Citi Prestige Card Review (2020)

Filed Under: Citi
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5x Points
at Restaurants
$250
Annual Travel Credit
5x Points
on Flights
Annual Fee: $495
| The card details for the Citi Prestige® Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

When it comes to ultra-premium credit cards, three cards generally come to mind —  The Platinum Card® from American Express (review), the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), and the Citi Prestige Card.

In the past I’ve reviewed the Amex Platinum and Sapphire Reserve, so in this post I wanted to take an in-depth look at the Citi Prestige.

Citi Prestige Card Basics For December 2020

We’ve seen all card issuers make significant changes to their premium cards over the past couple of years, though arguably no premium card has seen as many changes as the Citi Prestige.

Up until last year I would have argued this card was too good to be true, while now I’d argue the card is still good under certain circumstances, but it doesn’t have as wide of an appeal as it used to.

Let’s look at various aspects of the card, from the welcome bonus, to the return on spending that it offers, to the perks.

50,000 ThankYou Points Sign-Up Bonus

The Citi Prestige offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months. That’s roughly in line with what other card issuers are offering on premium cards.

Redeem your ThankYou points for travel in Air France business class

Card Eligibility Restrictions

Every credit card issuer has different policies for approving new cardmembers.

With the Citi Prestige, the welcome bonus isn’t available to those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the Citi Rewards+, ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier, or Prestige, or who have closed any of the above accounts, in the past 24 months.

On top of that, keep in mind that with Citi you can be approved for at most one card every eight days, and at most two cards every 65 days.

$495 Annual Fee + $75 Authorized User Fee

The Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year.

You can add authorized users to the card for $75 each, and they also get some of the perks, which I’ll talk more about below.

Earning Points With The Citi Prestige Card

The Citi Prestige offers some fantastic bonus categories, as the card offers up to 5x points per dollar spent. The card has no foreign transaction fees, so this is great for purchases both in the US and abroad.

For context, the card earns ThankYou points, which I value at 1.7 cents each.

5x Points At Restaurants

The Citi Prestige offers 5x points at restaurants globally, which is fantastic. In my opinion this is the best credit card for dining purchases, and this is one of the main reasons I have the card.

To me this is like the equivalent of an 8.5% return on eating out.

Earn 5x points at restaurants globally

5x Points On Air Travel

The Citi Prestige also offers 5x points on airfare purchases, and this applies whether you’re booking directly with an airline or through a travel agency. An 8.5% return on airfare spending is fantastic, and makes this one of the best credit cards for airfare purchases.

However, as of recently I stopped using this card for airfare, because Citi stopped offering valuable travel protection, which I value.

Now I use the Amex Platinum Card for airfare, as it also offers 5x points (which I value roughly the same), and Amex recently added travel protection to their cards.

The Citi Prestige also offers 5x points on airfare

3x Points On Hotels

The Citi Prestige offers 3x ThankYou points on hotel purchases, which I value at a 5.1% return. That makes this one of the best credit cards for hotel purchases. However, I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for hotel purchases, as it offers 3x points while also offering great travel coverage.

3x Points On Cruises

The Citi Prestige offers 3x ThankYou points on cruises purchases, which I value at a 5.1% return. That’s a pretty great return on cruises.

1x Points On All Other Purchases

For categories not listed above, the card offers 1x ThankYou points per dollar spent, which I value at a return of ~1.7%. I try to do better than that with my everyday spending, so don’t recommend using this card for non-bonused spending.

Redeeming Points With The Citi Prestige Card

The Citi Prestige earns ThankYou points, which can be transferred to select airline loyalty programs.

Citi ThankYou Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
Aeroméxico Club Premier1000 : 1000
Air France KLM Flying Blue1000 : 1000
Avianca LifeMiles1000 : 1000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1000 : 1000
Etihad Guest1000 : 1000
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands1000 : 1000
Jet Airways JetPrivilege1000 : 1000
JetBlue TrueBlue1000 : 1000
Malaysia Airlines Enrich1000 : 1000
Qantas Frequent Flyer1000 : 1000
Qatar Privilege Club1000 : 1000
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1000 : 1000
Thai Royal Orchid Plus1000 : 1000
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1000 : 1000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1000 : 1000

This is the best way to redeem ThankYou points, as you can get outsized value, especially for first and business class redemptions. However, there is some skill required to redeem this way.

