Who Should Get The Citi Prestige Card?

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In my opinion the single hottest credit card of the year is the Citi Prestige® Card. While the card has a $450 annual fee, it’s one which has so many perks that it should be worth it to almost anyone, in my opinion. Just about anyone should get more value out of the card than the first year’s annual fee.

What are the huge perks offered by this card? Among other things, they include the following:

Perhaps most noteworthy is that the $250 annual airline credit isn’t some gimmicky fee credit. Instead it’s actually an airline credit which can be used towards any airline purchase, be it the purchase of airfare, paying for the taxes on an award ticket, an upgrade, etc. Surely virtually all of us spend at least $250 a year on airlines, no?

Citi-Airline-Credit

The way I see it, the “out of pocket” annual fee on this card is really $200 ($450 minus the $250 airline credit). When you think that for that amount you’re getting access to Admirals Clubs, a Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges, a fourth night free benefit on hotels, etc., the card’s value really begins to shine.

But long term, who should get value out of the Citi Prestige® Card?

Anyone who values Admirals Club/Priority Pass access

The Citi Prestige® Card is the best long term option for accessing Admirals Clubs as a domestic American flier. You get access to Admirals Clubs whenever you’re flying American, so it’s much cheaper than a membership, which cost $400-500 per year (if renewing, they’re $50 less).

Admirals-Club-LAX-2
Use Admirals Clubs when flying American with the Citi Prestige Card

Furthermore, you get a Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges. You can take two guests or immediate family with you to Priority Pass lounges for free.

Alaska-Board-Room-LAX-02
The Alaska Airlines Board Room LAX is a Priority Pass Lounge

Even if you don’t use this card as your primary one for everyday spend, I think these perks in and of themselves make the card worthwhile.

Anyone who pays for travel on American

One of the best uses of ThankYou points is for travel on American. And if you have the Citi Prestige® Card, each point can be used for 1.6 cents towards the cost of a ticket on American.

The best part is that if you have the Citi Prestige Card, you can also redeem ThankYou points earned through the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card at the same rate towards travel on American.

Keep in mind the Citi Prestige Card offers the following bonus categories:

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

That basically means that:

  • Each dollar spent on air travel and hotels earns you 4.8 cents towards the cost of a ticket on American
  • Each dollar spent on dining out and entertainment earns you 3.2 cents towards the cost of a ticket on American
  • Each dollar spent on everything else earns you 1.6 cents towards the cost of a ticket on American

That’s a really impressive return. Keep in mind that at the above rate you’re redeeming for paid travel on American, so those tickets are eligible for upgrades, mileage accrual, etc. If you’re going for status, that’s tough to beat.

Anyone who stays in hotels for four nights at a time

Aside from the airline credit, which basically helps offset much of the annual fee, I think the single biggest “value add” on the card is the fourth night free hotel benefit. This is as gimmick-free as it gets, and I’ve now used it about a handful of times and have saved over $1,000 through this alone.

I’ve used this to book stays at several Hyatt and Starwood properties. When using this perk it’s as if you’re booking directly with the hotel, so you still earn points, stay credit, qualify for promotions, etc. If you stay in hotels in increments of four nights with any frequency, this perk will pay for the card’s annual fee over and over.

A true mattress run involves leaving the room looking just like this
I’ve used the fourth night free night perk several times at the Andaz West Hollywood

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige® Card is in my opinion the single most compelling all around credit card. It has a great sign-up bonus, great return on everyday spend, and offers perks which more than justify the annual fee. Cards don’t get much more well rounded than that.

The card is especially valuable for anyone who is an American flyer (in terms of Admirals Club access as well as redeeming points at a good rate), anyone who values Priority Pass access, and anyone who stays in hotels for at least four nights at a time.

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Comments

  1. Ben , When booking four nights it looks like you have to book through Citi’s travel site . How does it effect your hotel status with Hyatt? Can you still use DSU? Thank you in advance .

  2. You always fail to mention the free golf benefits associated with this card as well. Some of your readers may find value in that.

