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The Citi Prestige has earned a lasting place in my credit card lineup thanks to one benefit alone: a 4th Night Free on paid hotel bookings. I’ve used this to save thousands on hotel stays, most recently at the Silo Hotel in Capetown, where I got back $1,216. However, that’s the card’s main wow factor. And given that it hasn’t even been open to new applicants since late August, it’s fallen off the radar for some award travelers.
That’s about to change. Citi informed Prestige cardholders on Friday that starting on January 4, 2019, the Citi Prestige will once again be open for applications. The revamped card will earn 5x points on dining and air travel and 3x points on cruise lines. Additionally, Citi’s expanding the card’s $250 annual air travel credit to be a $250 credit for travel purchases in general. And on May 1, the card will add cellphone protection for damage and theft (Citi hasn’t yet shared details on the specific coverage amount).
Now for the bad news: Starting in September 2019, the Citi Prestige is devaluing some of its perks:
- 4th Night Free will be limited to twice per calendar year, and this cap includes both the main card member and any authorized users.
- No more 25% bonus for air travel when you redeem points directly through Citi. You’ll now get 1 cent per point on airfare when redeeming through the Citi travel portal.
- 2x points on entertainment going away. So starting in September you’ll earn just 1 point per dollar on entertainment purchases.
- Annual fee increasing to $495, from $450. The increased annual fee won’t impact Citigold and Private Bank clients, who will still pay $350 a year.
All other benefits — including 3x points on hotel purchases, Citi Price Rewind, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, trip delay insurance and missed event protection — are staying the same.
While we don’t know what sign-up bonus the Citi Prestige will offer when it opens for applications again in January, there will be one. If you’ve had the Prestige previously but canceled it, you’ll be eligible to earn another sign-up bonus 24 months from your first Prestige account open date — and remember that opening or closing the Prestige, Citi Premier Card or Citi ThankYou Preferred makes you ineligible for a sign-up bonus on both it and the other two for at least 24 months.
Overall, these are positive changes, many of which make the card a strong choice for more regular spending, not just the occasional paid hotel booking. While the limit on 4th Night Free usage is a bummer, it’s not a huge surprise — and Citi told me that most card holders use it just once per year. While I (and several others at TPG) use it much more frequently, having the twice-a-year cap starting in September will just force us to be more strategic about using the perk. I’ll save it for my most expensive hotel bookings so I can maximize my return and get more than $1,000 back per booking. And even with just two stays per year, I’ll more than recoup the card’s annual fee. Plus, we have almost a year’s notice before this new 4th Night Free policy goes into effect.
I wish Citi was keeping the 2x category for entertainment purchases on the Prestige, but the Citi Premier card still earns 2x on entertainment. And the loss of the 25% points bonus for airfare redemptions through Citi is a small hit, but not a huge one given that Citi’s slowly been devaluing it anyway and that many award travelers transfer their points rather than redeeming directly.
The new bonus categories here are huge — based on my valuations, 5x points on dining and air travel equals an 8.5% return. That’s higher than the American Express® Gold Card with its 4x on US restaurants, and the Prestige’s 5x on dining is available globally. I’ll switch to the Prestige for my dining spending once the 5x category takes effect in January.
5x on airfare is also a game-changer for me, because now that the Prestige will offer a competitive return on air travel, the TPG team can take advantage of Citi’s trip delay reimbursement benefit without sacrificing on the earnings side. While the Platinum Card® from American Express also offers 5x on flights, it (and all other Amex cards) doesn’t even offer trip delay coverage. With the Prestige, you get up to $500 per ticket for delays of at least 6 hours.
In short, I’m glad I didn’t cancel my Citi Prestige card. I’ve really only been using it for paid hotel stays thanks to the hugely valuable 4th Night Free perk, but with the 5x and 3x bonus categories bring it “top of wallet” for me — and we’ll be moving our company travel bookings to this card to enjoy the 5x along with trip delay insurance. There’s no denying that the limit on 4th Night Free bookings will be a huge downside for some, but there are plenty of positive changes on the earning side to make up for it.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees