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Less Than Three Months to Maximize Your Citi Prestige Benefits

May 03, 2017
6 min read
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Last July, Citi announced some major changes to one of our favorite cards, the Citi Prestige. The changes include modifications to card's signature benefit, 4th Night free. Thankfully, this perk isn't going away completely — like some of the other benefits. But, there are actions you can take now to get the most out of the card, both before and after the change.

Date of change: July 23. This is the date to note on your calendar. On this date, four significant benefits are either being modified or removed entirely. Let's look at what's changing:

Changes to 4th Night Free

Current benefit: If you book at least a four-night stay at a qualifying property — now including hostels — through the Citi Concierge, you'll get a statement credit for the cost of the fourth night. This statement credit includes the taxes on the fourth night.

New benefit: Instead of getting a statement credit for the cost of the fourth night, you'll get a statement credit for the average nightly rate. The new benefit doesn't include a credit for taxes.

What to do now: As the changes affect reservations made on or after July 23, book future hotel stays before July 23. That is, unless the fourth night is much cheaper. Check the hotel rates by night. If the fourth night is around the average cost for the stay or more expensive than average, you definitely want to book now. If the fourth night is cheaper than average, you'll want to do some math to see if it'll be better to get the fourth night free (including taxes) or the average nightly rate (not including taxes).

Eliminations of Admirals Club Access

The Citi Prestige will lose Admirals Club access as a benefit on July 23.

Current benefit: If you're flying on American Airlines and have the Citi Prestige, you get access to the Admirals Club. And, you can bring your immediate family or two unrelated guests into the lounge with you. The rules state that the guests must be traveling with the cardholder on the same itinerary. However, I have found that this is not uniformly enforced.

What to do now: Relish the benefit until July 23. Unlike other changes, there isn't anything that you can do now to maximize this benefit after this date. In July, you can get the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard to continue to be able to use the Admirals Club.

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Lower Rate for Airfare Redemptions

Current benefit: Redeem ThankYou Points for 1.6 cents per point toward American Airlines flights or 1.33 cents per point toward other airfare booked through the Citi travel portal.

New benefit: Flat 1.25 cents per point toward all airfare redemptions.

What to do now: Book upcoming American Airlines travel. For those of us who are American Airlines loyalists, this is a big blow. I was recently able to book a trip on AA to Europe for just 24,091 ThankYou Points. Thanks to the Special Fares chart and my Executive Platinum status, I'll earn 13,245 AAdvantage miles; 12,041 EQMs and 1,204 EQDs from this redemption. I'd still get these earnings if I had made the same booking after July 23, but I'd have to pay 28% more TYP for the ticket.

The impact isn't as bad for other airlines (6.4%), but it's still worth booking any trips you know you'll be taking after July 23 before this change goes into effect.

Elimination of the Free Golf Benefit

Current benefit: Three free rounds of golf per calendar year.

What to do now: Book your golf rounds now. Any reservations made before July 23 will be honored by Citi. Note that only one round can be active at a time. So, you're only going to be able to use one of these after July 23.

Remaining Citi Prestige Benefits

  • $250 airfare credit per calendar year. If you pay for at least $250 in airfare a year, you're effectively dropping the annual fee to $200 per year.
  • 3x ThankYou Points per dollar spent on airfare and hotels. Although, this isn't as great now that the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x on all travel purchases.
  • 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spend on dining, restaurants and entertainment. Again, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has the Citi Prestige beat on this.
  • Priority Pass Select membership — which includes up to two free guests
  • Transferable points: You'll still be able to get plenty of value out of your ThankYou points by transferring them to one of 15 transfer partners (13 airlines, 1 hotel, 1 retail).
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100 every five years)

Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige's 4th Night Free benefit can save you a bundle, especially at expensive properties like Amanpulo in the Philippines.
Do the math to see whether it makes sense to book expense hotel stays before or after July 23. Image courtesy of Amanpulo.

The Citi Prestige is getting a lot less valuable for those who golf, fly American Airlines and have expensive fourth-night stays. However, it's not the end of the line for this card; it's still a valuable pick for many frequent travelers.

If you plan on canceling, be aware that any ThankYou Points earned through the Citi Prestige will expire 60 days after you close your account — even if you have another ThankYou Points-earning card. So, make sure to spend your points down before canceling. Also, be aware that Citi has been offering a retention offer of 4x additional ThankYou Points (meaning 7x total) on airfare, hotels, car rentals and travel agencies — up to 35,000 additional points. So, that might affect your decision.

Are you keeping the Citi Prestige despite these changes?