New Benefits Coming To The Citi Prestige Card?

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards
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I first picked up the Citi Prestige® Card after Citi announced some major improvements to the card a couple of years ago, and it quickly became the most valuable credit card for me. Unfortunately over time the value of the card has decreased somewhat, both in absolute and relative terms. Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve Card, and Amex made improvements to The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Beyond that, Citi announced some major changes to the Prestige Card, that kick in as of July 23, 2017.

Changes being made to the Citi Prestige Card

As we first learned last July, some major changes are being made to the Citi Prestige® Card as of July 23, 2017. Specifically, as of this date:

  • Cardmembers no longer receive access to American Admirals Clubs when flying American
  • The value of redeeming points on American is decreasing; previously you got 1.6 cents per point towards the cost of a ticket on American, while you’ll only receive 1.25 cents per point going forward
  • There will no longer be three free rounds of golf per year
  • The way the fourth night free benefit is being calculated is changing, as it will no longer include taxes, and will be based on the average nightly cost over four nights, rather than the cost of the fourth night (which could be much higher than the cost of the first three nights)

As of July 23, 2017, the Citi Prestige Card will no longer offer Admirals Club access

These changes are obviously negative, though to me don’t change the fundamental value proposition of the card.

Rumored improvements to the Citi Prestige Card

While this hasn’t at all been confirmed, Doctor of Credit shares four rumored changes that will be made to the Citi Prestige Card. Again, these haven’t been confirmed officially, but rather these are just rumors. Specifically:

  • Card will be metal, featuring Mastercard logo
  • ShopRunner membership
  • Citi ThankYou points worth 1¢ towards cash/gift card redemption
  • Citi ThankYou points can be used towards the 4th night free benefit

To me, none of these changes would make much of a difference:

  • A metal card is nice, but doesn’t change the value proposition of a card, and it’s also not as special as it used to be
  • Many Amex cards with much lower annual fees offer a ShopRunner membership
  • Redeeming points for a penny each towards cash or gift cards is hardly a good value, especially when there are cards that offer up to two cents on every dollar spent, like the Citi® Double Cash Card and Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
  • If you can use Citi ThankYou points towards a fourth night free benefit you’re still getting at most 1.25 cents of value per point, which I wouldn’t consider to be great, though this is still the best of the rumored improvements

Again, these are all rumors, though I figured they were worth passing on. I certainly hope there’s more to these changes, as these would be underwhelming.

This doesn’t change whether I hold onto the Citi Prestige

Even though I’m not impressed by the rumored improvements to the Citi Prestige® Card, it doesn’t change whether or not it makes sense for me to hold onto this card. To simplify it as much as possible:

  • The card has a $450 annual fee
  • The card offers a $250 annual airline credit that can be used towards any airline purchase
  • I pretty much value that at face value, meaning for me the real “out of pocket” on the card is $200 per year

And for that I get an amazing fourth night free benefit that saves me thousands of dollars per year, and more than justifies the annual fee. I still consider this to be the single most valuable credit card benefit out there.

The fourth night free benefit can save you a lot of money on the cost of a hotel stay

For me the card is still worth holding onto, but it’s just not worth putting much spend on. It would be nice if Citi made some improvements to the card that actually justified putting spend on the card, especially given how much the competition has improved lately.

Where do you stand on the Citi Prestige® Card — do you still consider it worthwhile for the fourth night free benefit alone, or do you plan on canceling it?

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  1. Cancelled the card. For those that use Airbnb it sucks. Chase Sapphire reserve is way better.

  2. ‘Card will be metal, featuring Mastercard logo’ – Certainly a stretch trying to sell this as an improvement. This buys me nothing except an extra trip through the metal detector and an awkward glance from the cashier at Quiznos.

  3. Got really excited by the title then saw the rumored “improvements”. They are a zero to me.

  4. Definitely lost value, but for trip delay insurance and the 4th night free I still easily get over 4x value vs annual fee out of it.

