Here’s the Details of Brand New Citi Prestige Card Changes — Effective July 23 (Including 75K Bonus)

Existing Citi Prestige Card cardholders will be losing several benefits July 23rd or see benefit changes:

  • Access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs when flying American
  • Elimination of the card’s free golf benefit
  • Points will no longer be worth 1.6 cents apiece towards paid American Airlines flights
  • Paid travel with points drops for all airlines from 1.33 cents apiece down to 1.25 cents
  • Fourth night free hotel benefit will become based on the average room rate during the stay, rather than the cost of the fourth night, and will not rebate taxes


No More American Airlines Admirals Club Access Via Citi Prestige Card

Citibank loses the ability to offer Admirals Club access with this card as part of their new co-brand deal with American Airlines. They similarly lose the discounted ticket purchase arrangement as well.

However since Citi made that decision and announcement, Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve Card, American Express introduced new benefits to their Platinum card, and US Bank entered the premium rewards space. Other banks are expected to do the same in the coming year.

The market has gotten more competitive even as Citi has cut back benefits from the Prestige Card (which I still think is fantastic for the fourth night hotel benefit even after the changes).

There have been persistent rumors that Citi will be introducing new benefits to compete in this increasingly crowded space. Now the changes are confirmed, and they’re pretty consistent with what we already knew.

We expect to see the following on July 23rd:

  • Limited-time 75,000 point signup bonus offer after $7500 spend within 3 months
  • Online reservation of 4th night free benefit and ability to use points to pay for hotels while redeeming fourth night free (at 1 cent per point). The discount for the 4th night will then come off at check-out rather than waiting for a statement credit to post after the stay.
  • New metal card design (albeit lighter than other cards)
  • Redeem for cash at 1 cent per point


Hotel 4th Night Free Benefit Gets Easier to Book

These will be on top of existing benefits that remain:

  • 3 points per dollar on air and hotel and 2 points per dollar on restaurants and entertainment
  • $250 annual airline credit
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit (every 5 years)
  • Priority Pass with unlimited lounge visits and up to 2 guests
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Strong travel coverages, such as only requiring a 4 hour delay for trip delay coverage to kick in and eligibility on split tender payments like award bookings

A metal card matches the American Express Platinum (the Platinum card is heavier) but really isn’t a benefit. It’s a cost – metal is more expensive than plastic – but Citi is likely going light for savings here. Metal cards were ‘cool’ 3 or 4 years ago, but they no longer stand out.

Making points worth a penny apiece towards non-travel redemptions is an increase in value, but doesn’t increase the value you can get from the card. That still drops under this scenario from 1.33 cents to 1.25 cents.

Using points towards 4th night free is an increase in flexibility but again doesn’t increase the value of points since those points won’t be redeemed at a higher value, in fact they’re redeemed at a lesser value than today.


Park Hyatt Sydney

It’s not clear how 4th night free hotels booked online will interact with hotel program benefits that exclude reservations made via third parties, however telephone booking of this benefit will remain an option and as long as those bookings continue to be made as today that won’t become an issue.

While The Points Guy says “It’s great to see a credit card company upping its game in an unmatched way” I’d never spend points at a penny apiece so increasing the value of some options up to that level or increasing flexibility to use them at that level is a non-starter for me. The metal card doesn’t matter.

There’s a convenience added to fourth night free hotel bookings, but we’ll have to see whether the convenient booking method gets treated as a third party booking, and if not whether you’ll still earn points and elite night credit for the fourth night.

There’s nothing bad here (in terms of changes that we didn’t already know almost a year ago). However I don’t think these changes meaningfully improve the card.

It’s already a good card. It’s worth getting and keeping. But in my view the overall value proposition doesn’t change much at all with these announcements.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. So they take away admirals club access and the three free rounds of golf (which more than paid for the card) and give us online booking and a metal card. Who ever thought this was an improvement should be fired.

  2. Yeah, agreed. These things aren’t going to stem the tidal wave of closures they are about to see.

  3. To get 75,000 points you have to spend $7500. Not worth it. Citibank is the WORST at depositing the correct amount of bonus points for spend. I have argued with them so many times, that I don’t use the card anymore. They always blame the merchant. Citibank says the merchant has the wrong codes for them to award extra points. Meanwhile as a test, I would use my Sapphire Reserve and Chase always put in the right bonus points. Done with Citibank! If they have a reasonable sign up bonus, I would do it. But $7500 spend is not reasonable. If someone is desperate for 75,000 points I can understand, but I’m not.

  4. First thought – The change sucks!

    Goodbye Citi… I already closed the Hilton Reserve (AMEX’s Hilton Surpass is a better value at lower annual fee) and was hoping they would come around one way or another to make this card somewhat more attractive to a broader group of cardholders.

    If they just brought back the golf benefit I would keep this card. Sorry to say this but this card is not a fantastic card when it is the worst of the big 3 premium cards. I would categorize this card along with the Ritz card in the premium card scene – some value for very specific purpose (i.e. 4th night free or Marriott Gold).

    I just got back from playing a round at the Omni Bedford Springs today courtesy of Citi – for those based in PA/OH/MD/VA, this course is definitely worth the drive. Fantastic weekend retreat (great hotel too).

    Back on topic – this is a total disappointment and I have a hunch I am not the only one. Citi is hurting in the travel credit card category.

  5. Well, for *me* the ability to book the 4th night free hotel stay online and have the credit appear automatically saved the card for me.

    The loss of the AA lounge and a (to me) worthless golf benefit is minor. I anticipate making the $200 (after the $250 travel benefit) annual fee back easily enough with hotel bookings. The process before was too manual and hit-and-miss, but like much in the travel world being able to arrange things oneself online fixes the biggest negative for the card.

  6. Thanks for pointing out that TPG is one of the biggest frauds in this space. (And there are many!)

  7. I am grandfathered in to the $350 AF for in-branch application. For me paying net $100/yr for the “4th night free” benefit makes the card a keeper, but the CSR is my go-to card for spend.

  8. Maybe the card still works on its own, but anyone with a CSR or Platinum isn’t going to see any value from holding this card as well, whereas that made sense before.

  9. The question in my mind is how the online booking won’t count as a 3rd party booking and therefore won’t earn points. Also, you won’t be earning points on the 4th night as this is an automatic discount up front. I’ll be interested to see how that plays out for people that call. For now I’d recommend calling for the best possible chance of earning points on the 4th night, if at all.

  10. That’s disappointing. I knew of course about what we were losing. The stuff we’re gaining: I don’t care about one single item on that list.

  11. This is ridiculous.
    We should all close our Prestige card accounts and show Citi they made a big mistake.

  12. Ahhhh, credit card companies . . . how do thee frustrate me? At every conceivable turn possible, so it seems.

    /\/\/\/\/\
    Chase: You introduce the CSR *after* I was already over the 5/24 rule, and then before I’m out from under it, you slash the sign-up bonus from 100,000 to 50,000 points.
    /\/\/\/\/\

    Citi: Since I don’t play golf, I certainly won’t miss that benefit; nor will I miss the benefits/access at American Airlines, as I rarely fly them. Oh, wait — Alaska is buying Virgin America, and some of AS flights (still) codeshare with AA . . . and now I can’t use their lounge? $#|+, that sucks!

    The $450AF is offset by the $250 travel credit, so if I do nothing else, the net AF is $200. I’m still getting good use out of my Priority Pass Select membership (but I acknowledge I may be the only one lately who is), and if I had to pay $27 each time I and/or my wife used a Priority Lounge, that would come damed close to the $200, so the card isn’t *really* costing me that much . . . yet. But as AS lounges seem to pulling out — or at the very least, pulling away — from Priority Lounge, and I’ll have to *buy* a lounge membership, I’m realistically going to say that the Prestige card will still cost me $200/year.

    Well, at least you didn’t touch the MAJOR benefit (for me) of your card — 4th Night Free. Oh, wait — you did. Well, making it an average of all four nights rathe than just the actual cost of the 4th night makes sense both to you and to me. Averaging out the cost of the four nights probably saves Citi money, and might actually increase *my* savings, as my 4th night is often a Monday or a Tuesday, not a weekend night. BUT WAIT, now you’re saying that if I use the 4th Night Free benefit, I *may* not receive the elite benefits I’m entitled to because it will be considered a Third Party Booking???

