Clarifying The Citi Prestige Card $250 Airline Credit Benefit

Reader Deb asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum about the Citi Prestige Card:

If I purchase an air ticket using Citi Prestige card say for $250 and Citi reimburses this (airfare credit), will this be counted towards the spending requirement of $3000?

I’ve written extensively about the Citi Prestige Card, which is one of the hottest all around credit cards at the moment. Not only does it have a great sign-up bonus, but it’s a card which offers a ton of long term value which more than justifies the annual fee, including:

  • A sign-up bonus of 40,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months — those points can be transferred to one of their airline transfer partners, or redeemed towards revenue flights on any airline
    A $250 annual airline credit (with your first year’s annual fee you actually get two of those — that’s $500 of airline credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee)
    A fourth night free hotel benefit
    The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
    A $100 Global Entry fee credit

I’ve received quite a few questions about the airline credit offered by the Citi Prestige Card, so I figured I’d answer Deb’s question, along with a few others I commonly get:

Does the Citi Prestige Card airline credit count towards minimum spend?

To answer Deb’s question first, the answer is no. In other words, to be on the safe side you’ll want to spend at least $3,250 to complete the minimum spend, assuming you plan on using your airline credit in the first billing cycle. For virtually all credit cards minimum spend is defined as purchases minuses returns and credits.

Can you use the airline credit for multiple transactions?

Yes, absolutely. If you spend a net of $250 on airlines then the credit will post to your account. That’s to say that you could make a $100 airline purchase and then a $150 airline purchase, and then you’d get the full $250 airline credit.

How quickly does the airline credit post?

The terms of the benefit state that the credit will post within 1-2 billing cycles of when the purchase is made. However, in practice, the credit usually posts much faster than that. In my experience it posts at most within a few weeks of the initial purchase. That being said if it doesn’t, there’s no reason to be alarmed. Sometimes this kind of stuff just takes longer for whatever reason.

Citi-Airline-Credit

Can you use the airline credit to purchase gift cards?

In practice typically yes. The terms of the Citi Prestige Card airline credit state the following:

Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases

As long as the purchase is processed directly by the airline, it should be eligible for the $250 credit. For example, I have friends who have had the credit post for American gift card purchases.

American-Gift-Card

Is the airline credit benefit based on calendar years? 

One thing that makes this offer especially lucrative is that the benefit is based on the calendar year as opposed to cardmember year. That means that with your first year’s annual fee you’d get two airline credits.

In other words, if you signed up for the card now you’d pay $450, and then wouldn’t have to pay another annual fee until next July. But you’d get a $250 airline credit this year, and then another $250 airline credit early next year.

To clarify the above point regarding calendar years slightly, there’s one technicality you’ll want to be aware of. Specifically, the “annual” benefit runs from your December billing cycle through your December billing cycle the following year:

This statement credit is an annual benefit available for purchases appearing on your billing statements from December through the following December. Pending transactions that do not post in your December billing cycle will count towards the next year’s Air Travel Credit.

Is the Citi credit different than the Amex fee credit?

There are several American Express cards which come with airline credits, including The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, and the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card. What makes them different — other than the amount of the credit — is what it’s valid for. The American Express credit is strictly for airline fees, and excludes the following purchases:

Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

Meanwhile the Citi airline credit can be used for any purchase processed by the airline, including airfare. Furthermore, with American Express you have to designate a specific airline for the benefit, while it can be used on any airline with Citi.

PRG-AF

So it’s much more flexible, not to mention that it is for a larger amount.

Full terms of the Citi Prestige Card  air travel credit

While we’re at it, here are the full terms of the $250 air travel credit offered by the Citi Prestige Card:

Purchases made by the Primary cardmember and Authorized Users on the Card Account are eligible for this statement credit. Please allow 1-2 billing cycles after the qualifying incidental air travel fee is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the account. This statement credit is an annual benefit available for purchases appearing on your billing statements from December through the following December. Pending transactions that do not post in your December billing cycle will count towards the next year’s Air Travel Credit. Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases. Please allow 1-2 billing cycles after the qualifying air travel expense is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the account.