  5. I agree- the changes are neutral at best. While I was considering dropping the card due to no longer getting admirals club benefit, I have become a believer in the card again due to their trip insurance coverage. My wife had her bags lost on the way to vacation, and the Citi insurance said to get whatever she needed in clothes and toiletries. My wife did a shopping trip and racked up $370 in charges (all legit). When we got back and submitted receipts for the claim, Citi quickly approved and gave me a full credit, all within 24hours. Was very impressed.

  6. Most seem to point out that the changes in 4th night free benefit are negative; not covering taxes certainly is. But averaging the value of the rebate i/o the actual 4th night cost could be better depending on the situation (say, if nights 1& 2 are a lot more expensive than night 4).

  7. Downgraded a few weeks ago since we don’t stay enough at hotels to derive the benefit you (and others) do, Lucky! Citi needs to step up its game IMHO.

  8. @Ricky While there are certainly situations where the average of the 4 nights can be greater than the actual 4th night, it’s still a downgrade in terms of benefit even not accounting for taxes which can be significant in certain places. For example, with the old benefit, you were able to combine 3rd night free promos that certain hotels have with the 4th night free benefit essentially only paying for 2 nights for a 4 night stay. Now that the rates are averaged, if you were to combine a 3rd night free with a 4th night free, the discount on the 4th night would be significantly lower.

  9. Would like to see 4th night “free” on airbnb and VRBO/Homeaway stays. I only keep this card, now that Admirals club is gone, for the 4th night free and its just borderline for me. Most of my spend on Chase Reserve (CSP).

    Citi needs to up their offering and not make it complicated like A/E on the Uber spend.

  10. Never spend 4 nights consecutively in the same place, and I doubt many do. I work M-F, so weekends are 2 night getaways at most. When I take vacation time, I try to squeeze as many destinations into one trip as possible, so i rarely spend more then 2-3 nights in any one place.

  11. I do for airbnb which Chase classifies as Trave. Citi screws you. Their card sucks, even the US Bank card is better.

  12. I use 4th Night Free all the time. Including weekends, a 16-night holiday spread over 4 different locales means 25% (or more) off aggregate hotel costs.

    Was a little bummed at the tweaking of this benefit (the change to average of the 4 nights, less taxes), but it still has great value for me. I easily get back 4x (or more) of the effective $200 annual fee.

    That said, the benefit that I was hoping for is the obvious one (but likely impossible):

    Don’t make us go thru the Citi conceirge to get this benefit, which is time consuming. Just have it applicable to any 4-night booking via any booking portal (hotel website, OTA, whatever. I know, dream on…..

  13. With the demise of the Citi HHonors co-brand cards, I now have no reward cards issued by Citi and that’s because I have never trusted them. They have always struck me as reluctant participants in the loyalty game. It’s why my reaction to the over-hyping of the Citi Prestige by self-anointed travel gurus was a big yawn. I was nearly certain that Citi would not sustain the Prestige’s benefits, and they haven’t, as they’ve been dropping them one by pone. If the rumored changes come to pass, the gutting of the Citi Prestige would be so complete one would have to be brain dead to keep paying the $450 AF for what would remain of the card…

  14. For me the biggest negative was the loss of the admirals club but I’m flying American less because of their changes so that’s not a huge issue. I like this better than the Sapphire Reserve. For me, the Prestige is only $350 per year because i have a Citibank bank account so it’s only $100 per year net which is worth it for the 4th night free. I’ve had a bunch of issues with the Sapphire flagging legitimate charges as fraud and it’s becoming annoying so I think I’ll keep the prestige and not renew the Sapphire reserve.

  15. You should be very pleased to retain the 4th night free benefit, as this same Citi Prestige card costs more than double in Australia but instead of giving multiple 4th nights free, Citibank in Australia cheaps out and only allows the 4th night free benefit to be used once a year. So as far as I can see it is absolutely worthless to Australians.

