Is the Citi Prestige Card Worth Its Annual Fee?

Ask yourself how much you'll spend on hotels and airfare, which earn bonus points.
Jan 3, 2022
Is the Citi Prestige Card worth its annual fee?

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If you got a bunch of frequent travelers together and asked them to debate the merits of their favorite premium travel cards, you can bet that the Citi Prestige® Card would get a lot of airtime.

With an annual fee of $495, this card is definitely not for everyone. But it comes with a wide variety of perks that can offset the fee significantly. If you’re able to take advantage of all these benefits, you can come out ahead.

To determine if the Citi Prestige® Card is a good fit for you, ask yourself the following questions.

Can you earn the sign-up bonus?

The sign-up bonus for the Citi Prestige® Card goes a long way toward offsetting its annual fee for your first year of card membership: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*. Those points are worth $500 in travel when you redeem them in the Citi ThankYou portal — more than the annual fee. But if you carry a balance on your card, interest charges and possible other fees immediately start working against you. Also, because this is a one-time bonus, it means your bottom-line cost of card membership goes up the second year.

Potential value: $500 first year, $0 each year after that.

Do you travel a lot?

If you’re a frequent traveler, the annual travel credit that comes with the Citi Prestige® Card will be easy for you to use. Every calendar year, you’ll be automatically reimbursed for up to $250 in travel purchases. This includes airfare, hotels, rental cars, commuter transportation, taxis, limousines, passenger railways, cruise lines, tour operators, tolls, parking and bus lines.

Through Dec. 31, 2022, this credit can also be applied to supermarket and restaurant purchases, takeout included.

Potential value: $250 per year.

Do you stay in hotels for four nights or more at least twice a year?

When you book and prepay for a four-night hotel stay through Citi’s ThankYou rewards portal, your fourth night is free. You can use this benefit twice per calendar year. As an example, if you booked a $200-per-night hotel for a four-night spring break trip in April and a $300-per-night hotel for a four-night luxury getaway in August, you’d save $500 by using this benefit.

This discount is based on the average nightly rate not including taxes and fees. Because you must book fourth-night-free stays through the ThankYou rewards portal, you won’t earn hotel loyalty points or enjoy elite status benefits.

Outside of this benefit, the Citi Prestige® Card offers 3x ThankYou points on hotel charges.

Potential value: Depends on the cost of your hotels.

Do you want Global Entry or TSA Precheck?

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit of up to $100 every five years. Simply charge your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee to your Citi Prestige® Card and you’ll be automatically reimbursed.

Nerdy tip: You can use this benefit for a family member or friend if you want. As long as you charge the fee to your Citi Prestige® Card, the application can be for anyone.

Potential value: Up to $20 per year.

Do you want airport lounge access?

If you spend a lot of time in airports, you know that lounge access is truly a gift. A lounge is a great place to get away from some of the hustle and bustle of the terminal, have a snack and a drink, get some work done or just relax.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a complimentary Priority Pass Select lounge membership. Priority Pass is an independent lounge program that provides access to over 1,300 lounges in over 600 cities worldwide. As a member, you can use these lounges no matter what airline you’re flying, what frequent flyer clubs you belong to or what type of ticket you bought.

If you purchased a Priority Pass membership yourself, it would cost hundreds of dollars, so there’s excellent potential value in this benefit … but only if you’re a frequent flyer.

Potential value: Up to $429 per year (the cost of an annual membership).

Do you often buy food from restaurants?

When you use the Citi Prestige® Card at restaurants, you’ll earn 5x points on every purchase. In other words, for every $100 you spend, you’ll earn 500 ThankYou points. According to NerdWallet valuations, ThankYou points are worth an average of 1 cent each, so those 500 ThankYou points are worth about $5.

Potential value: Varies based on your spending.

Do you buy airline tickets at least a few times a year?

The Citi Prestige® Card also offers 5x points on airfare purchases, which is an excellent value.

However, the Citi Prestige® Card doesn’t offer travel protection when you book tickets with this card, so keep that in mind when making your decisions.

Potential value: Varies based on your spending.

The bottom line

If you can answer “yes” to most of the questions above, then the value and benefits you’d get from the Citi Prestige® Card would likely make it worth its $495 annual fee. However, if your responses were mostly “no,” you might want to consider a rewards card that would offer you more value based on your personal spending patterns.

The information related to  has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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