Citi Prestige Changes: 75K Sign-Up Bonus, Online 4th Night Free Bookings, And More

As we first learned last July, some major changes are being made to the Citi Prestige® Card as of July 23, 2017. Specifically, as of this date:

  • Cardmembers no longer receive access to American Admirals Clubs when flying American
  • The value of redeeming points on American is decreasing; previously you got 1.6 cents per point towards the cost of a ticket on American, while you’ll only receive 1.25 cents per point going forward
  • There will no longer be three free rounds of golf per year
  • The way the fourth night free benefit is being calculated is changing, as it will no longer include taxes, and will be based on the average nightly cost over four nights, rather than the cost of the fourth night (which could be much higher than the cost of the first three nights)

Not surprisingly, there have been rumors of Citi introducing new benefits on this card, given that they need to compete with the Amex Platinum Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, etc.

The changes being made to the Citi Prestige Card

We now know what those new benefits are. The Points Guy reveals that Citi will start rolling out some new perks on the Prestige Card as of July 23, 2017.

Here’s what will be changing about the Citi Prestige Card:

  • The Citi Prestige Card will offer a limited time sign-up bonus of 75,000 ThankYou points after spending $7,500 within three months
  • The Citi Prestige Card will become metal, to match the Amex Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve; new cardmembers will get the metal card upon approval, while existing cardmembers will get it over the coming months
  • The fourth night free benefit will be bookable online, and you’ll be refunded the cost of the fourth night at the time of check-out
  • You’ll be able to redeem ThankYou points towards a fourth night free booking at the rate of one cent per point
  • ThankYou points earned with the Citi Prestige Card will be redeemable for cash at the rate of one cent per point

Are the fourth night free changes really an improvement?

As much as being able to make fourth night free bookings online seems like an improvement (given that previously you had to call or email), unfortunately this comes with some catches. Since the bookings have to be made through the ThankYou website, it seems like:

  • You certainly won’t earn points or elite stay credits for the cost of the fourth night, since it’s being reimbursed when you make your booking rather than after the fact
  • You likely won’t earn points for your stay at all, since this will now likely be coded the same as an online travel agency booking
  • You won’t be able to book “special” rates online, like AAA rates, member-only rates, etc.

Frequent Miler notes that you’ll still be able to make fourth night free bookings by phone after this date, so it seems like you can continue to make bookings using the old system. So for those of us into points, it doesn’t seem like the new online booking feature is actually an improvement.

What do I make of these changes?

None of these new benefits actually add any value for me, personally. However, that’s fine, because I still find the Citi Prestige Card to be worth holding onto:

  • The card has a $450 annual fee
  • The card offers a $250 annual airline credit that can be used towards any airline purchase
  • I pretty much value that at face value, meaning for me the real “out of pocket” on the card is $200 per year

For that I get an amazing fourth night free benefit that saves me thousands of dollars per year, and more than justifies the annual fee. I still consider this to be the single most valuable credit card benefit out there.

While I would have liked to see some useful new benefits on the card, I’m fine with the status quo as well. I just hope nothing will change to the ability to make fourth night free bookings by phone, and that they don’t change anything on the back end there.

What do you make of the changes coming to the Citi Prestige Card?

Comments

  1. What types of retention offers do you think we’ll see? This is a huge devaluation for EXISTING holders

  2. I don’t mind when companies devalue their rewards programs. It’s part of business. But having them insult the intelligence of their customers by calling these “improvements” is really low.

    I really hope there is a way to reflect this to Citi. I will be canceling my Prestige card, though I wish there is more I can do.

  3. @ Ben — Just because you can still call to book by phone doesn’t mean that the Aspire Lifestyle agents will still be able to book special rates or that you will be earning elite credits/benefits. I expect that they will be be using the same website as will be available to us and that the real value of 4th Night Free will be dead come 7/24. Sad to see this end, as it is the best credit card perk EVER.

  4. @ Gene — Doctor of Credit says he was told the following by a Citi representative:
    “If a hotel offers discounts for members of certain loyalty or membership programs, these rates can still be applied with the complimentary 4th night benefit when booked through the Citi Prestige Concierge. Also, if cardmembers would like to use their frequent traveler account when booking, they can still do so via the Citi Prestige Concierge.”