  16. My annual frees for the Prestige card are $350 as well due to previously having a citibank gold checking account. I was really bummed about losing the admiral’s club access, but don’t forget the Prestige card still includes membership to Priority Pass including 2 guests for free. For these reasons and the trip insurance, I’ll be keeping my card for the 3rd year. The possible enhancements don’t really do anything for me however.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to use the 4th night free benefit, same reason as most that i hardly stay in one place for 4 nights, and I try to use hotel points or airbnb. It’s very rare that I pay cash outright to stay at pricey hotels to really reap the benefits.

  17. @Lucky, I wish you would’ve put quotes around the “Benefits” in the post’s title. I actually got a bit excited, but even if true, they’re pretty much worthless (as you’ve pointed out).

    For now, I’m holding onto the Prestige for the travel protection benefits, but unless new and REAL benefits come, I don’t know if I’ll keep it past my next renewal. :-\

  18. The hotel night credit is certainly nice and I’ve used it a couple of times. But it’s not that simple to get. When I’m going to book a hotel, I generally go right to the brand’s website and book from there. I’m guaranteed status and points accrual. With this Citi benefit, you must CALL them and talk to one of their agents. If you are very spot on and tell them precisely the hotel you want with dates and rate, it will go quicker. Keep in mind this is after calling and waiting for a general agent (they don’t have a dedicated staff for this card and wait times can easily go past half hour – seen this from from experience), give the card number, address, security questions, then get transferred to the travel group. Potentially another wait there, then do that all over again then you can proceed with the hotel request.

    If you’re not spot on with telling them exactly what hotel you’re looking for, they will state “ok we’ll email you some quotes within 24 hours…”. Not even remotely an efficient process. Many times I’ve just forgone the benefit as I needed to book quickly and just move on with my work day versus waiting so long. I’ve had times where three days past and I still received nothing in email. That’s after being on the phone with them for an hour. Had to call in yet again to get it finalized.

    If it were a web portal where you could do this yourself this card would be significantly more valuable in my opinion. Being forced to call and go through the motions is highly discouraging to anyone needing efficiency with their bookings. Just keep that in mind when using this benefit. It’s a nice benefit but takes quite a bit of effort to use.

  19. Citi has killed two birds with one stone. Somehow I think people that only wanted it for lounge and golf perks weren’t spending a lot on the card, so they get to increase the bottom line a little by losing them. The frequent traveler can get at least a zero fee or actually make money off the card. Citi is keeping them as they are spending customers, and that’s what every bank wants. I like to travel, and the 4th night free stacked with Marriot & SPG platinum status ( also Ritz status) means I am enjoying better quality lodging at a lot less than the average person. It’s a travelers card. Travel, you’ll love it. If you don’t travel you don’t need it.

  20. In addition to losing the Admiral club benefits, what really hurts me is losing the 3 rounds of golf. I used the 3 free rounds well and played at courses which I never would have dreamed of playing and saved over $900 in green fees. I will certainly cancel this card after I get my $250 in travel credit in early January.

  21. @Chris – I think it’s been stated Citi would have loved to keep admirals club access but wasn’t willing to pay what AA wanted for exclusivity. No idea as to whether this is true or not.

    Im not sure how people who frequent admirals clubs aren’t “travelers”. Just because you don’t stay 4 nights in one location doesn’t make you a non-traveler. Isn’t being in an admirals club at an airport the definition of a traveler? Likewise spending 4 nights in a hotel doesn’t make you a big spender either.

  22. @Shawn – I never went into a question of whether or not Citi wanted to keep Admirals Club access or not. I really don’t care. What I was referring to was the amount of people that complained about the loss of golf and the lounge as their primary benefit for holding the card, and they were numerous. My post specifically states…”Somehow I think people that only wanted it for lounge and golf perks weren’t spending a lot on the card”…. I never claimed that people that used the Admirals lounge were not travelers. Again, read my quote. And I never said that people that stay less than four nights in a single location are not travelers. I said that the Citi Prestige is a travelers card. That is true. The main benefits are travel benefits. Therefore it is a travelers card. Your snarky remark about being a big spender is out of line. But just so that you know, I generally spend between $350 – $500 per night on hotels. Does that mean I have to up my hotels to $1000 per night to be a “big spender”? I personally do not care if you keep the Prestige or not. It works well for me.

