10 Reasons To Get The Citi Prestige Card

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The Citi Prestige Card is the all around hottest credit card out there, in my opinion. It was refreshed last year, and offers an extremely compelling value proposition. This is a “premium” credit card, so it does have a $450 annual fee, but fortunately the benefits more than offset it. Here’s why a vast majority of people should still find value in the card, in my opinion:

A great sign-up bonus

The Citi Prestige Card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3,000 within the first three months, which is a very generous bonus. Those 50,000 points can be redeemed for $800 towards the cost of a ticket on American Airlines, though below I’ll provide some other examples of how you can redeem those points.

Citi-Prestige-Signup-Bonus
The Citi Prestige Card sign-up bonus I earned last year

We also don’t know how much longer that sign-up bonus will be around.

Bonus points on airlines, hotels, dining, and more

Most “premium” credit cards come with perks, but don’t offer much in the way of bonus points. The Citi Prestige Card is different. It offers the following structure on earning points:

  • 3x points on airfare and hotels
  • 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • 1x point per dollar on other purchases

If you value those points at 1.6 cents each, that’s like a return of 4.8% on airfare and hotels, and a return of 3.2% on dining and entertainment.

Citi-Prestige-Bonus-Points
Earning triple points on the Citi Prestige Card

A $250 airline credit

In case you’re intimidated by the card’s $450 annual fee, here’s something which will help offset it right off the bat. The card offers a $250 annual airline credit. This can be used towards any purchase directly with an airline, including a revenue ticket, taxes on a mileage ticket, etc. I assume most people spend at least $250 per year with airlines, so just about everyone should get value out of this.

Using my mental accounting, that lowers the real annual “out of pocket” on the card to $200 (the $450 annual fee, minus $250 of value for this perk).

Citi-Prestige-Airline-Credit
My $250 airline credit has already posted for 2016

A fourth night free hotel benefit

In my opinion this is the single most valuable perk offered by any credit card. With this benefit you get a fourth night free at thousands of hotels around the world. The best part is that you don’t have to pay some inflated rate to book this. You can use this perk on pre-paid or promotional rates, making it much less restrictive than similar benefits offered by other cards.

For more information on this, seem my previous post on the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free hotel benefit.

St-Regis-Bali-Lagoon-Villa - 4
I’ve used the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit at the St. Regis Bali

Great travel protection

This card offers excellent travel protection, in the event that you or your bags get delayed while traveling. This protection covers a wide range of things, from car rental insurance, to trip cancellation coverage, to baggage delay or loss protection. It’s among the best protection offered by any travel card. See my previous post about the Citi Prestige Card’s travel protection for more details.

Chicago-Delays
Be protected with the Citi Prestige Card when your travel doesn’t go as planned

American Airlines Admirals Club access

When you have the the Citi Prestige Card, you get access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs whenever you’re flying American the same day. The card entitles you and up to two guests (or immediately family members) to Admirals Club access. Other than the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard®, this is the only other credit card which gets you access to Admirals Clubs.

American-Admirals-Club-Dallas-DFW-06
Exercise on your layover at the Admirals Club Dallas

A comprehensive Priority Pass membership

Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent collection of airport lounges, with over 850 lounges around the world. The Citi Prestige Card comes with a Priority Pass membership, which gets you access to those lounges regardless of which airline you’re flying.

Best of all, unlike with other credit cards, you can take in two guests for free with you.

Plaza-Premium-Lounge-London-Heathrow - 14
Access lounges like the Plaza Premium Lounge Heathrow with Priority Pass

$100 Global Entry credit

While I used to dread immigration, Global Entry has made it a breeze. The cost to join is $100 for five years, and it also gets you TSA Pre-Check. This gets you expedited airport screening, where you don’t have to take off your shoes, or take your liquids or laptop out of your bag at many major airports.

Global-Entry
Global Entry kiosks at most international US airports

If you have the Citi Prestige Card, you can charge the $100 fee to join Global Entry to the card, and you’ll be reimbursed for it.

Citi-Prestige-Global-Entry-Credit
My $100 Global Entry fee credit on the Citi Prestige Card

The ability to pool points

The Citi Prestige Card accrues ThankYou points, though each card accruing ThankYou points has points with slightly different values. On the whole, ThankYou points accrued using the Citi Prestige Card are the most valuable. For example, they can be redeemed for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of travel on American.

The good news is that if you have another card accruing Citi ThankYou points, like the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, you can transfer those points to the Citi Prestige Card to maximize the value of your points.