    Hopefully this is in fact the case.

    http://www.doctorofcredit.com/citi-prestige-phone-concierge-bookings-will-still-earn-status-discounts/

  5. @ Ben — Excellent news. Thanks for the additional info. I pray this lasts for a while. It obviously won’t last forever because it really is overly generous, but maybe for a little longer!

  6. “For that I get an amazing fourth night free benefit that saves me thousands of dollars per year, and more than justifies the annual fee. I still consider this to be the single most valuable credit card benefit out there.”

    LOL. That statement cannot possibly be referring the benefit that just got gutted according to the ways you enumerated:

    — You certainly won’t earn points or elite stay credits for the cost of the fourth night, since it’s being reimbursed when you make your booking rather than after the fact
    — You likely won’t earn points for your stay at all, since this will now likely be coded the same as an online travel agency booking
    — You won’t be able to book “special” rates online, like AAA rates, member-only rates, etc.

    The “opportunity cost” for opting to use the 4th free benefit is now exorbitantly high. And, no, the fact that you’ll still be able to book by phone would not offset the above because the agent at the other end of the line would simply serve as your interface to online booking, with the same drawbacks (otherwise it would make no sense to even offer online booking if the benefits are better for doing it by phone).

  7. Does anyone else think The dial in service here for hotel reservations is amature? We have tried on 4 different occasions and all 4 the 4th night free “deal” was more expensive that just direct booking. In these cases the Marriott and Westin were both offering discounts that the operator would not accept because they were specials. What gives? Maybe if you’re paying full rate the 4th free works, but I haven’t found success here. Thx for tips if somehow I’m doing it wrong. (Typos from mobile.)

  8. Ooooh, a *metal card*??? In that case, I’ll gladly pay $450 a year for an otherwise worse product!

  9. Clearly the meaning of “improvements” has changed LOL

    I cancelled my Prestige last year, and that decision is looking better and better. Hopefully nobody falls for Citi’s nonsense

  10. I don’t see why booking through a portal would make it the equivalent of a third party reservation. They currently book as a regular travel agency and many travel agencies have online portals.

    Certainly this would be a sure fire way to really make this card an immediate cancel rather than to make it a more competitive card.

  11. I’m confused: are any of your four nights counted towards elite status or will receive elite points?

    If not, how can you use this card if you are trying to requalify with a hotel chain, like Hyatt or SPG, etc?

    I’d get the card if my stays counted towards prequalifying nights. Otherwise, it’s worthless to me.

  12. I only wish Citi would expand the definition of “travel” on the Prestige card to match the Premier card.

    With $450 annual fee it just seems absurd that I have to also get the Premier card to get 3x points on gasoline or other travel categories other than airlines and hotels.

  13. Fidelity Visa, Citi’s own Double Cash, Capital one cards, Amex Blue cash, Penfed visa, BAnk Of American rewards, USBank etc etc
    The list goes on and on of better value for spend.

    Unless you spend a lot of time in hotels
    AND
    pay for it yourself or through your own business like Lucky
    AND
    do not care about elite status, the 4th night free is useless to most people.

    This card is dead other than a 3 yr churn (get it one year close, wait 2 years)
    Even then for 750$ in points (plus 75$ for the spend) one has to pay 450$ fee + 150$ lost cash
    So it will work out to 200$ value cash back, at most

  14. Any suggestions on what/how to downgrade this card? Is there was a way to keep the points, or would you suggest just using the points before canceling or downgrading?

  15. I use the 4th night free on hotels that aren’t chain status. I used it personally save almost 2k for a night in the maldives because they charge over $500 in taxes. I also booked a room in tokyo and kyoto saving me a few hundred. We are leisure travelers who only travel a few times a year. We have no status but its nice to save and get a few perks.

  16. I would only consider this card if I could transfer the points to advantage. Other than that, no use – I just never spend that many nights in one hotel.

  17. @Gene — I’d read all but your exchange with @Lucky, which happened while I was composing my comment, but that does not change my take (nor your original) until there is tangible evidence to the contrary.