  23. @Chris – I suggest you reread your post. “Citi killed two birds with one stone” implies it was Citi who decided to kill access. I was merely suggesting it might not have been and likely so given that AA now has a two CC partnership.

    “It’s a travelers card. Travel you’ll love it”. Maybe this too sounds familiar. Again was implying those who travel use admirals clubs. Don’t know of any non-travelers who can get past TSA to enjoy them. Your comment was plain dumb. Sorry for calling you out and being “snarky”. I retract. You’re obviously a big spender as you use the 4 night benefit. Sorry not everyone does and while I do, I can at least understand not all do and yes losing a golfing benefit where you can easily save $200 a round x 3 or lounge access if you fly out of ord or clt is important to some.

  24. Bottom line of freaking course it’s a travelers card. People travel to play golf. What 450 a year card isn’t a travelers card?

  25. I got the card in branch for a $350 annual fee. Easy to get the $250 travel credit. I use the 4th night free once or twice a year, as I travel a lot but not often 4 nights in a row in the same location. The bonus from the Prestige and Premier helped me get enough points to travel on Singapore suites with my wife next February from Zurich to Singapore. Bottom line: if you use it wisely, it’s a great investment. Same as any other card in your wallet. Cost vs. benefits.

  26. @ChadMC There is no need to call customer service, you can call Aspire dieectly or even easier, email them (once your profile is complete). I book them all the time via email and it only takes 2-3 minutes.

  27. Lost a fourth night free because phone line went dead while in England.
    As for Admiral’s Club—–it is not so important in domestic US travel. Walk up and
    down stairs or elevators for carrot sticks ?
    And what really irks is the $3.00 charge for bottled water ! Why wouldn’t any
    lounge just give a bottle of water so the traveler can carry it on his next flight?
    Using Admiral’s Club after crossing the Atlantic is much better. Taking a private hot shower upon arrival and eating a sumptuous tasty meal in Europe is worth having the access. US domestic travel just doesn’t compare.

  28. This card is amazing. It’s better than Amex plat as Amex’s find hotels and resorts gives u third or forth night free here and there but not all of their properties and you certainly don’t get 3x points for stays. And yes, you can get 5x points but then you loose out all Amex amenities. In addition, I’m not sure if you can get the third night or fourth night free promo on their website if you opt for 5x points. With Citi card, you can combine it with hotel’s own third night free promotion (if they have one) and stack it with fourth night free to get 50% off stay inclusive tax (which sometimes can be upwards of 20% at resorts). Unfortunately with the new change, you can’t achieve 50% off even if hotel offers third night free but it’s better than nothing.

    I’ve already reserved a hotel in Nov and a hotel for next Jan via email. Will reserve one more for Nov and hoping to nail down my dates to Europe for next May/June in the coming week so I can book my rooms before the new rules kick in. Had I gotten this card last year, I would have easily saved over 5 figures on hotel stays this year. Hope this benefit doesn’t go away anytime soon!

  29. It’s amazing to that use it for hotel benefits. Otherwise it pretty much sucks. Chase Sapphire reserve is so much better if you don’t stay in hotels.

  30. If I make a reservation before July 23, which policy applies vis a vis the fourth night at a hotel?

  31. @ Judith — The only rules apply for bookings made before then, so for many it makes sense to confirm reservations before then.

  32. Called last week to cancel this card but decided to keep it when they offered me $50 statement credit for the next 7 months if I spend $1.5k on the card each month…Will probably cancel next year unless they make major improvements because I don’t stay at hotels for 4 nights in a row often enough to see the benefits. These rumored improvements would not even be close to enough.

  33. I dumped it, even after +1x retention bonus for 6m. No Admirals club and no more big bonus on AA TY points flights. CSR remains the card for me.

  34. Has anyone else been told the Four Seasons preferred partner benefits are gone? My most recent reservation email didn’t include them and when I called the person I spoke to said Aspire no longer has an affiliation which is bad news if you use those benefits.

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