1 Year Anniversary: Crunching The Numbers On The Citi Prestige Card

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A bit over a year ago I signed up for the Citi Prestige® Card, which I now consider to be the all around best credit card out there. I was motivated to sign up when the card offered an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points upon completing minimum spend.

However, now that I’ve had the card for over a year, I consider it to be the all around most lucrative card out there, when you factor in the sign-up bonus, return on everyday spend, and most importantly, the perks.

Shortly after I signed up for the Citi Prestige® Card I wrote a post trying to estimate what the sign-up bonus is worth. Well, I’ve now had the card for a bit over a year, and have just recently been billed for the second year’s annual fee of $450.

Citi-Prestige-Annual-Fee

With that in mind, I figured I’d put numbers to the value I’ve received from the Citi Prestige® Card in the first 12 months:

Sign-up bonus: $800

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points upon completing minimum spend. Those points can be transferred to one of the ThankYou airline partners, or otherwise can be redeemed for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on American.

As a result, at a minimum those 50,000 points get me $800 towards travel on American. Since I’m an American flyer, I value that more or less at face value.

However, in my case I actually used the 50,000 ThankYou points towards a Singapore Airlines Suites Class ticket between New York and Frankfurt, which I find to be considerably more valuable. A one-way ticket can be booked for just 57,375 KrisFlyer miles. Converting Citi ThankYou points into KrisFlyer miles is one of my favorite uses of those points.

Singapore-Suites-Double-Bed

Airline credits: $500

While there are a few cards out there offering airline credits, I don’t know of any others which are as “no strings attached” as the one offered by the Citi Prestige® Card. Each calendar year you get a $250 airline credit which can be spent on any airline purchase.

Once you make a purchase directly from an airline, it will automatically be reimbursed, up to $250.

I took advantage of this last May:

Citi-Prestige-Credit-2

And then for my 2016 credit, I took advantage of it in January:

Citi-Prestige-Credit-1

In other words, before my second year’s annual fee was even due I already received $500 in airfare, which in and of itself is more than the first year’s annual fee.

Global Entry credit: $100

The Citi Prestige® Card also offers a Global Entry fee credit. I’ve had Global Entry for years and couldn’t imagine dealing with immigration without it, given how much I travel.

Global-Entry

So I was able to use my $100 credit to get Ford signed up for Global Entry.

Citi-Prestige-Credit-3

Admirals Club access: $300

The Citi Prestige® Card offers Admirals Club access as long as you’re flying American same day. You can even take in two guests or immediate family members.

An Admirals Club membership goes for $400+, though I don’t value it at face value. Based on how much I use it, I’d say I value the Admirals Club access I get through the card at ~$300.

I find it to be valuable for domestic travel, as it’s a great place to connect to free wifi in relative peace, get a shower, or grab a cup of coffee.

American-Admirals-Club-Dallas-DFW-06
The Admirals Club in Dallas even has a mini-gym

Priority Pass membership: $150

The Citi Prestige® Card offers the most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any credit card. While some other cards also offer a Priority Pass membership, there’s one major difference — the membership through the Prestige Card comes with free guesting privileges, while those with other cards charge you $27 per guest.

The thing is, I also have The Platinum Card® from American Express, so to be completely fair I’ll only value the Priority Pass membership offered by this card based on the ability to take guests. Based on the number of times I’ve taken guests into lounges using my Priority Pass membership, I’d value it at ~$150.

Plaza-Premium-Lounge-London-Heathrow - 14
Access the Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow using a Priority Pass membership

Fourth night free hotel benefit: $2,200

The fourth night free benefit is a killer perk which puts the Citi Prestige® Card in a league of its own. The benefit works at a vast majority of chain hotels, and is available on virtually any publicly available rate.

Best of all, you still earn points and elite qualifying stays/nights for your stays when booking through the card, and even earn points for the night for which you’re reimbursed. That’s because the reimbursement happens on the back-end, directly onto your credit card statement.

Citi-Prestige-4th-Night-Free

In some cases you can even use this benefit to get two or more nights for free on a longer stay, as I explained in a previous post.

All-in-all I’ve used this benefit nine times since I got the card, and it has saved me ~$2,200. That’s insane.

