Confirmed Changes to Citi Prestige Card: Becomes Fantastic for Spending While Gutting Benefits

I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).


The Citi Prestige Card is retooling, with various changes rolling out over the coming 10 months. The changes will make this a very good card for spending, not such a good card for benefits, which is the opposite of how I used to view the product when it came with American Airlines lounge access and Priority Pass along with free rounds of golf and unlimited 4th night free on hotel stays.

New faster points-earning goes into effect January 4:

  • 5 points per dollar on airline purchases and restaurants. That matches the Platinum Card® from American Express‘s 5 points per dollar on airline spend, and trumps the American Express® Gold Card‘s 4 points per dollar at US restaurants, though I value American Express Membership Rewards points somewhat higher than Citi’s ThankYou points.

  • 3 points per dollar on hotels makes this competitive across the board for hotel spend, though I’d still rather use a World Of Hyatt Credit Card for its 4 Hyatt points per dollar on Hyatt hotel stays.

  • 3 points per dollar on cruise line spend this is absolutely useless to me, but for those who take cruises can be nice. I’d rather see 3 points per dollar on all travel other that air of course.

  • 2 points per dollar on entertainment spend this goes away August 31, 2019, which is disappointing but they have to save money somewhere.

Benefit addition May 1, 2019:

  • Cell phone protection when you put your monthly cell bill on the card.

Cuts coming September 1, 2019:

  • Less value spending points to buy airline tickets. Each point will be worth 1 cent apiece instead of 1.25 cents. I prefer to transfer points to airline frequent flyer programs anyway, and only considered buying tickets directly when you could use these points at 1.6 cents apiece towards American Airlines travel. Nonetheless, this will hurt for some.

  • Only 2 4th night free hotel bookings per year. All bookings made prior to September 1, 2019 are still part of the ‘unlimited’ benefit, so this applies to those bookings made from this date forward.

  • All 4th night free hotel bookings have to be made online. One Mile at a Time points this out. It means that your reservations will count as a third party booking, so no elite benefits or hotel points, and it means you won’t be able to access discounted rates that Citi concierges have been able to book as well as hotels that don’t appear through their portal.

Benefits that aren’t changing:

  • Priority Pass with unlimited visits and up to two guests.

  • Global entry or TSA precheck statement credit but note that the benefit is every 5 years. Global Entry lasts 5 years, you want to renew though before it expires. The better cards all over this benefit every 4 years. This is a way to reduce the projected cost of the benefit in a spreadsheet, and by the way breakage on this is already huge — most cardmembers don’t use it.

  • $250 annual travel credit in fact this used to be just airline travel but has expands to travel.

I gave up my Citi Prestige card when it lost the ability to spend points towards American Airlines tickets at 1.6 cents apiece and lost Admirals Club access. I never use the 4th night free hotel benefit. Now I have to rethink that.

I view these card changes as moving from a strong benefits card to a strong spending card. I will not use the 4th night hotel benefit especially without access to hotel points-earning or elite benefits over a long stay. Priority Pass and Global Entry reimbursement have flooded the market, everyone does those.

So I’ll evaluate the card on the basis of $295 annual fee net of travel credit and increased points-earning. This is a good card for spending again.

I already get 5 points per dollar on air with the Platinum Card® from American Express. I don’t think $295 is going to be worth an extra point per dollar spend on restaurants versus the American Express® Gold Card which my wife already has, especially since I value Membership Rewards points a bit more.

Still, for a single points-earning solution for the traveler this looks pretty good. Those that have hung on through the lean times with the product though are going to be unhappy with changes to fourth night free.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. That should be $250 annual travel credit, not $200.

    Losing the discounted $350AF and losing elite benefits on the whopping 2 4th night free bookings kills this card for me. DOA as soon as the $495 AF hits.

  2. I have hung on to this card but I think they have finally killed it for me. I could live with the 4NF cap but having to use the TYP portal kills it now. Even when I am not booking a chain hotel where I care about status/points I find more than half the time I have to call in to the concierge to get the cheaper rate I can easily find on the hotel website. I have some upcoming stays next year and will cancel after that if Citi doesn’t change their mind. The extra 1x at restaurants is not worth the $245 AF as I carry both a and Amex Plat and Gold. I will keep my Premier card though.

