The Citi Prestige Card’s 4 Major Changes: Is The Card Still Worth It?

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Update: Citi has clarified that existing and new cardholders will receive all the current benefits of the Citi Prestige until 7/23/17. The post below has been updated to reflect this.

Over the past week the Citi Prestige Card has undergone some major changes, which we at least had a bit of advance notice about. I was sad to see that changes were coming to the card, given that I consider it to be the all around most lucrative card out there. Over the past several days we’ve slowly learned about the changes being made, and it seems like we now have full info as to what the changes are.

With that in mind, I figured I’d cover the four changes being made to the Citi Prestige Card. While the changes are mostly negative, the good news is that many of them don’t take effect until late July of 2017.

Citi-Prestige-1

Citi-Prestige-2

Decreased sign-up bonus with increased minimum spend

The Citi Prestige Card used to have a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months, while the sign-up bonus is now 40,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months.

Of course this change is bad news, though on the plus side at least the bonus didn’t drop to zero, as was the case with the Citi ThankYou Premier Card. That would be much more drastic.

No more Admirals Club access

American Admirals Club access will no longer be a benefit of the card after July 23rd of 2017, but all Citi Prestige cardholders will have access in the interim. Citi and American renegotiated their contract, and I’m guessing the two companies couldn’t agree on a price, since American ended up going with a non-exclusive agreement with both Citi and Barclaycard.

Do keep in mind that the Citi Prestige Card still comes with the best Priority Pass membership of any credit card out there, as you get access to Priority Pass lounges with up to two guests for free. Meanwhile other premium credit cards charge you to take guests into lounges.

Admirals-Club-1
Admirals Club access will no longer be a Citi Prestige Card benefit

Decreased value for redemptions on American

Previously ThankYou points could be redeemed for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of travel on American, or 1.33 cents each towards the cost of travel on other airlines. Going forward, the card will offer a flat 1.33 cents per point towards the cost of an airline ticket, so there’s no longer extra value for booking on American.

American-Economy
Redeeming points for paid travel on American is now more expensive

Fortunately there are other great uses of ThankYou points, like transferring them to Singapore KrisFlyer.

Singapore-Suites-1
I sure don’t mind redeeming Citi ThankYou points for Singapore Suites!

No more free golf

The Citi Prestige Card comes with three free rounds of golf per year, which many people valued. It’s not something I ever used, but I know it saved a lot of people money. That benefit isn’t advertised for new cardmembers anymore, though all cardholders will still receive three rounds of golf per year, provided reservations are made on or before 7/23/17.

What do I make of these changes?

Of course the changes are negative, and I’m not happy to see them. Do keep in mind that many of these benefits continue for the next year, so at least we’re getting plenty of notice.

On one hand I’m a bit disappointed to see so many negative changes at once. A decreased sign-up bonus and fewer perks while maintaining the same annual fee is unfortunate. At the same time, we can hope that they ripped the band-aid off all at once here, so to speak, and that these are all the changes that are in store.

Is the Citi Prestige Card still worth it?

Given that many of the perks of the card are still around for the next year, is the card still worth it for those who might just be applying? Personally I think the answer is still yes.

The card has a $450 annual fee, though still comes with a $250 airline credit (really it’s $500 of credits before your second year’s annual fee is due). That essentially lowers your yearly out of pocket on the card to $200, at least for mental account purposes, if you subtract the $250 airline credit from the $450 annual fee. Keep in mind that the airline credit can be applied to any airline purchase, including the cost of a ticket.

Citi-Prestige-Credit-1

So for $200 per year you’re getting:

  • A Priority Pass Select membership with two free guests per visit
  • A great rewards structure where you’re earning triple points on airfare and hotels, and double points on dining and entertainment
  • A fourth night free hotel benefit

That last benefit is really the best, and singlehandedly what gets me the most value with the card. I’m thrilled that no changes were made to that benefit. For example, in the first year alone I got ~$2,200 of value out of the fourth night free benefit.

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige Card isn’t as beyond-amazing as it used to be, but it’s a card I’ll still get a ton of value out of. The fourth night free perk is the benefit on this card that gets me the most value, and that’s sticking around. As long as that isn’t modified further, I’m a happy camper.

I’d rather all the above changes be made than them eliminate the fourth night free hotel benefit, personally.

Still, there’s no denying that all around these are negative changes. But the card sort of was too good to be true, so…

How do these changes impact whether or not you’ll keep the Citi Prestige Card?

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Comments

  1. Did the fourth night free benefit change from simply removing the final night from the bill to removing the average price of a night across the four nights?

  2. I’ve read somewhere (can’t remember exactly which blog) that the 4th night benefit will change to becoming only average of total nights refunded not the 4th night and also refund will not include taxes. Is this true??

