Maximizing Citi Prestige Benefits — TPG Reader Success Story

Aug 12, 2015

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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.

I want to share these success stories with all of you more often, to help inspire you the way you inspire me! So every other week or so I select a story that catches my eye and post it here for everyone to enjoy. Two weeks ago I posted a story from TPG reader Vanty, who received great value out of her rewards while booking a honeymoon trip to Southeast Asia.

Today I want to share a story from TPG Reader Kenan, who recently scored big with the benefits on a popular premium travel rewards card. Here’s what she had to say:

Kenan and her husband were able to afford a last-minute trip to Miami this Fourth of July thanks to several key Citi Prestige benefits.
Kenan and her husband were able to afford a last-minute trip to Miami this Fourth of July thanks to several key Citi Prestige benefits.

My husband and I both applied for the Citi Prestige Card earlier this year. We liked that the $250 air travel credit automatically knocks out over half of the annual fee, especially since it can be used on ticket purchases (rather than just airline incidentals). We’re also both golfers, so the three free rounds of golf more than outweigh the remaining $200 of the annual fee for each of us.

Getting these cards was a no-brainer for us, and in just a few months we’ve reaped incredible value from the benefits. Our greatest success with the Prestige Card was on a trip we booked in late June. We decided to see if we could pull off a last-minute vacation to Miami over Fourth of July weekend. It was a long shot, since that’s a notoriously expensive time to travel, but we searched anyway.

Our redemption options with Delta SkyMiles were horrible, but flights from Atlanta to Miami were reasonably priced (under $250 round-trip), so we decided to buy them outright. My air travel credit paid for one ticket, and while we had already used the credit on my husband’s card, we at least earned 3 points per dollar on the purchase. Also, our early morning flight out of Atlanta will be made much easier by the TSA Precheck benefits we get from our recently acquired Global Entry status, which was free thanks to the Prestige card.

Our hotel setup is the real win. The Four Seasons Miami is running a promotion this summer for a third night free in their suites. Since it’s a publicly-posted rate that doesn’t require a special code or loyalty membership, I decided it was worth a shot to try for an additional 4th Night Free with Prestige.

I called the Prestige concierge and gave them the exact dates, hotel, and room that I found online. Sure enough, after 15 minutes on the phone, I had a one-bedroom suite at the Four Seasons booked with the third AND fourth nights free! For an average of $226 per night (all taxes and fees included), we stayed in a AAA Five Diamond, 1050-square-foot suite in Miami over the entire Fourth of July weekend!

And if that wasn’t sweet enough, we played a $150 per person round of golf at Trump National Doral for free using the Prestige golf benefit. If you’re keeping count, that’s close to $1,000 of value from Prestige on this trip, and that doesn’t include all of the Citi ThankYou points we have yet to use.

We’re forever indebted to you for kickstarting our points and miles obsession. You helped us book this incredible trip that’s far more luxurious than we twenty-somethings would have imagined being able to afford. So THANK YOU, TPG!

This story illustrates a point I make often: there’s nothing wrong with paying an annual fee for a rewards card when you know you can get good value out of it. The Citi Prestige Card has a relatively steep $450 annual fee, but as you can see from Kenan’s example, it’s not hard to get double or triple that amount in return. That’s why Prestige made Jason Steele’s list of 6 Premium Travel Cards that Are Worth the High Annual Fee.

Kenan and her husband showed some award travel savvy by using the air travel credit after recognizing that redemptions options were poor, but cash options were good. Depending on how fares compared on other carriers, that could have been a good opportunity to take advantage of another Citi Prestige benefit —specifically, the option to redeem ThankYou Points for 1.6 cents apiece toward flights on American Airlines.

Their strategy to make use of both the free night offer from Four Seasons and the 4th night free benefit from Citi Prestige is a stroke of brilliance. It’s a good example of how knowing program rules can get you places.

A one-bedroom Bay View suite at the Four Seasons Miami.

I love this story, and I want to hear more like it! To thank Kenan for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on her travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.

If the tips and strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me (and the whole TPG team) with your own award travel success stories by emailing and putting “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, and a gift card to jump-start your next adventure (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course).

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.