Last Chance: Get Citi Prestige $250 Airline Credit For 2015

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Several weeks I wrote a post entitled “Why You Should Get The Citi Prestige Card Soon.”

As I’ve explained before, the Citi Prestige® Card is one of the all around most compelling credit cards out there, as it offers a great sign-up bonus, great perks, and a great return on everyday spend.

To verrrrrrry briefly recap:

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, the Citi Prestige® Card offers:

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 this is your last chance for the 2015 airline fee credit

As I explained in the previous post, the Citi Prestige® 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 ASAP 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 in the next few days, so that you have a full billing cycle before the end of the year. Again, in terms of mental accounting this minimizes your up front “out of pocket” for the card.

Doing the math

If you apply for the Citi Prestige® Card today, hopefully you’ll have it in your possession and activated within a week, which puts us around November 22, give or take. Then the first billing cycle would close around December 22. As long as you spend $250 on airlines during the first billing cycle, you should hopefully get that amount reimbursed.

Then the following billing cycle you can pick up another $250 airline credit.

Again, this includes virtually any purchase processed directly by the airline, including gift cards (assuming they process them directly).

That’s $500 in airline credits in a matter of months, which is incredible. That puts you $50 “ahead” of the annual fee, and that doesn’t even begin to factor in how amazing this card is for the perks it offers, in particular the fourth night free hotel benefit.

St-Regis-Bali
St. Regis Bali (booked using the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit)

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige® Card is my all around favorite credit card. The Admirals Club access and Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges are awesome, the fourth night free benefit has literally saved me thousands of dollars this year alone, and the airline credit helps offset the annual fee.

This is a card I picked up earlier in the year, and one I plan to hold onto for a very long time. If you’ve been thinking of getting the Citi Prestige® Card and want to minimize your out of pocket, now is the time to apply.

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Comments

  1. This tortured and venal logic is starting to get to me. If I wait until January 2016 to get the card, I still get two $250 credits. I get one in 2016 and one in 2017. I still only have to pay the AF once. Not to mention if you’re keeping this card on an ongoing basis, which YOU recommend, then this whole effort is pointless. Not sure what the rush is… Other than blogger needs to buy his family Xmas gifts

  2. Great post!!! I just got approved for prestige. Regarding gift card purchases, can we buy gift card of $250 in single purchase or do we have to buy $100 or less to get the benefit like amex platinum/PRG. I think Amex won’t give reimbursement if we make transaction of more than $100 especially for AA gift cards. So got to make separate transactions. Any data points for this? Thanks.

  3. @ Shan — No need to buy in smaller increments, you can buy $250 at once. Just keep in mind the purchase has to be processed directly by the airline.

  4. @strv. You’re wrong. I thought the same last year and I did not. Timing is everything. And you’re not the only person on earth who reads this stuff so get over yourself or unsubscribe.

  5. Thanks for the tip, Lucky. I was contemplating getting this card and decided to go for it so that I can get the airline credit this year. I just received my card today and activated it. I want to make sure to do this correctly. Do I understand correctly that I can get the credit by booking directly with any US airline as long as the charge posts in my first billing cycle because that billing cycle will close before the end of 2015?

  6. @lucky,

    Unfortunately AA didn’t accept my purchase of gift cards since I live in NJ. Also I see United airlines have miles processed by Points.com; Do you know anywhere else I can buy gift cards or miles at a reasonable price of $100 ? I already have made $150 in flight purchases and my AA buy miles is maxed on the 125k limit/yr.

  7. FYI – Alaska Airlines gift cards are not eligible for the airline fee credit. Apparently, they process specifically as a gift card purchases and, as per a secure message from Citi, are not coded as “airfare, fees, lounge access or inflight purchases”. Lame.

  8. Somewhat confused on $250 credit, I thought if I purchased before end of Dec I would get credit now it looks like I had to purchase before end of December billing cycle. My Dec payment was due on Dec 4, was that my December billing cycle? Next payment due Jan 2. I called Citi for clarification, they had no idea what I was talking about. Thanks.

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