Ouch: Citi Drops Car Rental Coverage, Travel Protection, And More

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards

This stings…

Earlier I wrote about how Citi is dropping their Price Rewind benefit as of September 22, 2019. As it turns out, that’s not the only thing changing about Citi cards as of that date. Looking at the Citi card benefits website, quite a bit is changing on Citi cards as of that date.

Citi benefits cuts coming as of September 22, 2019

For purchases as of September 22, 2019, Citi will be discontinuing the following on cards that currently offer these perks:

  • Worldwide Car Rental Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection
  • Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Delay Protection
  • Baggage Delay Protection
  • Lost Baggage Protection
  • Citi Price Rewind
  • 90 Day Return Protection
  • Roadside Assistance Dispatch Service
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance

The coverage will remain for purchases made before that date, with the exception of roadside assistance and travel & emergency assistance. Those benefits will end as of that date, regardless of when you made your purchase

My take on these changes

These changes really sting, and frankly I’m surprised just how significant these changes are.

To me the most valuable benefits here are the car rental coverage and travel protection. For example, I use the Citi Prestige for airfare purchases, given that it offers 5x points, and it also offers great travel protection. That will change going forward.

The problem for Citi is that some of the benefits they’re taking away have become standard with other issuers, especially among premium cards.

While I understand that these perks are often tied to the type of card (World Elite Mastercard, Visa Signature, etc.), it doesn’t make sense to me that they’d cut benefits in the same way for a high annual fee card as they would for a much lower annual fee card.

In general it seems like Citi has been struggling with strategy ever since their Costco acquisition. They spent a lot of money buying the Costco portfolio, and that has seemingly taken away from their ability to invest in other cards.

The Prestige Card is the perfect example — it used to be awesome, then they stopped accepting applications, then they relaunched it with a few new benefits that were more or less a wash, then they stopped accepting applications again, and then they announced more changes, but they also don’t really seem to be marketing the card.

Part of creating a good portfolio of cards is actually giving users a consistent experience. The problem is that so many changes are being made to these cards that it can be tough to keep track of them. For example, the Prestige is undergoing changes throughout the year, and it can be tough to keep track of when various things are changing… and I follow this stuff for a living!

What do you make of these latest changes to Citi cards?

  1. This hurts a lot. I just applied for the Citi prestige due to many of these protections on top of the 4th night free. I’m stuck for a year, but I highly doubt I will keep the card when my next annual fee is due.

  2. I exclusively use Citi cards, for these features. I will no longer be using them after September.

  3. I thought it was too good to be true all with one card – 5 x points, 4th night free, travel protection – and it was. Bye bye Citi.

  4. Wow. I can’t believe they are cutting core benefits like car rental insurance on a premium card meant to be used for travel. Just to be clear, are they completely dropping ALL global cdw rental coverage or are they just dropping what used to be primary outside the US to the same secondary coverage offered on domestic car rentals?

  5. Well that’s not good. Husband has one of those cards and I have Chase Sapphire Reserve. We were going to pool our Chase and Citi points into a single air account that they both transfer to, maybe Flying Blue (good timing on that with the bonus), but the pooling part is tricky. To do this, I was thinking of adding myself as an authorized user on his Citi account, but have to do that before he closes his account in September (before he owes the annual fee). Does anyone have a better idea on how to combine and use our points?

  6. They should withdraw from travel cards if they are not going to offer any travel related protections. Without any of these benefits, there is no justification to charge a premium annual fee either. All Citi card should now be no annual fee.

  7. @ Ben – AX Plat is 5x airfare but has no travel insurance, so where to put airfare when you need protection? As a DL Diamond, I really don’t need it for Delta flights as they usually are very accommodating. However, for some airfare, such as deeply discounted LH/LX F where no changes are allowed under any circunstance other than death, the Citi coverage is great to have in the event of illness, emergency, etc.

  8. @ Ben — Where did my comment go? Anyway, what to use for airfare now when you want/need the travel insurance? Please don’t say Sapphire Reserve, which I will never get due to 5/24!

  9. @ Gene — The Sapphire Reserve is the best at that point, but you are forgoing 2x points per dollar spent.

