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Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele explores one of the most intriguing benefits on the new and improved Citi Prestige to see how much value it offers cardholders.
For many years The Platinum Card from American Express has set the standard among premium travel rewards cards, and one of its key features over the last few years has been its $200 annual airline fee credit. The Citi Prestige Card is now appearing to target this same market, and is doing so with an even more enticing $250 annual Air Travel Credit. In addition, new cardholders are currently being offered a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending just $3,000 on within the first three months after account opening.
To make a case for Prestige as one of the top travel rewards cards, this week I’ll be examining some of its more valuable benefits in detail. Earlier this week I looked at the 4th night free hotel benefit. In this post I’ll look at the $250 Air Travel Credit in greater detail to see how you can make this premium benefit work for you.
How the Air Travel Credit Works
This benefit offers surprisingly few restrictions, and appears to cover virtually any charge that’s processed by an airline. According to Citi’s terms, “Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases.” Citi’s terms also specify that it may take 1-2 billing cycles for statement credits to be posted to your account after you charge a qualifying air travel expense.
In my opinion, this is fairly standard jargon meant to protect Citi from situations where a charge takes time to process, during which the statement cycle closes and cardholders have to wait for the next statement cycle. For example, most cards have similar terms for their sign-up bonuses, which are invariably received when the statement cycle closes, so long as the charges necessary to meet the minimum spending requirement have been processed and appear on that statement.
In addition, cardholders are eligible to receive the Air Travel Credit whether a charge is made by the primary cardholder or additional authorized cardholders, which can each be added for a $50 annual fee per user/card.
How Can You Use the Air Travel Credit?
Unlike the $200 airline fee credit offered by Amex Platinum, Citi’s benefit applies to first class upgrades, ticket sales, and the payment of taxes and fees on award bookings. However, the terms of this offer exclude in-flight purchases that are processed by a company that is not an airline, such as Gogo and other third-party in-flight Internet and entertainment providers. In addition, many purchases of points and miles from airlines are processed by Points.com, which won’t be coded as an airline transaction and is thus ineligible for the statement credit.
Maximizing the Citi Prestige annual Air Travel Credit
Like several other credit card annual benefits, this one is offered per calendar year, which means that as a new applicant, you’ll receive the entire benefit during both the 2015 and 2016 calendar years, for a total of $500 in statement credits for airline charges during your first year of cardmembership.
In addition, Citi bases the “calendar year” on the closing date of your statement. If your statement closes on December 5th and you have an airline charge that processes on the 4th, then that charge will appear on your December statement, and will count against your $250 benefit for the current calendar year. However, if the charge processes on the 6th, then it will appear on your January statement and count against your allowance for the next calendar year. Even if you have no plans to make $250 worth of purchases from airlines this year, you could still use the $250 credit to pay for someone else’s travel, or simply to purchase gift cards directly from an airline for later use.
The terms state that “to be eligible for this benefit, the enrolled Card Account must be open and current at the time of statement credit fulfillment.” So if you do end up having to cancel your card for any reason, and you have a statement credit pending, be sure that you allow the statement to close so that the credit is applied to your account before you close it.
Citi Prestige does have a sizable $450 annual fee, which makes it among the most expensive travel rewards cards available to the general public. Nevertheless, it’s clear that this $250 annual Air Travel Credit is worth $500 during your first year of cardmembership. When you take that into consideration, along with other valuable benefits that come in the form of statement credits (such as the 4th night free hotel benefit and the $100 Global Entry application fee credit), most cardholders will come out well ahead of the annual fee. At that point, Citi is essentially paying you to hold this card, and to utilize its airport lounge memberships and all of its other benefits!
Check out these posts for more info on the card:
- Citi Prestige Updates Benefits
- Amex Platinum vs. Visa Black Card vs. Citi Prestige: Who Wins?
- Citi ThankYou Rewards: Earning, Redeeming, & More
Have you used the Citi Prestige Air Travel Credit? WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply. TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200 CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually *Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
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