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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 9 reasons:
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.
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.
Then I received another airline credit in January of this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 kiosks at most international US airports
The ability to pool points
The Citi Prestige Card accrues ThankYou points, and can be redeemed for 1.25 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 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 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on American. That means 50,000 points will get you $625 towards the cost of travel 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 Blue||Etihad | Etihad Guest||Malaysia Airlines | Enrich||Thai Airways | Royal Orchid Plus|
|Avianca | Lifemiles||Garuda Indonesia | Frequent Flyer||Qantas | Frequent Flyer||Turkish Airways | Miles & Smiles|
|Cathay Pacific | Asia Miles||Jet Airways | JetPrivilege||Qatar Airways | Privilege Club||Virgin Atlantic | Flying Club|
|EVA Air | Infinity MileageLands||JetBlue | TrueBlue||Singapore Airlines | KrisFlyer|
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.
Meanwhile, paying cash for that ticket would cost ~$6,000 one-way.
Not a bad way to fly, eh?
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.