Why You Should Get The Citi Prestige Card Soon

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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:

Sign-up bonus

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.

Perks

Among other things:

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.

Citi-Airline-Credit

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.

Bottom line

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.

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Comments

  1. Any tips on Citi recon? I applied last week for this card was instantly declined for “too many recent inquires”. I’ve called the recon number and the number on the letter. All of the reps told me to dispute the inquiries with Experian (which is outrageous) and that they cannot override the computer. They would not let me reallocate between my existing AAdvantage card either. My scores are good around 740. The recent inquires are 1 from Amex and 7 from my recent home purchase (rate shopping within 1-week period). I can’t get a real human to look at the application.

  2. A- perhaps they are suggesting you dispute because it sounds like the mortgage inquiries are counting as separate inquiries, which they shouldn’t. When rate shopping for a mortgage or auto loan, multiple inquiries over a 30 day period are consolidated into a single inquiry for scoring purposes. They may be suggesting that something isn’t right…

  3. If I apply now and get the 2015 credit, can I only use it in 2015? Can it carry over as an unused credit to be used in 2016?

  4. Alternatively, used my AA Citi MC to pay for my kids and grandkids to fly to our timeshare in Scottsdale in March. Thought they would get free luggage due to my MC. No go – I have to be in the itinerary. Think I can use it to prepay for their luggage?

  5. Steven S. – If you get the card now, you have $250 airline credit to use by 12/31/15 then when 1/1/16 comes around, you get another $250 to use. It does not roll over. Your Citi account website has a counter that tracks your airline credit telling you how much you spent and how much is left of that credit. The counter also tells you that the credit resets on 1/1/16. But you can get $500 worth of airline credit within a single annual fee year so that’s why Lucky is saying get the card now.. giving you 2 months in 2015 to get the extra $250 credit.

  6. Be careful that you have not open or closed ANY Citi ‘Thank You’ card product! I had recently closed a “Preferred” card, and opened the Premier, but was denied the 50K bonus after meeting minimum spend. Rep said you cannot have opened or closed any card in the ‘Thank You’ reward program! I complained that the Premier application T&C’s said opened or closed a Premier card in the last 18 months. Citi rep and supervisor said that is the policy. No bonus, YMMV.

  7. @ Steven S — As noted by Juno, you can use the $250 credit in 2015 (through your December billing cycle), and then can use a second $250 credit in 2016, but it doesn’t carry over.

  8. Hey Ben,

    Shouldn’t this be 2015-2016, not 2014-2015

    “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 2014 airline credit, but also get the 2015 airline credit soon. ”

    Thanks for the post, this one is on my next AOR!

  9. Ben,

    If I apply for the card in early December, can I get the fee credit for ’15, ’16 AND ’17, while maintaining the option to refund the second annual fee?

  10. @ Ron — That probably wouldn’t work, since it’s based on billing cycles ending in December, as opposed to a strict calendar year. So you might be able to make it work, but if the credit doesn’t post before the statement closes in December, you wouldn’t get the credit.

  11. @david

    Really…I had not heard that. I know they do that with the AA cards sometimes now but that sucks for thank you cards. Did they say how far apart they need to be?

  12. Could it possibly work to apply for the card in December, get the credit this year, then again in 2016, and lastly once more in Jan 2017 in the first billing statement, to get the $250 credit 3x in one annual fee?

  13. Lucky – i applied for the Citi Thank You Premier card a week ago, can i apply for the Citi Prestige and still be eligible for the bonus? Am a bit confused by some of the comments others have left…

    thanks!

  14. @ nomanmohammad — You can indeed earn the bonus on both cards. The major restriction 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

    So if you haven’t otherwise applied for any Citi cards lately, you can apply for the Citi Prestige eight days after you applied for the Citi Premier.

  15. @ Mason — I wouldn’t count on it, given that it’s not based on strict calendar years, but rather based on December to December billing cycles.

  16. Can you buy a refundable airline ticket, get the $250 airline reimbursement, and then cancel the airline ticket? Or will Citi claw back the $250 airline credit they gave? I know you can do this with the Amex Platinum Airfare credit (for bag fees, and then cancel the itinerary so the bag charge gets reimbursed).

  17. If I don’t need to purchase an airline ticket between now and the end of the year, will it cover airline gift cards? Thanks!

  18. Does buying gift cards directly from any airline get reimbursed the $250 credit, or are there some that do not work? Southwest would be most useful for me in the near term, followed by United and American.

  19. If it was 100K points I would get it…it’s just too much for $50K points since I’m pretty much paying $450 for the “benefits”

  20. @ Jorge — Not sure I follow your logic. Yes, you’re paying $450, but with your first year’s annual fee you’re getting $500 in airline credits. That’s $50 more worth of airline credits than you paid for the annual fee. And you’re getting Admirals Club access. And a Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges. And a fourth night free hotel benefit. And a Global Entry credit. And rounds of golf.

  21. Dan’s the Man: Look in the mirror. See that guy staring back at you? If I were you I’d be really careful in dealing with the likes of him. He might be a fraudster.

  22. Just applied and was instantly approved for the Prestige card (as always, using your link) –thank’s for the reminder!

  23. Lucky my man.

    Great post! After submitting my application through your link I got a “your application is pending further review and we need additional information.”

    Called immediately, it seemed like they just wanted to verify that I was actually applying for the card. Got approved for 19K limit. Sweet.

    Thanks for the post. Never really looked into this card before but I might seriously change how I am spending dollars given that I basically only fly American. This is giving the CSP a serious run for its money (well, my money).

  24. Tom: Fraudster? You know nothing about me. I was actually asking because I often buy refundable airfare and about 50% of the time I cancel the tickets. Airlines sell refundable tickets. It’s not fraud. If you meant I’d be frauding Citi I hope you realize that they could claw back any credits if they want to. Also the $250 credit is costing them the same whether I fly or whether I cancel my ticket. I suggest you not accuse people falsely.

  25. Hi Lucky,

    I apply today (11/26), do you think it’s too late to get the $250 airline credit for 2015? (and again in 2016.)

    It would be close…I definitely don’t want to pay the annual fee twice. What do you think?

  26. In your opinion, is it too late to apply this year to get the $250 credit if I buy airline tickets as soon as the card is received and activated?

  27. I wish I would have read this article a couple weeks ago! Bummer for me. Any idea how long into 2016 I’ll want to wait to apply to make sure I can take advantage of the $250 credit in 2017 before the 2nd annual fee posts?

  28. Hey Lucky, I’m in the same boat as Van. I was approved a couple days ago for the card through your link. A question. I’ll have the card in a few days. I’ll use the airline credit, buy AA gift cards, as soon as I get it. Will it be counted on the day I use it or the statement close date? Which will certainly be in January. And will I be able to get another credit in 2016? Thanks.

  29. Just got the citi thank you for all the perks. However, They only can transfer points to Hilton (which sucks) and 9 other airlines I would never use. Conclusion – points are worthless. Keep the card for the fourth night benefit as it comes up, and airline credit, but for every day spend – heck no!
    Why keep points that are devalued significantly for the programs I ACTUALLY use – You know, Delta, American Airlines, SPG, etc???
    Thank you points are worthless, card has excellent perks though, keep it and use it sparingly, but its not worth it for every day purchases! When they get a clue and partner with domestic companies that dont suck (HHonors has lost me since their devaluation), we might use them for every day purchases.

  30. Maybe I’m being slow here lol, but I’m trying to make sense of this, so: if I apply in February 2016, I’m eligible for the $250 credit twice before I have to pay my annual fee again in February 2017, correct? Once before 12/31/2016, and then again between January 1st and February 2017. Right?

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