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Citi Prestige Review: Fancy Perks for $495

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  • Citi Prestige® Card

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Among premium travel cards, the $495-annual-fee Citi Prestige® Card could be an appealing choice if your spending stars are aligned just right.

It offers generous bonus rewards in major travel categories and several perks, including an annual $250 travel credit, a fourth-night-free benefit on hotel stays, a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit of up to $100 every five years, airport lounge access via a Priority Pass Select membership, and multiple airline transfer partners, which could let you wring even more value out of your earnings.

If you know you’ll be able to maximize that fourth-night-free benefit, and you do a lot of spending on airfare and via travel agencies, this card will fit your travel needs like a glove.

But other players in the premium travel card field offer more extensive lounge access, fancier travel benefits and more domestic airline transfer partners. And you may find those perks are ultimately worth more to you.

Citi Prestige® Card: Basics

  • Card type: Travel.
  • Annual fee: $495.
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.
  • Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.
  • Rewards:
    • 5 ThankYou points per dollar on purchases at airlines and travel agencies.
    • 5 ThankYou points per dollar on purchase at restaurants, including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food.
    • 3 ThankYou points per dollar on purchases at hotels and cruise lines.
    • 1 ThankYou point for each dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • Earnings expire after three years to the day in which they were earned.
  • Redemption options:
    • Redeem for travel, cash back, gift card purchases, bill payments and more. All points are worth 1 cent each, regardless of which option you choose.
    • Transfer to one of Citi’s partner airlines. Through strategic redemptions, you can potentially get more value out of your points this way. If you don’t plan on traveling internationally, though, this option is somewhat limited. JetBlue is the only domestic carrier you can transfer points to.
  • Other benefits:
    • Complimentary fourth-hotel-night-free benefit: Get the fourth night free when booking four consecutive nights or more at any hotel through Citi ThankYou.
    • $250 travel credit every calendar year: This can cover travel purchases including airfare, hotel stays and car rentals, to name a few.
    • Priority Pass Select membership: Get complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges.
    • Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit: This covers your application fee for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application if you pay with your card.
Here are the transfer partners:

  • AeroMexico.
  • AirFrance/KLM.
  • Avianca.
  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Etihad.
  • EVA Air.
  • Jet Airways.
  • JetBlue.
  • Malaysia Airlines.
  • Qantas.
  • Qatar Airways.
  • Singapore Airlines.
  • Thai Airways.
  • Turkish Airlines.
  • Virgin Atlantic.

The Citi Prestige® Card is the top-tier option when it comes to Citi’s rewards cards. With an annual fee of $95, the Citi Premier® Card is the mid-tier option, and the Citi Rewards+℠ Card is more budget-minded with an annual fee of $0 and lower ongoing rewards than its sibling cards.

Citi Prestige® Card: Benefits

Rich ongoing rewards

Offering 5 points per dollar spent on airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, the Citi Prestige® Card soars past what most other cards can earn in these categories. If you’re spending a bundle on travel and dining, this premium rewards rate could make the card worth getting. Spending on hotels and cruises will also earn you a respectable 3 points per dollar, which is on a par with what several other top-notch travel cards offer.

A $250 travel credit

The $250 annual travel credit on the Citi Prestige® Card can ease the sting of the card’s high annual fee. Citi’s definition of travel is broad and includes less-considered ways of getting around, including taxis, subways, parking lots and tolls. If you ever leave your house, you’ll likely find a way to use up that credit and effectively bring the net cost of owning the card down to $245.

Complimentary fourth night hotel stay

This is one of the more valuable perks of owning the Citi Prestige® Card. Anytime you book a hotel stay of four nights or more through the Citi travel portal through a paid booking, an award booking or a combination of the two, you’ll get night four on the house — whether it’s an inexpensive room or a presidential suite. It should be noted, however, that this once-unlimited feature was capped at two times a year as of Sept. 1, 2019. Even so, if you take advantage, that, combined with the annual $250 travel credit, you’ll probably get more than your money’s worth out of the card.

Lounge access and TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass network around the world. Waiting for your flight in one of those lounges instead of by a busy boarding gate might make your next airport experience a little more pleasant.

Another useful benefit: Every five years, the card offers a credit to cover the cost of your application fee for TSA Precheck (worth $85) or Global Entry (worth $100). If you qualify for one of these programs, you could get through airport security a little faster.

A solid sign-up bonus

The card comes with a robust sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*. Book one high-end trip, and you’ll likely earn or get pretty close to earning that welcome reward.

Citi ThankYou Points can be pooled between cards

Although you’ll get stellar rewards on travel and dining with the Citi Prestige® Card, you probably have other expenses you want to charge too. If you pair this card with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, for example, you’ll earn above-average rewards of 2% cash back on all of your other spending — 1% cash back on all purchases made, and another 1% back when you pay them off. Then, you can convert that cash back to ThankYou points for a bigger overall stash. Or transfer the points to the Citi Premier® Card, where each point is worth 25% more when you redeem for airfare.

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

Citi Prestige® Card: Drawbacks and alternatives

High annual fee

Unless you plan on maxing out both the $250 travel credit and the fourth night free hotel perk, you’d have to do a lot of spending to break even with the Citi Prestige® Card‘s annual fee.

Limited transfer partners

The only domestic carrier eligible to transfer your ThankYou points to is JetBlue. The rest are foreign carriers, so if you don’t have any plans to go abroad, this may not be much of a benefit to you.

If you’re looking for a rewards card that allows you to transfer to a greater variety of travel partners, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® could fit the bill. Chase’s many transfer partners also include multiple hotel and domestic airline partners as options.

It comes with an annual fee of $550 and earns 3 points per dollar spent on all travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Like the Citi Prestige® Card, you’ll also get reimbursed for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, but once every four years (compared to five years on the Citi Prestige® Card). You’ll also get an annual travel credit of $300 — that’s $50 more than what the Citi Prestige® Card offers. But perhaps the biggest differentiator is that with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can redeem points for travel at a 50% increase in value when booked through the Chase portal.

» MORE: Full review of Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Lounge access isn’t available in some areas

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with Priority Pass Select membership — but if the airport you frequent doesn’t have any Priority Pass lounges, that benefit won’t do you much good.

For more extensive lounge access, consider another premium option: The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card, which has an annual fee of $550, comes with Priority Pass Select access in addition to access to AmEx’s Centurion lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (for folks flying with Delta on the same day) and several others. It also comes packed with several other useful travel benefits, including a $200 airline fee credit for purchases like checked-bag fees or in-flight refreshments and up to $200 in Uber Cash each year, paid out monthly, which can be used to cover Uber rides, Uber Eats orders and Jump scooter or bike rides.

» MORE: Full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express

Is the Citi Prestige® Card right for you?

If you’re looking for a card that comes laden with premium perks, the Citi Prestige® Card could be the right choice, especially if your travel expenses mostly include airfare, travel agencies and eating out, and you’ll take advantage of the fourth-night-free benefit at least once a year. But if you’re seeking different transfer partners or richer perks, go with a different premium card.