  3. Wow – the 4th night free benefit is really getting gutted! At first, I wasn’t TOO upset about only using it twice a year, but the fact I have to make it online and can’t get elite benefits or special rates, forget it. Certainly won’t be worth. At least we have lots of notice.

  4. I have a theory about life: everything gets worse – it never gets better. What was the very best card became a very good card and now will become a terrible card. Whereas I used this card for everything, I will now use it for nothing. Come September 2019 I will be cutting this card in into bits. I’m sure I am not the only one. Someone in top management is very stupid.

  5. OK, I get another card is going to 5x for spend. But I only need one card to reap the benefits. Why pay af on all these cards when 1 card will suffice?

  6. Gary:

    For those who do maintain a Citi-banking relationship, the bonus points derived from having such a relationship while holding the Citi Prestige is also ending as of 8/31/19.

    Although never usually a large amount, and they could not be transferred to Prestige partners, it is yet another devaluation of this program.

    Those who think that the stable of transfer partners are good and that the increased earnings on bonus categories are positive, good for you; however, the reduction to 1 cents per point for airline purchases, coupled with the other devaluations kills this card for me — and I never took advantage of the 4th night free benefit.

    With AMEX significantly upping their game with Sync offers and the ability to transfer to global behemoth Marriott and Chase UR the best for points transfers and travel purchases — if you have the Reserve Card — there is no need for me to hold onto the significantly inferior Citi product past 8/31/19.

  7. The email I got does not restrict the 4th night free benefit to online bookings only. (Footnote 4 lists the citi concierge as allowable source for booking the 4th night free.)

    Are you seeing something different?

  8. I agree with David.

    4Cardmembers will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates (“Fourth Night”), when booking at least four consecutive nights at any hotel only through thankyou.com or by phone at 1-800-THANKYOU (powered by Connexions) or the Citi Prestige Concierge (the “Citi Prestige Concierge” is Aspire Lifestyles) and subject to additional requirements stated below

  9. Agree with David, here is the footnote: “Cardmembers will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates (“Fourth Night”), when booking at least four consecutive nights at any hotel only through thankyou.com or by phone at 1-800-THANKYOU (powered by Connexions) or the Citi Prestige Concierge (the “Citi Prestige Concierge” is Aspire Lifestyles) and subject to additional requirements stated below. The amount due to you for the Fourth Night benefit will be based on the average nightly rate of your stay (excluding taxes and fees). When booked through the Citi Prestige Concierge, you will receive a statement credit for this amount within two billing cycles. When booked through thankyou.com or 1‑800‑THANKYOU, the complimentary night savings will be provided at the time of booking.”

  10. But just looked in the link attached to the email “Beginning 09/01/19, Citi Prestige Concierge will no longer be available for Fourth Night bookings and bookings must be made either online at ThankYou.com or by phone at 1-800-ThankYou in order to be eligible for the Fourth Night benefit”

  11. The TY portal thing killed this card for me. I’ve used it once and it’s simply not worth it. The points are also getting devalued, so despite this being a stronger spending card, I’d rather get 4X from the Amex Gold on dining and 5X from Amex Platinum on airline. It was good while it lasted.

  12. Doesn’t seem fair to compare a $495 card versus a $250 card, each with their own rebating benefits.

    What we may instead see is the Premier getting both upgrades and downgrades but spiking in the annual fee.

    I still think the gutting of insurance benefits is next.

  13. It seems to me that one gets a premium card for the perks. Good rewards for spend can be got for other cards, many much cheaper to own. I’ve loved the Prestige, but I won’t renew it.

  14. My AF is due in Jan. Will only renew in 2020 if there are 4th night free bookings I can make with concierge prior to Sept 1 that covers most of the $295 remainder of the fee.

  15. I’ll likely cancel it when my AF goes from $350 to $495. Losing the ability to even use the two 4th night frees remaining with the Citi is the last straw.

  16. Here in Australia the Citi Prestige card has used an online travel agent for Fourth Night Free bookings since the start.

    That makes all bookings into Third Party Bookings, so no Elite Guest upgrades or late checkouts or breakfasts or lounge access.

    Which is why the card isn’t terribly popular, because the Fourth Night Free benefit is hopeless.

    And now the American card is taking the same path.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *