Why You Should Add Authorized Users on Your Citi Prestige
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The Citi Prestige Card is one of several premium credit cards that offer several great perks in exchange for a high annual fee. Today, Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen explains how you can get even more value out of this product by adding authorized users who can utilize most of the same benefits.
There are a number of reasons why adding authorized users to your travel rewards credit cards makes a lot of sense. They can help you reach a minimum spending requirement to earn a sign-up bonus and make sure that your family members are taking advantage of bonus categories. Today, however, I want to focus on another valuable avenue for authorized users: gaining access to additional benefits. I recently detailed the various perks available for additional cardholders on The Platinum Card® from American Express, but today I'm going to focus on another premium credit card: the Citi Prestige Card.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the standard benefits offered to the primary cardholder. The first is the sign-up bonus, which is currently 50,000 bonus ThankYou points after $3,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. The sign-up bonus is worth $800 based on TPG’s most recent valuations but can easily be worth more by redeeming them for maximum value. You can also enjoy some terrific bonus categories for purchases, as you'll earn 3x points for airfare and hotels and 2x points on dining and entertainment.
The card provides several travel-related benefits as well. One of my personal favorites is the 4th Night Free benefit on paid hotel stays. I've used this for three upcoming stays in Maui, San Diego and Florida, and will be saving close to $1,000 (though this pales in comparison to TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig's rebate of almost $1,500 on a single stay!). These stays got much easier to book back in January, and you can still earn points and take advantage of perks like Hyatt Suite Upgrades on these stays. They're also eligible on many special rates (like AAA and AARP).
Another great benefit on the card is lounge access, a perk that can pay off when you're traveling in economy or visiting an airport without your usual brand of airport club. This benefit covers two main types of lounges:
- Priority Pass lounges, including up to two guests or immediate family members (a notable step up over the Amex Platinum, as guests will set you back $27 with this card)
- Admirals Club locations when traveling on American, including up to two guests or immediate family members on the same itinerary (unlike the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, which provides Admirals Club access regardless of the airline you're flying).
I’ve found that lounge access can be the difference between a miserable and a pleasant travel experience, especially when traveling with a baby!
Another terrific aspect of the card is the $250 annual airfare credit, which can be used to offset incidental charges or even straight-up plane tickets. This benefit is available each year and resets once your December billing statement closes. My card cycled on December 18, 2015, and I actually got my second $250 credit for a United flight I purchased on December 30:
I'm guessing that the vast majority of readers spend at least $250 on airfare each year, so this lowers the effective annual fee on the card from $450 to $200.
Here are some other key benefits:
- Fee credit for either Global Entry (normally $100) or TSA PreCheck (normally $85) every five years
- Three free rounds of golf every year at more than 2,400 courses around the world
- No foreign transaction fees
- Various coverages (including improved travel and purchase protection benefits)
The Citi Prestige Card charges you $50 each year for every additional cardholder, which seems a bit pricey (especially since many other popular travel rewards cards don’t charge anything for authorized users). Unfortunately, the additional perks this unlocks aren't nearly as valuable as those offered on the Platinum Card from American Express. In fact, there are really only two guaranteed benefits:
Priority Pass Lounge Access
When you add authorized users on the Citi Prestige, they'll enjoy access to Priority Pass lounges, allowing them plus two guests (or immediate family) to access these lounges when traveling on any airline in any class of service. There are now more than 900 lounges in more than 400 cities around the globe, so if a spouse, friend or family member regularly travels into or out of an airport with a Priority Pass lounge, this could be a great strategy to help him/her enjoy the travel experience.
This is also a terrific option for those of you who frequently travel with your extended family. The Priority Pass perk on the Citi Prestige allows two guests or your immediate family, defined as "spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age." This works well if you're traveling with a spouse and the kids, but what if the grandparents are coming too? Suddenly, you're looking at an extra $54 ($27 per person) for lounge access in each direction, an added expense of more than $100 for a round-trip flight (even more if you have a connecting itinerary).
An easy solution here would be to add your mom/mother-in-law or dad/father-in-law as an authorized user on the card. He/she would then gain access to the same Priority Pass membership as you, the primary cardholder. The savings from a single round-trip flight would cover the added $50 fee for the authorized user.
