My Experience Applying For Both The Citi Prestige & Citi Premier Cards

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In the past month I’ve been approved for both the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and the Citi Prestige® Card.

I figured I’d share my experience with the application and approval process, since there are misconceptions about Citi’s policies when it comes to applying for new cards.

Why I applied for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

One of the five credit cards I picked up in late March was the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. This is a card which will be undergoing a serious revamp on April, 19, 2015, and one of I really want in my wallet.

As a reminder, here are the perks of the card, both before and after the revamp:

Citi-ThankYou-Premier-10

Ultimately those are perks I couldn’t say no to, given that earning 3x points on all travel including gas is just about unrivaled.

This card is essentially the Citi equivalent of the the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Amex EveryDay℠ Preferred Credit Card.

Why I applied for the Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige® Card initially caught my eye a few weeks back when I started looking into a replacement for the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card which I had picked up last year, but couldn’t justify the annual fee on. It became even more interesting to me when Citi announced an increased 50,000 point sign-up bonus on the card.

While the card has a $450 annual fee, it still seems super valuable, given that it offers:

  • A $250 annual airline credit
  • A fourth night free hotel benefit
  • The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
  • A $100 Global Entry fee credit
  • A great points earnings structure
  • No foreign transaction fees

Not only is the card worth it because of the lucrative sign-up bonus and the fact that you get $500 worth of airline credits with your first year’s annual fee, but it’s a card I can actually imagine holding onto long term.

The approval process for the two cards

I first applied for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card a few weeks back. I applied for the card online, and got a message asking me to phone in to get an immediate decision. I phoned them up and the agent just needed to verify some information. In a matter of minutes I was approved.

Citi

Then on Monday I decided I should also finally apply for the Citi Prestige® Card. I applied online, and received the same message that I got when I applied for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

Citi-Prestige-Card-Application

I called the number on the screen and was connected to a friendly agent. I figured I’d have to transfer a credit line from an existing card, but to my surprise I was approved within minutes, with a very high credit limit to boot.

Applying for both cards weeks apart is something that almost everyone should be able to do. As a reminder, Citi’s policy when it comes to new credit card applications is as follows:

  • You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
  • You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days

As long as you wait at least eight days between the two applications, you should be able to pick up both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

Will I keep both cards long term?

I can actually see myself holding onto both of these cards long term.

As an American flyer, the Citi Prestige® Card is an absolute no brainer for me. The annual fee is $450, and I get a $250 airline credit each year, which to me essentially lowers the “out of pocket” to $200 per year (and I come out ahead way more than that the first year).

That means at a minimum for $200 per year I get the amazing fourth night free hotel benefit and a Priority Pass Select membership with guesting privileges.

I guess the bigger question is whether it’ll be worth holding onto the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

For as long as I have the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card I’ll be earning the equivalent of 4.8% cash back towards the cost of an American ticket for all my travel purchases, including gas. Not bad!

Bottom line

For years I’ve been directing a vast majority of my spend to American Express and Chase. And while I still love their products, this is the first time in a long time I’ve actually been excited by a flexible points currency being issued by Citi.

Have you signed up for the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card yet? Which card do you find more valuable?

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Comments

  1. Doesn’t the value of sign-up bonuses and category bonuses depend on what the “currency” is? What are these ThankYou points and why should I want to earn them?

  2. Lucky, wanted to see if you’ve had this experience: I only have one citi account (Executive card), and my annual fee is going to be charged on May 1st. I called them to talk about it, and they said if I don’t want to keep the card, but wanted a different Citi product, that I should let the annual fee be charged, wait for that statement to come out, and then call within 37 days of that statement and they will do an account “conversion” whereby they would refund the $450 fee, and turn the account into another type of card for me.

    I didn’t think to ask at the time, and I can certainly call back and ask, but if I do that, do you have any idea if I would get the sign-up bonus for the card that they convert my Executive account into? I’m trying to think if there is any advantage (or disadvantage) to doing this conversion vs. totally closing the Executive card and then just outright applying for a new card.

  3. There is also the 3 rounds of golf benefit which is substantial for those that Golf.

    I did the in-branch offer 2 weeks ago for 30k points after 3k spend & an additional 30k points after 15k spend.

