Citi Prestige Adds New Benefits & Better Bonus, But This is Still a HUGE Devaluation!

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Citi Prestige Summer 2017 Changes

Last year Citi made a calculated move to gut the Citi Prestige, their premium travel rewards credit card. Little did they know that their big bad rival Chase had a different plan. Chase was working to bring to market a card that would change everything in the premium space, the Sapphire Reserve.

As a reminder, here are the major changes happening to the Citi Prestige as of July 23, 2017:

  • No more Admiral’s Club Access.
  • No more 1.6 cents per point redemptions for flights on American Airlines.
  • All airline redemptions will be at a value of 1.25 cents per point.
  • 4th night free will be calculated based on the average nightly rate instead of the last night rate and taxes will no longer be included.
  • 3 free rounds of golf are being removed.

Citi’s Announced “Enhancements”

So Citi had a year to figure out how to enhance a card that they absolutely gutted. In the age of the Sapphire Reserve and “enhanced” Amex Platinum, they needed to do something to replace everything that is being lost. Yesterday the “enhancements” were confirmed.

All of the above things are being removed, but the following are being added:

  • The card will now be metal
  • You can now easily cash in ThankYou points at $.01 each
  • You will be able to book the 4th night free benefit online
  • An increased 75K sign-up bonus.

Let’s take a look at these one by one.

Metal Card – This card is supposedly lighter than the Amex Platinum but still metal nonetheless. Is it me or is the metal card novelty starting to wear off?

ThankYou Points Cash Redemptions – This value was still possible by paying a mortgage, etc but I suppose its nice to be able to easily cash in points. Chase also allows you to cash in points at this value while Amex does not.

4th Night Free Online Bookings – Up until now you have had to make 4th Night Free bookings over the phone via the Citi Concierge. The online booking engine will be more convenient but will show to the hotel as a 3rd party booking which won’t be eligible to earn points, elite benefits or stay credit. Thankfully the phone option will stick around and should still get you those things.

Sign-Up Bonus – As part of this “re-launch” Citi has increased the sign-up bonus on the Prestige to 75,000 points after $7,500 spend during the first three months.

This Is A Devaluation

Let’s be very clear about this. This is a devaluation. Citi was hoping since they announced the negative changes a year ago that perhaps they would be able to sell the new changes as enhancements. Unfortunately we are not stupid and must look at these changes in their entirety. It is clear that a metal card and an easier way to cash in points doesn’t offset the loss of the golf benefit and more importantly AA lounge access.



Should You Sign-Up?

If you have never had this card before, it could make sense to sign-up to grab the 75K bonus. Remember for the $450 annual fee you also get:

  • Annual $250 airfare credit (each calendar year)
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry
  • Priority Pass Lounge access with 2 free guests
  • 3X points on air and hotels and 2X on dining and entertainment

For many the airfare credit can offset the annual fee since you can get it twice in the first cardmember year. Keep in mind that getting this card will prevent you from getting a bonus on another ThankYou card for 24 months. Right now the ThankYou Premier is offering a 50K bonus which might be a better fit for some.

Conclusion

Nice try Citi. You gutted your premium card only to find out that premium cards were going to become the next hot thing. I do appreciate the few small things you added to the card, but in reality they don’t even come close to replacing what we have lost. Unless I get a huge retention bonus, the Prestige will be finding its way out of my wallet and into the shredder come renewal time.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your honest review of the changes. There is no doubt that this is a serious gutting from my perspective. I almost got physically ill when reading another blogger trying to put a positive spin on this. Yes, this card can still make sense because of the benefits. I actually might pay the annual fee (citigold $350), but let’s not kids ourselves. It is way worse than it was. The golf benefit was a gold mine for me (6 cards in my family). I will miss it even more than the lounge access.

    Thank you for all that you do, Shawn – I really appreciate you and your blog.

  2. The only reason to ditch this card is if you never pay out of pocket for a 4-night stay in a hotel, which I realize may apply to a lot of points fiends. Otherwise, you are likely to come out ahead every year, plain and simple.

  3. I actually prefer the pay-in-full-then-get-reimbursed method from before, especially for business travel where I essentially get reimbursed twice 😉
    Will the phone method offer this? Or is it just a 25% discounted price at checkout like the online booking platform?

  4. exactly. nothing new here. deval up the ass.

    now i worry what will happen with all the new players coming onboard for the juicy 75k. surprised it wasnt 100k honestly. but this game is over subscribed. its too densely populated now. 90k+ reddit. omg. sigh…

  5. Where is the 75k signup bonus link? I can only find 40k bonus. I want to confrim the bonus then ask Citi to match my 40k bonus to the 75k.

  6. At least you’ve got a plastic card that can be shredded easily. Things could be worse. They could have offered an indestructible metal card right from the start and you’d never be able to get rid of it.

  7. This card is terrible now. I am going to dump it this year. Definitely no good anymore. If they kept Admirals access I might have kept it.

    • I agree that was a key benfit to sign up 5 months ago. Now I get duplicate benfits but much less then my AMEX platinum. I’m waiting until Jan so I can use a 2nd $250 airline credit and dropping it right after.

  8. Has anyone tried to use the thankyou.com website to book the 4th night free and been successful?

    Although as Shawn said if you book through the 3rd party website you will not receive points, regardless I wanted to test how it functioned if it actually worked, at least give me an idea before I waste time calling the Concierge. I tried to book 4 nights at a SPG hotel in the SFO area. The final price was $1660, I then used my SPG app to book the same hotel, same room, same dates and the price was $1700.

    I wrote to customer service asking if the website has a problem as I am not receiving my 4th night free benefit. I was pulling up nearly the same price when I booked it direct through SPG. Customer service response is “The complimentary 4th night benefit is only applicable for reservations booked through Prestige Concierge and Citi Prestige?s Travel Advisor (CWT).”

    I replied back saying well Citi sent a mass email on 17 July announcing the website booking is now available and one of the new benefits, easy access to book 4th night free online, I copied and pasted and quoted them the announcement from the Email they sent, So they can learn internally yes you actually do have a website to do this, I guess Citi does not pass info to there Customer Service.
    They then forward my Email on to the next department to figure out who replied back with “Unfortunately, we are unable to handle your request through the Secured Message Center.” and they gave me the customer service #.
    Everyone know how that works when you call in for this sort of issue. I would waste a ton of time with prompts to get to a Lv 1 rep trying to explain the situation who has no clue, (if they did they would of responded to the E-mail) after going round and round they will end up advises me to call the Concierge. Thank you but no thank you!

    All I would like to know has anyone has ANY success to actually get a 4th night free with Citi new thankyou.com website?

  9. […] Covers just about anything charged with an airline, I have found this one to be the simplest to use (I sadly don’t have CSR.) It’s easy because you can use it to purchase airfare tickets with any airline- no need to designate one at the beginning of the year. To me, flexibility = money, so this credit is worth A LOT more than ones that require you to designate airlines ahead of time (ahem, Amex!) Only a few include airline tickets, so this one is definitely one of the better. More here. […]

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