11 Reasons The Citi Prestige Is The Ultimate Credit Card

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Update: This offer for the Citi Prestige is expired. You can find the current offer details here.

The Citi Prestige Card has a $450 annual fee. On the surface, that’s something that would make most people say “whoa, that card isn’t for me.” But when you look at the benefits, I think many would be shocked by how much value they can get out of the card, including $500 worth of airfare before you pay your second year’s annual fee.

I consider this to be the all around hottest credit card out there, when you factor in the sign-up bonus, perks, and return on everyday spend.

I applied for the card a bit over a year ago, and have gotten more than $4,000 of value out of it in the first year, not factoring in the points I earned through everyday spend.

So, why is the Citi Prestige Card so awesome? Here are 11 reasons:

Citi-Prestige-Front-1

A 50,000 point sign-up bonus (worth $800+)

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 to get even more value.

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

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 for everyday spend (yes, I agree that seems counterintuitive). 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 1.7 cents each, that’s like a return of 5.1% on airfare and hotels, and a return of 3.4% on dining and entertainment.

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

A $250 airline credit ($500 the first year)

In case you’re intimidated by the card’s $450 annual fee, here’s something that 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.

Perhaps the best part is that with your first year’s annual fee you actually get $500 worth of airline credits. That’s because the airline credit is based on a calendar year, while your annual fee is based on your cardmember year.

Also keep in mind that the airline credit is offered on an annual basis, while your annual fee is charged based on your cardmember year (a rolling 12 month period). That means before you pay your second year’s annual fee, you’ll have received $500 worth of airline credits.

To provide my own experience, I activated my Citi Prestige Card last May. I used the airline credit pretty quickly, getting me a $250 statement credit.

Citi-Prestige-Credit-2

Then I received another airline credit in January of this year.

Citi-Prestige-Credit-1

That’s $500 with my first year’s annual fee (and with my second year’s annual fee I’ll get another $250 airline credit, valid starting in January 2017).

A fourth night free hotel benefit (or even better)

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.

In some cases you can even get more than one free night using this offer, as it can be combined with a third or fifth night free offer directly from the hotel, for example.

Four-Seasons-Fifth-Night-Free
Combine the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free with a Four Seasons fifth night free offer

Regardless, when you book using the Citi Prestige concierge you still get hotel points, status benefits, etc., as you usually would.

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 travel protection offered by any card, and was improved even further earlier in the year.

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

MasterCard is best for foreign transactions

Nowadays a lot of credit cards have no foreign transaction fees, though most people don’t realize that rates can differ based on the card you’re using. The Citi Prestige Card is a MasterCard, and MasterCard has the best rates for foreign purchases. So not only will you earn valuable points with your Citi Prestige Card when making foreign purchases, but you’ll also be getting the best conversion rate.

American Airlines Admirals Club access

When you have 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 900 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, while points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card can be redeemed for 1.33 cents each.

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 50,000 points will get you $800 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, Etihad Guest, etc. Here’s a full list of the Citi ThankYou transfer partners:

Air France/KLM | Flying BlueGaruda Indonesia | Frequent FlyerQatar Airways | Privilege ClubHilton | HHonors
Cathay Pacific | Asia MilesJetBlue | TrueBlueSingapore Airlines | KrisFlyer
EVA Air | Infinity MileageLandsMalaysia Airlines | EnrichThai Airways | Royal Orchid Plus
Etihad | Etihad GuestQantas | Frequent FlyerVirgin Atlantic | Flying Club

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.

For example, Singapore Airlines Suites Class is one of the world’s best first class products, and you can fly it between New York and Frankfurt for as little as 57,375 KrisFlyer miles (transferred 1:1 from Citi ThankYou), plus ~$200 in taxes.

KrisFlyer-Space

Meanwhile, paying cash for that ticket would cost ~$6,000 one-way.

KrisFlyer-One-Way

Not a bad way to fly, eh?

Singapore-Suites-1
Redeem Citi ThankYou points for flights in Singapore Airlines Suites 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.

Even if you’re someone who wouldn’t usually consider a $450 annual fee credit card, you should consider making an exception for the Citi Prestige Card.

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Comments

  1. Thanks Lucky! Just finished off my spend and netted my 50K points. Looking forward to trying out the other features of this card.