Combine-Citi-ThankYou-Rewards
Combine Citi ThankYou points from various accounts to maximize their value

Extremely valuable points

At a minimum, points earned on the Citi Prestige Card can be redeemed for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on American. That means 100,000 points will get you $1,600 towards the cost of travel on American.

American-Business-Class
Redeem Citi ThankYou points efficiently towards the cost of a paid ticket on American

But there are many other ways to redeem your points as well, including transferring them to airline partners like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Air France FlyingBlue, etc. Here’s a full list of the Citi ThankYou transfer partners:

Air France/KLM | Flying BlueGaruda Indonesia | Frequent FlyerQantas | Frequent FlyerTurkish Airways | Miles & Smiles
Cathay Pacific | Asia MilesJet Airways | JetPrivilegeQatar Airways | Privilege ClubVirgin Atlantic | Flying Club
EVA Air | Infinity MileageLandsJetBlue | TrueBlueSingapore Airlines | KrisFlyerHilton | HHonors
Etihad | Etihad GuestMalaysia Airlines | EnrichThai Airways | Royal Orchid Plus

If you want to redeem points for travel in first & business class, transferring points to a mileage program almost always represents a better value than redeeming points towards the cost of a ticket. That’s because first & business class is often only marginally more expensive when redeeming miles, while it can be exponentially more expensive when paying cash.

Air-France-First-Business-Class-36
Redeem Citi ThankYou points for flights in Air France business class

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige Card is a card I don’t see myself canceling as long as the benefits remain as strong as they are. The card is a winner in all three categories I use to evaluate cards — it has a great sign-up bonus, compelling return on everyday spend, and generous perks. It’s tough to beat that combination.

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Comments

  1. Hey Ben, I have Amex Platinum (almost 1MM RM) , Citi Executive (500K AA) and Chase Sapphire (130K), along with SPG and IHG and a very high credit score- does it make sense to add this card as well. Goal for next year is 2 Etihad Apartment flights as part of a RTW which hopefully will also include CX 1st on the return

  2. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a good Citi Prestige sell job.

    And if you’re going to sell sell sell…at least mention the free three golf rounds.

  3. Not the maximum value, but I’ve been enjoying using them for 1.25 cents per point for hotels in Sri Lanka where there aren’t any chain hotels outside of Colombo…unless you count Aman and I’m not getting any free nights there on hotel points.

  4. If Citi is trying to improve their premium offerings, they need to stop the ridiculous (and confusing) expiration policy of ThankYou points. MR and UR never expire- neither should TY points.

  5. Just got another targeted 100K offer for this card in the mail. I’m treating this card like the Amex Plat it competes with — 100K signup bonus or I’m not doing it. I’m already in for 200K ThankYou points!

    Of course… why would you mention that?

  6. I was approved for a Citi Thank You Premier 3 weeks ago just in time to snag the 50K bonus. Will Citi approve me for the Prestige this soon?

  7. @ Aditya S — With Citi you can apply for no more than one card every eight days, and no more than two cards every 65 days. In other words, you’d be eligible to get the bonus on this card if you got the Citi ThankYou Premier Card three weeks ago, as long as you didn’t get another Citi card in the past 65 days.

  8. @ Kenny — On one hand you don’t want to over diversify, but I do think this card is a great option if you value the perks. Citi ThankYou is a partner with Etihad so you could transfer those points there, but that might not be the best option. At a minimum the sign-up bonus will get you $800 in travel on American or $625 of other travel purchases. You can also transfer them for other aspirational awards, like Singapore Suites Class.

    It’s the perks which really set this card apart, so assuming you get value out of the perks, I’d absolutely go for it.

  9. Well, Ben, you left it out again! You also get access to all TPC courses in the US and great courses overseas. I will be playing twice in Portugal. Travel agent had them booked at $200 each but I cancelled and rescheduled through Citi for free! That’s dollars I was prepared to spend and $400 in my pocket. And one round left to play at a TPC course in the US. Just that alone makes the card worth it for a traveling golfer!

  10. @Lucky……..I currently have the Citi Thank You Premier and received a 50,000 bonus about 6 month ago.

    Am I entitled to another 50,000 (or potentially 100k targeted) bonus points if I apply for the Citi Prestige Card? If so, has anyone been successful doing both? Thanks!

  11. Here are my thoughts for this card as a recent holder of the card.

    I applied at a local branch because the annual fee is $350 vs $450. You do NOT need a Citigold checking account to receive this lower annual fee. The process of applying at a branch was not much different than applying online. A banker simply sits you down at a desk and has you fill out an online application through their portal. When the application was submitted, I didn’t get an immediate approval, instead, got an email saying that they are reviewing my application and will have a decision in 7 days. No number to call or anything. Odd and annoying given that i have ~800 FICO score and good income.

