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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.
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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