    I did move all my spend back to CSP though, I feel like UR are easier to use for non-airfare things like hotels. I have so much points banked towards airfare everywhere else that I really don’t want anymore, and that really seems to be where TY are most useful. Any other good uses of TY points that you think are worthwhile? What about netting some more TY points? I missed out on the Premier offer 🙁

  2. I love this card also, but have recently run into a couple snags with it…

    1) I had both the Citi Prestige and Premier cards, and when I called to cancel the Premier, the CSR told me that I had 60 days to use my TY points earned specifically on that card or they would be forfeit. Keeping the Prestige card didn’t matter- they said the points were tied to that specific card and had to be used or they disappear.

    2) I am in the process of planning a South Africa trip, and the 4th night free hotel benefit doesn’t apply at any of the safari lodges I want to stay at. Citi says that since these properties include food, drinks, and daily animal viewing rides, they are not a “normal” hotel and aren’t eligible for 4th night free. I tried to argue that this is no different than an all-inclusive beach resort that would have activities included, but I got the same response from 3 different CSRs and 2 supervisors.

    Anyone else had similar issues?

  3. I like your blog but really…this is like the one hundredth promotion of the Citi Prestige card by you. Getting redundant and boring!!!

  4. @DJ — You can downgrade your Premier card to a Preferred card with no annual fee. You won’t lose the points that way.

    Can’t help with the Safari, Sorry.

  5. @ DJ — Mike was able to use the Prestige to book at one of the safari lodges in the Sabi Sand, so it might just depend on the hotel?

  6. That’s great news on trip cancellation! I’ll switch from my CSP card which I thought would offer better protection. For some reason, I thought Citi was crummy and would not reimburse me on my wife’s first class award ticket on AA from LAX to JFK round trip more than the $11.20 in taxes and fees.

  7. @ DJ, can’t comment on safari lodges but I have booked all-inclusive packages with this benefit, and did so at a property that was not entirely all-inclusive (i.e. had them specifically book the all-inclusive rate at a hotel that also has normal rates). I’m with you – I don’t see the difference.

  8. The point Ben makes about the $500 airfare credit before the second year is simply not true I tried to use that as I got the card in December and they told me that I’d have had to use it before the end of the year or I’d lose it… So I don’t know what you mean thats not a perk or a benefit it’s just $250 airfare credit per year period…

  9. Something you didn’t even touch on is the free rounds of golf benefit. Insane value for travelers who also love to golf.

  10. Geez. You forgot about the 12th benefit, and possibly the most important to some. Three (3) free rounds of golf each year at some of the best courses in the world (that often times cost over $200/round.

  11. @ dataman — You get one $250 airline credit per calendar year, with each calendar year technically going from your December billing cycle until the following December billing cycle. Assuming you didn’t have a billing cycle which closed in December (which I assume you didn’t), you’d get one credit immediately (which counts towards 2016), and then another credit as soon as your December billing cycle closes at the end of the year, for your 2017 credit.

  12. I was told, via phone, by a citibank agent that the 50K sign-up point bonus could NOT be transferred to miles in a partner’s mileage program. True?

  13. Realistically, how long is the 4th night free benefit going to last? That’s really way, way, way too generous.

  14. @ Adam — Yep, as the hotel doesn’t even know that the night is being reimbursed, since it’s done behind the scenes.

  15. @ o.h.lee — It absolutely can be transferred to an airline mileage transfer partner. The agent was misinformed.

  16. I just wrote to Ben about this last week. I was in Sardinia and had a small accident with my rental car that was booked with AMEX. Italy is 1 of the 6 countries where AMEX won’t cover collision. The people at CitiCards told me to pay for the rental with my Prestige card and they would cover it. And, the card got me into the lounge at the Olbia airport because of the Priority Pass. The very lounge that, though they advertise many airlines including BA, they don’t have an agreement for biz class passengers traveling with BA.

    Thanks again, Ben!

  17. @o.h.lee “I was told, via phone, by a citibank agent that the 50K sign-up point bonus could NOT be transferred to miles in a partner’s mileage program.”

    Are you sure you called the right number? LOL

    That CSR either misunderstood, or you misunderstood, or they are in need of more training. This post lists 11 airlines and one hotel program you can transfer TYP into. You cannot however transfer TYPs from Citi checking account bonuses to other programs. Perhaps that’s where the confusion came from.
    .

  18. You forgot one of the BEST perks that the card offers:

    3 free rounds of golf each year at hundreds (or thousands?) of courses. If you’re a golfer this is huge!

    I’ve used it for courses that have $250 greens fees, saving me $750 just on golfing alone. Covered the annual fee and then some.