    It actually took almost 2 full weeks for me to get my card. Again, annoying when Amex Plat sends your card overnight. So first impressions weren’t great. When I got the card, I was also disappointed that the card itself is a very thin flimsy plastic. I guess this can be good or bad. On one hand, the card feels very “cheap” but on the other hand, if you carry a lot of cards in your wallet, it won’t add much to the bulk of your wallet.

    I got this card mainly for the 4th night free benefit that Ben loves so much so i was excited to give it a go. I called up the concierge to book my first hotel for a trip I have coming up. I had to wait listening to terrible hold music for 25 minutes and when someone finally picked up, I knew right away she wasn’t the brightest. After 20 minutes on the phone with her, she couldn’t get a simple reservation right (ie. tried to book the wrong rate) so I said forget it and just hung up. 45 minutes completely wasted. Later that day, when I had time again, I tried again. This time, I “only” had to wait 20 minutes on hold but the agent was much more competent and had my reservation booked within about 10 minutes. So once I get my 4th night refund, my annual fee would be just about paid for. Even though the process sucks, I say that is a win.

    Some of the other benefits:

    The priority pass is huge. I would say this alone is worth $100-200/year depending on how often you fly.
    AAdmirals Club: everyone knows how much AA charges for an annual membership. Now whether it’s worth the price AA wants is another matter, but it’s a nice perk to have with this card.

    Free golf: Haven’t had a chance to use it, but if you can maximize all 3 rounds a year, it’ll more than pay itself for the card.

    Conclusion: This card isn’t perfect. In my two times that I reached out to concierge to book hotels, the wait times were way too long, compared to say the CSP card, where the 800 number connects you directly to a human instantly. But the benefits are definitely there and more than justifies the annual fee. Everyone should get it.

  12. @Lucky
    Ben, you mentioned you don’t plan to cancel this card “as long as the benefits remain as strong as they are.” For the various other reward cards that you don’t keep, would you cancel them right before the next annual fee kicks in, or do you cancel them as soon as you’ve received/used the targeted benefit? It would seem (based on “average length of credit” component of credit scoring) that it would be better to cancel reward cards ASAP to avoid having too many new cards that drag your average length of credit down. What do you think/do?

    Thanks for your insights.

  13. Hi lucky,

    just wanted to ask whether i can combine the 4th free night with virtuoso?

    eg. i make the booking via the concierge (paying best available rate) and then email my virtuoso agent and ask them to modify the reservation to get the virtuoso amenities.

    I normally do that for my past stays eg. book online via hyatt/spg/hilton and then email my virtuoso agent my loyalty membership details & confirmation number and they can manually change my booking

    it would be great if i could combine both of them and on most properties that means USD 100 free credit on top of 4th free night

  14. Yes, the card is flimsy. But the worst part is the location of the magnetic stripe. It’s exactly flipped from where everyone expects it. I’ve never had anyone get it right on the first try, even when I tell them. I love the card, and am averaging > 2 points per dollar even though I’m using it exclusively. But why do they do that to the stripe?

  15. @Fred,

    I’ve asked my Virtuoso agent about this an been told that the fourth night free Prestige benefit is not combinable with the Virtuoso rate benefits. It makes sense as the hotel is not going to pay two commissions (one to Virtuoso and one to Carlson Wagonlit via the Citi concierge service). Please let us know if you find out otherwise.

    @Lucky,

    Do you know if the Prestige card provides any trip interruption insurance on award travel?

  16. @Harold,

    They have redesigned the card and returned the strip to the back of the card. I ordered a replacement that just came this week. Now hopefully the ink won’t rub off so fast on the new one either. It’s definitely the cheapest physical quality premium credit card I’ve ever had.

  17. Ditto on lousy experience with the concierge /4th. night perk. Over 3 calls, I’ve spent 1 5 hous on the phone, am so sick of the SINGLE hold song they play, and STILL have no reservation. Now the rate I had is gone, and up by 30%. I don’t have the time for this “perk.”

  18. Is there a credit card that offers better travel protection than Prestige? CSP probably comes close because of primary on rental cars and because airline tickets are covered even if the card is used to make partial payment. But overall, it looks like the Prestige offers the best protection.

  19. @Ian: “If Citi is trying to improve their premium offerings, they need to stop the ridiculous (and confusing) expiration policy of ThankYou points.”

