Does It Still Make Sense To Apply For The Citi Prestige Card?

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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.

Citi-Prestige

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:

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.

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.

Admirals-Club-2
Admirals Club access is being discontinued as of July 23, 2017

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

St-Regis-Moscow - 17
You can still get the most value out of the fourth night free benefit 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.

JetBlue-Mint - 4
You can use the $250 annual airline credit to outright purchase an airline ticket

Bottom line

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.

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Comments

  1. Honestly. Admirals clubs stink
    Of the big3 it the worst
    Cheese n crackers
    No free booze
    Not even well drinks or house
    Seriously. Even United club is better
    And sky club too

  2. I knew the answer even before I scrolled down. I know this is your livelihood, but honestly Ben…

  3. Hi Ben,

    Any idea/guess if Amex will improve the perks on the platinum card? Seems to me that once the new premium Chase card comes out the Amex plat will arguably be the third best card in terms of perks offered out of the three major $450+ annual fee premium cards.

  4. @mike “No free booze
    Not even well drinks or house”

    This is wrong. AC usually have some sort of bud light/miller light for free and the cheap booze/wine for free as well. I’ve consumed roughly my weight in bud light at the ORD AC and only have to tip.

  5. Of course it’s still worth it. Didn’t even read it and knew the answer! Where is the link to the 50k Ben? It doesn’t pay you?

  6. @John & those bashing bloggers for ‘obvious’ reasons:

    * not everyone is like you guys reading & noting everything Lucky writes, we dont have the time you have, who are likely teens & dont know how ‘it’ works

    * if he keeps getting questions on a certain subject, a follow-up/reference/reminder will help those who have not read it before

    * this is not gov program. choose to read or skip, others can benefit.

    * do you say the same thing twice ever?

  7. Starbucks is brewing a fresh pot, so allow me to retort.

    * Those who are avid followers of the blog are more likely to use his affiliate links, customer acquisition is tough, so he risks alienating loyal customers at his peril.

    * No one is asking this question, and even if they were the correct answer is use the zombie 50k link or go in-branch and get the 40k for $350 AF.

    * Fair enough, but journalists at least have the integrity to label posts that are paid infomercials.

    * Ad hominem attacks on his critics don’t make the point you think they do.

  8. For those considering the Citi Prestige, I’d like to point out that in the short three months that I’ve been a cardholder not only have I lost (after one year) very valuable perks, but I’ve a) dealt with the slowest responding, most incompetent concierge service I’ve ever had the displeasure to deal with, b) had charges that the concierge put through flagged as “fraud”, and c) spent more time with their dismal customer service people than in all of the years of being with Chase Sapphire Preferred combined.

    Citi is a very poorly run card service. When my next airline credit posts, I’m gone.

  9. I’ll keep the prestige only if I can get value out of the card greater than the annual fee.

    I got rid of the Amex platinum because I don’t see the value in paying $450 x 2 cards. If the new Chase card is compelling, I will likely switch down to the no annual fee Citi card and go with the new Chase premium card.

    What surprised me somewhat is that Citi made all these cuts without introducing some benefit, however cheap and easy that could have been for them. They’ve basically said “No more that, and that, and that, and that! No more of those for YOU!” And that’s the entire message.

    tl;dr Their marketing department may want to look at who made the decision and approved the messaging.

  10. I’m blown away that one would write this article without acknowledging that there is strong evidence that Chase is on the verge of launching a new premium Chase Sapphire (Reserve?) card, and that opening a Citi Prestige could hamper one’s ability to get this card (because of 5/24) that, if the rumors are true, will be superior to the Citi Prestige in most ways.

  11. Lucky, can you comment on how the changes to the 4th Night Free benefit will effect the opportunity to get two nights free (from your article titled: Get TWO Free Nights Per Hotel Stay With The Citi Prestige Card)? This was a great perk and I would like to know if the two nights free will still be possible with the changes to the 4th Night Free reimbursement. Thanks.

  12. I think it’s still worthwhile … A $450 annual fee gets you a $250 airline credit in 2016, another $250 airline credit in 2017 and Admirals Club access for most of a year.

    Then cancel before July 23rd and get the AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard.

    I currently have the Citi Prestige card, and I will cancel in May when it runs out — getting me the 2017 air credit and milking the Admirals Club membership for as long as I can.

  13. I’m wondering, are there any other cards out there that givr the 4th night free at hotels?

  14. The simple and honest fact is that Prestige went from a quality card to a very mediocre card overnight. There is not one single reason to carry this card over many other (far cheaper) cards unless you can wring value out of the (now watered down) fourth night free perk. If you can then consider keeping. Otherwise Saphire and many others are much better. Not only better in terms of value as compared to fee but even better on car rental insurance and similar perks not as widely considered.

    It is an absolute joke that Citi would gut the cards benefits while no reducing the fee at all.

    It’s just an average though grossly overpriced card at this point with a horrible concierge and poor customer service. TY points suck as compared to UR points and being forced to spend $250 that you already paid for is in now way a perk.

    Lame. I’m cancelling at renew 100%

    Recommending this card honestly would make you look silly.

  15. for those who trashes this card, does $250 x2 in 1st year + $100 Global Entry (due in Dec) more than covers the $450? It seems so to me, just wanted to make sure.

