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How to earn 5x points on dining, airfare and more with the Citi Prestige Card

Nov. 05, 2020
7 min read
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The Citi Prestige® Card was once one of the top premium travel rewards cards. Now, with travel and purchase protections eliminated, limits on the fourth-night free perk and a higher annual fee, the card can be a tough sell for many travelers.

But, there are still some compelling aspects to the Citi Prestige Card. One of the most exciting benefits is 5x earning on select purchases. After all, TPG's valuations peg the value of Citi ThankYou Rewards points at 1.7 cents each. 5x earnings equate to an 8.5% return, so today I'll consider what types of Citi Prestige purchases earn 5x Citi ThankYou Rewards points.

Related: Even though the Citi Prestige has lost a lot of benefits, I’m still keeping mine (for now); Here’s why

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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5x earning with the Citi Prestige

Earn 5x points with the Citi Prestige on dining. (Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

The Citi Prestige Card advertises 5x earning rates at restaurants and on air travel. But, if you read the fine print, you'll see that you can also earn 5x points with travel agencies.

To determine exactly how Citi defines the 5x categories for the Citi Prestige Card, I checked out Citi ThankYou's help section for earning points. Here's what I found:

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  • Airlines are businesses that provide air travel.
  • Travel agencies are merchants that provide travel information and booking services, including travel aggregators and tour operators.
  • Restaurants include cafes, bars, lounges, nightclubs, taverns, fast food restaurants and other merchants that primarily prepare food and drinks for immediate consumption. However, some merchants that sell food and drink but are located within larger establishments may not be included in the restaurant category.

And, through Dec. 31, 2020, the Citi Prestige offers a limited-time 5x category. Specifically, you'll earn 5x points on select online, cable and streaming purchases through the end of 2020. However, you can only earn up to 7,500 Citi ThankYou Rewards points through this limited-time 5x category. So, you'll only earn 5x points on up to $1,500 of online, cable and streaming purchases before the end of the year.

Related: Now that the Citi Prestige offers 5x, which card should you use for dining?

3x earning categories

How you book your room at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa determines how many points you'll earn on the Citi Prestige. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

While I was reading the Citi ThankYou help section for earning points, I also found the following definitions for the Citi Prestige's 3x earning categories:

  • Hotels are businesses that provide sleeping or meeting room accommodations. Goods and services that appear on a hotel bill and purchases from restaurants located in hotels are often categorized as hotel purchases.
  • Cruise lines are businesses that provide cruise line travel.

So, if you pay for a hotel room or cruise directly with the hotel or cruise line, you'll earn 3x points. But, if you pay for a hotel room or cruise through a travel agent, you'll earn 5x points. Of course, booking through a travel agent may mean that you forfeit elite earnings and benefits. So, for some trips, it may not be worth the additional points.

Related: Credit card showdown: Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier® Card

Is the Citi Prestige worth it?

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
Can you justify paying the Citi Prestige's annual fee based on your spending? (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

The Citi Prestige Card provides a $250 travel credit each calendar year, so your effective annual fee drops from $495 to $245, assuming you'll spend at least $250 on travel each year. And, through the end of 2020, supermarket and restaurant purchases also count towards the $250 travel credit.

Qualifying Citigold account holders are also eligible for a $145 statement credit each year that can bring their effective annual fee down to $100. However, for the purposes of this article, let's assume you aren't an eligible Citigold account holder.

To offset the effective $245 annual fee, let's consider how much you'd need to spend in categories that earn 5x points. Of course, this depends on how you plan to use your points. If you plan to transfer your points to airline partners for award flights, we can use TPG's valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each. At this valuation, you'd need to spend $2,883 per year or about $240 per month in categories that earn 5x points to earn $245 worth of Citi ThankYou points each year.

And, if you plan to redeem your points toward travel booked through the Citi ThankYou portal, your points will be worth one cent each. At this valuation, you'd need to spend $4,900 per year or about $409 per month in categories that earn 5x points to earn $245 worth of Citi ThankYou points.

However, these calculations assume that you wouldn't be earning any points or cash back on the 5x bonus categories if you didn't have the Citi Prestige Card. This isn't a fair assumption for most cardholders though. So, consider what card you'd be using if you didn't use the Citi Prestige Card when doing your calculations.

For more information, check out the full Citi Prestige Card review.

Related: Is Citi ThankYou Rewards the most underappreciated and misunderstood program?

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige Card's 5x earning categories are broader than just air travel and restaurants, which may be news to some cardholders. But, with most of the Citi Prestige's benefits devalued, some cardholders may struggle to justify keeping this $495 annual fee card even with its 5x earning. However, if you are a high spender or can get significant value out of the fourth-night free benefit -- which isn't a given, but is possible at mid-tier and luxury hotels -- it may make sense to keep the Citi Prestige in your wallet.

Featured image by Unless you spend a ton on travel purchases aside from airfare, hotels and cruises -- or make a lot of entertainment purchases -- the Prestige is likely a better option. (Photo by The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.