Alternatively, you can redeem ThankYou points towards all kinds of purchases, from travel to gift cards, at about one cent each. However, I tend to think you get a lot more value transferring points to airline partners.

Transfer your Citi Prestige points to Virgin Atlantic

Citi Prestige Card Benefits

The Citi Prestige offers a variety of benefits that will prove worthwhile for many, from lounge access, to a fourth-night free hotel benefit, to an annual travel credit, and more.

$250 Annual Travel Credit

To help offset the $495 annual fee, the Citi Prestige offers a $250 annual travel credit. This will be applied automatically to any purchases coded as travel, and is more or less good as cash.

The way I view it, this really lowers the card’s out of pocket cost annually to ~$245, since just about anyone getting this card should be spending at least $250 per year on travel.

Redeem your travel credit towards a hotel stay

Priority Pass Membership

The Citi Prestige comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to the world’s largest collection of independent lounges. Best of all, this membership allows you to take up to two guests with you at no additional cost.

Priority Pass has 1,300+ airport lounges around the world, so access to these lounges will prove useful to just about any traveler.

Priority Pass has even added some non-traditional locations to their network, like restaurants, where you can have a meal and Priority Pass picks up the tab.

If you add authorized users to your Citi Prestige, they’ll also get a Priority Pass membership, so that could be worth it for the $75 additional user fee alone.

Access lounges globally with Priority Pass

Global Entry Or TSA Pre-Check Credit

The Citi Prestige offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every five years. Just charge the $85-100 membership fee to your card, and it will automatically be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter who the fee is being paid for, as long as you charge it to your eligible card.

Fourth Night Free Hotel Benefit

Until last year this was by far the most valuable perk of this card, and it saved me thousands of dollars per year. However, unfortunately it’s not as good as it used to be.

The Citi Prestige offers a complimentary fourth night at a hotel of your choice after a minimum of four consecutive nights when booked through thankyou.com. Cardmembers can use this benefit at most twice per year.

The catches here are that:

  • Not all hotels show up on thankyou.com
  • For the hotels that do show up on thankyou.com, you’re limited in terms of the type of rates you can book
  • If you’re staying at a hotel with a loyalty program, you generally don’t earn points for these stays, since it’s considered a third party rate

Contrast that to how this benefit used to work, where they could book virtually any type of rate at virtually any hotel.

The fourth night free benefit isn’t as useful as it used to be

Cell Phone Protection

This is a fairly recent addition to the card. The Citi Prestige now offers cell phone protection at no additional cost:

  • This applies if your phone is stolen or suffers certain damage
  • You can be reimbursed for the cost of the repair or replacement
  • Coverage includes up to $1,500 in total yearly benefits for up to five phones on your monthly bill

While that’s a nice perk, the downside is that the card offers only 1x points on your cell phone bill, so you’re forgoing quite a few points by choosing to charge your cell phone bill to the card.

Temporary Coronavirus Benefits

Earn 5X/$1 on online purchases (up to 7,500 points) until August 31, 2020. This does not apply to new cardholders whose accounts were opened since May 23, 2020 and no registration is required.

Is The Citi Prestige Card Worth It?

I’ve had the Citi Prestige for many years, though unfortunately it’s not what it once was. Before the fourth night free benefit was changed, it was the single most valuable credit card for me.