  16. Well, Dave, I’m not going to pick a fight over it, but yes, your example makes sense, in its limited way.
    However, in year two one is stuck with the poor service, isn’t getting the Global Entry for four more years, isn’t playing free golf anymore, has already spent the $500 first year credit, and isn’t allowed in the Admiral’s Club to muse the pros and cons over a cocktail.
    So, it seems to me that the benefits do not carry the day through the second year and beyond; and that’s what every person who is “trashes” this card is saying.
    YMMV, so good luck.

  17. If one is interested in applying for a card for a one year period then sure, the $500 credit and $100 global entry credit plus whatever sign up bonus you may eek out is more then the $450 fee. You could come out several hundred ahead. But I don’t operate that way, I am looking for long term value and service. Getting a hard credit check on my report and a strike against me in the Chase 5/24 rule hurts me more than a few hundred bucks helps me. Additionally I could put that same spend on a superior card that earns more valuable and flexible reward points.

    If you are only looking for a one year commitment and are ok with the worthless concierge and generally poor service then yes, this may work for you. It does not happen to work for me now and the card moving forward in my opinion represents a very poor value.

    For the record I got a 100k targeted sign up bonus last year, $500 credit, global entry credit and all the (at the time) very good perks. I will cancel in November and likely simply use the 100k miles for $1,600 in AA travel. So I made out like a bandit. But boy how times have changed.

  18. @Kyle. What is your evidence? Do you work for Chase? Let us all know since u have insider news. Give us all the details please.

  19. @Ted. And that’s the reason these lo eres go away because of people like u trying to scam a few bucks.

  20. Dave-

    How exactly was I trying to “scam a few bucks?”

    They made me a good offer and I took it. I used the card extensively (putting nearly $100k of charge on it in under 10 months) and would be more then happy to keep it if the terms stayed the same.

    Citibank who courted my business with a good offer has now decided to greatly alter and change what they are offering. It is no longer worth my money or my business and so I vote with my wallet.

    I’m not sure why any of this would upset you but I assure you I would like to keep the card but they (not I) decided to change the equation. Now the card sucks and so I move on. Let me rephrase that, the card sucks for me. If it does not suck for you then great, go for it.

  21. Hi all – I’m ignoring the posts about the referral links (although I generally frown upon them unless disclosed in each post – which Lucky did not do here). Lucky – you may wish to refresh yourself on the FTC rules.

    Back to the real story – until July 22, 2017, I do think the Prestige is worth it – although you may need to be willing to spend serious money to get the full benefits. AAdmirals access I value at about $100. The $250 airline credit is a no brainer. (2x in year 1.) Throw in global entry and priority pass, and the benefits have paid for itself in year 1. Full disclosure – I have Citigold, so my annual fee is $350, and I just renewed the Prestige (prior to the benefits changes).

    The 4th night free benefit is totally worth it and the benefits on occasion beat AMEX FHR. By way of example, my wife and I just stayed at the Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore. We booked through the Citi Prestige Travel Concierge. The 4th night free will get me back $900+ including taxes (yes, this was a very expensive stay). Additional benefits through Citi included: 1 room category upgrade, daily breakfast benefit (room service or in restaurant, with a $90 cap per day), $100 F&B credit, and daily access to the Coral Casino club (pool, gym, beach club, etc.). This last benefit costs $200 per day if you stay at the hotel and are not in a room category that includes access to Coral Casino. For a four night stay, that’s $800 (if you are willing to pay this each day). The Coral Casino was awesome, a great pool and beach club, and totally an unexpected (yet valuable benefit). All in, the Citi prestige will have paid for itself over 4x in one stay. ($900 +$100 +$360 + $300 — what I value Coral Casino at for 2 days). Granted this is just one anecdote, but I’m sold on the benefits.

    Additional notes – the average rate was the same each night, so the change to average rate credit for the 4th night would not have affected me here (however I would not have received a credit for taxes on the average rate). Also, the Citi 4th night free rate was the same as AMEX FHR rate (and same as the published best available rate), but Citi also included Coral Casino (AMEX FHR did not), so the Citi benefits were stronger here.

    Of course, YMMV. The changes on balance are negative with no sweetener to make up for the loss in benefits. Any reasonable person would question whether it makes sense to renew this card (or even sign up for that matter). However, if you can use the 4th night free benefit, it will likely pay for itself in 2 stays (if not one stay) each year. And if you can get this all with Citigold for $350 a year, I think it’s a no brainer.

    Hope this adds some context to the discussion.

  22. Ben (and others) –

    Question on 4th Night Free perk (as it currently exists):

    I have a trip planned — 9 nights. Last 5 are at a Hilton on points.

    Can I book my first 4 nights at the same Hilton and take advantage of the 4th night free OR will my subsequent 5 night award stay screw it up?

    I HAD booked first 4 nights at a Marriott to avoid issue & run up some Marriott points, but, after I booked, it was announced that the hotel is rebranding rihgt before I arrive, so I would get ZERO points for those nights. That is NOT gonna happen! LOL Considering my options…

    Thanks in advance!

    – Craig

  23. The prestige still is appealing to me. 3 hr baggage delay/2 year extended warranty/10 mile towing on road service/possible increase on the 4th night free if last night was lowest cost/automatic price rewind.
    Why just look at all we are losing, rather than the benefits we are keeping? I have the new Sapphire Reserve and will keep them both, To me each card shines in different areas.

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