How Much Is The Citi Prestige Sign-Up Bonus Worth?

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As most of you probably know by now, there’s a very nice increased sign-up bonus on the Citi Prestige® Card. At the moment they’re offering 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months.

The annual fee on the card is $450, which is line with the premium cards from other issuers. Some readers have commented that the card isn’t worth applying for because of the high annual fee, which is a natural reaction to a card with a $450 annual fee.

That being said, the card does come with a lot of benefits, including:

  • A $250 annual airline credit
  • Access to American Admirals Clubs
  • 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

But before dismissing the value of applying for the card because of the $450 annual fee, let’s look at the value of the perks you get on the card.

Here’s what I value the “fixed” perks of the card at:

  • $250 — first calendar year’s airline credit
  • $250 — second calendar year’s airline credit
  • $100 — Global Entry credit
  • $800 — 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points redeemed for travel on American/US Airways

American-777
Redeem your 50,000 points for $800 of travel on American

Those are pretty concrete benefits, which to me are worth ~$1,400 with the first year’s annual fee. Given that it’s a $450 annual fee, by my valuation you’re ahead at least ~$950 your first year alone.

That doesn’t factor in the other major benefits, which will be of differing value depending on your travel patterns. The three biggest variable benefits of the card are as follows:

For my personal travel patterns I can say that I get at least $400 of value out of the Admirals Club and Priority Pass benefits. Since I’m an Executive Platinum member with American I do value Admirals Club domestically, so an Admirals Club membership would otherwise cost me $400. With the Citi Prestige® Card I get both Admirals Club access plus a Priority Pass Select membership with free guesting privileges (while other cards issue Priority Pass Select memberships, they don’t typically come with free guesting privileges).

Korean-Air-Lounge-JFK-22
Get access to 700+ lounges with a Priority Pass membership

As far as the fourth night free benefit goes, I won’t initially put a value to it. Instead I’ll judge the value of it after I’ve had the card for a year. I could see it being something that saves me thousands of dollars, or it might not be something I ever end up using. We’ll see.

Bottom line

By my valuation, most people should get at least a “net” value of $950 out of the Citi Prestige® Card the first year. If you’re a frequent American flyer like me and value Admirals Club access, then that valuation only goes up. So I’d value my “personal” gain from the card within the first year at ~$1,350.

My point is, while a $450 annual fee might seem steep, I do think there’s lots of value to be had with the card, and virtually everyone will come out ahead, in particular the first year. I’d argue this is the single most lucrative publicly available sign-up bonus out there right now.

How much do you value the Citi Prestige® Card sign-up bonus at?

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Comments

  1. If you fly American, it’s worth even more thanks to the 60% bonus when ThankYou points are used for AA tickets.

  2. I give zero value to the lounge access, club access and global entry. For me the value is in the airline credit which comes without having to play any games plus the biggie is going to be the 4th night free on hotel stays. As you say it does come down to evaluating what that value is after holding the card for a year. I’ve become quite a fan of the Citi cards as they seem to be stepping up their game whilst others such as Chase and Amex seem to have taken their rewards down a notch.

  3. What kind of kick back you getting from Citi. C’mon man, you’ve been hanging out with TPG too much.

  4. For myself I like the Premier better for now. I’ll just take the 50K points (we’ll go with $800), and no AF the first year. I was approved earlier in the week via your link (after a quick call).

    Of course the value drops greatly after year one, so I’ll reconsider when the AF comes around. We’ll see. 3 points (4.8% if I use 1.6 factor) on travel, including gas, may make it a keeper.

  5. Won’t the Global Entry credit be be worth $100 to only one-fifth of readers (assuming GE fee lasts five years)?

  6. Why all of a sudden so many posts about Citi Prestige? I have had the prestige for quite a while, and I was always surprised that I didn’t get any love from bloggers. What has changed that now bloggers embrace it? Because the card is less attractive now, than when it had the 15% on tickets and companion ticket even for authorized users

  7. For me the key features are the Admirals Club access (both domestically and abroad), the 1.6x points multiplier for “points-as-cash” AA ticket purchases, and the 3x points multiplier for air & hotel spending — all without FX fees. The “no games” airline credit effectively knocks $250 off of the annual fee, and a qualifying Citi banking relationship knocks off another $100.