    The annual fee was only $350 and CSR just gave me 20,000 points as a courtesy to match the base public offer.

  4. “I can actually see myself holding onto both of these cards long term”

    Yeah, right. Those first class award tickets aren’t going to pay for themselves. To everything, churn! churn! churn!

  5. Lucky, I’m a bit confused — isn’t the sign-up bonus 70,000 the first year? From what you posted, 30,000 of the bonus from Citi ThankYou are from the second year of holding the card.

  6. I still don’t understand why you value access or even the membership to the Admirals Club so much. Since you almost always fly business or first class, you get access anyway… just sayin’

  7. It would be neat to hear some real life experience using the fourth night free benefit a couple months from now and how you think it compared to other rates out there.

  8. Correct me if I’m wrong, but AA Exec card actually confers membership benefits (like being able to enter partner lounges) whereas this ONLY gives you access to AA lounges. Not a big deal for me since I don’t fly coach internationally, but AFAIK it’s not an equivalent benefit…

  9. Ben –

    I have the Citi Executive card (signed up for it in Jan 2015, paid the annual fee and already got my 50k bonus points). I did this primarily for the 50k points plus my Admirals Club expired at the end of January, so the timing was great and I felt that $450 was a fair deal for a year long Admirals Club membership plus 50k points.

    Now I see this Prestige card and I would prefer to have it because it has what I’m looking for and should ‘cost’ less than the annual fee with the travel reimbursement each year, Admiral’s Club, etc.

    Do you know how Citi feels if you cancel the Executive card and go for the Prestige? Is their any chance that they try and claw back miles, etc? Should I just let it ride until it comes due again towards the end of this year and then cancel?

    Would love your advice. Thanks.

  10. re: Justin’s comments about conferring Admirals Club membership vs. the Prestige card not doing so. This wouldn’t have an impact for an AA EXP would it? I think I get access to oneworld clubs when traveling internationally regardless of the class of service because of my AA status. Is this accurate?

  11. Hey Lucky: question about that fourth night free benefit at hotels. The headline says ‘international’ but I don’t see anything in the fine print. Does the fourth night free only apply to hotel stays outside the United States? Thanks! L

  12. I just applied for the Premier card and got a denial message. I have an 833 FICO and haven’t seen one of those in about 30 years. Anyway, I called and they were surprised as it showed as “in progress” on their end. They were very apologetic and got approved in about 3 minutes.

  13. Lucky – thoughts on Citi Premier vs AMEX PRG? After airline credit and category bonuses… they both seem pretty close in competition.

  14. @Isbuffs – I had the same thing happen to me. Applied on Saturday and got an unexpected rejection message. Then, yesterday, the approval package and card showed up in the mail. They must have some technical issues on their end.

  15. Still surprises me that none of the click-bait blogs explain that all you have to do is walk into a Citibank branch and apply for the Prestige card which only has a $350 fee. My favorite excuse is them saying “oh but I don’t have a Citibank checking account”. How funny, they’re willing to engage in complicated schemes to MS, get fake hair transplant consultations, etc., but the act of walking into a branch is just too much of a stretch.
    Oh wait, the answer just came to me, they don’t get paid a commission.

  16. Robert, having walked into a branch myself, I am fairly certain that you do need a bank account to get that offer from them. Now it doesn’t necessarily need to be a Citigold account as the gentleman was willing to give me the offer based on my existing relationship (I’ve had a checking account for 10+ years). Maybe you can open one on the spot and get the offer too, but to call Lucky out on this is a real stretch.

  17. Re: lsbuffs

    I had the same experience with the Prestige. The application website said I was denied, but two days later, before I had a chance to call Citi, the Prestige card and packet shows up in the mail. I was surprised and confused, although I’m glad it worked out in the end.

  18. @Isbuffs & @FBKSan,
    Like you, I had the strangest credit card application experience ever when I tried to apply for this Prestige card. First two times I got a black page saying “this page cannot be loaded” after I hit the submit button, both times I used the link on citi website but different type of browser on different computer! I had to call in to make sure my application didn’t go through. This morning, half an hour after the failed 2nd time, I decided to pull up Lucky’s link to apply, got to the thinking page and then a message saying “unable to approve your application at this time”. I called immediately and the rep told me it was approved with a huge credit line!! I don’t get it! But I am happy with the end result.