  3. Hi Lucky,

    Is the 1:$1.33 reduction for American ticket purchases immediate for all cardholders, or do existing cardholders still have the opportunity to redeem at 1:$1.60? (I got mine just under the wire for a year of AA lounge access — thank you for the heads up, I went to the bank the next day to apply.)

  4. Hi Ben,

    I’m (was) booked ICN-DFW in December on F but it seems like it’ll be J now according to the seat map. But I booked these seats under the old redemption rate of 62,500 miles one-way.

    Do you know what the compensation would be for the downgrade?

    Thanks!

  5. Thanks for all your help with reviewing this card, Lucky. I recently applied through the link on your site and just received the card.

    However, I can’t find a specific reference anywhere (online or in the literature that came with the card) to the fact that the Priority Pass card lets you take two guests in without paying $27 for each person. The PP welcome packet doesn’t reference the Citi Prestige specifically. And the card looks exactly the same as the one I have from my AmEx Platinum.

    Am I missing something? Any help would be much appreciated!

  6. “That essentially lowers your yearly out of pocket on the card to $200, at least for mental account purposes, if you subtract the $250 airline credit from the $450 annual fee. ”

    I dont like this logic. This means you HAVE to book a trip or two on the card. if Im flying United, for example, id be better off charging to my United card to get those airline specific benefits (free bag, priority).

    I mean, thats the entire reason they give you the credit instead of charging a $200 flat fee. By using that “benefit” youre giving something up. Thats why they keep it around.

  7. It seems it is now an average of the 4 nights, versus a refund of the specific 4th night. For folks with great flexibility, having the specific 4th night refunded is more valuable. But for semi warrior travel warriors having the average of the 4 nights works well enough that I will likely earn at least $500 to $1000 in benefits from the card this year. In fact, I will keep 2 of them just to make my life easy to separate business from personal use of the rebate in the years to come.

  8. @bill @Ramy I don’t think that change made the final cut. Per the terms and conditions of the new card offer:

    Receive a statement credit for one complimentary night (room rate for the fourth night and applicable taxes only). Hotel imposed fees and incidental guest charges are the Cardmember’s responsibility. Cardmember will be charged the total cost of the stay at checkout and will receive a credit to the credit card statement for the cost of the fourth night (and the applicable taxes)

  9. @Ramy
    the Points Guy mentioned that aabout the 4th night free benefit.

    Lucky can you comment?

  10. I think this is BY FAR the best card still. No mention of reducing the affiliate commission. So that makes it the best caRd as far as I am concerned. I will continue to push people that I don’t care about to this card.

  11. Can’t justify this card. Probably going to wait until the new AA cards are announced to see if there’s a shift in my points strategy. The wait also helps me get in line with the 5/24 rule. Could be a massive Chase sign up period in my future.

  12. @JJJ, you could always put $250 into your United Gift Registry with the Citi Prestige, and then pay for an upcoming flight with a combination of gift registry funds and your United CC. I have done this in the past and still received the United benefits.

  13. Do existing cardholders still get the 1.6 cent TYP redemptions on AA? Does the change only affect new cardholders?

  14. You don’t actually have to buy a ticket at all. My wife and I have both gotten our $500 statement credits from our Prestige cards by using them for award taxes and fuel surcharges, even the “Early Bird Boarding” fee with SW award tickets. Anything directly charged by any airline, cumulative across all airlines, counts for the credit. And you get 3X points per $ to boot. 😉

    If you get the card mid-year, you have 6 months to charge that $250 for a statement credit, then after the first of the year you have another 6 months to do it again.
    .

  15. I found the Admirals Club access surprisingly useful, so it’s annoying that they’re taking it away. I’m most certainly NOT going to spring for a club membership or an expensive AA-branded card just for that. I used the Priority Club lounges much less simply because there are fewer of them, and the AA lounge access was an incentive for me to buy AA tickets, all things being equal between AA and other airlines. That incentive has just disappeared, to AA’s loss.

    I’ll probably keep the card for another year, but after I spend the points I’ve earned, the incentive to keep it is pretty low. The Premier earns the same number of bonus points on airfare and dining, and I don’t use the 4th night free or Priority Club benefits enough to justify the $200 net fee. Had they kept AA lounge access, I might have kept the card.

  16. Fourth night benefit is being modified. Also TYP redemption value is going down to 1.25 for all airlines including AA, not 1.33.

    Personally, I’d rather if they didn’t make those changes and dumped the fourth night hotel benefit. My hotel stays are usually 2-3 nights, so pretty worthless benefit for me.

  17. So this card is now only worthwhile for a tiny selection of the population- people who regularly stay 4 nights and 5days at a time. (I’m assuming existing cardholders already got the Global Entry credit. If not, okay, this card has a 1-yr, $100 perk, which you can cancel after that.)

