Introduction to the Citi Prestige Card
On 4th of January 2019, the Citi Prestige Card increased their annual fees from $450 to $495 making it one of the most expensive cards to own. These figures sound crazy especially if you consider that other cards in the market won’t charge you a thing in the name of annual fees. But, before you dismiss Citi Prestige Card for its hefty fees, we need to look into what it really offers. What sort of features makes the card issuer believe that we’ll be willing to splash $495 for this card?
We went out seeking these answers and prepared this review to help you determine whether the card is a good fit for your unique needs or not.
Citi Prestige Card Overview
The Citi Prestige Card comes with a hefty fee but I can definitely tell you that it is worth considering especially if you are a frequent traveler. That’s because the card features a lot of perks in terms of complimentary hotel stays, discounts on flights and airport lounge access which will help you get more value for your money.
Cardholders can also get discounts of up to $250 on different eligible purchases such as taxis, hotels, airline tickets, parking, tolls, rentals and many more. The company also works with Priority Pass and the American Airlines Admirals Clubs to make sure that you will gain access to some of the best airport lounges across the world. The Priority Pass Lounge network alone has more than 1200 airport lounges worldwide including the popular SATS Premier Lounge found in Singapore and many other great lounges in the US. The card will give you complimentary lounge access not just for you but also for your immediate family members or two other guests.
Since the card is mainly targeting frequent travelers, Citi Prestige was also thoughtful enough to lift foreign transaction fees. This allows you to make all your shopping abroad without worrying about losing so much money on fees.
We also have to mention that the card has a decent rewards rate. The card offers a signup bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of acquiring the card. According to TPG’s valuations, this sign up bonus is worth approximately $850. It’s not the best in the market but it’s definitely a decent bonus. With the Citi Prestige Card, you can get as many as 5 points for every dollar spent at restaurants and on air travel. This puts the card up there among some of the most rewarding cards in the market today. All the money spent on hotels and cruise lines will also earn you points at the rate of 3 points per dollar. You also get additional 2 points per dollar spent on entertainment until Aug 31, 2019, when the rewards rate will drop to 1 point per dollar which is similar to almost all other standards cards in the market today. Entertainment purchases include movie theaters, tourist attractions, amusement parks, video rental stores, and record stores. All other purchases made using this card will attract a similar rewards rate of 1 point per dollar.
Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points
The Citi Prestige Card allows you to redeem your points in different ways. Some options are better than others as you’ll gain more value for your points while others are likely to devalue your points significantly.
For instance, you can redeem the ThankYou points for airfare via Citi’s travel portal. At the moment, redeeming points through the Citi travel portal is valued at 1.25 cents per point which compares well to the other alternative methods of redeeming the points. The rate also competes really well against some of the other competing cards in the market. However, from September 2019, you will only get 1 cent per point. Also, booking a flight through the Citi’s travel portal will attract $625 on sign up bonuses but these will drop to $500 as from September.
You can redeem your Citi ThankYou points by booking hotels through the Citi’s travel portal. The rates here are not as decent as the airfare option but they are not that badly off either. Here, a single point is valued at just 1 cent and hence booking hotels via the Citi’s travel portal offers sign up bonuses worth $500.
You can also choose to transfer your points to Citi Prestige’s airline partners which include: EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Avianca LifeMiles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Etihad Guest, Garuda Indonesia Miles, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Malaysia Enrich, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore KrisFlyer, Qatar Privilege Club, Virginia Atlantic Flying Club, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles and Thai Royal Orchid Plus.
Perhaps the best perk of the Citi Prestige Card is the 4th-night complimentary benefit. If you were to book a hotel for four or more consecutive nights using the Citi Prestige Card, the fourth night will be complimentary. All you have to do is book for the hotel through the Citi Prestige Concierge or ThankYou.com portal. Anyone who travels a lot and spends at least 4 nights in hotels will get the best value from this card thanks to this feature. And guess, what? You can get this perk as many times as you want.