  10. This is the reason my wife and I have a portolio of cards. Now, we can move on Citibank! Surprises that they would do this but what else would you expect from Citibank?

  11. The comment about “underuse” is hilarious! That’s the inherent nature of an insurance product. Lots of us are “using” it, it is just that they only get claims from those that experience misfortune.

    Should we be worried about the corporate habit of moving monkey see, monkey do? Assuming Citi doesn’t see significant closures of cards, might Chase follow suit within a few months?

  12. I have been debating closing my Citi card for a while now but don’t want to harm my credit. I’ve developed a good line of credit there and wonder if it is worth keeping (or downgrading) just to keep the account alive.

  13. I’d still get the CITI Premier just for the bonus and then downgrade to the no AF card. Had considered the CITI Prestige, but no more. Have Sapphire Reserve and will get their business card and put most all of spend with Chase.

  14. @Ben

    I’ve had the Citi Premier card for what seems like forever, with a significant credit line. I won’t use this card moving forward given these changes. But am I better off keeping the card open (or downgrading to a no fee card) just to avoid losing this as a long term high limit account on my credit record?

  15. The standard benefits that you refer to will be now be taken away at Chase, AMEX, etc. No point in incurring costs if competition isn’t. Give it a year or so I’d say.

  16. Citi’s whole strategy seems questionable… they’ve arguably been offering the most generous benefits and return on spend on the Prestige/Premier (relative to Chase Sapphire and Amex Platinum/Gold), yet they seem to not promote them at all. As a hobbyist in the points/miles game I love cards from all three issuers (and have used the Prestige more than any other card the last year) but I don’t know a single of my friends/family that uses or knows anything about it (and this is of ~30-35 year old, mostly high earning professionals living in New York). Isn’t that the demographic they’re targeting?

    If the earning structure stays as is i’ll probably split airfare across Platinum & Prestige (and use the Sapphire for cheaper flights & Car rentals where insurance is worth more than marginal points.)

  17. If Citi was hit by purchasing the Costco portfolio, it seems that this move will only further Citi’s hurt as it loses more premium customers for the Prestige card.

    Even though it foregoes 2x the points, I plan to switch my flights to Chase Sapphire Reserve for the reason of keeping the insurance. However, I am concerned about the possibility of Chase following suit and cutting the benefit as well in the future.

  18. So can you please do a refresh post of the best cards to use for Trip Delay/Cancellation coverage as well as lost/delayed baggage coverage? I guess just an updated post on cards with best travel protection benefits moving forward. Thanks!

  19. Holy crap. Prestige is now going from my main travel card to cancelled.

    Need to start looking for a good replacement.

    I have the United card which I only use for United, and keep because its my longest credit history.

    I also have Amex PRG

  20. This is part of the industry’s response in shutting down the information arbitrage put forward by the miles and points blogosphere.

    Average Joes without significant wealth or spend throughput in the long run are far far better off with fixed point redemptions in economy class.

  21. The trip delay thing offered by Citi was essentially fraud anyway. Supposedly, it was going to kick in if your trip was delayed by 6 or 12 hours. Assume that you had a two-hour connection and the first segment was delayed by 2.5 hours, so you missed your connection and arrived to your destination, say, 24 hours later than expected. However, some Citi cardholders in a situation like this said that Citi denied their claim because the first flight was delayed by fewer than 6 (or 12) hours.

  22. Wow — this isn’t just huge it also does not bode well for the rest of the industry

    “Well if Citi did it why can’t we drop these too?”

  23. Well I’m downgrading my prestige to a no annual fee card. Only reason I signed up is the 5x and all the trip insurance. Not paying$495 card just to have a 5x category card. Even with the 4th night free I feel like it’s not worth $495. I guess I’ll be going the CSR or Sapphire Preferred route now. At least the Amex platinum have a baggage protection lol

  24. Wow. having basic travel insurance protections is standard for high-annual fee cards. For the Citi Prestige to be charging whatever it does ($400-$500/year) and not provide this benefit is super bad.

  25. Looks like all of the predictions of the death of the CSR when Prestige went to 5x points on dining were a tad premature.

  26. I’ve talked to Citi and they say “Yeah you are right these benefits are going to discontinued but no need to worry.” “When I asked why I shouldn’t worry, they replied “team is already working on this. might be new benefits will introduce soon.”

