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Just about a year ago we got wind of the changes coming to the Citi Prestige credit card for new and eventually existing cardholders. It was great for them to give such advance notice of coming changes, but now that the July 23, 2017, date is almost here, I think it is a good time to review what is changing with the card, who should consider getting the card, and some things you may want to do ASAP if you are a current Citi Prestige cardholder.
Final Days for These Citi Prestige Card Perks
Points Will Be Worth Less
This is bad news no matter how many metallic bows are put on it. If you have Citi ThankYou points via the Citi Prestige Card you may want to use them in the next couple days if possible because they will be worth less beginning on July 23rd if you used them at a fixed rate for travel. Currently those who have had the card can get 1.6 cents in value when redeeming for American Airlines flights and 1.33 cents in value when booking flights on other airlines. Beginning 7/23/17, this all drops to a flat 1.25 cents per point for flights just like with the less expensive Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
This does not impact you if you use your points to transfer to partners like Singapore, Etihad, JetBlue, Virgin, Atlantic, Hilton, etc.
American Airlines Admirals Club Access Ends
The Prestige Card has been providing Admirals Club access when you are traveling on American Airlines, but that also ends effective July 23rd. While the card does continue to offer yet another route to Priority Pass Select membership, there is no true replacement being added at this time for the loss of Admirals Club access.
No More Free Golf
The Prestige Card had a pretty unique benefit of offering three free rounds of golf per year at over 2,000 public and private clubs, including some pretty amazing courses such as the TPC family of courses. My understanding is you can still book your tee times out into the future as long as you do so before July 23rd, though I don’t have the card to test that for myself. My guess is most cardholders did not use this benefit, but there was a contingent that got a ton of value each year from this perk.
Changes Coming to 4th Free Hotel Night
Another really cool feature of this card was that it offered the fourth hotel night free when you called (or emailed) and booked through their concierge team. Those nights even earned you hotel points, elite status credit, and you could even get things like AAA discounts, promotional offers from the hotel, and more. The actual price of the fourth night + taxes was then ultimately refunded to you via a statement credit. The more challenging aspect of this perk was that you you couldn’t just book the hotel yourself online, and it took up to a couple of months to get the money for the fourth night back. Still, this was an insanely valuable perk for those who sometimes stay four nights or more in the same hotel.
Thankfully the benefit isn’t disappearing, but my understanding is that it is changing. The good news is that the benefit will now be bookable online, but that isn’t all sunshine and roses because the consensus is that it is quite possible this will then look like a third party booking to the hotels, and thus not be eligible for hotel points and elite status credit. On the other hand, there won’t be a long wait for your money back as the amount is reportedly going to be credited at check-out.
Furthermore, the fourth free night won’t technically the actual price of the fourth night, but rather based on an average price of the four nights and it will not include taxes/fees. If the fourth night wasn’t actually the most expensive night of your trip then this may work to your favor, but not including the taxes and fees won’t work to anyone’s favor. As long as the ability to book the hotels over the phone/email stays the way it is currently with the rates counting for elite status and hotel points, I think this change is neutral since there are some pluses and some minuses in how it will be handled going forward.
If you like things the way they are, I would get those future bookings in ASAP as they will go by today’s rules.
These Citi Prestige Perks Will Remain
$250 Annual Airline Credit Remains
I haven’t seen any information about changes to the $250 annual airline credit, which is a good thing and what makes the $450 annual fee more palatable for travelers. This annual credit will cover flight-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more. There are no convoluted schemes or airline gift card purchases required to maximize this annual benefit.
3x, 2x, 1x Earning Structure Remains
The Prestige card will continue to earn 3x points on air travel and hotels, 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment, and 1x on other purchases.
The Prestige card has better than average built-in trip cancellation and delay type coverages, assuming you use the card or your ThankYou points from the card to purchase your airfare, cruise, or similar. As an example, the trip delay coverage kicks in after just a three hour delay when other similar cards require an six hour delay or greater before expenses such as meals, ground transportation, and lodging are covered.
A three or four hour flight delay is not fun in the slightest to live through, but at least with this card you can save the receipts from your extra meals in the airport during that time and get that money back, up to $500 per person, per covered trip.
This Citi Prestige Bonus is Getting Better
The Sign-Up Bonus is Improving
Unless you get excited about having another metal card, not much about the card is getting better in a few days, but the sign-up bonus is an exception to that rule…assuming you can hit the minimum spending requirement.
This temporarily increasing bonus helps existing cardholders exactly none, but for the rest of us it is something to note. The sign-up bonus for the Citi Prestige will be going from the current 40,000 points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months, to a huge 75,000 points after (an also huge) $7,500 in spending in the first three months. The $450 annual fee remains the same.
I’ve never heard of this card having anywhere close to 75,000 sign-up bonus points, so even though the points will be worth less for some redemptions beginning in a few days, that is still a big sign-up bonus. The 75,000 ThankYou points will be worth over $900 towards flights, or of course you can transfer the points to the ThankYou transfer partners where you may do ever better than that in some cases.
In terms of who will be eligible for this bonus, the current terms indicate that the sign-up bonus is not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months. This is the standard Citi language these days, and it essentially means that you can’t have opened or closed any card in the ThankYou family in the last two years. My husband got the Citi ThankYou Premier Card in July 2015 and he still has it open. This means that by August of 2017 he should be eligible for the Prestige card’s sign-up bonus, assuming he keeps the Premier open at least that long.
My Take on the Prestige Card Changes
Overall the Prestige Card will not be as good beginning July 23, 2017, as it was before. However, that isn’t new information as these changes were announced about a year ago. I think for new cardholders it remains a card to get with the increased bonus. The 75,000 bonus points + $250 in annual airline credits way more than offsets the $450 annual fee in the first year.
However, the math for existing cardholders gets much trickier after the first year, especially if you don’t make use of the 4th hotel night free perk. The $250 annual airfare credit is nice, but it isn’t nice enough in my view to make me want to pay a $450 annual fee into perpetuity unless I am making up that other $200+ from the 4th night free benefit.
All that being said, the Prestige card is on our short list of cards to get for Josh after we work through some current minimum spending requirements on other cards. His job currently has him spending four nights in a hotel a couple of weeks a month, so we really should have this card in our wallets…especially if it comes with 75,000 sign-up bonus points!
How will the Citi Prestige changes impact your family?