Unfortunately, as from 1st September, the 4th-night complimentary redemption will be limited to twice per year.
Other benefits of the Citi Prestige Card includes:
Citi Prestige Card offers shopping protection against damaged or stolen goods. You can get reimbursement of up to $10,000 per item. Cardholders will be eligible for reimbursement of up to $50,000 per year. To qualify for this refund, you must make the purchase using the Citi Prestige Card and the item has to be stolen or damaged within 90 days of buying it.
Citi’s Price Rewind Program is another excellent opportunity for you to get some of your money back when you’re out shopping. Under this program, Citi will track the items you’ve purchased and searched for the various prices of the item in the market. In case they find a price lower than what you spent, they will issue you a refund of all the excess cash you spent on the item.
Citi Prestige Card also comes with trip protection insurance. This covers lost baggage and it’ll also earn you a refund in case your trip is interrupted or canceled. The most interesting part about Citi’s Trip Coverage is their delayed baggage protection where you will be reimbursed as much as $500 when your luggage is delayed for 6 hours or more! Under the Trip Delay Protection, you will get a $500 refund whenever your flights are delayed for over 6 hours.
Every frequent traveler has a story about their worst experiences on security and customs queues. With Global Entry, you will save yourself from spending hours on these security checks. The Citi Prestige Cardholders will get $100 every five years which they can use to buy either Global Entry or the TSA PreCheck. Citi will also allow you to use the $100 for your family member or a colleague’s application if you already have the program.
Citi Prestige Card Changes
Before you make your final decision on whether you will be applying for this card or not, it’s crucial that we inform you of the changes that will be effected on this card in the near future. Some of these changes include:
Cell Phone Protection
As from May 1, Citi Prestige Card will be providing cell phone protection to every cardholder using the card to make their monthly cellular phone bills. This will cover the cost of your mobile phone in case it is damaged or stolen.
Complimentary 4th Night
As from September 1, 2019, the popular complimentary fourth-night perk of this card will be restricted to just twice per year. You will also have to make your hotel reservations by either calling Citi directly or via thankyou.com.
It should be noted that any 4th-night redemptions you make before that date will not count once the restrictions kick in.
25% air travel bonus
Starting September 1, the 25% bonus for air travel will be going away.
The value of ThankYou points on entertainment redemptions at the moment is 2 points per dollar. This will change to 1 point per dollar as from September.
How Does Citi Prestige Compare to other similar cards in the market?
Citi Prestige Card Vs Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If Citi Prestige Card’s restrictions on the complimentary 4th night is a deal breaker for you and if you don’t value the card’s lounge access then you’ll probably prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. That’s because the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has cheaper annual fees ($95) and the Chase Ultimate Rewards points are also more valuable than Citi’s ThankYou.
Citi Prestige Card Vs. Platinum Card from American Express
The Citi Prestige Card performs relatively better than the Platinum Card from American Express in various ways. First of all, it is cheaper in annual fees since the Platinum Card charges $550 every year. The Citi Prestige Card is also a lot better on everyday expenditures, unlike the Platinum Card.
On the other hand, the Platinum card being a charge card means that cardholders have to clear all the balances each month. The cardholders also don’t have any preset limits. As a result, cardholders get the freedom of making purchases without worrying about credit limits.
So, should you get the Citi Prestige Card? If you are a frequent traveler, then you will definitely get your money’s worth with this card. The Priority Pass Lounge, Global Entry Credit, sign up bonuses, trip protection, and the soon-to-be-introduced cell phone protection will definitely get you the $495 you spend on annual fees back. The complimentary 4th-night redemption is also still a very decent offer even with the oncoming restrictions.
David is a financial expert who graduated from the University of Fordham (Master in Finance) in 2001. He has 10+ years of experience in private equity and wealth management. With strong expertise in senior-level financial planning, personal financial analysis, and mortgages, David knows his way around personal finance. Before working at CCR he used to be a financial analyst at McKinsey.
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