  27. Been a Citi Prestige holder for the past 3 years. For me this eliminated one of the core benefits I valued (and expected) from this card.

    Now, the $500 fee for the citi card is essentially just two 4th night frees per year, good points earnings (5x travel), priority pass and the $250 travel credit. The AMEX platinum is looking more and more competitive. That said, as someone who does stay in pretty expensive hotels, the two 4th night frees is still probably worth about $1000/year to me, and that alone makes the $500 fee worth it.

  28. As “primary” cards, I carry AX PRG for the supermarket/dining rebates & CSR for travel/hotel rebates. I used to carry AX Blue Sky Preferred for travel until AX got rid of it and downgraded me (and everybody else) to (plain) Blue Sky with no Annual Fee. I still have that card subscribed to AX Premium Rental Protection. For those who don’t know PRP, it’s *primary* CDW/LDW that costs $25-$30 per *rental*, NOT per *day*. Also note that renting with AX gets you the “firepower of AX customer service” should a rental agency problem arise. They know better than to try to play games with AX. I have actually used “AX Firepower’” once and it worked exactly as I expected. So, for my car rentals, It’s back to the Blue Sky card with PRP even though I have “free” CDW/LDW wth CSR. I *know* that PRP actually works when you need it. Note that you can add PRP to any AX card, not just the Blue one. Finally, for those annoyed by this Citi reduction as I was by AX’s elimination of Blue Sky *Preferred*, don’t cancel your Citi card. Downgrade it (“Product Change” it) to another Citi card with no Annual Fee and *keep* your FICO score history as a result for no cost.

  29. Although it pains a lot, i’d still likely keep using it due to a combo factor: its a MC (mortgage) + transfer to Eva (now Venture too but its Visa). In the past they have annually credited $350 ($50 per month x 7), so net ~100 which can be easily recouped by 4-th night.

  30. Looks like Citi Costco losing only price rewind and trip cancellation/
    interruption. Loss of price rewind is a big deal for non-Costco spend. However, like some others, I thought their trip interruption coverage was sort of illusory—maybe that will get replaced someday. This card doesn’t get much press because there’s no real sign up bonus and it doesn’t really open up premium seats on planes. However if you’re going to have a Costco membership anyway, the Citi card is free, offers some good cash back categories (like gas) and provides great extended warranty coverage. Looks like card holders also have the advantage of Costco protecting the benefits (relative to non co-branded Citi cards).

  31. I booked a trip to Egypt and Morocco from March 2020 to May 2020 relying on all the travel protection benefits. I would have bought trip insurance otherwise, and I would have paid for my trip with my Platinum card for medical evacuation. Now I am stuck. Thanks, CITI!!

  32. Points are probably a bigger draw that changes consumer behavior to switch cards compared to that entire list.

    5x is a much more dramatic marketing message than “worldwide rental coverage.”

  33. This is bad. Good chance of reducing my Citi card usage. Some of the benefits sound nice but are rarely useful.

    What I really like to have:
    Worldwide Car Rental Insurance

    What sounds great:
    90 Day Return Protection

    The rest are nice to know that I have but I never used them. The trip delay coverage is just for major delays, but my delays tend to be 2-4 hours.

  34. Citi is funny, they are so dumb they don’t know their strength or weakness.

    Pre 2016 (I think) was the best of time. Golf, AAdmirals Club, 1.6 cents, avg 4th night free.
    I put a ton of spending with them.

    2017 Then they killed almost everything except the modified 4th night free. (And the rise of CSR)
    I put almost ONLY the 4th night free with them.

    2019 They give the x5 (even with AF increase)
    I give Citi HUGE business and CSR was just the car rental card (loss of KE doesn’t help much).

    Now, lol, I will go back to ONLY the 4th night free charges and possibly in the trash if the 2 per year non concierge booking sucks.

    Now what will Citi come up to justify the $495. At this rate, many people will go for AMEX.

  35. Holy crap. The Prestige went to the front of my wallet for all travel ever since the 5x updates. Now it will be lucky to stay in my wallet at all. The 5x dining is nice, but I don’t do that often enough to offset the AF. Dumb move, Citi. Dumb move.