That’s not the case anymore, though I do still have the card, and do still find it to be worthwhile:

  • The way I view it, the card costs me $245 per year ($495 annual fee, minus the $250 travel credit)
  • I spend a lot on dining out, and earning 5x ThankYou points on that proves quite valuable for me
  • Having the Citi Prestige allows me to maximize the value I get out of the Citi Double Cash, which I’ll talk more about below
  • Others may value the Priority Pass membership, though I don’t, since I also have the Sapphire Reserve
  • I haven’t used the fourth night free benefit since the rules changed

I do think this is still a valuable niche card, though for someone looking for a more well rounded card, I can’t recommend this card as easily as the Amex Platinum Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Below I wanted to cover a couple of other points I think are worth making.

Tip: Get The Citi Double Cash As Well

If you are going to get the Citi Prestige, then you absolutely must get the no annual fee Citi® Double Cash Card (review) as well.

Why? The card offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase. If you have this card in conjunction with the Citi Prestige, then rewards can be converted into ThankYou points at a ratio of one cent per ThankYou point.

In other words, this card can earn you 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent, which is the best personal card out there for everyday spending. This way you can complement the Citi Double Cash with the bonus categories of the Citi Prestige.

The Citi Prestige & Citi Double Cash are a great combo

How Does The Chase Sapphire Reserve Compare?

Arguably the biggest competitor to the Citi Prestige is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Personally I have both of the cards, though if I could choose just one, I do think the Sapphire Reserve is more well rounded:

  • The card has a $550 annual fee, but offers a $300 annual travel credit that can be used towards any travel purchase
  • The card offers 3x points on dining and travel, so the card also has great bonus categories
  • The card offers a Priority Pass membership, much like the Citi Prestige
  • The card offers excellent travel protection and car rental coverage, a DoorDash credit, a Lyft Pink membership, and more
  • Points earned on the Sapphire Reserve are easier to redeem; not only are there the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, but you can also redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase
  • Chase has a more well rounded card ecosystem, as there are about half a dozen cards you can use to maximize your Ultimate Rewards points

Citi Prestige Card Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige is a card that I personally have, and that I still value, though not as much as I used to. Back in the day this used to be the biggest no brainer card for many of us, as the fourth night free benefit alone could be worth thousands.

While that benefit now has more restrictions, there are other perks that can make this card worthwhile, like the $250 travel credit, Priority Pass membership, 5x points on dining and airfare, and more.

At this point I view this as a card that costs me $245 per year (after subtracting the $250 travel credit), and for which I get 5x points on dining, and which allows me to maximize the Citi Double Cash, and earn 2x ThankYou points for my everyday spending.

I do think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a more well-rounded premium card, for those who just want to pick up one card.

How do you feel about the Citi Prestige Card nowadays?

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Comments
  1. “ I do think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a more well rounded premium card, for those who just want to pick up one card.”

    Couldn’t agree more. But, I also can’t give of this card with 5x dining credit. Super valuable.

  2. One thing to add is, if you have a Citigold account, the annual fee drops from $495 to $350. With the net cost dropped to just $100 after the travel credit, it’s a no-brainer for me to keep this card, especially when I pair it with the Double Cash.

  3. I have the card but prefer to get 4x MR points on dining from Amex Gold. Just better transfer partners.

    I will occassionally transfer to AF, but Iberia has been the best award availability (for it’s own members) and the best off season mileage rates (85k RT LAX-MAD in J).

    It somehow feels like I’m more of a prisoner with TYPs than with Amex. As long as you have the no-fee Everyday Card, you’ll never lose your points or get less value because of limited transfer.

    With Citi, don’t they segregate the points by card and when you cancel the card, you have a certain period (90 days?) to use or lose them, no matter what other Citi cards you have? Or is there a similar no-fee card that you can get that will keep you from losing the points with another Citi card upon cancellation.

    I am getting a ton of value from the 4th not free – still from before the change as I made many bookings prior to the cutoff. So still getting elite benefits. However there may be enough opportunities at places where hotel status doesn’t matter to keep next year.

  4. Thinking about adding sister as AU for either Chase Sapp Reserve or Citi Prestige. Both cost $75 with priority pass select. CSR used to offer unlimited guest but is now 2 guests. I read somewhere that the membership from prestige is “2 guest or immediate family”.

    Sister is family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids).