  3. @Lucky, It amazes me that you have forgotten one of the single biggest perks. FREE GOLF! This may not apply to everyone, but given the title of “Who should get the Citi Prestige”, golfers should be number 1 on the list. I’ve used this perk in Vegas to play both TPC and Bali Hai(Regularly priced at well over $100) If you factor that into the equation, for a golfer the card is free(You get 3 passes to play a year) and the rest of the perks are gravy.

    Just my 2 cents.

  4. Lucky,

    I’ve found the fourth night free benefit to be a bit gimmicky, and if not gimmicky, certainly a pain in the ass. I’m traveling SE Asia in a couple of weeks, and I found a hotel on the Mastercard site. At first they tried to tell me that the hotel wasn’t even in the GDS, and then I had to email them back. They they said it didn’t pay commission or whatever so wasn’t part of the 4th night free benefit.

    I have a prepaid rate at the the new Le Meridien in Saigon. The program was able to get me a base room at the prepaid rate, but not the club room. I grabbed the base room, because the hotel was giving significant discounts for booking in advance, and the 4th night free was a no brainer. I would have booked the club room if they could have booked it for me.

    So my review on the 4th night free is mixed. If it’s not gimmick free, it’s certainly not hassle free.

  5. Agreed, golf benefit is easily worth $500/year, up to $1000+/year if you maximize it. I’ll get $550 worth of free golf this year.

    @Blake, how did you book two rounds in one weekend? I thought you had to wait to use the first round before you could book the second round and that second round had to be 3 days in advance, in effect forcing you to wait 3 days between rounds.

  6. Although I have this card I’m not sure if I’ll keep it past the first year. Somehow I’m not meeting almost any of the criteria – I don’t play golf, I don’t fly American Airlines often, I don’t remember ever staying in a hotel for more than four nights unless it was for work etc.

    One significant benefit of this card is that the annual $250 airline fee reimbursement works for *any* airline expense, which includes the airfare and, very important to me, also applies to the fees charged by the foreign carriers! Compare with the Amex Platinum card, which is somewhat similar (same $450 annual fee), and which reimburses you only for max $200 incidental fees (e.g. excess luggage), not for airfare, and only for one domestic carrier, which you must select once a year. There are tricks to get around these Amex constraints but using the Prestige card was so much easier for me, in this respect.

  7. @Mike from DC

    TOTALLY not the case for everyone. I searched 5 different courses around Chicago and compared the price I would be charged had I booked thru the courses’ site. ALL FIVE were equal or more expensive using the Citi “benefit”, than had I booked directly w/ the course/ course’s site.

    In short, it is very YMMV.

  8. I just tried to apply and got denied during a phone call. I have excellent credit and good income. I have the ATT Citi card and Premier. I don’t use them very much. Could this be the reason?

  9. Lucky,
    Was really looking into getting this card. However, looked at the hotels on the Carlson Wilton travel website for my upcoming London trip and found that virtually none of the 5 star hotels I was interested in staying are available on their website. The CW hotel selections seems very limited IMO

  10. @ Dan — Hmmm, which city/hotel were you looking at? I’m not sure the website is totally comprehensive, as I’ve heard of hotels not on the site being eligible for this as well.

  11. @ ATX — Hmmm, what reason did they give you? Maybe wait for the letter and see the reason they give? How recently did you apply for those two cards?

  12. @Brian,

    How is that relevant? Say the courses in the Chicago area charged you a rate of $85 for a Sat morning round, yet the Citi page charges $115. The baseline value is still $85, even tho the Citi page says $115. You book it thru the website and play.

    Even at $85, playing 3 times, that is $255 so you are still getting value. Or if you want to extract real value you travel to the big boy courses like TPC, Doral, etc.

  13. I love this card. I’ve had it for 5-6 months now. I’ve gotten the $250 airfare credit and save over $1k with the 4th night free. Plus I save $100 off the AF by opening a CitiGold account. This card is a keeper for me!