  19. @ Rick — They’re both compelling cards, and I have them both. I guess it depends what your goal is. Overall if you’re just going after a single card I do find the transfer partners of Membership Rewards to be more compelling than ThankYou Rewards, for what it’s worth.

  20. @ Liam — It works in the US as well. The point is to say that it works at US and non-US properties, though I realize that’s confusing.

  21. @ Jason Perkins — Correct, as an Executive Platinum member traveling internationally you get lounge access regardless.

  22. @ Jason Perkins — For what it’s worth, that’s exactly what I did. I called the Citi Executive Advantage Card when the annual fee was due since I couldn’t justify the fee when the Citi Prestige Card offers a more compelling value proposition. They definitely won’t try to claw back the miles or anything. You can always get the Citi Prestige Card and then cancel the Citi Executive Card whenever you want.

  23. When it comes to redeem point for AA tickets, says 50,000 Citi points for up to $800 AA tickets. In this case, the US Bank Flexferks is not bad, too (40,000 Flexferk point can be redeemed for up to $800 in tickets of any airlines.

  24. @ Justin — Yep, that’s correct. For my purposes it’s more or less the same thing, since I have oneworld Emerald status. The extent of what I need lounge access for is when traveling domestically on American, and that’s covered by the Citi Prestige Card as well.

  25. @ ACH — I only get access when flying internationally. You don’t get lounge access when just flying domestically in first class.

  26. @ danny — In the case of both cards, you’re not eligible for the sign-up bonus if you’ve opened or closed the card in the past 18 months.

  27. @ MB — That’s correct. I was saying within the first year or so you’d earn that many miles, with the account anniversary being within roughly a year.

  28. @ Andrew — Nope, you don’t get the sign-up bonus on the card if you convert the product. So in your shoes I’d apply for the card you want with the bonus you want, and then close the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card whenever the fee is due, assuming you’re not getting value out of it anymore.

  29. @ Jeff R — Absolutely, it’s all about the value of the points. Here’s a rundown of what you can use the points for:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/04/10/how-to-get-800-in-airfare-with-the-citi-prestige-card/

    As you can see, points from the Citi Prestige Card can be applied towards the cost of American tickets at a rate of 1.6 cents per point, or otherwise can be converted to one of their airline partners.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  30. @ Santastico — That’s what I did. For my personal needs, the Citi Prestige offers a lot more value than the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card.

  31. Thank you, Lucky. And apologies – I was traveling last Friday and missed the post explaining the uses of TY points. One follow-up question, though. If you use TY points to buy AA tickets, are they valid only toward the fare component or can they pay for the whole ticket? (Example: my flight last week cost a total of $660, but the fare component was only $2. The rest was all carrier surcharges and taxes. Would 50,000 TY points have paid for that ticket?)

  32. Lucky-Will Citi give bonus points and approve the Prestige the same time as the Aadvantage Premium Select card? When I spoke to a Ctit rep about my card earlier, she told me you could only get the bonus from one and then would have to wait another 12 months for the other.

  33. @stannis I don’t have a citi checking or anything with citi and I walked in and got the citi prestige with 350.00 fee not 45p.00 worth walking in to save a 100

  34. Read this earlier today day and was thinking about biting the bullet and finally signing up for the Prestige card. When I got home tonight, I had a mailing from Citi with an offer for 100,000 ThankYou Points for $3,000 in spend! What a strange coincidence! I hadn’t ever heard of such an offer!

    http://i.imgur.com/79TRxV6.jpg

  35. Lucky: Will you try for the ThankYou Preferred as well? That’s like the Chase Freedom of ThankYou world. No annual fee and 20K intro offer. I just started on the ThankYou points and was planning on eventually going for all 3.

  36. @croz I wouldn’t call it the Freedom of the ThankYou world. That would seem to imply it offers 5x rotating bonus categories which as far as I can tell it does not. Whether a hard pull inquiry is worth 20k TYP is debatable. I guess it depends on your CC application plans/strategy.

    @John Yes, it’s per calendar year. What Ben was implying is he’ll get $500 in airline credits before his annual fee is due next year. If you plan on canceling the card before the second AF is due you’re making a $50 profit off the card.