    4th night free is the only thing that’s worthwhile going forward for the North American traveller (better airline transfers in Europe). How many times per year can the average traveller take off work for 3-5 days to receive the 4th night free benefit? Once, MAYBE twice? And even then, you’re locked into the exact same place for almost a week. For business travellers, what percentage of business travellers are in the same place for five days? I’d bet not many. I bet the causal traveller can do without Priority Pass for their two trips per year. (Though business traveller will use it more.) I golf, so that benefit going away costs me $150-$300/yr.

    That leaves only 3x travel points. But Citi has weak transfer partners for US travellers, and now even booking American isn’t any better because that perk is gone too. Looks like I’ll cancel this card and move everything to Chase Sapphire because I can’t justify $200/yr just for Priority Pass. I get Boingo wifi with SPG, so I can skip the lounge, sit in the terminal and drink several $6 beers and still come out ahead.

  18. I know you’re the Points Guy and all but Gary Leff just threw some MAJOR shade in your direction:

    Gary Leff says:
    July 25, 2016 at 11:46 am
    @Lame Person – I’m saying it still makes sense to get now because you HAVEN’T lost those things, you have them for another YEAR. The closer we get to July 23, 2017, the less value the card will have as an ongoing value proposition (though I think it’ll make sense for the first year).

    As far as whether my analysis is someone driven by revenue to me from card applications, I put right up front at the top of the post that there appears to still be a better offer — 50,000 vs 40,000 points — out there which does not give anything to me. So go complain about people who AREN’T pointing that out. Thanks.

  19. So, a quick question those who are credit card points experts. I was instantly approved for this card two days before this change happened. Will I be grandfathered into the old rules (i.e. $3000 spending for 50K points, Admirals club, golf, etc.)?

  20. I will keep the card. For me, the $250 airline credit means the annual fee is $200. That means I only have to use the 4th night benefit once or twice to come out ahead. On top of that, the 3x points on airfare and hotels are an added plus. For me, that’s enough to keep the card.

  21. Doing a dummy booking on the citi website right now, it appears that at least at the moment, TY points are still getting 1.6 cents of value.

  22. When you say you’re grandfathered in, what does that actually mean? And how long does that last?

  23. @brahms77 Yes, you are governed by the terms listed on the app you used. Even if your app had gone pending for a week, and been approved after the changes were announced, this would have still been true.

    If/when Citi changes the benefits for everyone, that will apply to you, of course. But for right now, Citi is saying that those who applied under the previous terms will get basically the same benefits until just under a year from now. You should definitely be grandfathered in on the benefits. And you will certainly get the sign up bonus you applied for, they can’t bait and switch on that.

  24. See ya Orestige card. Not worth it for me now, not even close.

    I hit 100,000 TY points as part of a targeted sign up. I prefer Uktimate Rewards points and mainly use Chase cards.

    The combo of 100k points, Admirals Club, 1.6 in American redemption and the Global Entry credit made it well worth while. Here I am 8 months or so
    later and most of the features valuable to me are gone. I easily got well more than my money’s worth but I will bail at the next billing cycle.

  25. One other thought: I totally agree with those pointing out that the $250 airline credit is BS. Wouldn’t we all prefer a $200 fee and no credit? Allow me to spend my $250 as I see fit. Now if I was getting the old benefits I’d allow them to force me to charge at least $250 back to them but alas I am no longer getting those benefits.

    Same goes with the hotel. If I’m traveling for business I will not be in a hotel 4 nights. If I am traveling in pleasure I tend to stay at hotels that offer great Virtuoso benefits. I get more value in many cases using Virtuoso. I just stayed at The Peninsula Shanghai and Four Seasons Tokyo. In both cases I got upgrades to huge suites easily doubling the value I paid for the room, plus free breakfasts and $100 food credits. I’d get none of this booking through the Prestige card.

    It just went from a really solid and interesting card to a card with double the annual fee of similar cards (Saphire) while offering very little that is if use to me. Too bad.

  26. Last two times the Citi concierge call has taken 45 minutes to get thru and make a hotel booking. Won’t take many of those calls to convince that it will be a one year card for me.

  27. Despite repeated inquiries, still no definitive answer on whether and when the 1.6x multiplier on TY points for AA flights goes away. Is it soon or not until July 2017?

  28. When you say “all cardholders” will still receive the golf benefits, does that apply to NEW cardholders? I’m confused.

    Thanks

  29. I got the Prestige Card last week to replace my Citi Exec card for lounge access. My card says on the back “Admiral’s Club Access” and it doesn’t expire for several more years. So does that mean Citi will issue me a new card in a year? If they don’t seems like I should still be able to access the AC (legally) based on expiration date and wording on card.

    I don’t think it makes since for this blog to recommend this card. I was almost ready to cancel it upon receipt but figure I will take the benefits ($250+$250) over the next year (2 calendar years) then cancel the card.

