The Most Counterintuitive Thing About The Citi Prestige Card

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Update: The offer for the Citi Prestige® Card is expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

Last Monday I decided to apply for the Citi Prestige® Card thanks to the increased sign-up bonus being offered on the card. Presently the card is offering 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months. Combined with the increased sign-up bonus on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, I’ll soon have well over 100,000 ThankYou Rewards points.

I’ve been putting quite a bit of spend on the Citi Prestige® Card to help reach minimum spend (though my orange juice incident sure helped), and there’s one experience I’ve consistently had which caught me off guard at first.

The card as such is pretty sexy. While it’s made of plastic, the card looks very fancy. Like many new cards, the numbers are on the back, while the front side just has a nice, understated design.


Notice anything interesting about the back, though? Yep, there’s no “stripe.”


Instead, the “stripe” is actually on the bottom of the front of the card.


So it’s exactly the opposite of where most would expect it — typically it’s on the top of the back of the card.

I’m not sure if this is intentional to try and make cashiers spend more time looking at how pretty the card is, or what, but it has certainly added a second or two to every one of my Citi Prestige Card transactions. Also keep in mind that the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has also recently been refreshed and has a similar look now, so it also has the stripe on the front bottom of the card.

It looks like chancepress in the “Ask Lucky” forums has had the same experience.

Has anyone else had similar experiences?

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  1. Every single time I’ve used this card this happens. I start to explain, then they usually snap at me that they know. Then they swipe…and swipe…turn…swipe. Then I point out to turn the card around. I have to thinking about it myself when I use a machine that has a graphic of how to insert the card. It’s annoying…really annoying.

  2. Stay tuned for part 4,738 in this series, Citi cards can also be used in place of toilet paper!

  3. It took me a week to figure that out. How to swipe the card correctly. I just gave the merchant a different card. A different note was this pass weekend I went to Hong Kong and a stop over in Inchon South Korea. Went to a lounge that I thought accepted the card but was told it had to be a Citi Prestige card issued from Hong Kong. I would away with my tail between my legs.

  4. This is the worst feature of the card. Sapphire was a nice conversation starter, but this just wastes my time.

  5. Geez, enough credit card pimping for a minute…this is the kind of crap I expect from a certain other blogger, not you..

  6. Yeah, very first usage the cashier swiped the wrong side. Usually I don’t mind as I’m going through cards so frequently but I have this down as a lifer card. For now I have the Premier too so I suppose I can use that for payments in-store until I cancel in 18 months time (locked in for the 2nd year bonus!).

    @Sam Yes, a lot of Citi Prestige posts out there right now. It is however big money, so makes sense 😉

  7. I tell people the swipe is here and wait until they look before handing over the card. It’s helped to avoid the double and triple swipes most of the time.

  8. Yes, this is pretty annoying. I have never not had to explain to the cashier how to swipe the card. I was hoping enough people would complain that they would change the design. Now, though, with the introduction of the Premier with a similar design, it seems clear that Citi are committed to it. I just hope that with the Premiers added to the mix these cards will become common enough that most cashiers will get used to seeing them.

  9. Not only is the stripe on the wrong side, it looks almost like it was designed to stay in the dark color of the card. Even after we get used to the stripe placement, it will always be an issue at restaurants where most waitstaff won’t be familiar with it. I got my card last week, and have used it three times at restaurants. All three times the waiter brings the card back and says it “doesn’t work”. One time I even had to go back in the kitchen and show the poor guy how to swipe it.

    I called Customer Service, and the guy said they’ve been flooded with calls from people upset about the design. He said they are in the process of redesigning the stripe, but in the meantime he would expedite the old plastic version of the card for me. The weird thing is that Citi usually overnights these, but I haven’t received anything yet.

  10. Hi Lucky;

    The bonus is nice! I’m sort of played out on Amex bonuses, and this will give me the extra I need for SQ suites!!! (which you have had the best coverage on!).

    If I wanted to do the trifecta – (Preferred, Premium, Prestige), would you recommend doing it any particular order? That would get me 120k points I believe.

  11. There is a targeted 100,000 ThankYou point offer for citi prestige that was mailed this week (3,000 purchases in three months)

  12. @ beachfan — Since the Prestige and Premier have the biggest bonuses, I’d probably do the Prestige, wait eight days, then do the Premier, then wait 65 days from the date of first application, and then the Preferred (simply because it doesn’t have a huge sign-up bonus at the moment, so I’d get the two with the bigger bonuses as soon as possible).

  13. @josh: That would be… over 33 purchases per day, every day, for three months? I guess not that many people will be getting invites.

