I’ve had the Citi Prestige Card for years, thanks primarily to the incredible fourth night free benefit that the card offers, which saves me thousands of dollars per year (unfortunately the benefit is being devalued in 2019).
Historically there hasn’t actually been much value in putting spend on the Citi Prestige, though the card has just undergone some major changes, which kick in as of today, Friday, January 4, 2019.
So if you haven’t been putting much spend on the card, it’s time to take the card out of your wallet and start spending on it again, given its industry leading bonus categories.
As part of this, I’ll be greatly adjusting my credit card spend as of the end of this coming week. Here’s how my strategy is changing:
Citi Prestige for all restaurant purchases
As of today (January 4, 2019), the Citi Prestige offers 5x ThankYou points on all dining purchases globally. This is now my go-to card for all my dining spend. I value ThankYou points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me this is the equivalent of earning an 8.5% return on this spend.
Up until now, I’ve used the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for all my dining spend, which offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, which I value at a return of 5.1%.
I’ll gladly take an extra 3.4% return on my dining spend.
For a while, I had also considered getting the American Express® Gold Card, which is generous in its own right, as it offers 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants. However, there are lots of reports of some restaurants not being coded correctly, much more so than with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
So the Citi Prestige offering 5x points everywhere on dining is the best, in my opinion.
Citi Prestige for all airfare purchases
As of today (January 4, 2019), the Citi Prestige offers 5x ThankYou points on air travel purchases globally. I value ThankYou points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me this is the equivalent of earning an 8.5% return on this spend.
Up until now, I’ve used one of two cards for airfare purchases:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchased directly from airlines (on up to $500,000 of flight purchases per calendar year, and then 1x)
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel purchases, and offers excellent travel protection (unfortunately this is changing)
In this post, I shared my strategy for airfare purchases up until now. Essentially I value the return on the Amex at ~3.4% more, so for expensive tickets I used the Amex Platinum (for the incremental points earning), and for cheap tickets I used the Sapphire Reserve (for the superior travel protection).
Going forward all of my air travel purchases will go on the Citi Prestige, as I’ll earn 5x points on air travel purchases and I’ll receive solid travel protection. I no longer have to choose one or the other!
Other Citi Prestige changes
When it comes to spend on the card, earning 5x points on dining and air travel is the biggest update to me. The card also earns 3x ThankYou points on cruises as of today, though personally I don’t cruise, so it’s not something I find to be that valuable.
Furthermore, the card’s $250 annual airline credit has been expanded to a $250 annual travel credit, so that’s great.
There are other Citi Prestige changes coming later in the year:
- As of May 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige will offer a new cell phone protection plan
- As of August 31, 2019, the Citi Prestige will no longer offer 2x ThankYou points on entertainment
- As of September 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit will be capped at two bookings per year, and will only be bookable through the ThankYou site or call center (this is a bummer)
- As of September 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige will no longer let you redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards airfare (but rather only at one cent each)
- As of September 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige annual fee will be increasing from $450 to $495
Want to apply for the Citi Prestige Card?
In August 2019, Citi stopped accepting applications for the Prestige Card. As you can see, the card is now being relaunched, and Citi has said that they’ll once again be accepting applications as of early this year.
So hopefully they start accepting applications soon, though I don’t have any details of when. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s today or tomorrow (since you’d think they’d want to create buzz around the relaunch), though that’s just speculation on my part.
Justifying the annual fee on the Citi Prestige
The Citi Prestige currently has a $450 annual fee, though it will be increasing to $495 as of September 2019. So for now I’m still paying $450 per year. To share my math:
- The card offers a $250 travel credit; to me that lowers the real “out of pocket” on this card to $200 per year
- The card offers a Priority Pass membership, though I have that through other cards as well, so don’t value it as an incremental perk
- The card will offer a cell phone protection benefit starting in May 2019, which could be useful (though I already have that through the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card)
- The card continues to offer the unrestricted fourth night free benefit until September 2019, so for now that still saves me a ton of money
For those who are hesitant to pay such a high annual fee, you may also want to consider the Citi Premier® Card (review), which has a more reasonable annual fee of only $95, earns ThankYou points, and offers compelling bonus categories for spend such as 3x points on airfare, hotels, dining, supermarkets and gas stations.
So for now I can continue to easily justify the annual fee on the card, given the fourth night free benefit is still unrestricted. However, long term I’m guessing I’ll view this as a $245 per year “out of pocket” card that earns my 5x points in some useful categories. I’ll be crunching the numbers again at that point.
Are you excited about the Citi Prestige changes, and how will they impact your strategy?