    The three “hidden” benefits here are as follows: First, the 1.6x feature makes ALL your points, including banking-side points, 60% more valuable. Second, the combination of the above 3x and 1.6x features amounts to 4.8% cash back on air & hotel spending, and over 5% with a qualifying Citi bank account. And third, the 1.6x feature is like getting a free $400 award ticket with NO BLACKOUT DATES for 25,000 points (a $480 ticket is 30,000 points).

    The free hotel night benefit might (or might not) be valuable for me, but it is limited by what Carlson-Wagonlits’s system can book. So that means no little boutique hotels in Paris, for one example.

    I cancelled my Citi Exec card because this card made more sense for someone who, like me, is already an elite AA flyer and so doesn’t need the “enhanced airport experience” the Exec card delivers.

  8. Agree with @random about the golf benefit. One of my local courses (where I easily play three rounds a year) is on the list. While afternoon tee times during the heat of the Florida summer are only $40ish, but in season they are well over $100 a round.

  9. Nic, can you please elaborate on the 15% and the companion? my guess is the increased signup bonus plus added perks that make this the signup of the year. let me put it this way, with the perks that it used to come with, did you come to a $1350 valuation?

  10. I’m confused why do you keep trying to sell this card when there is another citi card that gives you 50,000 TY points for AF $95?!?!

  11. @ Nic — Because Citi is finally putting a ton of effort into their cards. I might be late to the game, and I don’t claim to know everything. But I recently became interested in the cards thanks to the increased sign-up bonuses, and I’ve personally signed up for them. The more I’ve studied the cards, the more valuable I’ve found them to be.

  12. What can you use the $250 annual airline credit for? Can you use it to buy airline gift cards to be used for future flights?

  13. joe – the premier that comes with 95AF waived and comes with 50k TY has max value of $850 and only after upgrading the TY pts to 1.6c using the pooling method with prestige. so simply, $1,350 > $850 so prestige is the clear winner.

  14. @ Dan — It can be used towards the cost of an outright airline ticket purchase. Quite unrestrictive.

  15. @Al
    They are gone now, but before there was 15% discount on tickets. There was also one domestic or international companion ticket per year. Even better the authorized users got another companion ticket. You also had the flight points that matched with spending will give you 2x. You could easily exceed your $1350 valuation. Card was great, perhaps too good. I am guessing that is why it went away.

  16. @Lucky
    Before, the bonus was 30k and full of benefits, now you get 50K and some benefits. Not sure were Citi is putting the effort.

  17. Last month the Global Entry had lines and the Automated Passport Control kisoks were empty. Other than pre-check, at least at JFK, Global Entry is like last year’s fashion!

  18. @Nic, I think affiliate links for these cards recently became available. This means that Lucky (and VFTW, MMS, TPG) gets paid each time you sign up for a card using one of their links. The actual amounts are not released, but it is usually thought to be $100-$300 per approval. This means that if 1,000 of OMAAT’s readers sign up through Lucky’s link, he makes between $10,000 and $30,000. Knowing that, you can understand why there have been so many posts recently and you should always read posts like this with a critical eye.

    Having said that, these do seem to be great cards for the first year and Lucky’s math is mostly correct. (I question how many times he has signed up for global entry though. I’ve just been using my extra credits to allow friends and family to sign up for GE. You just let them make the charge with their card.) We should all be appreciative of the advice that Lucky gives us for free on his blog and if we both benefit from a card signup, I don’t mind at all.

  19. @Tom
    I don’t mind Lucky taking advantage of affiliate links, if that is the case. I am just curious what was driving all these posts, they never promoted when it was great and now that is only decent, it is like we get all these posts..

  20. @Lucky Admiral Club valuation sounds good, but after TopBonus Gold status match, I now have admiral club access for free. Do you think it still makes sense even after Status Match?