  14. @Mike from DC

    I wasn’t clear, I don’t think. The cost, using the Citi card, after you got a round for 4 was the same (or more, AFTER taking the free round out of the total cost) as if you just paid out of pocket. I.e. you essentially charged your buddies more for their respective round than they could have paid had they booked on the course’s site, so you could get yours free. I.e. your buddies just subsidized your free round by paying more for their round..by 30+% or more so yours is “free”

    Not what I’d call “being a good friend” in the instances I found. Some have reported finding values, but typically at pricey courses. If that’s where you play, great. If I was the friend having to pay an extra $30 so yours could be “free”…I’d be pissed and find a different 4th.

  15. Hi Ben,
    I agree it is an excellent card, but are you sure it reimburses Global Entry $100 fee? I did not see that benefit on the application page and over the phone at Citi, I was told that only Citi AA Executive gives this benefit. Can you clarify, as I am just renewing my Global Entry?

    Thanks.

  16. Lucky,
    This card is also great if you have a Citibank gold bank account. I do and as a result my annual fee is $350. I haven’t heard you mention this before but it’s a nice benefit. So my annual fee is really only $100 after you factor in the air credit which is inline for a card with no foreign currency transactions. I used the global entry credit the first year so it was $0. I just got the card in Aug and haven’t used the 4th night free yet but am planning to soon so expect I’ll make money on this card.

  17. Hi Teresa,

    You said you used the global entry credit the first year and you got the card in August, so you used the global entry credit very recently, correct? How did you manage to get the credit? did you have to call?

    Thanks.

  18. Second on Theresa’s comment that Citi Gold account holder get reduced annual fee of $350, there’s also an in branch offer of reduced annual fee that some non citi gold member able to get. And if you got your card near end of calendar year like Novemebr or Decemebr & used the air credit, you got air credit again in January when new calendar year start. So you got $500 of air credit first year owning the card. And you got three rounds of golfs at select golf course a year (~$1500) as well as 4th night free hotel booking when book through citi concierge (many people like to combine with hotel’s 3rd night free of 5th night free offer). Plus the TSA credit. You easily got over $2k of benefit per year.

  19. Crap, just realized I sound like I’m promoting the card. I’m not affiliated with Citi in any way and please don’t get the card based on what I say. If too many people signing up, Citi would start cutting prestige benefit like Amex Plat is doing…. Please go get your self another Amex Plat 😛

  20. @ATX call the reconsideration line. Doesn’t matter how many cards you have with them. It does matter how long ago you applied for those other cards. If it was a while back, then not sure why the denial. The reconsideration should tell you and ask them to re-review the application.

  21. Attn Golfers: TPC Sawgrass is my home course. It will cost you $495 (rack rate for non-members – greens fees + cart) to play the Stadium Course in high season. So this card is a great deal IMO if you can use it to play the Stadium Course and 1-2 similar high priced “bucket list” golf courses. Note that the Stadium Course is cart paths only year round.

    Too bad you can only book 1 course at a time. Because the Stadium Course has a sister course. The Valley Course. Home of the web.com Championship. Rates on the Valley Course are $220 now (during prime hours).

    If for some reason the card doesn’t make sense for you – note that rates here go down during shoulder season and off seasons (the winter and the summer). And you can sign up to receive email specials for golf/golf packages at the Sawgrass Marriott and TPC Sawgrass websites.

    Blake – Looks like this weekend should be nice. Hope you have a great trip here :).

  22. Lucky,

    I was looking at 5 star hotels for London such as hamyard, soho, and London edition. Did a search at the cwtvacations website. And only about 6-7 five star hotels came up. But, good to know that some of the hotels may not be on the website. Thanks!

    Dan

  23. @DCBanker, the credits are automatic, at least for the global entry and airline credits I’ve used. I signed up for global entry about two weeks after I got the card and the credit showed up on the same statement as the global entry charge. The airline credit was also easy as well. I booked several flights on regional airlines in Turkey so I was worried I’d have to call Citi to get credit for these but they recognized them and the credit showed up quickly for that as well.

