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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.