My Citi Prestige Downgrade Call

My Citi Prestige Downgrade Call

The decision to downgrade my Citi Prestige card is one that I don’t take lightly. The Citi Prestige card is one of my favorite cards in my wallet today. Access to Priority Pass and Admirals Club lounges, the 4th night free benefit, and the $250 Airline credit all make the card worth carrying. Sadly, Citi is implementing some ‘enhancements‘ to the Citi Prestige card which make the card much less appealing to me. Most of the benefits offered by the Prestige card are redundant with other cards I already carry. I am going to miss the 4th night free benefit, but I rarely get to use the benefit. When Citi eliminates Admirals Club access I just can’t justify carrying the card anymore.

The $450 Annual Fee Posted!

I planned to either downgrade the card to the Citi ThankYou Premier card or the Citi Executive Advantage card at some point before July. I hadn’t realized my annual fee was going to post as early as it did and now I have to make a decision, FAST. When the annual fee posts, card-holders have 30 days to make a decision. After that the annual fee is non-refundable and you are stuck paying the full $450! So today I called Citi to explore my options. The call surprised me in many ways and here is what I learned.

Downgrade or Conversion Options

Citi does not let card-holders convert the Citi Prestige card into the Citi Executive AAdvantage card directly. I found this odd because you can convert the Citi Executive into the Citi Prestige. Instead, the best option is to downgrade the Citi Prestige card into the Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee). Originally I planned on going this route anyway because I plan to open the Citi Executive and earn the 50,000 AA miles currently offered as a sign-up bonus.

Interestingly, once the card is downgraded to the Citi ThankYou Premier, card-holders can then convert from the TY Premier card to the Citi Executive AAdvantage card after 60 days. Again, this seemed odd to me, but worth knowing.

If you decide to downgrade your Citi Prestige card, you can continue using the card until you activate your Citi ThankYou Premier card. Citi Prestige benefits end 14 days after the downgrade is completed.

Loss of Admirals Club Access

Citi Prestige card-holders can still access Admirals Club locations for 14 days following the downgrade to the Citi ThankYou Premier. Basically per the Citi representative, they assume it will take 14 days for the TY Premier card to arrive. Once you activate the ThankYou Premier card you lose admirals club access.

Loss of Citi ThankYou Points

Surprisingly, when downgrading from the Citi Prestige card to the Citi ThankYou Premier you are effectively closing your account and your ThankYou points expire within 60 days. I originally figured that the points would remain because you are retaining a ThankYou rewards card, but this wasn’t the case. This means that I have to redeem all of my Prestige ThankYou points within 60 days following the downgrade call. Most likely I will end up just transferring all of the points to a transfer partner.

This is where things get interesting. I already have a pool of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer points which I could add to, but KrisFlyer points also eventually expire. My other option is to add the points to my Hilton Honors account and use the pay with points/cash option for a future hotel booking. I currently don’t have any points with any other transfer partners nor would I want to park miles anywhere else at the moment. I think I’d get maximum value from the Singapore Airlines program, but I run the risk of excess miles expiring down the road. By transferring to Hilton I make sure to get use out of every single point.

Timing Is Everything

This is where things get most interesting for me. I have until March 30th (annual fee posted March 1) to make a decision. If I downgrade by March 30th I get my $450 back, if not, I lose it. I leave for Europe on March 30th as well and would like to have Admirals Club access along the way. If I downgrade on March 30, I should retain Admirals Club access throughout the journey by using the Citi Prestige card. After that I won’t have access. Then I can wait 60 days to convert from the Citi TY Premier to the Citi Executive card or simply apply for the Executive card directly. If I wait, I won’t have lounge access for 60-some days. Not the end of the world, but also inconvenient.

Do I Want The Citi ThankYou Premier Card?

Yes, because the card earns 3X points on gas station purchases and offers a 2X points on entertainment category. No because I don’t typically spend enough on either category to offset the $95 annual fee. Ultimately I think I’m going to downgrade the Citi Prestige to the TY Premier on March 29th (I’ll forget when traveling) and then apply for the Citi Executive AAdvantage card. This way I retain Admirals Club access, I get the 3X points on Gas, and I can decide later on if I should then convert the TYP to the standard ThankYou card.

Retention Offer?

Nope, not one. I’m somewhat surprised by this, but I’d imagine I’m not the only one downgrading this card as July approaches, especially with the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the improvements to the American Express Platinum Cards. I expected to get some kind of retention offer (waived annual fee / points), but wasn’t offered anything.

Final Thoughts

I love dealing with Citi customer service. Repeatedly they are friendly and understanding. I’ve had downgrade calls in the past where the customer service agent becomes hostile and questions why I opened the card in the first place (duh, sign-up bonus!), but this was not one. I’m glad I called and got the whole scoop and hope this information is helpful to you.