    Is Prestige the way to go?

  5. Hi Lucky – Random question and request for a future post. Because mileage redemption can be tricky for me (limitations on dates, routing, and lead time), I have found a lot of value redeeming points for direct ticket purchases. I have the CSR and like the ultimate rewards/Expedia redemption ratio and portal. With the CSR fee going up and adding benefits that are worthless to me, I’m likely going to get the CSP and cancel the R. But this has got me wondering about the Capital One and American Express travel purchase portals and value. It would be nice if you could weigh in on your experience! Thanks!

  6. Having to book fourth night free through thankYou.com essentially killed off this benefit for me. No more Aman resort bookings through Citi prestige. On top of that, thankyou.com only allows you to book the bottom of the heap rooms. No thanks. Still have bookings made from previous year via Aspire Concierge. After that, not sure if this card is worth keeping since Amex gold 4x restaurant is probably good enough to Citi Prestige 5x restaurant. If Citi adds Korean Air sometimes this year, then it’ll def be a keeper.

  7. Fourth night free, even if restricted to twice a year, still puts this card ahead of Amex Platinum or CSR for me. For instance, shaving off ~$500 a hotel stay in expensive cities like New York, London, Paris, or Tokyo, and getting 5X for the dollar amount spent, makes this totally worth it for me. The 5X dining on top of that really does add up. I get way more out of this card than the Platinum (I don’t have the CSR).

  8. Citi cards have lost almost all credit card insurance & Prestige lost its once-great travel delay insurance. As such, the Prestige should only be used for restaurant purchases now. The math would say if you spend over $15,000 on restaurants a year a case could be made to have this AND Chase Sapphire Reserve, but otherwise go with CSR and get much better protections on your purchases.

  9. Citi Prestige used to have special events that were really good. No more. Even Chase still has some special events for some of its top cards. Citi still has some events for all cardholders, but nothing special. Another disappointment.

  10. One nice thing that I didn’t realize. The fourth night free benefit applies when booking reward hotels with points. So the points needed to book a four night stay are the same as that for booking a three night stay. I was quite delighted to learn this and so far have decided to stay with the card although I was very disappointed by the recent changes.

  11. I thought the Citigold discount was eliminated? Did Citi maintain the discount?

    The Prestige card was my go-to card. The card also removed the car rental insurance. I can’t fathom why anyone would put any travel card charges on a card without insurance unless you are at the property? The hotels are always more expensive making the 4th-night perk useless. It is less expensive to use discounted Hotels.com gift cards.

    The cell phone protection is fantastic. However, phones cost so much these days that once I used it, I could no longer charge my cell charges on the card and had to switch cards for my payments. I will drop this card when my fee hits unless the Citi Gold discount is still in place.

  12. @Sean

    Can you please explain your $15,000 math?
    I can’t see how it could be anywhere near that much. Did you forget to use the $250 travel credit?
    But yeah even with the correct math, if you don’t dine out that often it’s hard to break even. It used to be the 4th night that compensate for this.
    I still like the old version better, with the golf, 1.6c redemption, and AAdmirals club AAccess. Or maybe I should pick this over Amex??

    @Lucky
    From many comments we can see who won the Prestige vs CSR. The next best topic would be, before I cancel the card, what would be the best speculative transfer before closing the card.
    And what about Amex Plat vs Prestige. Maybe a comparison of which 2 out of 3 combo is better.

  13. One thing to keep in mind is that Amex Gold rebates on Supermarket purchases as well as “Dining” (i.e. Restaurants.) When Citi won the Costco business and all Amex cards stopped being accepted there, I converted my “Costco” Amex Gold to a “regular” Amex Gold. I now think of my Amex Gold card as my “food” card and use it for supermarket purchases which I did not do before. When comparing (rebate-included) costs, don’t forget that supermarket purchases include items like wine/champagne/alcohol. My Citi/Costco VISA card is now my “gas” card given the gas-specific rebate (both at Costco & other stations) it offers and I use it for any other random Costco purchases as well.