  36. So much whining. 5x travel, 5x dining, 3x hotel, 3x cruise, cell phone protection, PP lounge access (incl guest), 4th night free, $495-$250=$245 annual fee. It’s the best card out there for earning… All the stuff they removed is useless — and often abused, so good riddance.

  37. Wow. I’ll be canceling my AA PLATINUM BUSINESS card since the annual fee is coming up next month anyways. Too bad I still have a flight booked on that card next month. But it’s not like I’m losing any benefits anyways. Lol

  38. Wow. Just wow. This is devastating. I have the Prestige, but will upgrade my Freedom back to CSR this weekend for all airfare purchases going forward. I would cancel my Prestige this minute, but I have two pending fourth night free reservations after my renewal in September. So I will bite the bullet and pay a final $495 annual fee. My two fourth night free redemptions and $250 travel credit in January will save me $1100, so one more renewal make financial sense. In June of next year I will downgrade to the no annual fee rewards plus card and call it a day with the Prestige. Sad end to a once great card.

  39. AA Citi Executive card is burned also. What a complete waste. I’ll take my $450 elsewhere and use points for the AC membership. This really sucks big time.

  40. You forgot to add no more Admiral Club access after
    November 1 if you are not flying AA. That was the deal breaker fir me. ✈️

  41. Called up and told them that I will leave after the benefits are removed, but understand they made a business decision that they do not want the travel and leisure market. For me back to the Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire (and Hilton Aspire at a Hilton hotel). He did mention the $300 travel credit and the new cell phone protection, but I said that would not be enough to keep the card. I very rarely give up a card, but it looks likely this will be the case.

  42. Re. Prestige, I am with SAB and it is not 9/22/19 today. I don’t think we have heard the last from Citi on this and more positive, offsetting benefits will be on the way (as another poster indicator). Their history is that that they LOVE to change rewards and benefits on this card, so why would we expect it to stop with this announcement?!

  43. It may be that Citi is seeing whether other banks will follow. When airlines began eliminating travel agent commissions, it was only one airline (Delta) announcing the first cut, and then the others matched or leapfrogged.

  44. What is the purpose of keeping a Citi travel card if they don’t offer any travel benefits?

    What exactly is their plan? Pray that customers stick around despite the competitive offerings elsewhere?

  45. Wow. Big mistake in my mind. As much as I think Chase has fallen behind at least they are consistent. I got the Prestige a few months ago and was using it all the time for dining and just purchased a flight with it yesterday. I actually chose the Prestige over the Platinum for purchasing the flight for the sole reason of the protections offered. Now I will move back to purchasing flights with the Platinum card and renting cars overseas with the Sapphire. I’ll keep using the Prestige for dining at 5 points per dollar. So for those that say we are whining, this really doesn’t really impact me but it does change how I spend money. It is now going mean a lot of spend that was going to Citi will now go to Amex or Chase where I can build up my points balance a lot faster with the use of their other allied cards.

  46. $495 annual fee and no purchase or travel protection. I’ve been using my Prestige card almost regardless of what category I am purchasing from, but bye bye.

  47. Wow. I’ve had the Prestige for several years and have loved it. I wasn’t annoyed with last year’s changes – the access to American’s lounge was nice but not critical for me. I understood limiting the 4th night free so, while I love that benefit, I understood that change too. Then this year they also increase the annual fee and remove the discount for Citi Priority holders. That was almost the nail for me. My renewal is before the fee increase this year so I’d decided to hold onto it for at least one more year.

    However, I get a lot of value from the 90 day return, have used the event protection and got real value from the trip interruption protection. I basically put all my travel, entertainment tickets and hard good purchases on this card because of the above. With this going away, I will definitely move all my spend to my Chase and am considering whether to even renew the Prestige. I was also keeping Citi as my bank partially for some of the savings as well. I will definitely be revisiting that later in the year too.

  48. Time to dump all Citi cards now; considering they were 3rd place and now with this move to 5th at best.

  49. This is just hillarious. Chase keeps looking better without even having to make any extra effort.

  50. Your info is WAY wrong. Although you are right about Trip cancellation/ Price Rewind, which really sucks. See below for what isn’t being taken off from benefits. I just got this card two weeks ago and quite pissed they are getting rid of what they are.