  18. This card blows. Talk about a devaluation. “Hey lets take away all the perks except the fourth night free”.

  19. The real value of this card is the two extra years warranty they tack on to manufacturer’s warranty. I’m willing to pay $95/year (the net cost if you have a Citigold account) so that almost everything I buy, especially laptops and cellphones comes with a three year warranty. But the price matching is just as valuable. I’ve save more than 10 times the annual fee with that each year. Finally they have a 90 no questions return policy and the best trip interruption. These are benefits that if you aren’t familiar with, you should be.

  20. @lucky, I’m a bit confused when you stated that “You likely won’t earn points for your stay at all, since this will now likely be coded the same as an online travel agency booking”. I thought typically when you book with citi prestige, you get 3x for hotel and air. So what you are saying here is that they will no longer give you 3x thank you points per dollar for hotel stays?

  21. I am a leisure traveler and I can’t think of any card that has influenced my travel patterns more than the Citi Prestige. I collected the fourth night free benefit 19 times last year and I am currently at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit in Bangkok where I booked under a rate that from the hotel that gives me the third night free and then I get the fourth night free from Citi.

    Three things have changed for me with the card:

    1. I now consistently book four nights at a hotel.
    2. I find myself sometimes booking more expensive hotels because the fourth night free reduces the overall cost.
    3. I have been a Starwood loyalist and I find I hardly ever use points for hotels anymore and have begun transferring them to airlines instead where there can be tremendous value.

    Moving to reimbursing on the average cost of four nights is a slight negative although it will open some limited opportunity where the hotel offers the fourth night free.

    Right now I am booked so that I earn triple points on my last two stays with Starwood. The points earning has been fabulous. If they lose the ability to earn points/loyalty status with the card it would probably be the end for me. Hopefully, the Doctor of Credit post is correct.

    If I was working full time and traveled largely on weekends the card would be of limited use. As a leisure traveler it is a home run.

    PS: In a way I am glad to see a metal card. The quality of the plastic one is terrible and I have had to have it replaced.

  22. Is this a devaluation, probably for some…. I still think the Prestige card is very valuable. As a Citigold customer, my fee is $350/year, minus the travel credit, it’s $100.
    For that, I get a great Priority Pass membership that has saved me hundreds of $ per year and made international travel much better. I also can transfer points to premium airlines I actually WANT to fly, like SQ, CX or Eva. So, I’d call it a win for me at that point, and that’s before the 4th-night benefit. Or the Global Entry benefit…or the insurance… to each his own…
    Now, the worst “enhancement” you haven’t written about – the new fraud alert system whey recently introduced, which is ridiculous and blocks everything from merchants I frequently use to hometown chain stores! AmEx is lightyears ahead of Citi when it comes to fraud…

  23. Thanks for posting this Lucky. Can you follow up on the elite credit using fourth-night benefit? This seems huge to many of the readers here, albeit the small fraction we represent in the general consumers/guests population.

  24. Citi better step up something for this card, or they’re going to be getting more cancellations for this thing than ever.

    Reserve is so much better for traveling and coverage.

  25. Abe. if you’re talking about travel insurance. The prestige gives trip delay coverage after just a 3 hour flight delay. No other card does that. The reserve card benefits kick in after a delay of 6 hours. Big difference.

  26. @SB — I suspect that many would dispute that assessment, including this site’s host, who made that clear way back on December 19, 2014:

    “I don’t think DCS is a troll. I think he’s genuinely this big of a fan of Hilton HHonors.”

    Now, why don’t you take your right to be a troll elsewhere, and exercise it by trolling yourself for being so stupid?

  27. Mentioned above, but can we get clarification on whether phone booking will stay the exact same? It seems like the concierge will just process an online booking for you making it the same and therefore pointless to book by phone. Overall seems like a huge downgrade.

  28. Ben,

    These two statements seem contradictory to me:

    “The fourth night free benefit will be bookable online, and *you’ll be refunded the cost of the fourth night at the time of check-out*”

    “You certainly won’t earn points or elite stay credits for the cost of the fourth night, since *it’s being reimbursed when you make your booking rather than after the fact*”

    FIRST QUESTION: Can you please clarify? Is it reimbursed at the time of booking or time of checkout?

