Credit Card Review: Citi Prestige

Citi-Prestige-World-Elite-MC_CardImage

I’ve talked about the American Express Everyday Preferred before, as it’s one of our wallet go-to cards. The Citi Prestige isn’t a card I use for everyday purchases but instead is more of a “special teams player,” wherein I will pull it out of the drawer when I make specific purchases for the benefits it provides.

The Citi Prestige is one of the premium credit cards on the market and you need to have good credit to be approved for one. It also carries a hefty $450 annual fee. I’m willing to pay the fee for this card because of the benefits I get from it:

Sign Up Bonus

The Citi Prestige card is currently offering 40,000 Thank You points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account (this amount was decreased in July 2016 from the 50,000 points originally offered when the card was introduced in 2014). Like most premium cards, the annual fee of $450 is not waived for the first year.

ThankYou Points

The Citi Prestige earns ThankYou points, which are a type of flexible (transferrable) point. These are the earning categories for the card:

  • 3X points for Air Travel and Hotels
  • 2X points for Dining and Entertainment
  • 1X points for all other purchases

This is a pretty decent mix of bonus categories for someone who travels frequently. 3X points for air travel was previously the highest multiplier for this category (the American Express Platinum recently increased their bonus on this category to 5X). 2X for dining is also a good return (the Chase Sapphire Reserve just upped the game by offering 3X on this category). I try and make our points and miles collecting as easy as I can for Sharon (edit by Sharon: because Sharon doesn’t care about points and miles and doesn’t want to have to keep track of 17 credit cards at once and when to use which one, thank-you very much) and the Citi Prestige is the card I give to her to use when we travel. Most of our spending is for dining or entertainment and we get 2X points in that category.  I’m OK with her using it for the other random purchases that we will only get 1X on in exchange for the simplicity of being able to use the same card for all purchases (edit by Sharon: I am willing to use 1 card. 2 if it’s some wonderful deal. Choose wisely.).

One disadvantage of this card is that after you earn ThankYou points, they are the most difficult of the transferrable points to use. While Citi has tried to make these points more valuable by increasing the number of travel partners, as for now you can only transfer points to the following programs:

  • JetBlue (fixed value program)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Guarda Indonesia
  • Hilton Honors (1000 points = 1500 Honors points)
  • Jet Airways
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Sears Shop Your Way (1 point = 12 SYW points)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

You probably noticed that you don’t see many airlines that you know, like American, Delta or United on that list. You’re right. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t value to be had with some of these partners; you just really need to know what you are doing to book the flights you want and get a good return. Here are some examples of how you can book flights in the U.S. with the available transfer partners:

  • United Airlines flights can be booked with Singapore miles
  • Delta Airlines flights can be booked with Flying Blue miles

What about flights on American Airlines? While it’s true that you can not transfer points to American’s frequent flyer program, you can use your ThankYou points to pay for flights when you use the Citi Travel Center. Up until July 23rd, 2017, for people who have the Prestige card, your points are worth 1.6 cents each for travel on American Airlines and 1.33 cents for travel on all other airlines. After this date, the value of points will change and you’ll get at constant 1.25 cents value for tickets on all airlines. This lowers the value of ThankYou points a bit.

If you are looking for an extensive list of how to use your ThankYou points, here is a list of the 35 best ways to use your points. To be totally honest, I’ve only used my points three times since we applied for the card in October 2015. I twice used miles to pay for flights on JetBlue and I also used points to top off my Hilton account to pay for our hotel in Fort Lauderdale. So if I haven’t been able to find much usage for the points, why do I still have the card? The benefits!!!!

Citi Prestige Benefits

Here’s list of the benefits of the Citi Prestige card that encourage me keep it despite the $450 annual fee. This list may not be all inclusive but these are the benefits I’ve actually used:

