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.