Can You Upgrade From The Citi Premier To Citi Prestige?

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards
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At the moment we’re seeing a best-ever welcome bonus on the Citi Premier℠ Card, which is one of the most compelling mid-range credit cards out there.

Why the Citi Premier℠ Card is awesome

The card is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months. The card has a $95 annual fee.

What makes this card so great long-term is the bonus categories it offers — it offers triple points on travel and gas, and double points on dining and entertainment. There’s not a mid-range card out there with better bonus categories — as a point of comparison, the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card “only” offers double points on dining and travel.

Citi ThankYou has many airline transfer partners, though beyond that points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase. That means the welcome bonus gets you a minimum of $750 towards airfare, which is excellent.

Transfer your Citi ThankYou points to LifeMiles for travel in Asiana A380 business class

The Citi Prestige Card is great too (for different reasons)

One popular travel credit card is the Citi Prestige Card, which I have and love. The card has a $450 annual fee, though offers all kinds of ongoing perks, including a $250 annual airline credit, a Priority Pass membership, and most importantly, a fourth night free benefit that’s valid at thousands of hotels around the world.

I’ve gotten a lot of value out of the fourth night free benefit

The fourth night free hotel benefit is the single most valuable perk offered by any credit card, as far as I’m concerned, and it saves me thousands of dollars per year. The best part is that you can even book pre-paid or AAA rates with this, and you can earn points and elite qualifying nights with your preferred loyalty program as you would if booking directly.

The catch is that the Citi Prestige Card doesn’t have any sort of a welcome bonus. For quite a while the Citi Premier Card didn’t either, so that’s not that unusual with Citi.

Can you product change from the Citi Premier to Citi Prestige?

One of the questions I’ve been asked repeatedly by readers is if it’s possible to apply for the Citi Premier and then later product change to the Citi Prestige.

The answer to that is yes. Citi is one of the most generous issuers when it comes to allowing product changes. The catch is that typically you need to have a card for 12 months before you can product change it, so you couldn’t apply for the Citi Premier℠ Card and then product change to the Citi Prestige Card the next week, for example. At a later point it should absolutely be possible, though.

However, I’d note that sometimes the Citi Prestige Card has a welcome bonus as well, so I’m not suggesting that this is necessarily the best strategy for acquiring the card.

If you are considering this, the welcome bonus on the Citi Premier℠ Card comes with the following restriction:

Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

You’re eligible for the bonus on the Citi Premier℠ Card if you currently have a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier Card, but you’re not eligible if you’ve opened or closed it in that period. If it is open, it needs to have been open for the past 24 months.

Uncertainty with the future of the Citi Prestige

There have been rumors about the possibility of the Citi Prestige Card being discontinued. There were some rumors that the card will be discontinued in August. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. A Citi rep has said that they “remain committed to the Prestige product and servicing our valued existing cardmembers. We look forward to reintroducing the card for new cardmembers in the near future.”

I think it’s worth acknowledging this, as clearly there is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the future of the Citi Prestige Card. Depending on your interpretation, you can view this in several different ways:

  • It could be that the card will be reintroduced with a big bonus and more benefits at some point in the future
  • It could be that the card will be reintroduced with fewer benefits and still no bonus at some point in the future
  • Or it could be anything inbetween

So this is an important caveat when it comes to the possibility of upgrading to this card in the future, since we’re not 100% sure what this card will look like in the future, and what the benefits will be. If you get the card right now you’ll presumably have the benefits locked in for some amount of time, while in the future it’s anyone’s guess what the benefits will be.

Bottom line

Right now the Citi Premier℠ Card has an incredibly generous welcome bonus, while the Citi Prestige Card doesn’t offer a bonus at all. It could make sense to apply for the Prestige without a bonus just to lock in the fourth night free benefit, though personally my strategy would be to get the Premier and then hope that you can upgrade in a year.

After all, there’s a huge opportunity cost to getting a card with no bonus at all when another card has a bonus of 60K and the annual fee waived for the first year.

This also gives you a chance to actually use the Premier, and maybe you’ll find that it’s a better fit for you all around. The sooner you apply, the sooner you can potentially upgrade the card.

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  1. I thought the Citi Prestige Card had a 50,000 to 75,000 point bonus for awhile before this. What happened to that?

    Is there still a Citi card with that 75,000 point bonus?

  2. This doesn’t really clear things up. You talk about product changes and then mention the stipulation that you must not have opened or closed a ThankYou point card. What if you’ve done a product change in th last 24 months to avoid annual fees? How does that count towards getting the bonus?


  4. “If you are considering this, the sign-up bonus on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card comes with the following restriction:

    Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.”

    I have the Thank You Premier Card (opened less than 24 months ago) and want to apply for the Prestige Card. Does the same restriction apply for the bonus on the Prestige Card?

  5. @ David K — Yes, you’d have to wait until 24 months from when you applied for the Citi ThankYou Premier Card.

  6. Can I product change from a Citi Preferred where I have 55k points to Citi Premier and get better transfer partners?

  7. U have the AMEX (once a Lifetime) then Citi 24 months and CHASE 5/24 .
    Plan ur Cards well get 60K or Don’t get the card..


  8. I am not eligible to apply for a Citi Prestige card. Anyone knows if it is possible for me to get the 4th night free when I ask a family member or friend to book for me a 4 night hotel stay using their own Citi Prestige card?

  9. @zack
    I believe the primary card holder needs to be the name on the hotel reservation. Also, authorized users on the Prestige account don’t qualify for the 4th night free.

  10. Probably going to lock in the Prestige for me and the Premier for my wife and lock in both and then go back later for the Premier for me. Just need one Pretige for the 4th night free benefit.

  11. I was product-changed by Citi to the Preferred card from the Forward card. This was when the Forward card was discontinued earlier this year. Does this mean I am not eligible for the bonus points? Thanks.

  12. @ Steven P — Were you issued a new card number? If not (and I believe typically they don’t issue a new card number) you’d still be eligible.

  13. Any Citi Bank card that awards ThankYou points should not be trusted. The points are considered to be wholly owned by Citi Bank and can and will be cancelled, without notice or reason. They cancelled (stole) 129,000 of my points when they closed my Citi Prestige account without prior notice or reason. I was never late with payments and never in arrears. Citi’s responses to my questions were, in short, we can do it and we don’t have to give a reason. I once trusted CitiBank/CitiCards and had both business and personal cards over the years. Unfortunately, only one was affiliated with ThankYou points. Beware!

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