15 Things I Love About the Citi Prestige Card

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For the past year Citi Prestige has been the ‘it’ card, and for very good reason. It’s chock full of benefits. Citi has built a premium card to surpass others at the price point. It’s built a transferrable points program, let you use the points at a strong value towards paid airfare, and bundled not just traditional benefits like lounge access but unique benefits like VIP treatment at restaurants and free golf.

Here are the 15 things I love about the product.

  1. 50,000 point signup bonus after $3000 spend within 3 months. Up until a year ago the standard offer was just 30,000 points. And they keep making the points more valuable as they add airline transfer partners. (Offer expired)

  2. Airline transfer partners. I like transfers to Singapore and Etihad especially but there are transfer partners in all three alliances and also transfer partners nobody else has. You’ve got:

    • Star Alliance: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
    • Skyteam: Air France-KLM, Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
    • oneworld: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Qantas Frequent Flyer
    • Non-alliance: Etihad Airways Guest, Virgin America Elevate, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
    • Hotel: Hilton HHonors

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    Etihad First Class. This card’s points transfer directly to Etihad Guest, as well as programs like Singapore Airlines Krisflyer.

  3. Paid tickets at 1.6 cents per point. Points can be used to buy paid tickets on American at 1.6 cents apiece. I rarely want to use a bank’s points for paid tickets, but the value here is just high enough where it can make some good sense.

  4. Triple points on air and hotel spend. This make the Prestige cards one of the very best for Road Warriors. I like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card bonuses for road warriors, but triple points is triple points. If you want to use those towards paid American Airlines tickets you’re getting a 4.8% rebate. Of course you can do even better transferring to frequent flyer miles.

  5. Double points on dining and entertainment spend. The road warrior doesn’t give up double points on dining offered by Sapphire Preferred to be able to take advantage of the triple points on air and hotel. And of course you’ve got ‘entertainment’ as an additional double points category.

  6. How broad the entertainment bonus category is. You’ll be surprised by what counts as entertainment for double points. Citibank even says “Entertainment is defined broadly” and they mean it.

    It includes “live performances (e.g., concerts, theater), movie theaters, amusement parks and cultural events (e.g., zoos, museums). Entertainment merchants include sports promoters, theatrical promoters, movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, record stores and video rental stores.” In practice you may find things like expensive cult wines showing up as entertainment and earning double points.

  7. $250 airline credit which can be used on airfare, and earned twice during your first cardmember year. There’s no messing around with gift cards to get the most out of this benefit. You can buy airline tickets directly, this is not just for incidental fees. In other words, they don’t try to get you with breakage. Use it now in 2016, and use it at the beginning of 2017, for $500 in airline credits during your first $450 annual fee year.

  8. $100 global entry credit. I hate lines. I hate them at immigration, and I hate them at security. Since I got Global Entry, and enter my ‘Known Traveler Number’ into reservations or profiles, I haven’t missed PreCheck anywhere it’s been offered. You pay the Global Entry fee with the card, the fee gets rebated. Already have Global Entry? Pay for it for someone else, the benefit isn’t tied to a person — just a charge to your Prestige card.

  9. Trip delay coverage This is the best card to use to buy airline tickets. The Citi Prestige Card will cover up to $500 in expenses when you are delayed 3 or more hours. You must be on a round trip ticket (trip not to exceed 60 days) and have charged the full cost of your ticket to the card. The $500 benefit applies to each spouse (or domestic partner) or dependent (under 19) that’s delayed whose ticket you charged to the card.

  10. American Airlines lounge access (when flying American). What I like best about having access to American clubs ar the agents. The couple of times a year I face a flight delay due to weather or mechanical issues, the agents in the club make having access for the year worthwhile. Even if I never ate the snacks, used the cleaner restrooms, or sat there working I’d say the agents are what deliver for me over and over.