    From https://www.cardbenefits.citi.com/faq.aspx

    What changes are being made to my card benefits?
    Effective September 22, 2019, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection and Citi® Price Rewind will be discontinued and will no longer be provided for purchases made on or after that date. Coverage for purchases made before that date will continue to be available, and you may continue to file for benefits in accordance with the current benefit terms.

    What Protection Benefits will I still have on my card?
    You will continue to have Worldwide Car Rental Insurance, Roadside Assistance Dispatch Service, Travel & Emergency Assistance, Damage & Theft Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty on this account. You can view Your Guide to Protection Benefits on this site under “Quick Links”. It contains complete coverage details, including coverage limits, what’s covered and what’s not covered. Coverage details for these remaining benefits are not being changed.
    As a cardmember, you will also continue to receive a range of other card benefits including FICO® Credit Score, Citi® Identity Theft Solutions, and Citi Entertainment.

  51. I called Citi and got my AA Admirals Club world elite card downgraded to the old $99 platinum and a prorated refund. I already have “real” OW Sapphire/Silver through the BA exec club anyway for the lounges and cubes of cheese, and my chase cards cover most of the rest of the benefits citi are dumping. Only keeping the citi card for so my credit history/score/utilization isn’t impacted. In an ideal world, it would be nice to stick it to Citi and dump them, but they’re losing $351 a year instead, and they’ll be getting no interest from me.

  52. @Art seems like you have the Costco card. That’s the only card with most of the benefits staying

  53. We called to cancel our Citi AA Business card last night. This was the only Citi card that I could close right away and not be throwing away money. Our Prestige and AA Exex. cards will stay until the next annual fee hits.

    Though Citi has not stripped the benefits of the business card (yet) we explained to the representative that Citi had went too far this time, in regards to the removal of travel protections, and that we were beginning the process of severing all ties with them. The representative tried to push the fact that they hadn’t removed any benefits from the card we were wanting to cancel. She rattled this off immediately without any pause which made me wonder how many times she’d already had to do so during that shift. At that point we explained that we also have both the Prestige and AA Exec. and that we paid those high annual fees with the expectation that we would have those travel protections for the full year that the annual fees covered and thus these changes have made us feel as if we have been cheated by Citi as we will not get a full year’s worth of the benefits that we paid for. We feel that what Citi is doing is wrong and thus we prefer to take all of our spend elsewhere.

    She stated that she would note our reason for cancelling and that the card was cancelled. I was very appreciative that after she listened to our reasoning that she did not continue to try to sway us (before our explanation she did make offers to try to keep us).

    I have to admit that it felt good to make this phone call!

  54. After reading the posts here it’s clear some folks racked up huge insurance claims across many of these areas. I’m happy those folks are canceling and leaving. Will get members driving losses outr of the ecosystem, relieving financial pressure on citi, so they can offer fewer, but higher quality benefits — like the newly launched phone protection.

  55. Just returned from 2 weeks driving rental car in Ireland. Used Citi card for primary coverage as I have done for long, long time. Use card often for cruises and other adventures because of travel protection benefits. Won’t use it anymore!

  56. @Brooke The benefits are staying for business cards? I have the AA Mastercard CitiBusiness Platinum Select. I called to downgrade and they said they cant do that for biz cards, but they could offer to waive the annual fee if I spent $1,000 in the next 3 months…

  57. @SAB
    The whole point of insurance is not to use it but have it if things go south. I used the benefit probably once every 2.5 years. I could use price rewind more if I didn’t forget.

    Will get members driving losses outr of the ecosystem, relieving financial pressure on citi, so they can offer fewer, but higher quality benefits — like the newly launched phone protection.

    I wouldn’t go as far to say the benefit which my AF paid for is driving losses. They could have devalue the benefit rather than killing it completely.
    Increase interruption hours to 12. Limit price rewind to 2 times a year at $500 cap. etc.

    Now the cell phone protection, I doubt it is going to stay long. I see this easier to occur (abuse) than trip delay or price drops. You want a new Galaxy (iPhone extortion went beyond 1k), just accidentally slip your old one out of your pocket into a burning bin in the middle of the highway during a storm (yes freak accident). It completely destroys your old phone.