    Last year, I booked four nights at the PH Chicago through Citi, and got points for four nights of the stay. A few days later, the fourth night was refunded. Great, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    SECOND QUESTION: Are you saying that with the new changes, booking through Citi online to get the fourth night free would not earn Hyatt points for any of the stay?

    Sorry if I’m daft or missing something…

  29. There’s really only one reason to have this card: the fourth-night free benefit. All the other benefits are replicated on other “premium” cards. But if you get more than $200 worth of free hotel nights then this card is a no brainer.

    So long as we can continue to book through the old system, I’m happy to keep the card. Being able to apply corporate rates, AAA rates, etc., AND earn points/stay credits is really a phenomenal deal.

  30. @TravelinWilly – In this case, checkout means when you pay for the booking via the online portal. So, if you’re booking 4 nights at a hotel at $100/night, you’ll be charged $300 when you go to checkout (4 x $100 = $400 – $100 = $300).

    What many have concerns about is this sounds a lot like booking through Hotels.com, Expedia or similar third-party booking service where you don’t earn hotel points or status nights, or receive elite benefits towards your stay.

    Currently, the fourth-night benefit requires you to book via the phone (there is no online fourth-night free option) but the agents (seemingly) are booking directly with the hotels’ websites, which allow you to receive points, elite night and elite benefits for your stay.

  31. @Scott: “Does anyone else think The dial in service here for hotel reservations is amature? We have tried on 4 different occasions and all 4 the 4th night free “deal” was more expensive that just direct booking. In these cases the Marriott and Westin were both offering discounts that the operator would not accept because they were specials. What gives?”

    Well, many people have made it work and saved considerable amounts of money. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to work. I’m managed to use the benefit twice in about 3 years, and I’ve been unsuccessful trying to use the benefit once.

  32. @DCS: “The “opportunity cost” for opting to use the 4th free benefit is now exorbitantly high.”

    In your opinion, it is. For the people who don’t care about earning points or elite status, who are staying at properties that are outside of their chain (or that aren’t part of a chain at all), or who realize that a 4th night free gives far better of a return than points will, they are still far better off than they were before.

    No one should have to actually say this to you, DCS, but it’s not always about you.

  33. @Mike — Just fuck off. Why do you keep telling me that it is not about me when I, like anyone, else simply express my opinion? Look up-thread. See? Pretty much everyone who commented expressed an opinion. Why then do you get bent out shape when I do? (Don’t answer that because it’s what’s called a rhetorical question. You get bent out shape because in the end my take almost invariably turns out be “right”, and it drives you nuts.)

    G’day.

  34. @DCS – It would be one thing if you had been “simply express(ing) your opinion,” DCS. The reality is that you were doing your usual — attacking someone else’s opinion and pretending that your opinion is the only one that matters.

    Stop playing the victim here when you’re not – the only thing you did with your post is attack me for having a different opinion, which is the only thing you do here.

    And no, despite what your narcissistic mind would have you believe, your take is not correct nearly as often as you might like to believe.

  35. @Daniel,

    THANK YOU for the clarification, that was really helpful!

    I was reading “time of checkout” as being checking out of a hotel.

    I’ll just keep booking via phone for now, annoying as it is, until Citi figures this out…

    Thanks again, Daniel.

    TravelinWilly

  36. @Mike — Like I said, get lost. You complain that I attack others and, yet, it seems like the only time you comment here is to attack me. And, more to the point: who the hell appointed you champion for the people I supposedly attack?

    I do not need to keep embarrassing you, so I am done here. Know yourself out.

  37. @DCS – “I do not need to keep embarrassing you, so I am done here.”

    And as I have pointed out before, the only one who should be embarrassed by what you post here is you, but I learned a long time ago that your NPD will never allow you to see that.

  38. @Mike why do you even bother responding to him?? You just fuel his nonsense. If you let him be maybe he will go back into his cave

    The worst thing Ben ever did was give the guy an “apparent” sense of legitimacy by mentioning him in a post

  39. Oh, boy, they are really out of the woodwork now, and this time to blame Ben for welcoming dissenting voices to HIS blog, and, somehow, that’s supposed to pass for erudite commentary! Can’t make this stuff up!