  19. Dear Lucky:
    I really enjoy your blog and have followed your advice very often. I have the Prestige card as well as the Premier card (transferred TY points to the Prestige account). My wife and I travel to Europe once a year and usually take 3-4 domestic flights per year as well as 1 to the Caribbean. Because we live in ABQ most of our travel is on American. We almost always travel economy class. It was hard for me to bite the bullet to pay $450 for the Prestige card but I am a believer. We have many other travel credit cards including airline (AA and SW), hotel (Hilton, IHG, Starwood) and Chase (UR) as well as Barclays and Discover (for the 2x first year).
    I am thinking of a strategy that would allow my wife to apply for a Prestige card in her name in order for her to receive the signup bonus just before my first year is finished, with the idea that I would not renew for the second year. My reasoning is that we only need one of these premium cards between the two of us because many of the advantages would be duplicated for the spouse, (eg. Admiral’s Club, 4th night free, etc.). But here are my worries> 1. What happens to my unused TY points? Will I lose them when my account is closed? Can I transfer them to her new account? Can I transfer them to a converted Prestige account (if there is such a thing).I guess I could transfer them to one of the airline partners; any other ideas for not losing them? 2. As to the second $250 calendar year credit. Could I buy an AA gift card? Is there a limit on how many such gift cards AA will let you use to purchase air fare? 3. What would my chances be of getting a new Prestige card at the end of my wife’s year? I realize that we are in a changing field and that what applies today may not apply in a year.
    Please feel free to edit this email in any way you wish to make it relevant to your readers.

  20. It would be great to get clearity on the Admirals Club access via the Citi Prestige card. I posted a question on the forum earlier this week. At the DCA Admirals Club in Terimnal B, at check in the agent informed me that this perk was going away. She then pointed to the co branded AA Citi Mastercard and said I would have to have this card in the future. Today, I was at the Admirals Club again at DCA in Terminal C. Same story. In Boston, no mention of this at all. Any idea if Citi is taking this perk away? Maybe it was a sell on the agent at DCA for the Citi co branded master card or she was confused about access v.s. a full membership. Thanks!

  21. @John Caffrey You can use up to 8 gift cards per transaction on AA (as far as I know). If you fly AA often, I would buy a couple gift cards and see if they give you the credit. That’s what I do with my Amex Platinum and it works great.

  22. The card entitles you and up to two guests (or immediately family members) to Admirals Club access.

    I think that should be immediate family members.

  23. Would you keep this card + Amex Platinum? (Both have $450 fees). Or would you cancel the Amex Platinum to keep just this one? I feel many of the benefits overlap.

  24. @Mikej – I am with you, we probably get a a post about the Citi Prestige card at least once a month.

    It gets repetitive for your readers who visit your blog everyday

    I understand you get perks if people apply through your link but Citi must definatley be giving you something extra to publicize the card the way you have.

    In fact nowadays you seem to be cutting back on your trip reports and selling credit card products instead

  25. Not a perfect card for me.
    My favorite (big brother) is the Citi Executive that gives me 10,000 EQM on American, free Admirals Club…. the rest does not affect me as far as bonuses. (Priority Club is silly. Have yet to use one in 5 years. And, everyone offers free PreCheck, TSA…. etc. Pre-Check is now longer of a line than standard TSA Security line.)
    The Premier is cheaper (little brother), and I do like it- but is the younger version of what is listed above. Costs less.
    In 2017, all is changing. I am thinking that most people have all of these benefits. Its better to be smart and pay for what you actually get……..aka- fewer short-cuts than before.

  26. By far the best card I’ve ever had. Reading the 4th night free benefit the terms mention it is some kind of Mastercard benefit but i know your stay is manually verified by someone contacting the hotel to determine whether you paid with the Prestige card. That’s really sort of weird and time-consuming, but worked to my benefit twice when, after booking Hyatt through Citi, I got Hyatt to lower the rate using a BRG.
    Citi reimbursed $740 for a night that cost $480 with the BRG.
    I was not sure this would work , so I weighed the BRG against not getting the 4th night free, and the BRG came out ahead…so I went ahead and used the BRG. The reservation number remained the same.
    It did take 5 phone calls and 4 months to get the reimbursement.

  27. Regarding booking Safari Lodges this seems to be pretty straight forward as not being allowed. Direct from the FAQ:
    “7. Are there hotel rooms or properties that do not qualify for the Complimentary 4th night benefit?
    a. Yes, exclusions apply. Eligible hotels do not include rooms in yachts, riverboats, cruises, campgrounds, castles, safaris, villas, apartment rentals and are not eligible for the complimentary 4th night benefit.”