St-Regis-Bali-Lagoon-Villa - 17
I used the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit at the St. Regis Bali

Citi Prestige Card bottom line

By my math, I’ve gotten over $4,000 of value out of the Citi Prestige Card in the first year. The Citi Prestige® Card is already the credit card which has given the most lifetime value, and I’ve only had it for a year. This card really has it all — a great return on everyday spend, excellent sign-up bonus, and incomparable perks.

It goes without saying that I gladly paid the annual fee for another year, and look forward to continuing to use it.

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Comments

  1. I got a survey yesterday from Citi Prestige asking about how import each benefit was to me and floated some potential changes in benefits.

  2. My one complaint would be that the Prestige should have the same or better spending categories as the Premier Card…but other than that, I agree…hands down one of the best cards I have in my wallet next to the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  3. I can’t believe you’ve never used the travel interruption benefit. $500 benefit for flight delays > 3 hours comes in clutch.

  4. Very nice! This requires $3000 of spend in the first 3 months to get the 50,000 TYPs. If you put in $250 of spend in airfare and $2750+ of spend in other categories, does the $250 count towards the $3000 minimum spend even though it gets re-imbursed by Citi?

  5. @ P — No, you have to spend $3,000 “net,” not factoring in things which could be reimbursed.

  6. @ Tommy Trash — Heh, I guess for the most part I just don’t have many travel interruptions.

  7. @ Steve Young — Agree it would be nice, though keep in mind that the Citi Prestige Card has one of the very best returns of any premium credit card. For example, the Amex Plat doesn’t offer any bonus categories at all, so is much worse for everyday spend than the EveryDay Preferred, Premier Rewards Gold Card, etc. The general logic is that those with premium cards value perks over points, though I think the Citi Prestige Card is still quite good in that regard.

  8. If you factor the second year’s $250 airfare credit into your year 1 valuation, then I guess thats $250 less in your second year value.

  9. @ Mason — Yes and no, except with my second year’s annual fee I’d still get the 2017 credit, with my third year’s annual fee the 2018 credit, etc. So long term you get one more airline credit than annual fee.

  10. I got this card after your original article (Oct ’15?) and was able to get the $250 before the new year but now I’ll just keep it bc it’s been so great. Also, you have such great reports re content/style/visual- keep up the good work.

  11. I’m looking at getting this card. Do authorized users get the $100 global entry benefit also? For instance I would like to get GE and add my so as an AU so he could also.

  12. $2200 in hotel benefits means you’re spending way more money on the first 3 nights.

    Repeat after me – if you have to spend money, you’re not saving money. Plus you can get more than 25% off on many aggregator sites for a similar benefit (and find deals on other hotels instead of being locked into whatever Citi has)

    Similarly, would anyone who’s in the miles and cards game ever actually pay for lounge access or guesting people? No. They would always have a card for free access. So that cost shouldn’t be added either.

  13. Love this for the perks, and the 3x points on travel spending is another reason it’s my go-to card for travel. The one downside is that transfers take longer than Sapphire in my experience, which is frustrating when I have to wait several days before booking a flight with one or two premium seats left. But still my go-to card.

  14. I picked up this card in Feb.’16. It has already paid for the annual fee easily. First I had booked a 6 night stay in Seville, Spain in May. The Prestige Concierge found the same room for a hundred dollars less per night before even accounting for the 4th night refund. My second card statement had the $250.00 airline credit posted. Last week I booked a 4 night Club Level stay at the Intercontinental Miami for a pre-cruise stay. The Intercontinental tried to slip a $200.00 Ambassador activation fee on my card. The Prestige Concierge stood up for me, complained and secured an apology, a $100/night rate reduction, the $200 refunded, a guaranteed harbor view club room and an offer for the chef to make us something special. This Concierge is awesome!

  15. I live in Canada & Citi won’t let me apply for a card. You must live in USA

  16. @Lucky, why didn’t you apply in Branch, you could ve got 30000 points plus additional 30000 points for spending $12000 in 6 months; applying in Citi branch also gives you annual fee for $350 for as long as you have the card.

    You can also get the $350 annual fee if you have a Citigold account but the former option is less expensive if you do that have $50k to maintain in bank

  17. @m “Repeat after me – if you have to spend money, you’re not saving money.”

    So if you aren’t getting something for free you aren’t saving money?

