Rumors Of A New Citi Premium Credit Card

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For the past several years, the Citi Prestige Card has been one of the most valuable credit cards for travelers. The card has had a $450 annual fee and has offered a $250 annual airline credit, 3x points on airfare and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment, a Priority Pass membership, and more.

The greatest benefit of the card has been that it offers a fourth night free hotel benefit, which has saved many of us thousands of dollars per year. It’s a pretty incredible perk.

Unfortunately the Citi Prestige Card is no longer open to new applicants. Citi 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.”

So while I think it’s safe to say that the existing perks will remain for existing cardmembers for some amount of time, I do wonder what the card will look like in the future. Will they keep the name and general benefits, will they introduce a new premium card, or what?

Rumors of a new Citi premium credit card

While I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from this yet, reader @ithacxa shares a survey he received from Citi regarding a possible new card product, called the Citi Explore. It presents a few different versions of the cards, though the core benefits seem to be the same across them. Let me once again emphasize that as of now this is just a survey, so this is a card that may or may not every be introduced.

This new premium card is supposedly called the Citi Explore. The card has a $450 annual fee, and offers:

  • A $300 annual travel credit
  • 3x points on travel and dining
  • Points worth 50% more when redeeming for travel through the Citi ThankYou portal (in other words, 1.5 cents per point)
  • A TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit
  • Either a Priority Pass membership with unlimited visits, OR a Priority Pass membership with 10 visits per year and 2x points on gym memberships (which is a benefit that’s similar to The World of Hyatt Credit Card)

Notably absent is the fourth night free benefit, though that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since I can’t imagine how costly that has been for Citi. Again, we don’t know if this card will be introduced at all, and for that matter we don’t know if current Citi Prestige cardmembers would be transitioned to a new product, or if they’d continue to offer the card for existing cardmembers.

Chase Sapphire Reserve copy?

The card they’re proposing sounds almost exactly like the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, which has a $450 annual fee, offers a $300 travel credit, offers triple points on dining and travel, has a Priority Pass membership, and lets you redeem points for 50% more when booking travel.

I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Citi is considering an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach,” given how wildly successful the Sapphire Reserve has been.

I’m increasingly finding ThankYou points to be very worthwhile, and I might just prefer them to Ultimate Rewards points at this point. So essentially paying $150 per year for a card that offers triple ThankYou points on dining and travel with a 50% points bonus sounds like something that could be worthwhile.

How does this compare to the Citi ThankYou Premier?

Citi also has the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which currently has its best-ever welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months. The card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, and if you don’t yet have the card I highly recommend it.

This card offers triple points on travel and gas and double points on dining and entertainment.

If the Citi Explore Card were introduced, would it be a good alternative to the Citi Premier?

  • After the first year the cost difference would be $55 per year ($450 minus the $300 travel credit, vs. a $95 annual fee)
  • The premium card would have the benefit of letting you redeem points for cash towards a travel purchase at a higher rate (1.5 cents towards any travel purchase, vs. 1.25 cents towards airfare)
  • The premium card would offer triple points on travel and dining, while the Premier offers triple points on travel and gas, and double points on dining and entertainment

Bottom line

It’s normal for card issuers to throw around different card ideas in a survey. Let me once again say that it’s possible the above card will never be introduced. However, at a minimum I do think it’s interesting to discuss, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the new card that’s introduced:

  • The Sapphire Reserve has been so popular, so it’s not surprising to see another issuer copy the idea
  • We should expect the fourth night free benefit wouldn’t be offered on any new card, given how costly and valuable of a perk it is
  • It’s interesting that the different survey ideas being thrown around all have the same core benefits (a $300 travel credit, triple points on travel and dining, etc.)

Would you be interested in a card like the rumored Citi Explore Card?

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Comments

  1. Instead of doing this, they should spend their time adding American Airlines and other unique transfer partners so that these cards don’t overlap so much

    In general, it makes sense that competitors wouldn’t allow Chase to corner the market on the premium travel cards for long.

  2. The current Citi Prestige gives 2x on gym memberships since the card gives 2x points on the “entertainment” category which (for me anyway) includes gyms.

    I can’t imagine the gym membership bonus points would be worth the cost of the priority pass to most members, although some may already have a membership from another card and I guess would end up choosing that option.

    Fourth night free is what sets the card apart. It would be a shame to lose it!

  3. While not exciting, I rather accrue Citi TY Points. I like the transfer partners and Citi offers transfer bonuses once in a while. Chase has been cutting worthwhile partners. Chase seems to be focusing on cash back via the portal.

  4. If Citi introduced a card that offered redemption of points at a value of 1.5 cents, I would be skeptical that it would remain that way for long. The Prestige used to allow redemption for AA flights at a value of 1.6 cents, but that turned out to be a bait-and-switch.