    They just sent out an update on ThankYou points expirations. TY Points earned with the prestige and premier cards don’t expire… in fact it looks like TY Points earned on most cards no longer expire.

  20. Does anyone have any data points on retention bonuses or annual fee reductions offerred at the anniversary date (where I’ll be in a few weeks). I’ve been a light user of the card at the end of my first year, and trying to decide if $450 is worth renewing

  21. Where are these Citi branches? They’ve closed all of them down in Houston and Dallas two cities I frequent, but I’v got some trips coming up and might even plan a trip just so i can go to a branch and apply instead.

  22. ‘If you want to redeem points for travel in first & business class, transferring points to a mileage program almost always represents a better value than redeeming points towards the cost of a ticket.’

    Could you please explain this more clearly, I really don’t understand it. What is the difference between redeeming points as mileage vs buying a ticket with the points? How do you do one vs. the other? What do you mean by transferring points to a mileage program?

    Thanks

  23. I love this card. I always wondered why the points are valued so low. Considering if you book an AA flight you receive 1.6 cents/ point, but then you are awarded advantage miles since it’s a revenue fare. I would argue it’s worth at least what an American mile is worth. Thought?

  24. Good insights from post and comments. Few questions for experts here:

    1. Can I simply purchase AA gift cards if I think I wont be able to purchase tickets? Is there a limit on GC.

    2. 50K points – since they don’t transfer to AA or even Avios – any suggestion on how to leverage it best for domestic travel withing USA.

    3. Ties into #2 – if I cancel my card, what happens to my point if they are not already transferred. I am thinking gift cards of some sort but might not be the best thing.

    4. For additional user, its $50 fee so what benefit that gains

  25. Just got a downgrade email from Citi Prestige. Did anyone else get it?
    Here are the highlights:

    As a valued cardmember, we want to inform you of changes to your Citi Prestige card. As of July 23, 2017 , some of your existing benefits will no longer be offered or will be changed.

    Lounge Access
    Access to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges will no longer be offered with your Citi Prestige® Card.

    You will continue to have complimentary access to Priority Pass TM Select Lounges and Citi® Proprietary Lounges. You, your authorized users, immediate family or up to two guests will continue to enjoy access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide.

    Redeeming ThankYou® Points for Flights
    You will only receive 25% greater value versus gift cards on all airfare redemptions with your ThankYou® points. For example, 50,000 ThankYou points will now be redeemable for $625 in airfare on all airlines available at thankyou.com.

    Complimentary International Golf
    The three complimentary rounds of golf will no longer be offered with your card for reservations made on or after July 23, 2017. You’ll continue to have access to over 2,000 celebrated and legendary golf properties around the world with access to select TPC properties provided by MasterCard.

    Complimentary 4th Night *
    The Complimentary 4th Night benefit will be calculated based on the average nightly rate of your complete stay for reservations made on or after July 23, 2017. Please see the reverse side of this letter for examples of how the benefit will be calculated. Taxes will no longer be included within the statement credit. You will still be able to enjoy your benefit at any hotel with no restrictions on the number of times you can use this benefit. All other terms of the Complimentary 4th Night benefit will remain unchanged.

    The following benefits of your Citi Prestige card will remain unchanged:
    Ÿ Your annual $250 Air Travel Credit
    Ÿ $100 Statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA Pre Ö ® application fee
    Ÿ No foreign transaction fees on purchases
    Ÿ 24/7 Access to the Citi Prestige Concierge
    Ÿ 3x Points on Air Travel & Hotels, 2X points on Dining & Entertainment and 1 Thank You® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
    Ÿ Travel & Emergency Assistance, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection and Trip Delay Protection
    Ÿ If you have an eligible banking relationship, you will continue to receive your Relationship Bonus.
    We continually explore ways to enhance your Citi Prestige experience. Please continue to visit citi.com/citiprestige or refer to your Directory of Services which contains the Terms & Conditions of your benefits.

    We encourage you to take advantage of the changing benefits through July 23, 2017 in conjunction with the many remaining exceptional benefits that enhance your experiences wherever your adventures take you.

  26. Yes I just got that too. Classic example of bait and switch/remove. Get a whole bunch of people on board and then remove and change the huge benefit features. Admirals club access was my main reason for getting this card. Now theres no point to going American Airlines. I’m going to be looking elsewhere for a new credit card. I knew this was too good to be true.

  27. Citi destroyed what was a great card. I will renew next month to receive for a final year the benefits I signed-up for and to liquidate my 150,000 TYPs. I will then cancel the card.

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