The Citi Prestige is a fantastic premium card for international travelers who want a balance between perks and points. It is best known for its famous Fourth Night Free perk which can be huge for hotel dwellers.
The Prestige’s annual fee is $495 (NOT waived the first year) for new card-members. But existing card-members are grandfathered in at $450 for another year until September 1. Thereafter, the fee will be $495 for everyone.
Citi will also place limitations on some of the benefits. But even after August 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. 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.
Like the Citi Premier, the Prestige currently has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points. This bonus can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
The Prestige’s earning structure makes it one of the highest earning cards for both dining, airfare, cruises, and hotels. The caveat is that Citi TY points are the most valuable for international travel.
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 is not 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).
The fixed rate for redeeming TY points directly for airfare will decrease from 1.25 CPP to 1 CPP on September 1.
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. Even though points are worth 1 cent apiece using this method, paying down these installment loans can help your finances and credit in other ways.
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 straight cash back. Citi’s Double Cash card is a better option if cash back or merchandise are more attractive than points.
The Citi Prestige is nice because of its balance between perks and points. Both sides of the balance will help cardholders justify its 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 instead of being unlimited. Bookings made after August 31, 2019 will count towards the 2019 annual limit. This means the perk is still unlimited until this 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 a great way to justify most of the Prestige’s nearly $500 annual fee. The credit is no longer restricted to just airfare. It can also be used for hotels, car rentals, local commuter transit, or in-flight incidentals.
Cell Phone Insurance
You will be protected from theft or damage of your phone(s) if you pay your cell phone bill with your Citi Prestige card. The Prestige is a World Elite MasterCard, meaning that its common to all top cards within that network.
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.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
This increasingly common benefit saves you 3% on all purchases made outside of the United States.
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.
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 Protection
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 Sapphire Reserve
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). The Reserve’s earning structure highlights general travel and dining as opposed to specific types of travel (such as airfare). It’s the better card for those with more varied travel expenses.
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 Prestige more.
This card has a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 UR points. It can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. The Prestige has the same exact bonus and minimum spend, but you earn TY points instead of UR points.
American Express Platinum Card
The American Express Platinum Card is a great alternative to the Citi Prestige, especially for its perks. It earns 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points on airfare booked directly with the airline and travel from amextravel.com. It also earns one point per dollar spent on everything else.
While the Citi Prestige is the better card for earning, the Platinum is unrivaled for perks. The 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 public sign-up bonus worth 60,000 MR points. It can be earned after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. However, there are higher targeted bonuses for the same minimum spend.
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.
Keep your travel plans in mind before signing up for the Citi Prestige. If you want to travel domestically or to hotels, another card would be better for you. Otherwise, the Citi Prestige is a great card for international travelers.
Apply Today: Citi Prestige