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When Citi announced that the ThankYou points earned with the ThankYou Premier card would be devalued to be worth 1.25 cents each toward airfare instead of 1.33 cents apiece, a lot of readers had questions about upgrading to the Citi Prestige card. That’s because, in addition to other perks like $200 in airline credits, 2x points at restaurants and a Global Entry application fee statement credit worth $100, the card still allowed you to redeem ThankYou points at 1.33 cents each towards flights. Was that worth the $450 fee? Well, considering you got $200 in airline credits, the Global Entry waiver, and other perks like an annual companion ticket and the 4th night free at certain hotel partners – if you maximized this card, you could make back the value of the annual fee in the first year at least.
What’s interesting now, though, is that Citi sent Prestige cardholders a notification that when they redeem ThankYou points for American Airlines or US Airways flights, they will get 1.6 cents per point in value, and still the same 1.33 cents per point for other airfare. To me this looks like another confirmation of Citi’s relationship with American going forward as its credit card issuer, though that’s already been pretty clear for months now. Perhaps this was one of the concessions Citi made on its part to American when it was guaranteed its position as the newly merged airline’s sole new credit card issuer after 2015.
In any case, it makes the Prestige a bit more interesting for American and US Airways flyers since 1.6 cents per point is a decent return on spending – and you hit 3.2 cents per dollar on dining thanks to the 2x category spending bonus.
As a reminder, here are the other benefits of the Citi Prestige:
- Earn 30,000 bonus ThankYou® Points – enough for $300 in gift cards – after you spend $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening
- Get up to $200 in statement credits for airline fees, an annual worldwide companion ticket booked through our travel benefits providers and complimentary 4th night stay at luxury hotels
- With Citi Prestige, you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar you spend at dining establishments, points for the miles you fly and relationship bonus points based on a percentage of your yearly spend
- No Foreign Purchase Fees
- Citi Prestige Global Concierge-From travel and entertainment, to reservations for dinner and everyday tasks, our global Citi Prestige Concierge team is here to provide assistance from anywhere in the world
- Chip Based Technology – Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance knowing that your Citi Prestige Card can be used at international merchants
- Annual Fee: $450.00
Lounge Access: Arrive at every destination relaxed and refreshed with access to more than 430 airport lounges around the world with Airport Angel – annual membership is a 60GBP value ($95). When it comes to lounges, this is a lot more limited than the Amex Platinum Card. For instance in the U.S., the only airports where you may access lounges are New York- JFK (The Oasis Lounge, KAL Business Class Lounge), Honolulu (IASS Hawaii Lounge), Los Angeles (SkyTeam KAL Business Class Lounge), Miami (Club America), Nashville (Graycliff Divans), Orlando-Sanford Airport (The Royal Palm Lounge). For comparison, the Amex Platinum gives access to all Delta, American and US Airways lounges as well as a Priority Pass Select membership.
Global Entry: Receive a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Once approved for Global Entry by the U.S. Government, you can bypass long lines and enjoy expedited entry into the U.S.
Companion Ticket: Receive a complimentary economy-class companion ticket to any worldwide destination booked through our travel benefits provider every year you are a Citi Prestige cardmember. The companion ticket must be booked by Citi’s travel benefits provider Spirit incentives. Tickets can be booked online at any time or by calling Spirit Incentives. The cardholder must be one of the travelers in the itinerary and there is a minimum 4-day advanced purchase is required. The companion travel is equal to the full value of the lowest available economy fare offered by Spirit Incentives with the purchase of an equal full fare ticket. Cardholder is responsible for all fees, taxes and charges incurred in connection with Companion Travel.
15% Discount on Airfare: Cardmember’s are entitled to receive a 15% discount on the base fare of each ticket purchased for a round trip, one way or multiple destination itinerary. The cardmember may purchase up to four tickets in any single transaction and the benefit can be utilized an unlimited number of times throughout the membership year. One of the travelers must be a Citi Prestige cardmember who is confirmed on the same reservation. A multiple destination itinerary provides for two flights (departure and return) similar to a round trip itinerary; however, the return flight can be from a city other than the arrival city on the departure. The Citi Prestige Card must be active and not expired in order to use this benefit. This travel benefit expires when the account is closed. You must book this through Spirit Incentives.
Airline Statement Credit: Receive up to $200 statement credit for airline fees each year when you fly on any major airline, applicable toward many flight-related expenses, including in-flight food and beverage service, baggage fees, upgrades and more. The terms state that the credit will apply toward purchases of $100 or less, so basically any charge less than $100, including tickets, should be reimbursed.
Free Nights: Enjoy a complimentary night at your choice of over 800 luxury hotels and resorts twice per calendar year with a minimum 3 consecutive night stay at any World Elite Luxury Hotel and Resort. Properties include W, Swissotel, Hyatt, Taj and Shangri-La hotels, and more.
Transfer Partners: Citi ThankYou Points may now be redeemed for Hilton HHonors points. 1,000 Citi ThankYou Points will transfer to 1,500 Hilton HHonors Points – the same ratio that they transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, so there’s no real advantage for earning here. However, Hilton is currently the only transfer partner of Citi, which makes this much more compelling versus Amex, which offers over 20 other airline and hotel options.
While I think it’s interesting that Citi is upping the spending power of this card’s points on partners American and now US Airways, I still think you’re probably better off with one of the other options out there. The card’s benefits mimic those of the Platinum Card from American Express, but that card’s current sign-up bonus is 60,000 points and you can transfer points to any of 16 different airlines as well as hotel partners including Hilton.
If you want to stick to Citi and you’re primarily interested in traveling on American, then you can currently earn 100,000 miles when applying for the Citi Executive AAdvantage Mastercard and spending $10,000 in 3 months, and it gives you Admirals Club (and US Airways Club now) access as well.
The Prestige’s normal 1.33 cents redemption rate is better than the ThankYou Premier card, but the Premier earns you 3x points per $1 at restaurants and 2x on travel, so you could be earning a lot more points on it and more than enough to make up the difference between the Premier’s 1.25-cent redemption rate and the Prestige’s 1.33 (and even 1.6) cent one.
So if you already have the Prestige and maximize its benefits and think keeping the card is worthwhile to you, this is a nice little perk and will stretch the value of your points even further on American and/or US Airways, but if you’re considering it as a card specifically to earn ThankYou points or for the other rich benefits, I’d apply for the Citi Premier or Amex Platinum card instead.