  21. Tom – I don’t know about you numbers, but I know your multiplication is wrong. I agree you should always do you’re own evaluation.

  22. Does anybody know if the additional members (not the primary member) on the Prestige card or American Executive card get entrance to the Admirals club. My son is going off to college and will be traveling alone so it may come in handy. Thanks in advance.

  23. @ Doug — If you have oneworld Sapphire status then that Admirals Club membership won’t be worth as much to you for the duration of your time having status. That being said, I do still think the card is worth it overall for all the perks it offers.

  24. @ Tom @ Nic — For what it’s worth I’ve had affiliate links for all these cards all along. I just recently learned more about them. I don’t claim to know everything about this hobby, and share my experiences as I go along. I’ve been really excited about Citi lately because clearly they’re putting some effort into things with improved bonuses, and that makes it interesting to me.

  25. AA executive card annual fee came do so i cancelled that earlier this week. Applied for the prestige and got this back “After careful consideration, we are unable to approve your application. You will receive written notification with the reasons for the decision. If you have further questions once you receive the letter, please call us at the number listed.”
    So i called the recon line and they said sorry, their system is giving out that message instead of application pending. After about 10 minutes on hold they came back with an approved decision for $30,500. No additional questions asked.
    Then went on to apply for a 75K Amex Gold Business card (targeted) and was instantly approved.

  26. HI Lucky,

    Do you think I can apply for this and if I don’t get instant approval, call and get my credit line moved over from one of my Citi Executives which I was planning on canceling anyway?

    Thanks!

    Stacey

  27. @ stacey — I could be mistaken, but I believe with Citi that may require a hard pull. You can certainly try, though.

  28. I got a pre-approved offer in the mail for this card last week with a 100,000 signup bonus for $3,000 in spend. Maybe because I’ve had the premier card for 7 years? I’ve just closed my bank account and mortgage with them (transferred to other banks) so it’s not like I’m a great Citibank customer anymore! I’m going to sign up for it. $1600 in free travel – yes please!

  29. Do you get hotel room upgrades, similar to the AMEX Platinum, on the fourth night free benefit?

  30. So if my application to a new cc got denied, what’s a reasonable time to wait before I can apply again?
    I’m working on lowering the overall use of my cc limit and other things to improve my credit, but these take some time, at least 3-6 months. I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks.

  31. We just received an offer for 100k in rewards points. Is it worth it if we mostly fly Delta and have status with them? Can we use the Admiral Club if we aren’t flying American? We currently each have the Delta Reserve. Thanks

  32. why do you include the $250 — second calendar year’s airline credit as part of the “fixed” perks of the card that you net against the $450 annual fee… isn’t that something you’d only receive if you paid a second annual fee?

  33. >> why do you include the $250 — second calendar year’s airline credit as part of the “fixed” perks

    He’s assuming you sign up for the card mid calendar year and would normally spend at least $250 on flights every 6 months. The $250 credit is per calendar year, while the $450 fee is due on the anniversary of enrollment.

    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/07/09/clarifying-the-citi-prestige-card-250-airline-credit-benefit/

    So if you got the card on 2015-Jul-01, you paid $450. Then if you spend $250 on flights between 2015-Jul-01 and 2015-Dec-31 you’d get that $250 back as your “2015 $250 credit” (so your net membership cost for the card as of 2015-Dec-31 is only $200). Then you spend another $250 on flights between 2016-Jan-01 and 2016-Jul-01 and you’ll get that back as your “2016 $250 credit” — so during the first year of membership, relative to your enrollment date, you’ve actually made $50 in profit for spending the $500 you would normally spend on flights anyway.

    Starting with your second “year” of membership, relative to your enrollment date, (2016-Jul-01 to 2017-Jul-01) you only get one $250 credit (your “2017 $250 credit”) because you already received your “2016 $250 credit” and thus the card effectively costs you $200 for the second year.

  34. Just got my card and want to get full use of the $250 airline credit.
    Can I just buy a Delta gift card for $250?

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