Everything above the break is an update to a post from October 23, when we first found out most of these details.
Citi has now published details about the changes coming to the Citi Prestige Card on their website, and this contains the new terms and conditions, pretty graphics, and some other useful information. So if you had any questions about the new card, now you know for sure.
There are some further updated regarding the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit — one update is good, while one is very bad, so see this post for more details.
Here are some screenshots from Citi’s website:
The Citi Prestige Card is one of my all around favorite credit cards. Citi stopped accepting applications for the card in August, and promised that they were planning on refreshing the card with new benefits. Well, yesterday I posted about some rumored changes that would be coming to this card, and they’ve now (mostly) been confirmed.
Note that the card still isn’t open to new applicants, but is expected to once again be available to the public at some point in January 2019.
Citi Prestige: what’s improving
- Starting in January 2019, the card will earn 5x points on dining and air travel, and 3x points on cruise lines
- Starting in January 2019, the $250 airline credit will be expanded to a general $250 travel credit, meaning that any travel purchase will be eligible for reimbursement, up to that amount
- Starting in May 2019, the card will introduce a cell phone protection plan (full details haven’t yet been revealed)
Citi Prestige: what’s staying the same
- The card will continue to offer a Priority Pass membership, with the ability to guest two people into lounges
- The card will continue to offer a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit once every five years
- The card will maintain the current protection benefits, including for travel (unfortunately this is changing)
Citi Prestige: what’s getting worse
- Starting in September 2019, the card’s annual fee is being raised from $450 to $495
- Starting in September 2019, the fourth-night free benefit will be limited to twice per calendar year
- Starting in September 2019, the card will no longer offer 2x points on entertainment
- Starting in September 2019, you won’t earn a 25% bonus when redeeming for air travel anymore; this means if you want to redeem your Citi points towards the cost of an airline ticket you’ll only be able to do so at the rate of one cent per point, though you’ll continue to be able to transfer points to airline transfer partners
Why I think Citi’s Prestige Card changes are smart
For me these changes will probably be a net negative. The fourth-night free hotel benefit is the single most lucrative benefit offered by any credit card, in my opinion, and I get thousands of dollars of value out of that every year.
But I don’t actually put spend on the card otherwise, because there are better cards out there for that. So while I think these changes are a net negative for me, I don’t blame Citi for making these changes. The average cardmember probably uses this benefit on average at most once per year, so I can’t blame them for changing a benefit on which they were losing a significant amount of money from a small percentage of cardmembers.
The reason I think this is well played on Citi’s part is because they’ve finally created a card that has rich benefits while also making the card worth putting spend on.
To simplify it as much as possible, the card has a $495 annual fee but offers a $250 travel credit, which I more or less value at face value. So that means the card will really cost me $245 per year, or so.
I’ll continue to use the fourth-night free benefit at top hotels. Sometimes I splurge and stay at very expensive hotels, and I’ll continue using the benefit for those hotels, which will pay for my annual fee and then some.
Then I’ll receive 5x points on airfare and dining, which will make this my go-to card in both of those categories. While The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee (Rates & Fees)) also offers 5x points on airfare, it doesn’t offer the same great travel coverage that Citi does
What don’t I value?
- The 3x points on cruises, since I don’t cruise, and since I can earn 3x points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for those purchases as well
- A Priority Pass membership, since I already get that through The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The one thing I find interesting is that they’re devaluing the ability to redeem points as cash towards the cost of an airline ticket. While points earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of all kinds of travel purchases, points on the Citi Prestige will only be redeemable for one cent each towards the cost of airfare or other purchases.
So even with the 5x points you’re only earning the equivalent of a 5% return, while the 3x points on the Sapphire Reserve would be a 4.5% return, by comparison.
Personally this doesn’t bother me much, since I’m happy transferring my points to Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca Lifemiles, Etihad Guest, Singapore KrisFlyer, etc. I value ThankYou points at ~1.7 cents each thanks to the ability to transfer to partners, so that’s the equivalent of an ~8.5% return to me.
What does this mean for the Amex Gold Card?
- 4x points at restaurants globally
- 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spend per year)
- 3x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines
On top of that, the card offers a $100 annual airline fee credit, and an annual dining credit of up to $120.
A lot of us were excited about this card because it was a new best card for dining, and one of the better cards for U.S. supermarket purchases.
But obviously all of these cards have substantial annual fees, so did Citi just basically kill the Amex Gold just a couple of weeks after it was introduced? The truth is, I’m not sure…
There’s still merit to the card, especially for those who spend a lot at supermarkets, and those who value Membership Rewards points more than other points currencies.
But in my own situation I know I’m trying to decide where the new Amex Gold Card fits in with regards to my overall strategy, now that the Citi Prestige Card has trumped it when it comes to dining.
The way I view it, long term this will essentially be a $245 per year card ($495 annual fee minus $250 annual travel credit) that gets me two fourth night free bookings, which I expect I’ll get $1,000+ of value out of. On top of that, this will be my go-to card for dining and airfare spend.
5x points on dining is a best-ever bonus category for that, while the airfare spend bonus matches what’s offered by the Amex Platinum, plus you get travel protection.
What do you make of the new Citi Prestige Card? If you’re an existing cardmember, will you keep the card, and are you happy or sad about the changes? If you don’t have the card, do you plan on applying for it when it opens to new cardmembers next year?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).