At this point you may realize that the Citi Prestige
is was my favorite credit card of all time. When I first converted my Citi Executive AAdvantage card to the Citi Prestige I couldn’t have been more excited. With the new Citi Prestige card I retained Admirals Club access while earning flexible ThankYou points. The old version of the Citi Prestige card came with some incredible benefits. I won’t go into them now, but for me the Citi Prestige card was a perfect fit.
Sadly, approximately a year ago Citi announced some ‘enhancements’ to the card. Citi announced card holders would lose Admirals Club access, the free golf benefit, and enhanced redemptions on American flights. Additionally, Citi adjusted the calculation of the 4th night free benefit. All of these changes resulted in me downgrading to the Citi ThankYou Premier card.
Today, per ThePointsGuy, Citi announced some ‘improvements’ to the Citi Prestige card effective July 23 2017 and beyond. Although Citi says these changes as improvements I’m not actually sure they are. In fact, I think the Citi Prestige card is an even worse value for most with these new changes.
Improved Citi Prestige Sign-Up Offer
One of the biggest and most notable improvements to the Citi Prestige card is an increased sign-up bonus. Effective July 23, 2017 the Citi Prestige card will featured a limited time increased sign-up offer of 75,000 after spending $7,500 within the first 90 days following account opening. This represents a fairly significant increase from the standard 40,000 point bonus after spending $4,000.
I value ThankYou points at $0.015/point which means this increased sign-up bonus is worth about $1,125! This increased sign-up bonus offer alone is enough points to fly one-way to Europe in Singapore Airlines Suites Class. ThankYou points aren’t quite as valuable or flexible as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but they are still quite useful. Given the new increased sign-up bonus it could be worth opening the card just for the 75,000 ThankYou points.
If you are looking to open the Citi Prestige card only to earn the sign-up bonus you’re in luck. Citi allows Citi Prestige card holders to downgrade their product to the Citi ThankYou Premier card. The Citi ThankYou Premier card offers the same points earning structure, but only comes with a $95 annual fee. Just keep in mind Citi Prestige ThankYou points don’t transfer to other ThankYou cards. That means Citi Prestige ThankYou points expire shortly after you downgrade your account.
Improved Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Benefit Experience
The Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit is the single most valuable credit card benefit available today. If used properly you can literally save thousands of dollars each year with this benefit. The only previous issue with this benefit is using it. In the past you had to call or email the Citi Concierge to book an eligible hotel to qualify for the 4th night free benefit. Luckily Citi is improving the 4th night free booking experience and beginning July 23, Citi Prestige card holders will be able to book qualifying hotel stays through the Citi ThankYou website.
Additionally, Citi is adjusting the way the 4th night free credits post to your account. Previously card holders received a statement credit for the 4th night several days following payment. I recently pre-paid a hotel stay and received the 4th night free credit prior to my stay. Citi’s new 4th night free benefit after July 23 is just a discount applied at the time of booking. This means you no longer have to wait for your credits to post and instead receive the discount at the time of booking. Obviously this is a much smoother overall experience for Citi Prestige card holders.
Sadly, it may not all be good news for the 4th night free benefit. Yes, it’ll be easier to book qualifying stays and the discount is upfront and automatic. Unfortunately you may not earn elite nights or hotel loyalty points from these bookings. There is some speculation from Lucky at OneMileAtATime that bookings though the ThankYou portal won’t qualify for elite nights or hotel points. If true it’ll be the same as the hotel bookings through American Express travel. We don’t know for sure if this is the case or not, but if true it definitely reduces a lot of value from the card.
Use ThankYou Points To Pay For 4th Night Free Stays
Beginning July 23, Citi will a allow card holders to use ThankYou points to pay for qualifying hotel stays. ThankYou points are typically worth $0.01 when used to pay for hotel stays. Since the 4th night free discount is effectively a 25% discount ThankYou points used with this benefit are worth $0.0125. That improved value doesn’t quite match the $0.016 for travel with American Airlines, but it’s definitely an improvement.