  • $250 airline credit – Every calendar year you get $250 of airline charges reimbursed with the card. This is for any airline charges, including airline tickets and if you travel at all, you should be able to get this money back. Since this is money you would have spent anyway, the effective cost of the card is lowered to $200. That’s still steep but I think is made up for with the next benefit.
  • Fourth Night Free hotel benefit – This is really the killer benefit of the Prestige and it’s not matched by any other credit card. If you’re staying at a hotel for 4 nights (or more) and book through the Citi Concierge, the cost of the 4th night is reimbursed as a credit. This benefit will be changing slightly from reimbursing the cost of the 4th night to the average cost of the hotel night during your stay (I know people were booking a hotel where the 4th night is more expensive, like Las Vegas on the weekend or Super Bowl weekend and making the most costly night be the 4th night). I wish I could use this benefit more, as there is no limit to how many times you can use it. But I was able to get $173.50 back from a stay in New York in 2015, it will save me $209.43 for our upcoming stay in Disneyland and another $233.67 when we visit Schiltterbahn water park this summer. So you can see how using this card in the right situations can earn you back way more than the annual fee.
  • Travel Protection – The Citi Prestige offers some of the best travel protections of any credit card. Up until May of 2016, the catch was that you had to pay for the whole ticket with the card. This meant if you paid with miles/points and paid the fees with the card, you weren’t covered. Citi has since changed their rules so that several types of coverage are eligible even if you only use the Prestige for a portion of the cost. This allows you to put in a claim for lost baggage, baggage delay or medical evacuation and get the benefit even if you just paid a portion of the cost with your Prestige. There is still a catch for trip cancellation and interruption that, “In the event of partial payment, we will only reimburse the lesser of the actual amount paid for with your Citi card (including ThankYou® Points) or the maximum coverage per Trip”. So if  your trip is cancelled, you only will receive back the amount that you charged to the card.
  • Missed Event Ticket Protection – I use this card to purchase all of our concert and theater ticket because of the great coverage it provides. unnamed1-2In fact, I just used it to pay for our tickets to  the Classic East concert.
    “If the unexpected keeps you from using tickets (such as tickets for a sporting event, concert, or lecture) for an event, we may reimburse you the price of the ticket up to $500 per ticket, including service fees that are listed on the ticket or receipt. You’re covered for up to $5,000 in a calendar year per account”
  • Priority Pass Membership (with guesting privileges) – We are past the stage of planning to get to the airport early just so that we can go to a airport lounge. However, there are times when you happen to get to the airport really early or have a long layover, and sitting in a lounge is a nice perk. Priority Pass has relationships with lounges around the world and we’ve used this benefit to get us into lounges from Heathrow Airport in London to Miami Airport while waiting for our flight to Cuba. The best part of the Citi Prestige membership to Priority Pass is that you get to bring 2 guests into the lounge with you.

    AspireHeathrowT5
    View from Aspire, The Lounge and Spa at LHR T5 (A Priority Pass Lounge)
  • $100 Global Entry credit – If you travel internationally (or even plan on doing so in the next 5 years), you should have Global Entry. This is a program from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows you to skip the line when re-entering the U.S. There is a very extensive application to be filled out and a mandatory interview to be approved, but it is totally worth it. If approved, you also have a great chance of being cleared for the TSA Pre✓® lanes when going through x-ray before your flights. I’ve not used this credit with this card as we applied for the Global Entry program before I had the card but I can use it to pay for my renewal fee (or you can be nice and pay for someone else’s application if you aren’t going to apply yourself).
  • Citi Price Rewind – This is a service where Citi will monitor the price on items you purchased with the card to see if the price goes down. After making your purchase, you go to the Citi Price Rewind website to register your purchase. I’ve gotten money back on everything from a lawn edger to our dog’s flea medicine.

    IMG_0344
    I’d gladly pay full price for her flea medication but I’d rather save some money and get miles while I’m at it. And isn’t she the cutest puppy ever!?!?
  • Citi Private Pass Events – While you can usually access these with any Citi Card,  you get early access and/or preferred seating to concerts and sporting events. The Prestige card will also have access to some private events not for any other cardmembers. I’ve used this perk to score tickets to Darius Rucker and Train. Right now the website is showing tickets to Paul McCartney, Sting and Kings of Leon concerts.

I’m sure I’ve missed some of the benefits of this card that didn’t apply to me. They still might offer free rounds of golf (I haven’t golfed [where it didn’t involve a windmill] in years). While it may seem that paying $450 a year for a card is expensive, I find myself making money just by having this card and using some of its benefits. That’s even before I’ve been able to find something to do with the points we are earning with it.

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5 thoughts on “Credit Card Review: Citi Prestige”

  1. Under the new benefits guide the travel benefits apply so long as you use your Prestige card to pay for any portion on the travel expense.

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