On October 22, information about major changes coming to the Citi
ThankYou Prestige card started to show up around the internet. Over the next two days, several different variations of new card benefits and changes were put out there. While most of them were accurate, others were not so much. I generally don’t like to write about a topic until the dust settles and details are confirmed but we’re at a point now where I can look at what’s reportedly going to happen to the Prestige card and how it will affect me. At first review, I’m really happy about the changes. The Prestige was on my list of cards on the chopping block at this year’s renewal but now it’s a keeper. These changes also make me feel better about my choice to cancel my AMEX Platinum earlier this year.
Here are five reasons I’m glad I kept the Citi Prestige card:
5x ThankYou Points For Airfare Purchases
Currently the Citi Prestige earns 3x points for airfare purchases, which is a good return. Up until July 2018, the Prestige was my card of choice to pay for airfare because of the awesome travel protections it provided for delays and cancellations. When Citi devalued the coverage to be about the same as provided by the Sapphire Reserve, I started using that card for airfare since it earns the same 3x points and I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points more than ThankYou Points. I know that the AMEX Platinum pays 5x points for airfare but I never used that card because it did not have any sort of travel protections at all, which is one of the reasons I cancelled it.
Now that the Citi Prestige will pay 5x ThankYou points for airfare, it will regain its place as my first choice to pay for airfare.
5x ThankYou Points for Dining Purchases
We don’t eat out a lot, but we do eat out enough that I try to maximize the points I earn on these purchases. I currently earn 3x Ultimate Rewards when eating out if I pay with the Sapphire Reserve.
The Prestige currently earns 2x Thank You points for dining. When the new categories take effect, I’ll switch those charges to the Citi Prestige. Occasionally I’ll get bonus offers for other cards earning 5x for dining but not having to switch out cards in my wallet every few months will be nice.
$250 Travel Credit
The Prestige currently has a $250 yearly airline credit. I never found it that hard to use because any charge from an airline, including airfare, triggered the credit.
Citi is going to change this to a “travel credit” good for any travel expense. While I never had a problem using the credit, this change will let me use the credit sooner and get back part of the money I’m paying for the annual fee. Anything that makes it easier to get money back is a plus in my book
Fourth Night Free Benefit Stays
The change to the Citi Prestige that’s caused the most hand wringing is the cap being put on the fourth night free benefit. The “killer app” of the Prestige card is this benefit. When you book a four night stay with the Prestige card through the Citi Travel Portal or through the Citi Concierge, you get a refund equal to the average room night cost for your stay, excluding taxes and fees. Citi is now going to limit the use of this benefit to twice a year.
For people who used this benefit a lot, this is a huge loss. For me, the most we ever able to use the benefit in a year was two times. We just don’t have that many long hotel stays (and this year I booked our long hotel stays with Marriott points and got the 5th night free). I usually ended up booking rooms that looked like the one above with my Citi Prestige card so losing the ability to use the benefit more than twice a year doesn’t make a big difference to me.
The big reason the change is a positive for me is because it shows Citi knows the fourth night free is a huge selling point for this card. They’re trying to find a way to make it economically viable instead of just cutting it altogether. Keeping the benefit but limiting its use will hopefully keep it around for a while longer.
I’m Able To Get Good Travel Insurance AND Not Lose Out On Points
One of my dilemmas when booking travel was deciding whether to use a card with good coverage or to use a card that would maximize my points earning. Cause I’m a worry wart, I pay with the card that gives me insurance, even if it means losing out on 1 or 2 points per dollar.
Now that the Citi Prestige is going to pay 5x ThankYou Points for airline tickets and 3x points for hotels and cruises, I no longer have to make that choice. I’ll use the Prestige and earn points while getting travel protection.
The Citi Prestige also provides Missed Event Ticket Coverage. “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.” I always use the Citi Prestige when paying for expensive tickets such as Broadway shows or expensive concerts, like when we saw Paul McCartney at Desert Trip in 2016.
The Prestige only pays 1x for tickets but I’ll gladly give up 1x extra points just to be covered in case we’re not able to go to the show.
There are things I’m not thrilled about like the annual fee going up to $495, entertainment charges decreasing from 2x to 1x points earned and no longer getting a 25% bonus when redeeming points for airfare through the Citi ThankYou Portal (but given my experience doing that, I’m not sure I’d do that again anyway).
While many websites posted about the changes, I referred to this post on Frequent Miler which provides a easy to follow list of the changes and when they’ll take effect. I realize that not everyone will feel the same about these changes as I do, but for me the Citi Prestige card is going to move up to being one of my go-to cards unless another bank decides to increase their payouts (hint, hint!)
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary