Citi Prestige Keep or Cancel & Retention Offers
Last summer Citi gutted their flagship Citi Prestige card. Among the changes were:
- Loss of Admiral’s Club Access in 2017.
- Loss of 1.6 cents per point value for AA flights in 2017.
- Loss of 1.33 cents per point value for other flights in 2017.
- Loss of free golf benefit in 2017.
- Change to 4th night free benefit for 2017.
You can find out more about the changes here.
Keep or Dump?
My annual fee on the card was due today, so after putting it off I decided to call Citi. Here is some key information for you to know.
Annual Fee: $350 (Normally $450 for most people, but I was charged a lower rate as a Citigold client)
My goal was to decide whether I was justified in paying $350 to keep a card that will have Admirals Club access, golf and higher redemption values for only half of the year I am paying for. To start, the card comes with a $250 airfare credit per calendar year. That means in 2017 I will be able to cash that in. That roughly brings my out of pocket cost to $100. For that I will get:
- 6 months of Admirals Club access
Yup, that is it. I don’t value the Priority Pass membership since I already have a better membership with my Sapphire Reserve and while I plan to use the free golf, I have yet to do so and thus don’t want to count it into my calculations. I also rarely pay for four consecutive nights anywhere, so the 4th night free benefit isn’t worth counting on. Finally, my wife also has the Prestige card and we redeem most of our points from her account so the higher redemption values aren’t a gamechanger.
The Retention Call
To help make my decision, I decided to call to see if there were any offers available for the card. I called the number on the back of my Citi Prestige card and said “Representative” when prompted by the automated system. (Do not say cancel!) Then, when I reached the first representative I explained that my annual fee was due and I wanted to cancel. Hearing those magic words, he transferred me to a retention agent.
If you have never spoken to Citi retention as a Prestige cardholder, then you will be surprised at just how pleasant and efficient they are. The agent on the other end was polite and went right down to business. My goal for the call was to get an offer that I feel offsets the $100 I am paying out of pocket for the annual fee. He was able to give me three options.
- Option 1: $200 statement credit after spending $4K per month for 3 months.
- Option 2: 10K bonus ThankYou points after spending $3K total in 3 months.
- Option 3: Additional 4X ThankYou points per dollar on hotels and airfare for 6 months. Up to 35K bonus points.
Picking the Best Offer
Can you guess which one I picked? Well let’s start with the offer that I eliminated. Option 3 is a good deal considering the card already earns 3X points for air and hotel purchases, but I don’t plan to have that much spend in those categories and thus would be gambling a bit. Plus, I like simple offers and this one stretches on awhile. It is a good deal, but wasn’t for me.
Both options 1 and 2 are attractive, but I ultimately decided to go with option 2. I value ThankYou points at about 1.5 cents each and thus the 10K bonus points will more than offset my $100 or so cost after the airfare credit. While the $200 credit looks nice, it requires 4X the spend (which has an opportunity cost) and also requires a lot more tracking since I have to spend in each of 3 months. I value simplicity and thus Option 2 won out.
While I was disappointed that Citi decided to gut their premium travel card, I’ll keep it for another year considering the annual fee is essentially offset for me. I will get use out of Admirals Club access until it goes away and can redeem points at a higher value from my account so that will be nice as well. Mostly though I am hoping that Citi wakes up and realizes that their card is simply noncompetitive at a time when Chase is killing it with Sapphire Reserve and Amex is getting ready to beef up their Platinum card.
Have you recently received Citi Prestige retention offers? Feel free to share them in the comments!