We do not determine whether merchants appropriately identify all transactions you make on your Card Account, but we do reserve the right to determine which purchases are eligible for the statement credit. Cardmembers are responsible for payment of all charges on the Card Account regardless of eligibility for statement credit. To be eligible for this benefit, the enrolled Card Account must be open and current at the time of statement credit fulfillment. ThankYou Point values and the rewards available for redemption are subject to change at any time. Check Thankyou.com for the most up to date reward collection

Cardmembers can call the number on the back of their card if statement credits have not posted to their Card Account after 2 billing cycles. Cardmembers are responsible for payment of all charges on the Card Account regardless of eligibility for statement credit.

To be eligible for this benefit, the enrolled Card Account must be open and current at the time of statement credit fulfillment.

Bottom line

The airline fee credit offered by the Citi Prestige Card is only one of the many benefits which makes this card awesome. Between the great sign-up bonus, airline credits, and fourth night free hotel benefit, there’s something for just about everyone.

If you have the Citi Prestige Card, have you used the airline credit yet?

Comments

  1. I think the credit posts when you statement posts. In your example you’ll notice that the credit posted on 5/19, the same as your statement date. I had a credit of $48 post in my first month that covered three separate purchases (1 luggage fee and 2 onboard purchases).

  2. I bought a ticket on AA with my Prestige card, and the airline credit posted within a week. I was actually surprised it hit so fast. I really LOVE this card. I’ve been getting a ton of value from it, and the customer service reps are fantastic.

  3. The answer you gave to question #1 (re: whether the credit counted toward the spend for the bonus) contradicts what I was told by Citi. The rep told me that the rebate would not be subtracted from the amount used to calculate spend – i.e. $250 of airline spending counts as $250 toward spending even if it was all credited back to me as part of the card benefit. But the annual fee does not count toward spend.

  4. I purchased 2 tickets on AA with this card 2 weeks ago and have yet to see the credit so I guess I’m waiting for the cycle to close

  5. I believe Tom is correct. I purchased $600 of Hawaiian Airlines tickets 2 1/2 weeks ago using my Prestige Card and my $250 credit has not posted yet. When I called Citi, the rep told me it would post by my statement closing date.

  6. What is your take on transfering TYP to Hilton via the Virgin Atlantic 25% bonus? If I transfered 55,000 TYP direct to Hilton at 1:1.5 it would equal 82,500 Hilton points. However, Citi is offering a transfer to Virgin Atlantic miles with a 25% bonus. If I transfer 55,000 TYP to Virgin, it would equal 68,750 Virgin Atlantic miles. If I transfer the Virgin miles to Hilton at 1:1.5 it would equal 103,125 Hilton points instead of the 82,500 direct transfer from TYP. Is the 103,125 Hilton points for 55,000 TYP a good deal in your opinion?

  7. If I get the card this year will I be able to use both of the credits for a total of $500 on a trip to Europe next summer? I plan to book tickets around march.
    Thanks

  8. @ Mike Shannon — To clarify, to have ThankYou points transferred to you, you’d need a ThankYou account as well. In other words, you’d need to have a separate card account open, and can then pool points.

  9. @ mario — Well you could buy a $250 airline gift card this year and then use the other $250 credit next year when you actually go to book your ticket.

  10. @ Old Flyer — Personally I value Hilton points at ~0.4 cents each, so in the case above your transfer ratio would still be less than 1:2. The way I see it, you’d be getting less than a penny of value per ThankYou point, which isn’t how I would choose to redeem ThankYou points, personally.

  11. Having had this card for the past 4-5 months and having used nearly all it’s benefits, I gotta say – This is definitely one of the best travel credit cards out there at the moment. Air Travel credit posts quickly. I used it for two separate ticket purchases. The first time it posted within the week. The next time it posted when the cycle ended. 4th night free takes a little longer to post. It posted on the 2nd billing cycle since the charge for me. Great customer service. This card is well worth the $450 annual fee (not a lot of them are past 1st AF). As long as citi doesn’t devalue beyond reason, I will have this card for a long time.

  12. Went to the Thank You points redemption site, indicated I needed 4 tickets LAX to Boston, via AA, used Thank You points that I had for part of the transaction and used the Prestige card for the balance. Was told yesterday that I would not get the $250 credit, had to have purchased the two extra tickets directly through AA.

  13. mario i don’t think so. I think you’d have to send $250 before dec 31st and $250 after the first. i don’t see anything that indicates the $ will carry over.

