The Citi Prestige card has been my #1 card for well over a year now, but like all good things, my relationship with the card may soon be coming to an end. There have been several rumors circulating about the changes that may be coming in the next year, but today I received an email from Citi officially notifying me of the upcoming changes. Much like American Airlines recent devaluations and changes, I have been unable to find any redeeming qualities:
- American Airlines Admirals Club Access: Originally, this was the only reason I opened the Citi Prestige Card. At the time, I was exclusively flying American Airlines and also was carrying the AAdvantage Executive Card from Citi. From flying and spending I soon had more AAdvantage miles than I knew what to do with! I found the Citi Prestige card as a great way to diversify my miles & points, but would retain Admirals Club access for the same annual fee. In today’s email from Citi, I was notified that as of July 2017, I would not longer receive Admirals Club access when traveling on American Airlines.
- No More Free Golf: Ok, I don’t really care about this one. It was a cool perk that was fun to use, but the portal proved difficult to use and I think I only ended up using one free round in the year I carried the card.
- 4th Night Free Change: The 4th night free benefit, which Citi reimbursed you for your fourth paid night at most hotels, when booked through Citi’s travel program, is now going to be calculated based on an average room rate for the week. This is not a huge change, but occasionally room rates increase dramatically over the weekend and this benefit could be very valuable. Still, this is a great perk that more premium cards should offer.
- Airfare Redemption: With the Citi Prestige Card, points can be used to offset paid airfare. Each point is equal to $0.0125, but when used toward American Airlines airfare points were worth $0.016. Again, after July 23, 2017, American Airlines flights will no longer receive a higher redemption rate. Example, after July 2017 50,000 points = $625 in airfare.
- Reduced Sign-Up Bonus: The old sign-up bonus was an insane 50,000 points for just $3,000/3-month spend requirement. The new bonus is just 40,000 for $4,000/3-month spend requirement.
As a frequent American Airlines traveler, the Citi Prestige card made perfect sense. ThankYou points could be redeemed at a very favorable rate when used toward paying for American Airlines airfare. The redemption would also be considered a paid flight and you would earn AAdvantage miles for traveling, unlike when you redeem AAdvantage miles directly for airfare. Also, having Admirals Club access for you and up to two guests when traveling on American Airlines was amazing. On several occasions, I was able to get guests into the lounge that were not traveling on American Airlines as well.
It is important to note that these benefits are not disappearing overnight, Citi graciously gave a 12-month notice, BUT if the loss of lounge access is not replaced by some other benefit, I personally no longer see the value of this card in my wallet. The Citi ThankYou Premier card is an excellent vehicle for earning ThankYou points at a much lower annual fee.
I think this card could retain its value if it had other reciprocal benefits such as Hilton & SPG gold status offered by the American Express Platinum Card. Also, rumors are circulating that Chase will join the premium credit card market in the coming months which could further hurt the Citi Prestige card’s appeal. Luckly, my annual fee does not come due until early 2017, but at this point, given my earning strategy for 2017, the Citi Prestige card no longer has a place in my wallet.