However, it's important to note that this benefit does not apply to Admirals Club access. The terms and conditions of the card clearly indicate that this perk doesn't extend to authorized users:
"Only primary Citi Prestige® World EliteTM MasterCard® cardmembers who are 18 years of age or older and are traveling on American, American Eagle Airlines, Inc. or an American Connection carrier flight number may receive access privileges to the American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges. Authorized users of the Citi Prestige World Elite MasterCard credit card are not entitled to Admirals Club access privileges."
However, remember that you (as the primary cardholder) can still bring in up to two guests or your immediate family traveling on the same itinerary. They just can't get in as an authorized user when they aren't traveling with you.
Citi Prestige Concierge
In addition to their own Priority Pass membership, authorized users on the Citi Prestige can also utilize the card's concierge services, provided by Ten Lifestyle Management, Ltd. Note that only certain "power users" can access the new dedicated concierge service that was launched back in February, but on a premium card like the Citi Prestige, you may find this benefit to be worthwhile. I (personally) have never used the concierge service on the card, so I can't speak from experience. However, if you're in need of a tailored service like restaurant reservations for a special anniversary or event tickets, it can be a nice perk.
Here's how the card's term and conditions describes what the concierge can do:
"The range of services offered by concierge includes destination information, entertainment (restaurant bookings, tickets, private members' clubs, event management, catering, guest lists) and retail."
Just bear in mind that any charges for services rendered by the Ten Lifestyle will be charged to your Citi Prestige account, and as the primary cardholder, you are thus responsible for paying them in full. One reason why you want to make sure that your authorized user can be trusted to not go crazy!
Is That Really It?
Technically, those are the only benefits that are officially extended to authorized users on the Citi Prestige Card (based on the card's terms and conditions). Other perks explicitly exclude additional cardholders:
- 4th Night Free: "The benefit can only be used by the primary account cardholder."
- Golf benefit: "Complimentary rounds are for the primary cardmember only."
Now, it's important to note that both of these limitations are based on a strict interpretation of the terms of the card. In reality, you may find success in utilizing both benefits for authorized users. I've read reports of primary cardholders booking a stay to utilize the 4th Night Free perk, adding an authorized user as a second guest and then getting the credit, even if they don't actually check in. I've also read reports of primary cardholders booking rounds of golf in an authorized user's name and not getting charged. These are likely exceptions rather than the norm, so I wouldn't count on either being consistently available.
However, that doesn't mean that adding authorized users is a waste. There are some additional ways that authorized users can help you get value out of the card:
- $250 airfare credit: While this is limited to one credit per account per year, purchases by both the primary cardholder and authorized users will qualify for this credit. If you have a year that's very short on paid airfare and would cause you to miss out on the $250 credit, adding an authorized user for $50 is a no-brainer.
- Bonus categories: While authorized users are able to access your credit line on the card, they can also help contribute to your ThankYou point balance. If they pay for a hotel or airline ticket using the card, you're getting 3x points on those purchases (or a 4.8% return based on TPG's most recent valuations).
Of course, whenever you add an authorized user, it’s not as simple as them gaining access to additional benefits. It’s essential to remember that as the primary cardholder, you're responsible for all charges on your account, including those charged by others. For this reason, you should only add an additional cardholder who you completely trust to not go crazy and run up your balance.
That being said, adding an authorized user to the card can be a great way to build up their credit history, though with the Citi Prestige, you must elect to add their social security number to do this. This can go a long way toward helping a friend or family member with poor credit, since Citibank will report your on-time payment history and credit utilization rate to the respective credit bureaus for every cardholder on your account. Again, though, make sure the authorized user is someone you can trust.
Adding additional cardholders can expand your earning potential, but on certain cards, it can unlock a variety of perks for them as well. Unfortunately, the Citi Prestige Card isn't as generous as the Platinum Card from American Express when it comes to extending benefits to authorized users, but there are some situations where spending the extra $50 per year can make sense. However, given the array of perks offered on the Citi Prestige, it may simply make sense for your friends or family members to just open their own card!
What are your experiences with authorized users on the Citi Prestige card?