  14. Hi Lucky,

    You also need to clarify that the Admiral’s club entry will only be allowed *only* if you are flying AA/Oneworld. You must show your boarding pass. but with the citi executive card you can just walk in without any boarding pass.

  15. Hi all, does anyone know if the credit works for airline tickets purchased on third-party sites, like orbitz, priceline, vayama, etc? I’m assuming not?

  16. @ lucky – thanks for the quick response! Any data points on if the credit works on smaller airlines based in other countries… like EasyJet?

  17. @ Jeremy — In theory I haven’t seen a restriction on airlines, so as long as it’s coded as an airline it should work.

  18. do you know if Alaska gift certificates work for the airline credit..i miss the statement date and noticed my southwest award fees posted but not this…

  19. If I apply and get approved for the card on July 29, 2015, when would i have to cancel to avoid next year’s $450 fee?

  20. @ Jim — You’d be charged the second year’s annual fee in July 2016. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  21. You mention above third party OTA’s like orbitz and pricelne won’t qualify. Do you know if buying a ticket with Thank You points and cash from the Citi Travel Center would?

  22. Can I get the $250 credit for buying rapid rewards points from Southwest? They are giving a 40% bonus on points purchased now and I have the Southwest companion pass to double the points value as well.

  23. I used my Prestige card to purchase 2 Southwest tickets. Each ticket showed up as a separate ~ $300 purchase on my Prestige statement, and on the same statement, a $200 (not $250) Congrats! Citi Air Travel Credit posted six days later. Isn’t it supposed to be $250? I was anxious to call and point out they should have credited me the full $250, but thought I’d let it ride while checking the experience of others.

  24. I did try a purchase of Southwest rapid reward points hoping to get the $250 credit for purchases from an airline. Unfortunately, the charge posted as not from an airline because the points purchase is actually handled by a third party called Points.com.

  25. Can this benefit be used in combination with a Thank You point redemption? For example, if I have 50,000 Thank You points ($800) and book a $1,050 ticket, can I use the 50,000 points AND the $250 credit to make it free?

  26. @ Greg — It can’t be. The airline credit has to be used directly with an airline, while ThankYou points for flights have to be redeemed through Citi’s website.

  27. New card holder. Need to burn $250 travel credit before the of the month. No travel plans. What else has been successful?

  28. I just bought a $250 gift voucher on Alaska Air to get the travel credit. In my Citi account it shows as category “DIRECT MARKETING – CATALOG AND RETAIL ME” so I doubt this will qualify. Bummer.

  29. If I get the Citi Prestige CC now (Nov 2015) will I still be able to take advantage of the $250 travel credit this year? or should I wait till next January

  30. If I buy a refundable ticket and wait until the credit posts and offsets a different regular $250 expense and then cancel the flight to get a refund back –

    Will Ciri then reverse the Credit??

  31. I understand you covered the gift card purchase part. But, do you have any insight on which gift card purchase are safe (meaning process by the airline) and which may not be (like the one reported above about the alaska gc)?

  32. I just purchased airline tickets in Dec and this is my 1st year with the card so will I get another $250 credit if I when January 2016 hits?

  33. Hi – I’ve unfortunately waited too long to apply this year. When would you suggest is the soonest I can apply to get the $250 credit twice in the first year? Should I wait until after two or three billing cycles worth of time in the new year (Mar-Apr)?

    Thanks!

  34. I was approved today on January 19th 2016 for citi prestige. Would I be able to avail airline credit twice during the first year as you suggested.

  35. If my first billing statement after card approval is 1/7/16-2/4/16, when should I try to get my 2nd airline credit? Thanks!

  36. If I buy two $200 one way tickets (on separate airlines), will I still get the Prestige $250 credit?

  37. For Citigold customers that sign up for the Prestige card in July, how will the annual fees post over the next year?

  38. there’s still one question unanswered and I also have the same question:

    If I buy a refundable ticket and wait until the credit posts and offsets a different regular $250 expense and then cancel the flight to get a refund back –

    Will Citi then reverse the Credit??

  39. 1) Can the $250 be spent to purchase air tickets through sites such as Kayak or Priceline, or must the $250 be spent only directly through an airline’s own website? 2) Also, presumably the $250 air credit doesn’t have to be used through City’s Thank You concierge services only?

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