  18. @P @lucky: I asked Citi this same question when I first got this card (about a year ago) and was told clearly that they calculate spend without deducting the airline reimbursement (and worth noting that the annual fee does not count as spend). I even double-checked this with a different rep. While it’s possible they’ve changed this in the meantime, I doubt it.

  19. Thanks–love the card, which I got after reading about it here in March. Your website’s great.

  20. Great post. Thanks for laying it out and showing what you’ve saved along the way. It’s helpful because I can pretty quickly think through what I would have saved.

  21. Agree with @Mileage Man – Lucky almost never mentions the CitiGold $100 off offer, probably because he loses the commission.

    Knowledge = power (and saving money!)

  22. Wow you “saved” more with the fourth night benefit than I’ve even spent at 40+ nights in hotels the last year during my trips. I’m not in this game to save 25% off hotels – I’m in for 90+% savings using points.

  23. I am waiting for my Citi Prestige card in the mail. Have a quick question on how the 4th night free benefit works.

    How does Citi know how much to reimburse for the fourth night (assuming that they also reimburse you for the taxes and other fees)? Do they have access to the itemized bill from the hotel? Do they just base it on what the travel agent booked, and assume no other changes were made once you completed your stay?

  24. @ John — They base it on the stated room rate, taxes, and fees at the time of booking, which are always in the rate breakdown. They will tell you what the refund amount is when you book.

  25. @ Sam — And that’s perfectly fair. In fairness, I do live in hotels. 😉 I was sharing what I saved, and not suggesting others would save a similar amount, necessarily.

  26. Lucky – Thanks for this and all the valuable posts.

    Question – should you add the value of the points earned from your spending to your return? If you’ve earned an extra 50K points from your spending, wouldn’t you have an extra $800 in value?

    For me, I’ve had the card 6 months and used it on mostly travel to maximize the 3x.
    I did the numbers and I feel I’ve gotten $3300 in benefits on $12K spent, with half being in statement credit on my account, which is basically cash back. That includes the 50K bonus and 36K in points earned from my spending.

    Thanks again for all of your posts.

  27. If Citi would add American Airlines as a transfer partner I would only use my Prestige, and toss my CSP.

  28. Lucky

    My sister is getting the Prestige card on my recommendation,
    She travels extensively for business. They live in Dallas and fly American almost exclusively

    I have a number of pretty esoteric questions on the Thank You program.

    1) She is under impression that to use Priority Club benefit you must have an international ticket.
    I have used it on domestic flights. Did I just get lucky (no pun intended) or is the international flight requirement in terms and conditions of use?

    2) Confirm second card holder (cost $50) gets use of AAdmiral’s club and can bring in two guests without traveling with Primary card holder. Then I assume when traveling together they can bring in four guests for a total of six?

    Since he rarely travels without her, she is considering getting her husband a Citi Premier rather than making him a second card holder on Prestige to pick up the Premier’s signup bonus.

    Unless your aware of a better link the current offer on Premier is 40K Thank You points which is same as Prestige and the first year’s $95 fee waived on Premier.

    3) Please confirm she could then transfer his Premier Thank You points to her Prestige Thank You account to get 1.6 cents on AA.com but must spend the equivalent number of points out of her account within 90 days

    4) I assume all points in account are lost immediately if any Thank You card is canceled. How long does the transfer take to move points between Thank You accounts? Confirm that at the end of the year she can move all of his points in his Premier account into her Prestige and cancel the Premier and then has 60 days from Premiers cancellation date to spend them from her account.

    5) Confirm she could also downgrade his Premier to (no fee) Preferred and would then keep the same account number and points would transfer there automatically and retain their no expiration date?

    6) As an alternate plan, confirm she could he apply for a Preferred before the Premier expires and pick up another sign up bonus (currently 20K) and then transfer his points there before canceling the Premier but would still have the 60-day expiration

    7) I had an excellent experience with a trip cancellation claim on the Prestige card
    Does the travel cancellation and delay insurance differ in any way between the three Thank You Products?

    f) Please confirm that if you charge a trip on any card and then cancel the card before the trip then you have no coverage but what if you downgrade from one product to one with lower or no fee,
    (Prestige to Premier or Preferred, Premier to Preferred.)

    Know this is a long and complex question but think it raises interesting points.

    Differences in trip cancellation and delay insurance offered by different Banks and their individual card products would be a great topic for one of your future columns

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