cost is zero but you don't get an additional PriorityPass card, of course.

I got an additional card for my wife a week after signing up. Rewards are almost as good as having her use a 5% cash back card for gas/groceries/pharmacy and Amex SPG for the rest. The whole thing is much simpler: "Here dear, use this for everything" (and every place will accept it too)

I totally agree about the Citi Chairman customer service: just plain awesome so far. They even offered to Fedex my wife her card (like they had done for my PriorityPass). I kindly refused the offer.

The one thing I'm bummed out about is the expenses from both cards aren't separated on the online statement, unlike Amex SPG.
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Old Aug 9, 2006, 12:24 pm
  #7  
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Thanks for the feedback. I just edited the first post and tried to incorporate everyone's feedback. One thing I'm still unsure of is Miles/Points. It seems to me that even for premium travel Chairman is better, since you get the airline points, too. But I changed it to "depends" because I want to be as objective as possible.
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Old Aug 9, 2006, 2:18 pm
  #8  
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This may have changed, but in the past the Avis Preferred status you receive for free through the AMEX Platinum card was actually their elite level Preferreded Select status. Also, if you signed up for Hertz through the AMEX Platinum invitation they hard code a "one car class upgrade" into your profile, but that too may have changed.
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Old Aug 9, 2006, 4:11 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Beckles
This may have changed, but in the past the Avis Preferred status you receive for free through the AMEX Platinum card was actually their elite level Preferreded Select status. Also, if you signed up for Hertz through the AMEX Platinum invitation they hard code a "one car class upgrade" into your profile, but that too may have changed.
When I log into Avis, it tells me "Membership Status: Preferred Member" (despite the fact that I haven't rented with them in years).

When I log into Hertz, it tells me I'm a "Hertz #1 club gold member".

I doubt I've benefited from either feature as I generally request small cars regardless of upgrades (particularly if I'm going anyplace where parking may be hard to find), so I'm probably not the best person to describe this feature. Do you want to suggest an alternative wording for the following point?

* Car rental status: PLATINUM

PLATINUM: National emerald club (but you have to keep signing up every
year if you don't use it), Avis preferred, and Hertz Gold.

CHAIRMAN: no equivalent
ftweb is offline  
Old Aug 9, 2006, 5:46 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by ftweb
One thing I'm still unsure of is Miles/Points. It seems to me that even for premium travel Chairman is better, since you get the airline points, too. But I changed it to "depends" because I want to be as objective as possible.
My big thing here is that you obviously can't combine TY points with existing airlines miles like you can with Amex MR points... So that makes MR (and SPG) even more valuable for premium travel for me. Also, I wouldn't count on continuing to get miles on award travel in the future (especially on a Citi-issued ticket where they can be certain it's award travel and not just a really cheap fare.) There have been rumors of some sort of airline transfer coming about in the Chairman Card thread in this forum. Since Citi DOES own Diners Club which offers this feature, it seems feasible. If they give me that ability, I'm guessing my Amexes will suddenly start seeing very, very little usage.

Also, the fact that you apparently are defaulted to flying on AA makes this less lucrative for me as I'm currently reasonably loyal to Delta and have most of my miles going that way... I also don't charge enough to get premium tickets with TY points from scratch reasonably soon, whereas I have enough scattered miles and MR/SPG points to make that more feasible. And mileage upgrades are important to me too.

But I do agree that for many people, the TY program travel benefits are definitely better.

Last edited by karthik; Aug 9, 2006 at 5:55 pm
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Old Aug 9, 2006, 6:24 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Originally Posted by ftweb
* Customer service: ?

Anecdotally, I've noticed more people happy with Chairman customer
service, but not sure how to compare objectively.
Personally I think you should award this to the Chairman Card. As I mentioned, it is much easier to get to a human (no phone tree), and the reps can definitely perform a wider range of tasks as I noted. On these two points alone I think the service wins (plus the less objective experiences of shorter hold times and friendliness.)

Actually, I'd award it just on the one simple fact that the Chairman reps can do a card replacement directly. Amex has to transfer you to card replacement, who you might have to wait on hold for, and then you get ANOTHER possible hold to get to card replacement special services if you need an international replacement. You CAN call card replacement directly or get to it through the menu, but there is no direct route to card replacement special services other than being transferred. (I asked both a regular CSR if they could send me directly there knowing card replacement would have to re-transfer me, as well as asking card replacement special services for a direct number, and was denied in both cases.) I have done approximately 5 international replacements with Amex and the total call times ranged from 10 to 40 minutes, averaging around 15 - 20. I have done only one international replacement on my Chairman Card but the total call time was about 3 minutes. They replaced both my Chairman Card and Priority Pass from that one call, so you do get both done at the same time.

Oh, and thank you very much for putting this all together. Forgot to mention that previously.
karthik is offline  
Old Aug 9, 2006, 9:19 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by karthik
Actually, I'd award it just on the one simple fact that the Chairman reps can do a card replacement directly...
I have done approximately 5 international replacements with Amex and the total call times ranged from 10 to 40 minutes, averaging around 15 - 20. I have done only one international replacement on my Chairman Card but the total call time was about 3 minutes.
Wow, that's a lot of card replacements! What happened?

Anyway, the point is that different people value different things. For example, I've never needed a card replacement, and hope I never do. On the off chance that I should lose the card, waiting 40 minutes would be annoying but not the end of the world.

On the other hand, I've found AMEX in general to be excellent with things like billing complaints, while Citibank leaves a lot to be desired. Granted I haven't had any problems with the Chairman card yet, but I notice that a lot of my Chairman correspondence is signed by the same "S. Larson" who wrote the form letters that originally drove me away from Citibank when they couldn't correct a $5 error after half a dozen letters.
ftweb is offline  
Old Aug 10, 2006, 7:02 pm
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by ftweb
Wow, that's a lot of card replacements! What happened?
That would be me significantly shuffling around my Amex card "portfolio" (cancelled the Business Platinum, switched to a personal GRP and SkyMiles, new HH, etc) as well as applying for the Chairman Card while out of the country for several months.

So not really a card replacement, just me being unable to get the initial cards easily! (I did ask Amex if they could bundle multiple cards together to reduce the hassle on both ends, but they couldn't.)
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 1:16 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Excellent summary!

I've been considering a switch and this was good info to have.

I do want to clarify the Amex Plat Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program however, because I do feel that it is one of the better benefits of the card, IF you use it. The FHR program basically gives you:

--A space available room upgrade
--Complimentary continental breakfast for 2
--Guaranteed late checkout (to 4 PM)
--One additional amenity depending on the property (usually things like a spa credit, a free dinner for 2, welcome basket, etc.)

You have to book with PTS at an FHR property at the FHR rate--sometimes not the cheapest, but very often worth it when considering the benefits, like the upgrade and late checkout.
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 11:41 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by kuroneko
I do want to clarify the Amex Plat Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program however, because I do feel that it is one of the better benefits of the card, IF you use it...
Thanks. I just updated to include your points.

Now I would love to hear from anyone who has used the Chairman card's "Leading Hotels of the World" benefit...
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