  5. @Lucky, with regard to the statement:

    “We should expect the fourth night free benefit wouldn’t be offered on any new card, given how costly and valuable of a perk it is”

    Why? There are ways of doing this at a much lower cost. For example, Citi offer this same benefit in Australia for the locally-issued Prestige product and make it work by partnering with Hotels.com, effectively getting 10% back via an arrangement between the two parties. The 4th night is still available and is done in a sustainable fashion.

  6. If these rumors are true, then it appears Citi is “fighting the last war,” to use a military metaphor. Credible rumors of the new AmEx Gold card already elevate it to a clear front runner even before it’s released, well ahead of the erstwhile champion, CSR. So if Citi is just going to copy the CSR (albeit without any of the Big 3 U.S. airlines as direct transfer partners), they’re already starting out in 2nd place at best. As suggested by others, if AA were added as a transfer partner at a good rate, I would be in a real dilemma between this and the new AmEx Gold, but without it, I would count it as 3rd best, and a real step down from the 4th-Night-Free era.

  7. Will the new card keep the 2x on entertainment? I know it’s beneficial for a lot of families with kids.

    Still waiting for whenever citi (or even Barclays) adds AA as a transfer partner

  8. @ UA — The Australian credit card market is different than the US market. There the Prestige Card has fewer benefits and a higher annual fee, so they have more money to play with. I certainly could be wrong, but I think it’s highly unlikely they’d keep that benefit.

  9. For those who love to accrue Citi TY pts, I am sincerely serious to know how/why (aside from MS or you have high monthly expense) you earn Citi TY pts as they have only one or two cards (Citi TY Premier Car & Preferred car) that give a sign up bonus (am I getting wrong data?) whereas Amex & Chase offers a lot more cards for their respective rewards programs.

  10. Amen to many comments about 4th night. I’ve benefited from this tremendously. I book all my stays for 4 nights when ever I can… which is for us a perfect length of stays at one place… 3 nights is too short and more than 4 nights, we get bored. With $100 saving from having a Citi checking account, after airline credit, I only pay $100 for annual fee not to mention the best priority pass membership type I get (unlimited guest visit). I save min $1000 a year on 4th night free benefit alone. I am going to hold on to this as long as I can and book out as much future stays as possible, speculative or not.

  11. This is so weird the way they revamp into csr clone since citi premier pretty much does the same thing which including gas and 1 less pt for dining. They are pretty much selling priority pass for $50 more at this point

  12. CSR copy? Wasn’t CSR more or less a copy of Citi Prestige?

    While I love my CSR, I’ve always thought that its success was primarily based on Chase buying market share with the 100k points, and its more recognizable US-based transfer partners. It’s like Apple Pay – far from the first or second to come to market with a given technology, but because of its marketing budget, the masses see it as the innovator.

  13. If they are launching this as a new product, I wonder if they would keep the Prestige as a legacy product for a while.

  14. I’d probably only sign up for something like this if Citi incorporated AA as a TY points transfer partner. It bothers me that they dont have something like that.

  15. CITI has notoriously poor history WRT management. If they are smart they will relegate this product to the trash heap, and instead build sustainability/viability into their products, i.e. by requiring a wealth management relationship.

    Do you want to invest your CC spend in a brand that down the line will suffer death by a thousand cuts?

  16. @Lucky – the Australian market is not as different as one would think. Citi in Australia definitely does not have “more money to play with”:

    * MSF levels are significantly lower in Australia, giving much lower levels of funding for benefits and points earn. The issuer fee is capped at 0.8% maximum thanks to the morons who run the RBA. Further, the annual fee is regularly discounted to less than the level associated with the US version.
    * The Citi Prestige card in Australia actually offers benefits the US card does not – a free hotel night from select properties around SE Asia and parts of the US.
    * Two free limo transfers at many airports around the Asia Pacific region
    * Coverage of 3 sets of golf green fees (for those so inclined)
    * Further, Citi has near zero presence in the consumer account and acquiring market, significantly constraining their resources.

    Admittedly, the travel credit associated with the US version is absent, however the benefits above offset this easily.

    The 4th night free benefit is able to be offered by Citi in Australia because of the arrangement they have with Hotels.com – the commission kickbacks fund the 4th night to a significant extent (if not entirely, although it is apparently close to doing so). A very similar arrangement is in place for Citi in the US when using the online booking portal by the looks of things.

    Keep in mind that Citi has an advantage over Chase in that they have plenty of markets to test these ideas out in (with the Asia Pacific region being a common testing ground seemingly). If they’re able to take control of the commission structure then the benefit becomes reasonable to fund at the cost of cardholders no longer getting elite status or points earn.

  17. Are there any other cards besides the world of hyatt that offer points on gym membership? That might be a great incentive to go to the gym more often!