  11. Priority Pass Select card (with unlimited visits and 2 free guests). Other cards give you a Priority Pass or Lounge Club card – which gets you into Alaska Airlines lounges and into many non-US airline lounges (even in the US, but also around the world) as well as contract lounges. But the neat thing is you don’t just get unlimited visits for yourself, you get unlimited visits for up to 2 guests (American Express Platinum gives you only one free guest).


    Self serve pancakes in the Alaska Airlines Boardroom

  12. 3 free rounds of golf per year 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. There are courses where prime spots go for over $200 per round, so it’s possible to get really outsized value out of this benefit if you’re a golfer: 6 tee times in your first cardmember year worth over $1200.

  13. 4th night free on hotels. Stays earn full points and stay credit, you pay at checkout with your Citi Prestige card and 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. Since 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 since the savings isn’t capped.


    Park Hyatt Sydney

    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.’

  14. Pool points from other ThankYou Rewards credit cards and make those points worth more.

  15. Concierge service for restaurant reservations because they have relationships in major cities where if you make your booking through their concierge you get extra throw-ins like a complimentary drink or dessert.

These are pretty clearly benefits that are worth thousands of dollars. Citibank is investing pretty heavily. Even the signup bonus is bigger than it used to be.

My take is overall things that are several standard deviations better than the average opportunity in travel may not last, so it’s worth jumping now. The card’s offer in its current form may be too good to last.

With this many things to like it’s clearly a great product. So are there any more wishes I’d have for it? Sure. I’d love it if the ThankYou points program had more transfer partners, a US airline, especially American AAdvantage since Citibank issues the American Airlines co-brand credit card. Nonetheless it’s a tough product to beat all-around.

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. I have had this card for about 8 months and estimate that I’ve gotten about $2,500 in value out of it (I don’t golf). Thinking of cancelling before the next annual fee kicks in, since I’m not sure I will get that value every year. But with the signup bonus, this is a no brainer.

  2. Can you clarify the $250 credit? Does this come off my credit card bill or do I have to “apply” it to a ticket through their travel agency?

  3. Does trip delay coverage also includes award reservations where you just pay the taxes and reservation fees? If I am correct I think I read somewhere that Chase Sapphire covers that even for award booking. Did I get that right?

  4. @caveman sapphire preferred for award reservations (only need to pay partial ticket with that card for coverage), prestige for paid tickets due to the shorter delay window necessary to trigger coverage

  5. One of the things I really like is that the airline fee credit applies to any fee paid to any airline, including the foreign carriers.

    This is unlike the competing card from Amex, who will only give you credit for *specific* fees paid to one domestic carrier you’ve selected at the beginning of the year.

  6. @Rob C, nothing to do on your end. It comes off automatically. I bought gift cards through airlines and also a ticket through American. Both posted within a few weeks.

  7. This by far is now better than American Express Card for travelers . Great benefits for the first year I will get $600 in minimum of credits.

  8. Hey Gary. A few things about your post:

    1. The AMEX Platinum does not give one free guest via Priority Pass. No guests are free. Therefore, Citi Prestige’s 2 guest benefit is huge. Definitely an awesome card in that respect.

    2. You barely mentioned the $450 annual fee. Only a small mention at the end of point 7. I think you should be front and center about the fee. Also, you left out that one can get this card at a Citibank branch with a $350 annual fee as a Citigold client (or even if one is not a Citigold client). Of course, in that case, you lose commission.

    3. Why do you talk about Thank You transfers to Etihad? My understanding is that you always use AA miles to fly Etihad. Using Etihad miles to fly Etihad is much more expensive miles-wise and fuel surcharge-wise. Can you give us an example of an Etihad redemption you’ve actually done? Reports on Flyertalk indicate that Etihad miles are almost impossible to use for Etihad partner airlines.

    Thanks.

  9. If I want to sign up for the card I should click on your link instead of going directly to their site right?

  10. Just this last week, I traveled through LAX and mentioned to the Admirals Lounge agent that I had this card but didn’t fly American Air. She said “you don’t need to fly American. Just show this card and we will let you in!”. I said okay, great! I was able to shower and go on my way 🙂

    Anyone else try to use/show this card when flying other than American?