  14. So if the printing is on the back, and the stripe is on the front… then by what right is the “front” called the “front” and the “back” the “back”?

    You’re just holding it the wrong way around!

  15. Wait until you use it in the chip and pin machines abroad. You have to insert it upside down. Took me a few tries to figure that out!

  16. Using the card in Thailand has been a disaster. several times murchants have looked at it and handed it back to me thinking it was a fake card, on two occasions the machine could not read the card at all, and of course merchants have had to swipe the card numerous of times. Most Thai’s just laughed, but some got agraviated and would swipe it so fast that it seemed the machine could not read it.
    I’ve been meaning to call and compain myself. And I would suggest that anyone travaling with this card also bring a back up.

  17. to be honest, when reading this post, I wondered why this is an issue at all. Isn’t it that in 99% of all cases the stripe isn’t used anyways and the almost-always used EMV-chip is clearly visible? But then I realised that we are talking about the US, one of the World’s economic superpowers, where in many cases it seems too far-fetched to expect the use of 21st century technology… This is almost as ridiculous as the US’ persistance to remain the only major economy worldwide not to issue bank notes whose values are actually distinguishable by size and colour…

  18. I can see why they’ve done this. They want the front to look clean like the Sapphire, but the Sapphire doesn’t have EMV. The EMV chip would make the front look messy, so they put it on the back. But the stripe must be in the same position relative to the EMV chip (i.e. on the other side) because integrated EMV/swipe readers must be able to read both – for ‘chip and PIN’ operation this is essential for ATMs which need to operate on both during the transitional period – otherwise people cannot change their EMV PINs. So essentially they’ve just flipped the card around completely. I can’t see how they could get round the issue easily, to be honest. Clean card + EMV won’t work together.

  19. Yes, this is one of the worst things about the card and I sure hope that Citibank will change it soon.
    I’ve had the card for 6 months and recommend to tell the merchants to use the chip and insert the card with the chip up. It’s a lot easier than swiping and even in the US a lot of terminals already have the chip reader!

  20. I hate my CSP just because it brings unwanted attention. I wish all of these companies would offer a traditional plastic card as an option to the fancy metal or backwards design cards.

  21. I thought this card might replace my Sapphire for travel and dining, but the design is just so annoying that I will probably go back to the Sapphire after I meet my minimum spend. I have only hard the card for a week, yet have issues with nearly every single transaction. I don’t know about you, but I don’t especially enjoy having to give a lesson in how to run the card every time I need to use it. Further, I know they went for a sleek look, but with mine after a week of use the plastic is already starting to come up at the edges (probably from every corner of the card getting swiped multiple times each time I use it) and there is nothing sleek looking about it now.

  22. I think that you are looking at the card wrong.

    The chip and the number are on the front and the mag stripe is on the back. The unusual thing is that the signature is on the front, rather than the back.

  23. LOL! So it’s not just me! I posted a similar comment to the unboxing post I did on my blog…I know…unboxing a credit card…who woulda thunk! I have used it four times now where I had to hand it to a cashier. Three times they are confused and I had to tell them the stripe is on the front. One guy commented that it was the craziest thing he’s seen and I would imagine he sees A LOT of credit cards. It’s a gorgeous card but it will get old telling cashiers “Nope…turn it over.” 🙂

  24. @ Lisa: You’re absolutely right and I briefly thought about ranting about the miserable shape of roads, bridges, landlines etc. in the U.S…. But that’s not the point. I see that it would require a huge effort to adopt the metric system and I can (at least somehow) get the idea behind not changing Dollar bills as a symbol of the stability of the world’s most important currency. But hey, the Germans bought into the Euro as well and I don’t think it caused too much harm (and we’re talking about the implementation of a completely new currency, not just a change of colours or sizes). But what I don’t get is that two American finance companies (guess what M and V stand for in EMV) combine with a European company to develop a better standard than the outdated stripe-“technology” and then don’t implement it in their own home country.

  25. I have stopped using this card for two reasons 1) I hate the physical design of the card. As you have mentioned the front swipe is beyond irritating and I got tired of the confused looks when handing it to people. I’ve had this card for nearly a year and ask them about once every 2 months if there is a plan to redesign the card. As of 8/20/15 customer service has told me there are no plans to do so. I have to imagine they have gotten quite a few complaints about this. 2) the airline fee reimbursement only works when booking a flight directly with an airline. I booked a flight through the thank you website and they refused to issue my $250 credit. Seems counterintuitive…wouldn’t they want us to use their booking website? Get it together guys. I expect less hassle with a premium credit card…not more.

  26. Received my Citi Prestige today in the mail. The stripe is no longer on the front. All is well with the world.

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