  18. @Lucky @UA I recently tried to book a fourth night free stay (on an Australian issued card) for January and was told this was not possible as the benefit had not been confirmed for 2019.

    Not sure if this is related to a review of the benefit or just unfortunate timing (albeit stay is only 4 months away).

  19. It depends on where you are in the Points and Miles game. I am heavily invested in both Chase and American Express. The gym membership points don’t do anything for me and a CSR clone doesn’t benefit me much either. Amex just upped their game with the changes to their Gold card which is making the Amex points program more worthwhile to focus on right now.

    If I was starting fresh, the Citibank program is not competitive. However, I am not sure I would want to duplicate earnings with both Chase and Citibank at this time.

  20. @Stuart – this happens every year for the 4th night free benefit and the Hilton Honors Gold status grant (amongst other things).

    I wouldn’t worry too much just yet.

  21. This would be pretty awesome especially if they also do a 100K sign up bonus. If that would be the case than I will switch from my CSR as I already have over 400K UR points and would love to start accruing ThankYou points. The 4th night benefit would be cool but I would be ok with using my IHG Premier Card for the same benefit. I know it’s not the same but I rather have a 100K bonus, $300 travel credit and 3X on airfare and restaurants as I don’t always stay for 4 nights in one place and don’t usually spend a lot on hotels so what IHG offers usually works for me.

  22. As described, the fundamental difference vs the CSR is the Chase ecosystem. They are turning my freedom bonuses categories into 7.5%, my ink cash into 3% on gas, 7.5% on phone and office supplies, and my business unlimited into 2.25% on everything else. That is a moat.

  23. Citi Australia is currently offering two different signup bonuses on their Premiun and Prestige cc of 200,000 and 400,000 points. The catch is to earn either bonus you must spend $1,000.00 or more each month for 20 months. Points are awarded at the rate of 10,000 or 20,000 points per month. If Citi is collecting 3 percent from purchases and collecting the AF twice, it will greatly offset the cost of the bonus. We may not see 200k or 400k bonuses in the states, but I would be happy with 100k – 150,000.

  24. @UA Fourth night free would be mostly worthless to me if through hotel.com. One of the things that is so great about the current program is that I can have the reservation booked directly with the hotel and get all of my loyalty program benefits.

  25. This all seems rather misguided to me. Why would you assume that Citi is considering offering the card they ask about in this survey? Why would they simply copy another card provider? I would think the more natural conclusion would be that they are trying to gauge how their customers feel about the Sapphire Reserve and how a prospective product might compare. It asks at the bottom “how appealing would this product be”? Surely they are looking for a product that would be more appealing than their main competition.

  26. That’s really too bad. I was about to dump all the hotel chains and go free agent, with a 4th night free from Prestige.

  27. I thought Chase took a pretty huge bath on CSR. Why would Citi want to replicate that? But these proposed benefits certainly would seem to be an exact copy.

  28. If they drop the 4th night free on the Prestige, I’d get rid of it in a heartbeat. I was really excited about TYPs and Turkish redemptions…. and TK has all but pulled all saver redemptions in C to the USA. Singapore is all that is left there that interests me.
    If the Citi new card looks anything like this… it is nowhere near the CSR with respect to the benefits.

  29. I would keep the CSR for that is the only way we can earn UR points. For me, it is the Amex Bus. Plat. that would have to go. The Bus Blue Plus earns me the MR points without an annual fee. I had a terrible experience moving some TY points a few years ago but if the sign up bonus is quite good, then a CSR duplicate is not too bad. They need to have at least equal travel insurance as the CSR to help out. I was able to MS alot of Hilton points on Citi before it went over to Amex. Makes me wonder if Citi would be as nasty about MS on their own card as Chase and Amex are.

  30. @Paul B, see my earlier comment. Citi Australia is collecting 0.8% at absolute most and this percentage is carried by law due to the ignorant members of the RBA Payment Systems Board and their ideological approach to regulating Scheme cards (a task they are demonstrably incapable of performing with anything but incompetence).

  31. @Nevsky, I completely agree with you. The US seems to be one of the few markets that has not gone down the Hotels.com path as best I can tell.

    There is definitely excellent value to be had for non-chain properties, however I found that Citi’s relationship in Australia saw some high-end properties excluded (such as the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore).

  32. @Alex Z isn’t the 4th night on IHG Premier Card only on award stays?

    Also, I’m getting more skeptical of IHG award stays; more often than not recently I’ve been seeing them require $60 or $80 on top of enough points to value them far less than .5cent each. Therefore I’ve not been redeeming much.

    @bgpq I agree with you.

  33. BTW, Citi Premier is 1.25c for all the travel you can book via TY pirtal, not just airlines. Prestige is for airlines only.

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