    Seems like this blog may have known more than your said. How did you and Gary know things were changing last Tuesday? Did someone leak you Citi confidential information?

  30. I’m going to miss the Golf benefit :(.

    Also in addition to the 4th night benefit change to the average rate, I understand that they will no longer cover any taxes for the 4th night as well. Can you confirm this Lucky?

    The card is still a no-brainer for me as I only pay $350 for it as I hold a citi checking account.

  31. @Randy

    I asked the same question (how did he know that something was changing) in a previous post. Lucky said it’s because Citi contacted him and told him that his affiliate links needed to be taken down because the offer was changing.

  32. They have secretly changed the reimbursement formula for 4th night free. On an upcoming stay at the Andaz Wall Street, I’m only getting partial reimbursement for the final and most expensive night (a Monday). The Citi concierge email indicates a reimbursement for the average rate minus any taxes.

  33. The fee is $350 if you have Citi gold (everyone forgets about this) so I’m keeping the card despite all changes since its $100 yearly after $250 air travel back. Plus the lounge access itself is worth the $100. It has the best PL access since it allows 2 family members for free unlike Amex.

  34. My anniversary for this card is up in August, and I’ve reaped the $500 travel credits benefit already. With these changes coming, the value proposition for me keeping this card another year is fading fast. Also in the past few months I’ve been concentrating on a better balance between travel (plus associated costs) and finances (including investing). I likely won’t be using this in such a way to reap $450 of value over the next year. I can easily put that money to better use. Plus I already have the Premier with more means of gathering 3x on travel.

    I’ll keep the Premier and will be cancelling the Prestige.

  35. For all those that are cancelling: be aware that Citibank will liquidate your TY points 60 days after you close the card. Even if you still have a Premier card. Even if you consolidate. Even if you beg them 2 days after they removed 20k points from your account.

    Not speaking from experience or anything.

  36. @JJJ: you can also book a full refundable ticket, wait for the credit to show up on your statement, then cancel the ticket to get a full refund. done this in the past when I was deployed for a year and wanted that credit.

  37. @Andrew Morris: There’s an easy way around this. Call Citi and downgrade your card to a no-fee card that also earns Thank You Points, namely the Thank You Preferred. I did this for two Thank You Premier accounts and assume it would work for the Prestige as well. Keep your points and pay no annual fee.

  38. @02nz

    Thanks and agreed. I thought others would want to know, as it wasn’t too obvious what the expiration date is on the points (after I merged, I forgot about them), and it surprised me.

  39. Why not just buy AA Gift Cards, since they do not expire use them later, you could also purch another one the next calendar year,,,

    $500 total rebate on a 450 AF.

  40. @Erik

    Most priority pass cards look identical (other than the obvious membership number) , this is why at many of the contracted lounges the reception agents are unable to tell you if you will be charged for a guest or not because it hinges on the actual contract agreement of the credit card you have and PP.

    If it’s of any comfort, my husband and I used our proriety pass cards on July 16th ( he has his own card as an authorized user of my Citi Prestige card ) and guested my sister and BIL in the lounge… as of today, I do not have any guest charges on my CC for the visit.

  41. No one mentioned the reduction on the 4th night free – there are 2 changes 1) they now average the cost of the room fee and they exclude the taxes when refunding you. Given that room taxes are typically >10% of the cost of the room, that is a reduction. The other big change is that in the past you could take advantage of a hotels off of (example) 3rd night free, and Citi would rebate you the full cost of the 4th night. Now you get the average room rate cost (which would have been reduced by the 3rd night free from the hotel).

  42. I just got an email yesterday–they are curtailing 4th night free as well. The rebate will be the average of the four nights (not the 4th night rate) and taxes aren’t included. I assume everyone got this.

  43. Hi Ben. Thanks for all the great work!
    Because of these changes I won’t be renewing my Citi Prestige Card. Have about a 100,000 points in my Citi account. Any suggestions on which airline to transfer them to do that when I contact PointsPros I will get maximum affect.?

  44. “$100 of the $200 balance is the Global Entry credit.”

    No the global entry fee is every 5 years, so it’s actually $20 of the $200 balance going to Global Entry.

    How do I actually get the value of the 1.25 per dollar toward airlines? I’ve only seen the thankyou site and that doesn’t appear to be the correct way to redeem points for miles.

  45. This card is no longer worth the fee and I expressed my disappointment to Citibank.
    You took my Admirals benefit from me and took my taxes paid on my 4th night for free. The priority lounges are 3rd class lounges with minimal amenities in the USA. Furthermore, most are located in International lounges where I do not have access so the Priority pass is worth it.
    This card should be offered with no fee if the customer opts out of the Priority pass and/or the fee should be DECREASED. I am redeeming my thank you points and cancelled it. Why would anyone in their right mind pay $450.00 for a card where you took most of the benefits away when there are so many other competitor cards with great sign on bonuses?

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