    This is why Citi is acting so dumb. Customer will be better off if their iPhone is dropped rather than just the price of it dropped. (anytime vs 60 days / $1000 vs maybe $200) For comparison, I drop my phone more often than airlines break my bags. I also buy bags less often than phones. Can’t really say abusers get less value. They never can abuse $10000 medevac bill, $5000 medical expenses, before or after Citi kills it.

  58. Citi’s CSR basically lied to me on chat today. “Ryan” tried to tell me the benefits were not gone yet, would be replaced with other benefits — all while the FAQs area on my account clearly states all the benefits would be ending Sept 22, 2019.
    It is one thing to have benefits taken away, but it is quite another to have a CSR lie to your face.

  59. @lucky

    I have really enjoyed the Citi Prestige card – through 4th night free and primary insurance on worldwide rental l I have netted over $2,000 a year – the points were merely a bonus. Would you be good enough to make a post on which cards (if any) I should now open that will give me primary car rental insurance when traveling in Europe and South Africa?


  60. @SAB I never used the benefits they’re dropping, but the point of having the insurance is protection and peace of mind “in case” something happens. I think you have the idea that Citi cardholders are purposefully crashing cars on foreign soil… Also, Citi don’t underwrite these protections. Insurance companies do.

  61. Let’s not forget that besides the gutting of the most important benefits
    The last thing standing was the 4th night free twice a year
    But now it has to be booked online through 3rd party making it an ineligible
    booking channel
    For hotel program junkies this means no points or miles no stay credit and potentially
    no upgrades breakfast or other recognition,amenities etc
    Farewell Citibunk!

  62. Just cancelled my Citi AA World Elite Executive MasterCard. The $450 annual fee is pro-rated. The worldwide car rental benefit and roadside assistance were important to us. Contrary to some comments here, there are no “worthless benefits”, it depends very much on how/where/why you travel.

  63. @ktc – what is the 50 dollar per month credit your get for 7 months? 350 fee reimbursement would help!

  64. This is a tough one. I like using the 4th night benefit with Luxury hotels like the Rosewood and Four Seasons.

    I always have the chase so – maybe it isn’t so bad.

    Currently only have the Bonvoy from Amex (my oldest credit card). And I like the new perk of getting the annual Marriott Certificate.

  65. Been using the rental car insurance feature for years to avoid ridiculous daily rates from car rental companies. Citi card has less value to me every day. Time to look elsewhere.
    Is Chase doing the same thing?

  66. Just called Citi, couldn’t believe they were stripping these benefits from cards with a AF. The woman confirmed they are being stripped from ALL consumer credit cards. Shocked, closing all Citi cards as soon as they are paid. I also suggest that everyone file CFPB complaints against Citi for false advertising since we took hits to our credit to open these cards in exchange for a product that was falsely advertised.

  67. So frustrated. Just happened to sign on my account, saw a “blurb” about it and then tried to locate it again to read more carefully, and it is Nowhere to be seen on the website. That is just ridiculous. They continue to advertise on the website that they offer all that, and don’t say it is going away.
    Shame on you CB!!

  68. Wow! I have a Citi American Air platinum card I’ve had for a decade. Dropping it now.

  69. Stunned, been with them 40+ years. Please recommend a good replacement card? Will I lose my thank you points if I cancel the card?

  70. I’ve had my Citi Diamond Preferred card since 1991 and now I have to look for another card for travel protection! They obviously don’t care about their long term customers. Its a shame!

  71. Stephanie Woods. Your travel purchases for your 2020 trip were made before 09/22/19 so you will have all travel protections. You do not need to use your AMEX Platinum to book trips to be eligible for medical evacuation coverage.

  72. I’ve had the Citi Executive AA Card for the past few years for two specific benefits- access to Admirals Club lounges and the travel protection benefits. Any recommendations for a replacement card that would offer these two benefits?

  73. I didn’t read through every single comment, so I apologize if someone already stated this, but I believe for cards with annual fees – at least some of them – the only benefits they are taking away are Price Rewind and Trip Cancellation/Interruption. On my no-annual-fee card, they are taking away all benefits. My annual fee card only indicates they are taking away PR and TC/I.

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