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Reader Michael asked about how much value you can get out of the Citi Prestige card in the first year.
I’ll walk through Citi Prestige benefts, and the actual amount will depend on which you’ll take advantage of, but if you sign up for the Citi Prestige card you can pretty easily pocket $2000 in value from those Citi Prestige benefits — and for many even $3000 worth of value — during your first year, all for a $450 annual fee.
$250 Airline Credit… x2
There’s a $250 airline credit, that can be used directly on airline tickets and doesn’t have to be used purely for ancillary fees. It’s a calendar year benefit. So if you apply for the card now, you get $250 in 2015 and then another $250 to use at the beginning of 2016. That’s true whether you keep the card forever, or keep it just 11 months. So in your first cardmember year, that’s $500.
50,000 Bonus Miles
The signup bonus on the card is 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 in spend within 3 months of account opening.
That’s worth $500 in gift cards. Or it’s worth 1.33 cents apiece towards paid travel ($665). Or it’s worth 1.6 cents apiece towards paid travel on American ($800).
You can also transfer these points to airline frequent fly programs including Air France-KLM, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, Etihad Guest, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and several more.
Roughly speaking I think that these mileage transfers are worth about the same (1.6 cents apiece) as American Airlines paid travel redemptions. So the bonus is worth ~ $800
The card comes with American Airlines lounge access when flying American (or US Airways). A member runs as much as $500 in a year. This card doesn’t come with a true membership, though, in that you need to be flying American for access (a membership gets you access when not flying the airline among other benefits).
The card also comes with Priority Pass Select membership for lounge access, offering unlimited visits to participating lounges and even including unlimited access for two guests each time. Priority Pass Select and Priority Pass are, for all intents and purposes, the same (Priority Pass Select was built to exclude United Clubs, since credit cards not issued by Chase can’t provide United club lounge access… but United Clubs have pulled out of the arrangement). Now that the two are the same, we can look to the price that Priority Pass sells memberships. An unlimited visit membership without included guests is $399. This card gets you free guests.
Most people won’t buy an unlimited Priority Pass and American lounge access, and how much it’s worth to you depends on how much you value lounge access and how often you’ll use it. But the market value of the benefit is surely north of $750.
Global Entry Fee Reimbursement
If you don’t already have Global Entry, the card will reimburse your $100 fee. The Global Entry submission doesn’t even need to be for you, just charged to the card. That’s a $100 value.
Free Rounds of Golf
You get three free rounds of golf per year. It’s a calendar year benefit, which means you can use it 3 times this calendar year and three times at the beginning of next calendar year — all for that same first year annual fee.
You can book one tee time at a time, and you must book at least three days in advance. (Different rules apply in Asia.)
Six golf games in your first cardmember year, many courses charge as much as $200 per round, this could be worth up to $1200.
Of course if you don’t play much golf (I don’t) you won’t value the benefit so highly. Indeed they can offer it precisely because not everyone will take advantage of it (breakage).
4th Night Free Booking Hotels
You book through the Citi Prestige Concierge, stays earn full points and stay credit, and then you pay at checkout with your Citi Prestige card. You then receive a statement credit for the 4th night of the stay.
This is fantastic for stays where the rate goes up on the 4th night of a stay.
And this is fantastic where you’re going to stay 3 nights at the best flexible rate anyway, just tack on a 4th night and earn additional stay or night credit towards status and promotions and additional points without coming out of pocket any additional money. It’s the perfect mattress run.
You can use this even at luxury properties, you can get huge savings if you book the kinds of rooms that are $400, $800, or what have you per night.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can use this benefit each year (other than the calendar, 365 divided by 4).
Oh, and It’s a Strong Earning Card Too
Earning is triple points on air and hotels, and double points on restaurants and entertainment.
Unquestionably for travelers, and miles and points aficionados, the card offers really superior value. We can debate the exact amount of value any one person will get. But it’s hard to envision too many scenarios where one won’t get orders of magnitude more than the fee out of this card during that first year.