  11. I got the airline credit even on AirAsia whose tickets you can’t buy with Citi Thank You points.

  12. FYI – If you are a Citi private bank customer contact your account service rep to get this card for a $350 annual fee instead of $450. There’s some info on the web that this fee is entirely waived for CPB customers, I spent time looking into that, current policy is no entire waiver but a 350 annual fee instead of 450.

  13. My only question is with my anniversary date coming up, do I keep it another yr and suck it up and pay the $450. Any thoughts? I’ve just about spent all my thankyou points already on an AA booking so gotten the most of my benefit there, as well as gotten airline credits both last yr and this yr already.

  14. Does Citi ever make targeted offers with a larger bonus? My wife and I signed up for AmEx platinum after receiving 100k targeted bonuses. I’d like to see something at that level before signing up for this card. (I get that I’d be in the black for the first year even with the current bonus; just wondering if more is ever offered.)

  15. ^^ Looking around a bit, I see that Citi made exactly that targeted offer almost exactly 11 months ago. So it may be worth waiting a month to see if it comes back on its anniversary.

  16. I’ve had this card for 2 years and unfortunately it’s a real pain in the neck. Citi doesn’t categorized many airlines as airlines and won’t give a bonus for them. For example, Air Canada Aeroplan gets no bonus and when you write to them to complain you get a very lame note back written in poor english about how it’s the merchant’s fault for not categorizing it as air travel. You’ll write back protesting and explaining, but get nowhere. Restaurants that are supposed to get a 2x bonus only work about 75% of the time.

  17. I have AA Advantage Platinum Select Citibank Master Card, of which there is no baggage fee when traveling (among other good benefits) which has saved me a lot of money. Wondering if Citi Prestige also offers this?

  18. Gary,
    1. 4th night free on hotels. – you didn’t mention that ONLY the last night(4th night is free). Since Friday/Saturday is the most expensive hotel rates one should book on Tuesday or Wednesday or they will get a cheaper night for credit.

    2. Citi – Concierge service is terrible. Try booking a hotel and they take 24-72 to make reservation and at rates 25% higher than expedia/hotels.com will have advertised.

    Even when I direct them to the hotel they won’t match cheaper rates.

    Citi has long waits to get Concierge access.

  19. Good insights from post and comments. Few questions for experts here:

    1. Can I simply purchase AA gift cards if I think I wont be able to purchase tickets? Is there a limit on GC.

    2. 50K points – since they don’t transfer to AA or even Avios – any suggestion on how to leverage it best for domestic travel withing USA.

    3. Ties into #2 – if I cancel my card, what happens to my point if they are not already transferred. I am thinking gift cards of some sort but might not be the best thing.

    4. For additional user, its $50 fee so what benefit that gains

  20. Re: the 4th night free.

    Is it the cost of the 4th night that is rebated, or the average of the 3 nights?
    Does it have to be booked by CITI?

  21. Just to be clear on the 4th Night Free Benefit – it is NOT valid at MANY luxury properties defined as “tented, villas, camps etc.” I was denied the benefit at safari properties in South Africa as well as villa properties in the Maldives and Thailand. So if your travels include lots of very high end properties, the benefit will most likely be denied. I have found the travel “concierge” to be nice but not very well versed in high end travel and have waited up to 5 days for Citi to clarify if the property is available for the 4th Night Free Benefit.
    *This should be mentioned when recommending the card.

  22. @chris

    Thank you for your information on that unfortunate information about luxury properties. Have you ever pushed back on that? It’s not called out as an exclusion in their terms and conditions at all.

    That being said, would you expect this card to work a mandarian or ritz based in a city that is just a luxury hotel?

  23. Also additional card holders ($50/each) do get their own Priority Pass card with guest privileges. I got one for my daughter traveling through Asia and she was able to use it for her and friends in many locations.

  24. I just got this card with your link. I plan to travel in France and Switzerland for a month, and get a rental car there. Do I get the primary coverage ?

    Thanks.

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