The Citi Prestige Card’s Annual Airline Fee Credit & Priority Pass Select Membership

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Earlier in the week I wrote a post entitled “How To Get Admirals Club Access For $200 Per Year.”

I was referring specifically to the Citi Prestige® Card, which offers Admirals Club access as a perk for as long as you have the card. While the card has a $450 annual fee, you get a $250 airline fee credit each year.

It’s worth noting that this is basically a “no strings attached” airline fee credit. Per the terms, the credit can be used towards airfare, baggage fees, lounge access, and some in-flight purchases. That’s right, the credit can officially be used towards airfare. And who doesn’t spend at least $250 per year on airfare purchases (or at a minimum on taxes on award tickets)?

Make money by applying for the Citi Prestige Card

What I didn’t point out last time (and didn’t even think of) is that the annual $250 airline fee credit is based on a calendar year, and not your card member year. Or I guess to be really exact, here’s the verbiage:

This statement credit is an annual benefit available for purchases appearing on your billing statements from December through the following December.

In other words, if you applied for the Citi Prestige® Card now you’d be hit with the $450 annual fee, though would immediately get a $250 airline fee credit. Then on January 1, 2016, you’d get another $250 airline fee credit. That’s a $450 annual fee and $500 worth of airline fee credits in your first year as a card member.

That’s right, you can “make” $50 and get Admirals Club access by applying for the Citi Prestige® Card.

American-Admirals-Club-Dallas-DFW-06
Gain access to the DFW Admirals Club, the only airline lounge (I know of) with a gym

The best Priority Pass Select membership offered by a credit card?

Beyond that, I think it’s also worth pointing out that the card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership. But what makes the Citi Prestige® Card unique is that you have guesting privileges with your Priority Pass Select membership. Per the terms:

Primary and Authorized users are granted complimentary access to the Priority Pass lounges and allowed a maximum of up to two guests or immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age). Any additional guests will be charged a $27 per guest, per visit charge.

Let’s keep in mind that while other cards like the The Platinum Card® from American Express (which is also an awesome card) offer Priority Pass Select memberships and you get two free guests. With the Citi Prestige® Card you also get two free guests or immediately family members, and only additional guests beyond that are charged $27 per guest per visit.

This is extremely useful. For example, I access the Alaska Board Room all the time using my Priority Pass Select membership, so being able to bring in guests for free would be awesome (I guess having guests requires traveling with people, which requires having friends, but I digress!).

Alaska-Board-Room
Enjoy tasty pancakes at the Alaska Board Room

Lots of other great perks with the card

The above doesn’t even account for the card’s sign-up bonus of 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first three months the account is open. And it also doesn’t account for the card’s excellent earnings rates, as it offers the following return on spend:

  • 3x points on air travel and hotels
  • 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • 1x point for all other purchases

For the most part high annual fee cards seem to be more focused on the perks than the earnings rates on the card. In this case you have a card which has some great perks and a high return on everyday spend.

Bottom line

I know I’m not the only one who applied for the 100,000 mile sign-up bonus on the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card last year. And now that the annual fee is coming up, I’m looking for a better alternative than spending $450 to renew the card. I think the Citi Prestige® Card is a no brainer for any frequent American flyer.

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Comments

  1. One thing the Prestige card does not appear to have is trip interruption benefits. My Executive card has been quick to reimburse me for weather-related cancellation expenses like hotel rooms – a great benefit this past winter.

  2. The card also gives 4th night free on hotel bookings, though I’ve had mixed results with this. It seems to mostly (or maybe only) work with big chains.

  3. @ beachfan — Right, no need to use gift cards. You can reimburse yourself directly for airfare with the card — no need to jump through the hoops of buying gift cards.

  4. Hi Ben – thanks for the heads up on this card; i am one of those of those AA citi exec ppl coming up on renewal. I appreciate being informed on this option.

    One question – i’ve seen on year-old posts re: this card that some ppl have mentioned citigold banking members get extra sign-up bonuses or benefits when they apply for the card at a branch (ie another 30k points if u spend 15k in a year or reduced annual fee of $350); have u heard if this is still true?

    thanks

  5. Can you call Amex and have them convert your existing AA card to this one? Or do you have to apply and then cancel?

  6. @ Germs — First of all you’d probably want to call Citi. 😉

    But I believe you couldn’t convert an American Executive Card to this. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

  7. @ ntang2 — I’ve heard of that for CitiGold banking members, at least the part about the reduced annual fee. But I don’t have a checking account with them, so don’t have any firsthand experience.

  8. The thing I like about the Prestige is that the minimum spending requirement is reasonable, as opposed to the $5K in 3 months for the AA Executive card, which I’d never be able to do, or the CSP’s $4K in 3 months, which I MIGHT be able to do in certain circumstances, but it would still be tight. For the Prestige, I could make the spend requirement on that with no problem.

