After being discontinued since the summer of 2018, the Citi Prestige Card is finally back!
Citi is going to raise the annual fee from $450 to $495 (NOT waived the first year) on September 1, 2019. They will also place limitations on some of the benefits. But even after August 2019 ends, you can still reap thousands in value if you use the card to its fullest potential.
Is this new Prestige card a good one?
The Citi Prestige is targeted towards travelers of all sorts. It earns 5x Thank You (TY) points on Dining and Airfare. You also earn 3x TY points on Cruises and Hotels. Entertainment will earn you 2x TY points as well until August 31, 2019. All other purchases earn only one point.
The Prestige does not currently have a sign-up bonus.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Citi has multiple options for redemption:
Transfer partners are by far Citi’s most valuable option. They are the reason why so many points and miles enthusiasts love Thank You points so much. Citi’s strength lies in international airlines and travel. If you want to travel outside of the United States, this card is a good one.
Despite the Fourth Night Free benefit, Citi does not have any hotel partners. If you want to transfer your points to hotels, the Citi Prestige might not be for you.
All TY points transfer to Citi’s airline partners at a 1:1 ratio, except for JetBlue.
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- Asia Miles
- Eva Air
- Jet Airways
- JetBlue (2 TY points = 1 True Blue points)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).
Starting on September 1, 2019, the fixed rate for redeeming TY points directly for airfare will decrease to 1 CPP. Until then, the rate is 1.25 CPP.
You can also use TY points to help pay down a mortgage or student loan. This is a unique option for a credit card redemption. This method lets you redeem points for 1 CPP, but it can help your finances in certain situations.
Gift Cards values range from 2,500 to 10,000 points per card. Like airfare, each point redeemed is worth 1 cent.
Points are worth around 0.8 CPP when redeemed for merchandise and 0.5 CPP for cash back. If either option is more attractive than points, Citi’s Double Cash card is a better option.
The Citi Prestige is nice because of its balance between perks and points. Both sides of the balance will help cardholders justify the nearly $500 annual fee.
Fourth Night Free
This is the Citi Prestige’s signature perk! If you use your card to book a hotel stay of at least four nights, you will receive a statement credit for your fourth night. The catch is that you must book your stay using Citi’s online portal or via Citi’s concierge.
This perk has recently been limited to just two uses per year. Bookings made after August 31, 2019 will count towards the 2019 annual limit. This means the perk is still unlimited until the above date.
Despite this limitation, you can recoup the annual fee if you stay in a hotel room that costs enough per night.
$250 General Travel Credit
General travel credits are favorite perks for many travelers. This credit is the best way to make up for most of the Reserve’s nearly $500 annual fee. The credit is no longer restricted to just airfare. It can now be used for hotels, car rentals, Uber, or incidentals too.
Cell Phone Protection
If you pay your cell phone bill with your Citi Prestige card, you will be protected from theft or damage of your phone(s).
This benefit will be available starting on May 1, 2019.
Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
This perk gives you access to over 10,000 Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. The lounges give you a nice space to relax, eat, drink, and get ready before boarding your flight.
Global Entry / Pre-TSA Fee Credits
You will receive a credit once every 4-5 years to waive the fee for either program. I suggest going with Global Entry because Pre-TSA comes with that membership automatically.
Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental. But its level (primary or secondary) will depend on your location.
Citi offers Primary coverage with this card if you’re outside of the United States. That means you don’t have to accept the car rental company’s insurance policy if you use your Prestige. If you’re within the United States, Citi offers Secondary coverage.
Citi covers up to $75,000 per car, regardless of your location.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
This increasingly common benefit saves you 3% on all purchases made outside of the United States.
Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
If you need to cancel your trip because of an unexpected event, this benefit gives you up to $5,000 per trip for non-refundable expenses. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and tours are included.
Baggage Delay Insurance
This benefit gives you $500 per day up to 5 days if your luggage is lost or delayed. If your luggage is delayed for more than 6 hours, you can redeem for toiletries, clothing, and other essentials.
Rules & Regulations
Citi has several rules to consider before applying for one of their cards. While these rules are annoying, they serve as a reminder to be certain before applying. However, their main purpose is to dissuade “churners” from getting sign-up bonuses.
The 1/24 Rule states that you cannot receive a sign-up bonus if you opened or closed a card within the same family in 24 months. For the Citi Prestige, you can’t receive a bonus if you opened a Citi Premier, Rewards +, or Thank You Preferred within the last two years.
Also, the 6 Inquiries Rule states that those with more than 5 hard inquiries in 6 months will be automatically denied.
The 1/8 Rule states that only one card can be approved within a rolling 8-day period. Its corollary, the 2/65 Rule, states that only two cards can be approved within a rolling 65-day period.
What if the Citi Prestige is not for you? Here are some alternatives that might be better:
Chase’s premium card earns 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and Travel purchases. The Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee (NOT waived the first year).
Chase has a more well-rounded set of travel partners than Citi. Domestic travelers and hotel lovers can benefit from having this card given the partners. But international travelers might like the Citi card more.
This card has a 50,000 UR point sign-up bonus. It can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
The American Express Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards (MR) points. Like the Prestige, you earn 5x MR points on airfare booked directly with the airline. It also earns one point per dollar spent on everything else.
The Citi Prestige is the better card for true earning potential. But the Platinum wins for perks. The Citi Prestige offers only a few of the benefits that the Platinum offers. The Platinum Card has the potential to earn you thousands in value from perks.
The Platinum card has a $550 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). It also has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 MR points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
I like that Citi has taken a different approach towards their premium card than Chase and Amex. The amount of bonus categories and their multipliers makes this card a bonanza for international travelers. The fourth night free benefit and the travel credit add to the card’s value.
The lack of sign-up bonus is the only major flaw of this card. A sign-up bonus would be great to help mitigate the limitations placed on the fourth night free benefit.
Before signing up for the Citi Prestige, keep your travel plans in mind. If you want to travel domestically or to hotels, try another card. If international travel is more your style, the Citi Prestige is a great card.