Editor's Note: Citibank has been informing current holders of the Prestige product that the access to Admiral's Club and the free golf described below will be removed in mid-2017. They have also advised of a recalibration of the 4th night free benefit on July 23, 2017 which makes the reward less valuable than described below.
Citibank recently improved its ThankYou rewards program dramatically. It added bonus categories to its point system so card holders get 3x spend on travel (including gas) and 2x on dining out. It also added Singapore Airlines as a transfer partner, which prompted BestCashCow to consider if ThankYou points are now as valuable as Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points in this article.
Citibank’s ThankYou Premier Card and the Citi Prestige Card both offer the same 50,000 ThankYou points after $3,000 of spend in 3 months if you open online. The Citi Prestige card also which offers the same spend categories and carries a heavy annual fee. BestCashCow, however, discovered that by applying for the Prestige card in the branch you will get 60,000 ThankYou points as a signup bonus and the annual fee is only $350 (instead of $450). We think that the extra 10,000 points and $100 is well worth a quick visit to the Citibank branch (provided it is in fact quick, and you don’t get trapped into spending 45 minutes speaking with some very junior banker who is trying to cross sell you).
We also discovered that there are tremendous other benefits of the Citi Prestige Card that can make it well worth its premium over the Citi ThankYou Premier Card (the fee on Prestige is not waived in the first year; the Premier Card carries a $95 annual fee but it is waived the first year).
The first three Prestige Card benefits are well disclosed:
Travel statement credit. You will receive a $250 statement credit for purchases directly from an airline each year. Since this is a calendar year benefit, it can be used in each of 2015 and 2016, even if you cancel the card when it is up for renewal. You will lose the benefit of getting this twice if you get the card at the beginning of the calendar year, or if you renew. But, if you use this benefit effectively, you get $500 in credit which more than covers the card’s fee.
American Admiral Club access. You will get complementary access to the Admiral Club so long as you are at the airport for a flight on American Airlines (this is technically not the same benefit as a full club membership which does not require that you be boarding an American flight.).
Statement Credit for Global Entry. Like the Amex Platinum Card, with which Citibank is trying to compete, the Prestige Card reimburses you for you $100 Global Entry fee. This benefit is worthless if you already hold Global Entry and are not up for renewal.
Citibank has done a poor job promoting the other two benefits, but they are as follows:
3 Free rounds of Golf. Each calendar year, you get 3 free rounds of gold so long as you sign up on Citibank’s site at a participating golf course. Like the travel statement credit, this is a calendar year benefit. Since a round of golf can be expensive and since this can provide six rounds over two years, this benefit can be valuable for active golfers.
4th Night free on Hotel Stays. So long as you use the Citi Prestige Concierge for your booking and pay with the Citi Prestige card, you will receive a statement credit for any hotel stay over 3 nights. For those who frequently have hotel stays of 4 nights or more, this is a fantastic benefit, especially if you can structure your stay so that the 4th night is the most expensive. This benefit can be used an unlimited number of times and has no limit on the value it can provide. It is obviously huge if you book the kind of rooms costing thousands in dollars.
With the Citibank Prestige card, Citibank is obviously going after the American Express Platinum card. We found that the card is well worth the $350 fee for those who can take advantage of the above benefits, or, in some case, even just one of them.