Today is a day of both good and bad news for Citi cardmembers. It’s a great day for the Citi Double Cash Card, as the rewards earned on that card can now be converted into ThankYou points.
Unfortunately, it’s not a great day for Citi cards overall, as Citi is dropping quite a few purchase protection benefits from their cards as of today. This was initially announced back in June, though the changes largely kick in for purchases as of today, so that’s something you’ll want to keep in mind if these changes impact the card you’d use for a purchase. Interestingly just a couple of days later, Amex announced they’d also change their purchase protection, though there are some positive changes there.
The Citi card benefits website has all of the details of the changes being made to each card.
Citi Benefit Cuts Kicking In As Of Today
For purchases as of today (September 22, 2019), Citi will be discontinuing the following on most 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 remains for purchases made before that date, with the exception of roadside assistance and travel & emergency assistance. Those benefits will end as of September 22, 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.
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 for the past couple of years. 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!
How Will These Changes Impact My Citi Card Usage?
Currently the only regular purchases that I make with my Citi cards are those earning 5x points on dining and airfare with the Prestige Card:
- I’ll continue to use the Prestige Card for dining, since it’s not like any purchase protection on dining is really useful
- Airfare is tricker, as the Citi Prestige still offers 5x ThankYou points without travel protection, The Platinum Card® from American Express also offers 5x Membership Rewards points with newly added travel protection, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on airfare with travel protection
I value all three points currencies roughly equally, and personally I think I’m willing to forgo travel protection for an additional 2x points per dollar spent, which I value at an incremental 3.4% return. However, I may switch some of my airfare spending back to the Amex Platinum Card to earn Membership Rewards points rather than ThankYou points, and the protection is a definite plus with Amex.
In some ways my Citi spending will also increase, as I plan on getting the Citi Double Cash to earn 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent on everyday purchases. Again, I’d use that card for purchases where I don’t really value purchase protection (like tax payments).
Citi Protection Changes Summary
Citi is dropping all kinds of protection benefits from their cards as of today. It’s really unfortunate to see the direction they’ve taken with some of these changes, and I do think it will impact some consumer behavior overall.
In my particular case, it won’t impact my spending too much — I’ll keep using the Citi Prestige for dining, I might still use the Citi Prestige for some airfare, and I’ll actually be increasing my Citi spending with the ability to now earn 2x ThankYou points on everyday spending with the Citi Double Cash.
What do you make of these latest changes to Citi cards?