  28. One of the best double dips I have used since getting the card is to book 4 nights at Hyatt and then use my DSU (from a status match) on those stays. Four nights in a suite for the cost of three nights at the senior rate. Yes, I am spending more than I would probably otherwise spend at a mediocre hotel, but worth the splurge since the Hyatt status match is likely a one time thing for me. Being in our 60’s, why not splurge?

  29. I count 14 posts in the last 60 days where this card is directly pushed, not even counting where it is mentioned in the body of a trip report or similar.

    Perhaps time the blog is renamed Tips, Tricks and Credit Card Pushing from Lucky?

  30. Folks, it’s ALLLLLLL about the conversions! Why do you think there are SEVENTEEN (17) credit card links in this ONE post? Does Lucky thing we are too fucking stoooopid to see the first SIXTEEN? Or FIFTEEN? Or…

    It’s ALLLLLLL about the conversions — the rest of the posts are fillers between the next #pumppumppump post.

    OneConversionataTime…

  31. @Golf people

    I’ve tried and tried to use this “benefit”. When I first received the Pres. card, I checked every golf course I’d want to play at in the greater Chicago area and EVERY time I could find a better deal by either booking directly on their site or a quick search to get a cheaper round. “Magically” the savings just about equaled the cost of the “4th” round. I.e. You have to book a 4-some and THEN you get the “free” prestige card round. Well, if your friends are OK w/ subsidizing your round by paying a higher cost than had you booked directly w/ the course or thru another site for an overall cheaper round (for them)…then maybe you’re the one not being a friend.

    I suppose if you’re company is paying you to entertain clients might be the only reason I see this benefit potentially being useful. Or perhaps I need to start looking at courses with $250/round prices. I’ve kept my rounds to < $150/round/person…and could always find a cheaper round where the total cost for all 4 was within $15 AFTER the 'free' prest. card round was taken into account.

    In short, if I played w/ you and found I could have paid less for the round and was subsidizing your play at my expense…I'd be pi**ed. And, no, a beer or two on the course or some food on the turn doesn't make-up for the extra $70 we each put in to pay for your round.

  32. I’m confident that this bonanza won’t last. These perks are unsustainable. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who just got the card only to find out the next month that it’s been devalued.

  33. @A. S.

    Wouldn’t it be grandfathered in, at least until re-enrollment comes up? After that point, you haven’t really lost anything if you end up canceling the card and still have pre-check credentials.

  34. @Gustavo
    As with anything, it comes down to your situation. I canceled my Amex Plat after I got the Prestige. The main benefits I see for the Plat that don’t overlap with Prestige are FHR and Centurion Lounges. I didn’t use either enough to justify the expense. I’m actually finding it hard to justify the Amex PRG as well other than for the sake of diversification.

  35. Hey Ben and others,

    is it possible as a german citizien to get this card?

    Have a nice day
    Stefan

  36. I am looking at getting a new card since the Chase INK Plus does not offer any lounge benefits. I’ve zeroed in on Citi Prestige.

    You stated: “A comprehensive Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent collection of airport lounges, with over 900 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.”

    I just called Citi and after finally getting a customer service agent, he represented that a holder can bring in FOUR guests for free (in a non-admiral’s club). Is your information stale or incorrect?

    You also stated: “When you have 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.”

    The agent also represented that this number was four too. I told him that I was going to specifically rely on his representations in applying for the card, and he gave me his info. Do you agree?

  37. Please modify in my post the word “guests” for “immediate family members,” i.e., “can bring in FOUR immediately family members for free” and “The agent also represented that this number was four immediate family members too.”

  38. Also, update that they removed: golf benefit and Admirals Club Access, and the 4th night free is not the actual 4th night free (like it used to be) but the average of the four nights, excluding taxes.

    I just spent 65 days in SE Asia and this was my go-to card and I intend on keeping this card as long as it makes sense for me; however, it was nearly impossible to use the 4th night free (we were in Myanmar and Cambodia….not reliable internet/phone). So I booked hotels on Hotels.com which you accumulate 1 free night for every 10 you stay, so it worked out to be about the same. I keep this card for the Priority Pass Lounge access.

    Since I have a banking relationship with City this card only cost me $350/year, so it’s like I’m buying the PP for $100 year. Not bad!

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