I personally don’t see myself using ThankYou points to pay for hotel stays. I see much more value in transferring ThankYou points to Singapore Airlines or Hilton Hotels directly. The only time I think it’ll make sense to use points to pay for hotel stays directly is for very inexpensive stays. Using a ton of points to pay for hotel stays doesn’t seem like a great redemption option when you consider other options.
Redeem Citi ThankYou Points For Cash
One of the most surprising ‘improvements’ to the Citi Prestige card is the ability to redeem ThankYou points for cash. Points redeemed for cash are worth $0.01 each which effectively makes the card a cash back credit card. Given the Citi Prestige’s current bonus point categories the card essentially becomes a 3% cash back card for travel, a 2% cash back card for dining and entertainment, and a 1% cash back card for everything else. The best part is that there are no limits to how much ‘cash back’ you can earn.
I don’t find a ton of value from this benefit, but many consumers don’t like playing the points game. So many people I know end up using points to buy gift cards or merchandise because trying to book the perfect flight simply takes too much time. For anyone that doesn’t know how or care to maximize ThankYou points this is a great benefit. I still think you’ll get way more value from ThankYou points when transferred to airline loyalty programs, but to each their own.
The New And Improved Metal Citi Prestige Card!
C’mon! Honestly when Chase impressed me when they first introduced the metal Chase Sapphire cards. Then American Express excited me when they introduced the metal Platinum card. Now, I’m just sick of metal cards. I don’t think anyone really cares about metal credit cards except for the people who carry them. The only time anyone (cashier or waiter) comment on a card was at a pub in rural London. That interaction was terribly awkward and I wished I had a regular plastic card.
I guess Citi feels the need to introduce a metal Citi Prestige card to remain competitive in the market, but I’m getting pretty tired of all these metal cards. In a world of metal cards I loved that the Citi Prestige card wasn’t. The Citi Prestige card has long been a sleeper credit card, meaning only those who know about the card understood it’s value. I liked how discreet the Citi Prestige card when it was still plastic, flimsy plastic at that. I loved using my Citi Prestige card only to have someone show me their metal Chase Sapphire Preferred card and tote it’s unbeatable benefits (lol).
Even though I dislike metal cards in general, I’m excited to eventually get my hands on the metal Citi Prestige card. Citi decided to maintain the same design on the metal card as the plastic card and I’m glad. I honestly think the Citi Prestige card is one of the best looking cards out there, metal or not.
Are These Really Improvements?
I’ve been pretty hard on the Citi Prestige ever since the card announced the elimination of Admirals Club access. I love visiting Admirals Club locations when traveling domestically and the Citi Prestige represented the least expensive way in. Even with all of the reduced benefits the 4th night free still represented an incredible value. I never got much value out of that benefit due to my travel patterns, but frequent week-long travelers (consultants, etc.) could get a ton of value from that benefit annually. I’ve long said that consultants, etc. who travel weekly and use a personal card for expenses should absolutely carry the Citi Prestige card. The fact that you could expense all 4 nights and get the 4th night credited back each stay is a great deal. Maybe just don’t go bragging to management about all the money you’re pocketing!
Sadly, if Lucky (from OMAAT) is correct, this card probably isn’t the best card for those staying in hotels 75+ nights a year. If you book all of your 4+ night stays through ThankYou travel, but don’t earn elite credits or points then I’m not sure it’s a good deal anymore. If you do plan on using the 4th night free through ThankYou travel I’d recommend also carrying the American Express Platinum card for the hotel elite status benefits.
It seems all of these changes further reduced the value of the card for most customers. Previously I though both budget and wealthy travelers could benefit from this card. Now I think the only people who get much value from the improved Citi Prestige card are the wealthy. Consultants who use hotel points and benefits during personal trips won’t get much value from this card anymore.
However, those who book 4+ night luxurious hotel stays ($500/night+) a few times a year will still get a ton of value from this card. That segment of people probably don’t care about elite status as much as your typical budget traveler.
I also think those who stay between 50 and 75 nights a year also can still benefit from this card. Those travelers could carry the American Express Platinum card for elite status (Hilton, Marriott, SPG, & Ritz) and the Citi Prestige card for the savings. Those travelers won’t qualify for top-tier hotel status anyway and might as well try to save some money though the 4th night free benefit.