  24. This card sounds like a no brainer. Now here’s a question from somebody who is not at all familiar with these “premium” credit cards:
    Do either Amex Plat or Citi Prestige allow you to gift the Priority Pass membership to anybody? I think the Citi Prestige would be a great card for me, but at the same time I would sign up for Amex Plat if a good sign up bonus ever came up.

  25. @ DTS — You can’t gift the membership, unfortunately. Only the person named on the card gets a Priority Pass membership. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  26. DTS – The card is a no-brainer for someone who can use enough of its benefits to offset all or a fair chunk of its hefty cost. Which will vary person to person.

    Some of the benefits aren’t as good in reality as they look on paper. For example – Dan is looking for a hotel in London. He was looking at the CWT website (which I assume is part of the program). There is one luxury hotel there that I’ve stayed at recently (in May). The Rosewood in London. My 8 night stay – with rates available to anyone on the hotel website when I booked – was stay 3 nights – get 1 free (so I got 2 free nights). There was also a 15-20% discount (can’t remember) for a “long term stay” (over 7 nights). And – since I booked through a Virtuoso Agent – I got free English breakfast for 2 daily (room service or in the restaurant) plus a $100 food and beverage credit.

    Many hotels – especially the luxury hotels I book – often have stay 2/3 nights – get 1 free offers. So the 4th “free night” isn’t a big deal – unless it’s at a hotel that never offers that kind of deal to the public – or isn’t offering one when you are planning your trip (which is hard to tell in advance).

    The American Airlines benefits that are American Airlines specific aren’t of much use to people who don’t fly on American Airlines (I haven’t in decades).

    When it comes to Priority Pass lounges – well it turns out that the Alaska Airlines Priority Pass lounge pictured above was in the LAX terminal I went through a few weeks ago. But I don’t fly often enough – especially through LAX – to know what Priority Pass lounges are where – or whether I’ll be going through the specific terminals in airports where they’re located (doesn’t make sense to go from Terminal A to Terminal X in a big airport to get to any lounge unless you’ll be in the airport for a fair amount of time). I wouldn’t get a credit card just for this purpose unless I was a pretty frequent flyer (I’m not) or had a priority pass lounge in my “home airport” (I don’t).

    I think the benefit that is probably of use to most people is the $250 airline credit. But – if that’s the only benefit you use – the card will still wind up costing $200 for a year.

    I’ve found some credit cards with better value these days. At least for us. My husband and I each got a free AMEX Everyday card a while back. Got some points (10k) for a minimum spend. And we each got an additional year of Amazon Prime (worth $198). Your mileage may well vary.

    One thing I would interested in seeing with CITI is what it will come up with next year in terms of new Costco cards (Costco is changing from AMEX to CITI/Visa). I might be better off with a new CITI card – perhaps even this one – but might be better off with another Visa card. Hard to tell at this point.

    Happy hunting for credit card deals .

  27. @Brian,

    Fair point. We encountered this same issue while in Vegas. We went around it by booking individual times with the Prestige, then having our additional guests book thru the course website.

    ie, Myself and another booked two singles via the prestige website, the other 2 booked thru the course directly.

  28. Hi Guys. I bought an airline ticket for my wife with the card using the airline website. Now the charge is pending, however as the category it has online airline name not something like airtravel. She is not an authorized user. Will I still get the airline credit? Is the pending charge category a problem?
    Thanks

  29. This may be a dumb question, but I can’t find the answer anywhere… If I book a stay that’s longer than 4 nights through Citi (say, 10 consecutive nights), will I get the 4th AND the 8th night free? Or would I need to book it as two shorter stays to get two of those nights free?

  30. @ Scott — You can only get one free night per stay. And back to back stays at the same property wouldn’t be eligible. So if you want two free nights you’d have to either switch hotels after the fourth night, or stay somewhere else for a night between the two stays. Hope that helps!

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