  14. I finally downgraded my Prestige to a Rewards+ card last week. I’m also keeping a Citi Premier as my main non-airline travel card for 3x point categories and to maintain point transfer benefits.

    I’m happy to use the Amex Platinum as my high end card, with its 5x points on airfare and travel insurance. I use the Gold for all food expenditures (grocery + dining) with 4x points.

    Given the increased annual fee and benefit devaluations, the Prestige just wasn’t worth it for me anymore.

  15. Ben, you say you basically have this card for 5x Dining. You seem to then use those points towards obscure airline tickets a lot of people have no use for, even with complicated transfers to other mainstream airlines.

    You are constantly on the move to the far corners & those redemptions probably do come in handy for you. But as those points translate to NO hotel partners & NO travel portal discounts, either AMEX Green or CSR is better suited for those needing a more practical card for all-around travel use.

  16. @Eskimo

    The $15,000+ in restaurant spending comes from looking at the difference in cash back between CSR (3% back) & Prestige (5%)…which comes to $300. Since you get a $250 travel credit on Prestige ($500-250=$250). But again, remember that Prestige is only good for Restaurant spend, you never want to put big item purchases OR airfare on it, since Citi removed almost all the insurance protections last fall.

    As a result, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best high-end travel rewards card for ~80% of travelers today. The remaining 20% need to either book $20k+/year airfare on personal card, in which AmEx Plat could be a better option, or $15k+/year on Restaurants, then Prestige makes sense–but ONLY for restaurants.

  17. @Ben, I’m wondering what charges you use for the travel credit now? Since there is no trip protection, I don’t charge airfare or hotels. I was going to charge Lyft and Ubers but with the Sapphire Lyft program, I’m using that for all Lyfts. So I’m trying to figure out how to even use the travel credit on the Pretoge now..

  18. @Theresa You might consider train/bus/ferry tickets. For exmple, when I visit Las Vegas, I charge my Monorail (between the convention center and strip hotels) tickets for that reason. Train tickets (amounts) will be an even larger factor if you use them regularly in Europe.

  19. Overall, a extremely disappointing card since September 2019 when the bulk of the benefits were removed including the concierge service. Now, when booking hotels through the TY site, the 4th night free benefit is not meaningful and there is no benefit at all when you factor in the loss of hotel loyalty points and, at times, the cost of the hotel is cheaper on the hotel website (when I previously booked via concierge). Now, when renting cars, I use the Costco card since those benefits stayed (might have been part of the original deal between Costco/Citi). The 5x dining is the best feature of the card.

    I’m skeptical Citi will announce any enhancements to their current benefits (much like CSR did when they raised their annual fee) but just waiting for them to raise the their fee to $550.

  20. I think Citi Prestige is still a great travel card and I am keeping it as long as it offers 5 points for airline/travel agency bookings and 5 points for dining.
    I just booked both my 4th night hotel benefit reservations (Svalbard & Dolomite for summer 2020), which saved me $650 total, compared to booking.com and the Citi website prices were identical to the other searches.
    It is still very easy to justify the annual fee if you carefully plan the two annual 4 night trips.
    I love the way the card earns 5 points for booking tours and worldwide dining and it also comes with a great Priority Pass lounge benefit for the whole family.
    I wish they bring back the car rental protection, which is a shame for the card in this price range.

  21. The Citi Prestige card is a terrible card because the points go to ThankYou points which can be taken back fro your account anytime Citi wants to. It happened to me and I had to sue to recoup payment for the points and my annual fee both of which they refused to give back until they were sued. Doin’t believe me? Search Ronald Melton Vs. Citibank, CitiPrestige, Citi ThankYou, et al, Pensacola Florida.

    Any agreements you get from them must be in writing because the woman I dealt with when they settled with me broke her verbal agreement with me. Don’t trust Citi Prestige. Use Amex or another card where you keep the points even if they choose to close your account without notification or reason.

  22. Is the bonus available if you’ve never had the Prestige before, and had a Premier but closed it 3 years ago?

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