  9. Prestige is pretty great, but these benefits are available year-round. If you’re getting a Citi TY card now, consider the Premier. It’s changing earning categories on April 19 but new members until then get 3x dining & entertainment for a whole year, plus the new 3x on a broad travel category starting on the 19th. Signup bonus isn’t stellar, but AF is waived for a year (and is dropping April 19).

  10. In addition to applying in-branch, you can check your offers at citi.com. Some people have received 50K offers after spending $3K.

  11. @Germs, @Lucky –

    Several people on FT have posted that they were able to do a PC (aka “product change”; I never knew that there was such a term) from the Executive card to the Prestige card, but I don’t think you get any signup bonus.

  12. @Mike-

    The Prestige does have the same or better trip interruption coverage as the AA Exec card.

    I need to double check my packet, but I believe for trip delay, the reimbursement cap is $500, 4x year limit, and the minimum delay to be eligible for reimbursement is 3 hours (weather delays covered too). Citi actually recently improved a lot of trip interruption benefits a couple weeks ago.

  13. Lucky, thanks for the great post. Both myself and spouse took the American Exec Citi card for the 100k miles last year. Coming up on renewal. Question: Do you recommend applying for the Prestige card before we cancel the Citi Exec or waiting until after?

    Thanks!

    LLD

  14. One benefit and one headache associate with the Thank You Points from the Citi Prestige card is a redemption rate of 1.6 cents per TY point for AA flights and 1.33 cents for other airlines. When you actually try to redeem them, Citibanks travel agency partner scams you out of $5 -$20 (or more) on every ticket by marking up the cost of the airlines tickets. Definitely an annoyance that is not disclosed anywhere.

  15. Can you transfer points directly to book award travel with all OneWorld partners and AA as well as other chain hotels directly, and which hotels? What is the ratio point 1:1?

  16. Why not mention that the in-branch offer is vastly superior? 60K TYP and $350 AF with Citi Gold checking? Oh, because it doesn’t pay a commission?

  17. Paul, I just checked into the Citigold checking account. Seems like a good idea if the bonus is 60k, right? Only problem is, you need to keep $50,000 with citi to avoid the fees and qualify for the account. I don’t think Lucky failed to offer this option because of the commission. It isn’t realistic to put 50k with Citi to get an extra 30k miles for this card! Give him a break, huh?

  18. @ luckyladyd — I don’t think it should make much of a difference, to be honest. They’re different products, and I doubt that would make the difference between being approved and not.

  19. @ Ben — Agree the Prestige is an awesome card, but ultimately it doesn’t fulfill a need which this card does. For those looking for Admirals Club access, this card is tough to beat.

  20. I did a product change from the Aadvantage Executive to the Prestige. It does have to be done over the phone but took no more than 5 minutes and they overnighted the card to me. No signup bonus, but they didn’t change the account number which was helpful for the things I have on autopay.

  21. Lucky, any advice on the best transfer use of TY points? Singapore is certainly nice, but are there any good FF programs on there for domestic or other short haul uses?

  22. @ Max C — The best transfer partners are going to be Singapore KrisFlyer, Air France FlyingBlue, and under some circumstances Etihad Guest. My hope is that they eventually add American AAdvantage, but that hasn’t happened yet. It’s not a great currency for domestic flights, unfortunately.

  23. I’ve just made back my annual $450 fee for this card. First I purchase a ticket that I needed and there was no way one could use ff miles to obtain–that’s $250. And just last night I booked a hotel reservation in London to replace a previous one I had booked before I got the Prestige card and saved over $200 with the 4th night free. My experience with the concierge is that you need to coach them and basically find the exact type of room you want and then see what they can do for you. They quoted me a lower rate than the hotel website. This card looks like a keeper, even with the high annual fee.

  24. Regarding the Priority Pass, do all immediate family members get in, or are you limited to two? The way it’s worded (i.e. “allowed a maximum of up to two guests or immediate family members”) it isn’t 100% clear.

  25. @ mangoMan — All immediately family members OR two guests. So if you have more than two immediate family members they should all be allowed in.

  26. does the airline credit work the same way as the Amex Platinum where you have to designate one airline to get the credit? Or does it work with any airline?

  27. @ Ming — It can be used on any airline and doesn’t have to be designated, as far as I know.

  28. Hey Ben, just did a test on the Airbnb and it coded as 3x as a hotel according to Citi rep. Just wanted to throw out that data point.

  29. I got this card about a month ago with an online application. A letter arrived in the mail today saying that Citibank has lowered my annual fee to $350 and added a few other perks because I’m a “valued banking and credit card account customer.” I do have a basic checking account with citibank, with a low balance. I did nothing to request this change.

  30. Was mentioned earlier, but the Fourth night free benefit of the Prestige card pays the annual fee by itself. Looking forward to my cash back on my Oceanfront pool suite at the JW Marriott Phuket ($550/night).

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