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As I’ve been writing about the past couple of weeks, some major changes have been announced to the Citi Prestige Card. The most immediate change has been that the sign-up bonus is now 40,000 ThankYou points upon completing minimum spend, rather than 50,000 ThankYou points.
Changes coming to the Citi Prestige Card
The other changes being made to the card kick in as of July 23, 2017, regardless of whether you’re a new or existing cardmember. In Citi’s own words, here are the changes:
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.
These changes to the Citi Prestige Card are of course negative, though I think everyone saw some changes coming. That’s because the card really was offering outsized value. I suspect the American Airlines perks would have stuck around if American maintained an exclusivity agreement with Citi, but it looks like they couldn’t agree on a price.
Does it still make sense to apply for the Citi Prestige Card?
I suggested people apply for the Citi Prestige Card before the changes were announced, though of course not everyone did, which is understandable. With that in mind, I’ve been getting some questions from readers asking whether it could still make sense to get the card now, or whether it makes sense to hope for a bigger bonus in the future.
Essentially I’ve been asked “why would I get a card when benefits changes have been announced and the sign-up bonus has been cut?”
While that’s somewhat true at least psychologically, in practice this is probably still the best time to apply for the Prestige Card if you haven’t already. Why?
- There may very well be a higher sign-up bonus on the card again in the future, though I think we’re unlikely to see a mega sign-up bonus on the card anytime soon (in other words, I think it may go back to 50,000 points at some point, though not higher than that)
- Even if you apply for the Prestige Card now, you still get Admirals Club access, free golf, redemptions on American at 1.6 cents each, and a fourth night free benefit including taxes, through July 23, 2017
That last point is key. It’s unlikely Citi will ever bring back the exact perks they’re cutting, so if you’d get any value out of those perks, you’d still get them for almost a year.
For the most part I think the Prestige Card is still worth having even once these changes kick in next year. You’re still getting:
- You’re receiving a $250 annual airline credit, which I value at close to face value. On an ongoing basis that means my “out of pocket” on the card is $200 per year. Furthermore, you actually get two airline credits before your second year’s annual fee is due, meaning you’re getting $500 in airline credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee.
- The fourth night free benefit will continue to be extremely valuable, even if the taxes on the fourth night stay aren’t reimbursed, and if it’s calculated as the average cost of four nights.
- A $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check is useful, especially since you can use it for others (in case you have it already).
- The earnings structure on the card is great, including triple points on airfare and hotels, and double points on dining and entertainment.
Hopefully most of you applied for the Citi Prestige Card before the recent changes were announced, and therefore received the higher sign-up bonus and a full year of the improved perks. However, for others, I still think you’re better off getting the card now, with almost a full year of all the excellent perks, than waiting.
Yes, it’s no fun to apply for a card when it doesn’t have the best ever offer, but at the same time I don’t see the overall value proposition of the card being any better than it is through July 23, 2017.