In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!
Earlier in the week I wrote a post entitled “Who Should Get The Citi Prestige Card?”
As I explained, the Citi Prestige® Card is one of the hottest cards out there at the moment. As far as credit cards go, it knocks it out of the park in all three major categories I value — sign-up bonus, perks, and return on everyday spend.
As a reminder of the very basics:
The Citi Prestige® Card offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months — those points can be transferred to one of their airline transfer partners, or be redeemed for revenue flights on any airline.
Among other things:
- 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
Return on everyday spend
- 3x points on air travel and hotels
- 2x points on dining out and entertainment
- 1x point for all other purchases
Why you should get the Citi Prestige® Card soon
So why, specifically, does the timing of applying for the Citi Prestige Card matter?
The card has a $450 annual fee, though it comes with a $250 annual airline credit. This credit is about as straightforward as it gets. They’ll reimburse you for up to $250 worth of airline charges, whether it’s a ticket purchase, paying for taxes on an award ticket, a change fee, a mileage purchase, etc. If the purchase is processed by the airline, it will get reimbursed.
I think all of us spend at least $250 per year on airlines, so to me that credit is just about good as cash, and for mental account purposes, lowers the annual fee to $200.
Anyway, while the card’s annual fee is based on your cardmember year (in other words, if you apply now, you pay the second year’s annual fee in 12 months), the annual airline credit is based on the calendar year.
If you want to minimize your “out of pocket” as much as possible, you’ll want to apply for the card so that you can take advantage of the 2015 airline credit, but also get the 2016 airline credit soon. There are a couple of details to understand about the airline credit:
- The credit isn’t applied based on a “straight” calendar year, but rather based on purchases appearing on your billing statements from December through the following December
- Anecdotally the credit posts when your first statement closes, assuming you spend the required amount on airlines; the terms state it can take up to two billing cycles for the airline credit to post
So if you want to receive $500 worth of airline credits within a couple of months of applying for the card, you’ll want to apply very soon, so that you have two billing cycles before the end of the year. Again, in terms of mental accounting this minimizes your up front “out of pocket” for the card.
If you apply in early 2016, you’d of course still get an airline credit for each year you have the card, but you’d get a $250 credit in early 2016, and then would have to wait another ~12 months before getting 2017’s fee reimbursed.
If you want to receive $500 worth of airline credits within a few months of applying for the Citi Prestige® Card, you’ll want to pick up the card sooner rather than later.
Ideally I’d recommend two billing cycles before the end of the year to make sure the credit posts, as the terms of the offer say it could take up to that amount of time.
Therefore if you’ve ben eying this card, it could make sense to apply for the Citi Prestige® Card before the end of this month.