    SO FAR, however, I’ve been able to save $1,000+ each year I’ve had the Citi Prestige card, but if that changes . . .hmmmm — I’ll have to see how this actually shakes out, but this card has certainly moved from the KEEP category to the MAYBE category, and looks like it may be on its way to the DUMP . . .

    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

    @Gary, I can only hope that someone with Citi takes the time as a part of their job to scan the “blogosphere” for sites like this, TPG, Dr. Credit, etc., etc., and sees/reads what the cardholders think of these changes . . . and that this nameless, faceless individual at Citi has the ear of someone far more powerful and these complaints/concerns about the Prestige card are indeed heard at the highest levels.

    They won’t be, of course, but it’s a nice thought: a bank who responds to customers concerns.

  13. This was enough to transfer the rest of my TY points (3,000 out of about 3,300 – I’ll eat the rest) to VX and cancel my card before the next annual fee hits in August.

  14. The changes for the Citi Prestige are really confusing. I read in their online Q&A this morning that on the 4th night free program, you have to prepay the entire reservation. This was confirmed with a Citi agent. But I pushed the agent on whether you can use AAA or senior discounts and her response was “good question”. I also asked about 3rd party bookings and whether hotel frequent guest benefits would be maintained. She put me on hold for about 10 minutes and came back and told me….
    1. AAA and senior discounts can still be used.
    2. The prepay at time of booking is only if you book online using points and cash.
    3. You will still get hotel benefits and points, etc.
    4. You can still call in and speak with a live agent who will make the booking, and then you
    pay with the Citi Prestige card at the hotel.
    Her responses made me feel a little better, but I’m still leary.

    The $250 travel benefit and the 4th night free are the only reasons I’d keep the card.
    I’m probably going to dump my Ritz Carlton VISA through Chase because the travel credit only applies to incidental expenses and not actual airfare. Since I’m a lifetime United Club member and don’t pay for upgrades, the $250 will probably go to waste (unless someone knows how to get around the restrictions.

  15. Online booking for the hotel benefit will cause me to seriously re-consider this card. I had it but downgraded because of the inconvenience with booking those free nights. If I can really and truly make these bookings immediately on a portal, this will be a huge win. May not sound like much, but to someone who is accustomed to booking a hotel quickly and directly, this is a huge win. I found the calling process to take a long time and often cumbersome.

    This alone might bring me back to that card as long as it not considered some “third party booking” which forfeits elite night credits and points.

    The metal card will be nice. Quite frankly anything would be nice over the very VERY thin “cheap” feeling card that was used before. It was basically an embarrassment to pull out and use and it weighed next to nothing and was just very “cheap” feeling. My AmEx Platinum card is an eye catcher for sure. The plastic Citi Prestige card has the essence of “cheap” versus anything even remotely “prestige”.

    One more thing I think they should do – dedicated customer service. Calling in with this card is the same queue as calling in with no annual fee cards. Not like they deserver poor service, but with paying $450 per year, you’d expect a faster response and people who can fluently understand your native language. Something Citi didn’t bother with.

    Thanks for the post.

  16. @UtahTraveller AND @ChadMC —> I’m right there with you. As previously mentioned, I am someone who has received solid value from this card through the 4th Night Free benefit, and as long as that remains useful to me, the card stays. (“The $250 travel benefit and the 4th night free are the only reasons I’d keep the card.”) But only “as long as it not considered some ‘third party booking’ which forfeits elite night credits and points.” If that falls by the wayside, so too will the card.

    And a HUGE +1, Chad, for the dedicated customer service phone line!

  17. The difference between keeping/applying for this card and not, is if Citi will give hotel loyalty points and stay credits when booking the reservation online. IF Citi are now operating as an OTA (like Expedia), and customers no longer receive those hotel points as a benefit of booking, then it takes away a huge benefit of the whole 4th Night Free feature. Hopefully this blog will address that in a future post when more details are revealed.

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