    G’day!

  40. STAHP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!

    ALL THIS FIGHTING!

    IT’S TEARING US APART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. @DCS – You are not a dissenting voice. You are a narcissist who will not allow anyone to disagree with you, and who will insult anyone who says anything you disagree with.

    The fact that you can’t see the difference is no one else’s problem other than your own. Stop playing victim, because you aren’t one.

  42. the downgrading 4th night benefit aside, I just don’t understand how prestige card which is considered as an upgrade from premier has worse rewards benefit than premier card in which premier is 3x all travel purchase including gas and tolls ground transportation etc while prestige is only covering 3x airfare and hotels, this makes 0 sense to me

  43. I have a question about the airline credit, does it all have to be used at once or can it be broken into different transactions?

  44. @DCS

    I think the value of the forth night free benefit probably comes down to where someone is staying. I used it at the Barcello Maya Palace in Jan/Feb where my family stayed for a week- and it was $600 savings.

    More interesting was that the for whatever reason , the difference between an pool view room or a premium pool view room ( which gave extra perks like a private check in and lounge ) was only something like $200 extra on the hotel’s website (where the Citi Concierge books from) for the entire stay. But my sister who booked from Canada using Expedia ended up having to pay $100+ per night for the premium room.

  45. This is still a great deal, especially for those of us who are 5+/24 and have already received our once a lifetime Amex Platinum bonus. The $250 air credit can be used on airfare each year–from December to December–so you could easily use it twice after applying this summer. That more than pays for the annual fee. With that you get 75k transfer points, 4th night free, priority pass, etc. Why complain?

  46. @Mike — One last time and then please fuck off once and for all. You would not know “narcissism” if it hit you in the face. My purported “narcissism” comes from the fact that you have repeatedly tried to prove me wrong on various topics and failed miserably each time, most memorably when you went on and on about how Hilton’s transition to the revenue system was a “massive devaluation” that “gutted the program”, and then with simple modeling I showed how clueless your claims were. What’s the verdict on that? Hard evidence to date supports my modeling, and that’s the sort of things that piss off.

    Unlike you who like to play a shrink online, in my day job I conduct clinical research studies in pretty much all the major and some minor neuropsychiatric disorders using brain imaging, and your psychopathology — inferiority complex with OCD overtones — is unmistakable. Just take it elsewhere because by constantly going against me you are clearly exacerbating your mental instability, which is becoming as clear as daylight the more you carry on.

    Genug ist genug!!!

    Good bye.

  47. @DCS: On the contrary, your so-called “analysis” was just as it always is – you cherry-picking observations to get the result you wanted. That, and you also conveniently ignore the numerous other times you’ve posted misleading or false information, where you do nothing but attack and insult the person (in this case, me) who calls you out on it.

    The rest of your post, with the combination of academic dickwaving and insults, only proves my point even further. Perhaps you should heed your own advice about enough being enough and get the help you need.

  48. The devaluation is old news – the new news is a 75,000 bonus. I will keep the card because I easily save $900/year on the fourth night/year and get the $250 reimbursement. For those that haven’t applied for the card in the past, approx. $1,200 in points/reimbursement is a pretty good bonus for $450.

  49. Question on the 4NF please:

    Does the 4NF benefit extend to the supplementary card holders, or is it confined to only the primary cardholders?

    Thanks!

  50. The BIG difference between keeping/applying for this card and not is if Citi will give hotel loyalty points and stay credits when booking the reservation online. IF Citi are now operating as an OTA (like Expedia), and customers no longer receive those hotel points as a benefit of booking, then it takes away a huge benefit of the whole 4th Night Free feature. Hopefully this blog will address that in a future post when more details are revealed.

  51. I am able to book breakfast included rate online and get 4th night benefit, but not able to do so over the phone.

  52. I have read that when Citi credits you back for the 4th night later on, the points for that 4th night are also deducted from your hotel stay as well. So essentially you wouldn’t be getting credit for the 4th night stay. Is that true?

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