  37. Well I guess my luck has run out. In the past 3 weeks, I’ve applied for and received the following credit cards just from reading this blog: IHG Rewards credit card, AA Platinum MasterCard, Barclays AA Card, Hilton Amex Card and one other Chase Business card that I can’t remember LOL. The Chase card asked me to either cancel an existing Chase card or lower my credit line. I said to just cancel my Chase UAL card since I rarely use it. My FICO score is 800. Ben/Lucky finally broke me down so I decided to apply for the Citi Prestige card just 15 minutes ago. It came back DENIED. I guess too many applications opened within the last 30 days. I wonder if I should call Citi Prestige and tell them they can cancel some old existing Citi cards – my Citi Hilton Honors and my Citi Advantage, both of which I’ve had for 4-5 years but rarely use. Would Citi Prestige reconsider if I called an offered to cancel those two, or reduce the credit lines? But my decision was a straight “Denied” versus “Call us and provide more information”. Any advice?

  38. @ Rich — In your shoes I would definitely give them a call and ask if you can switch credit lines around or close an existing account. With such a good credit score it’s hard to believe you got denied. Good luck!

  39. @ John — Correct, while the annual fee is charged per cardmember year. In other words, I just applied for the card and was approved, so I pay the annual fee now, and won’t have to pay it again until next April. In the meantime I’ll get a $250 airline credit now, and then another $250 airline credit next year, before my annual fee is due again.

  40. @ croz — To be honest I’m not sure I see the upside of the Citi ThankYou Preferred when I have the Prestige and Premier already. I’m not sure what it offers that the others don’t. In the case of the Chase Freedom, it actually adds value to my wallet in conjunction with the Sapphire Preferred, given the 5x points categories.

  41. @Mike: So that’s just great. You just killed me. I actually follow this stuff pretty closely and I’ve heard nary a hint of any 100K offers floating around. I got 50K points. Oh well. At least I’m paying $350/year with the first year’s fee waived.

    To get value out of the card, by the way, you really do have to be an AA flyer so that you can use the Admirals Clubs and so that you can get value out of the 1.6x multiplier for AA ticket purchases. The “fourth night free” hotel benefit sound good, too, but I think that may be a tougher one for me to use.

  42. So I did apply for the Citi Prestige and just like Ben, I was asked to call in. After a few questions, the application was approved and all set to go !
    Lucky – question for you, if you ever do answer !
    the 250$ airline credit – what triggers this credit on one’s statement ?
    Is Airline Fees defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases ? or just air fares ?

  43. @ Andrew — Congrats on getting approved. As far as the credit goes, it doesn’t have to be a fee. Just the outright purchase of an airline ticket will qualify towards the credit.

  44. Hi Ben,

    I want to apply for the Citi Thank You Premier and the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve cards. Do I need to wait eight days to apply for these cards or can I apply at the same time?

    Thanks.

  45. Ben

    would the airline credit for ‘paid ticket’ include fees for infant ticket booked with an AA award booking for the adult on CX metal?

    thanks

  46. Hi Lucky, I got the Citi Hilton card mid-April and applied for the Premier card two weeks later but the system automatically rejected the application. Now I tried to apply for the Premier card again and got the same response. I phoned Citi and was told that it’s due to “multiple applications”. I thought I can apply for two Citi cards within the 65 days, no?

  47. @ JW — Hmmm, that’s strange. When did you get your last Citi card before the mid-April one?

  48. Thanks Lucky. Before that I got a Citi Business AA card end of February. But I thought business card and person card are separate. When do you think I can apply for another Citi personal card again since I also plan to get the Prestige card? Btw, I already have 4 personal Citi cards so far, does it matter?

  49. @ JW — For the purposes of applications, I believe both personal and business cards count towards that limit.

  50. Have you already received *both* 50k bonuses? I just called Citi to clarify their policy and the rep said you cannot have received a Thank You bonus from any type of Citi card in the past 18 months. I had the Citi Premier card in the past and was hoping to get 50k for a new account (I got the Prestige a few months ago).

    Thanks for your insight.

  51. Ben,
    I applied for Prestige, approved, applied for ATT 8 days later, rejected, Citi claims only 1 app every 60 days, any ideas for a workaround?
    Verified by phone and chat after being rejected..

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