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Making the Most of the Citi Prestige Card

Oct. 4, 2016
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
Making the Most of the Citi Prestige Card
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

In the premium credit card space, issuers pile on the luxury benefits for a three-figure annual fee. If you’re contemplating the Citi Prestige® Card, you need to think about how you’ll use the card and be aware of how some upcoming program changes could affect you. First and foremost, though, this card makes sense only if you’re a frequent traveler.

Use the perks …

If you’re going to carry the Citi Prestige® Card, you’d better make use of all the perks, or you’re not going to get enough value to cover the $450 annual fee.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 airline credit each year, which effectively reduces the cost of carrying the card by more than half. This credit can be applied to tickets, checked-bag fees, upgrades and more. To smooth your way through security, the card also pays up to $100 every five years to reimburse your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. (Global Entry costs $100; TSA Pre-Check is $85.)

For new applicants, Citi Prestige® Card has a midrange sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening* (This offer is no longer valid on our site). The bonus points are redeemable for an airline ticket up to $532 or $400 worth of gift cards. The bonus offer is available only to newcomers who have not opened or closed a Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, Citi ThankYou® Premier Card or Citi Prestige® Card within the past 24 months.

All Citi Prestige® Card members have access to Priority Pass lounges at airports around the world. And you’re allowed to bring your immediate family members and up to two guests with you.

If you fly American Airlines frequently, however, there’s a change you should know about. Cardholders who had the card before Sept. 1, 2016, will have access to American’s Admirals Club lounges until July 23, 2017. If you become a cardholder after Sept. 1, 2016, you’ll have no access to the Admirals Clubs with Citi Prestige® Card.

Once you’ve reached your destination, you’ll need a place to stay. When you book a hotel for a minimum of four consecutive nights through the Citi Prestige Concierge, you’ll get the fourth night free. This applies to any hotel, as long as you use the Citi Prestige Concierge.

… and use them while you can

If you currently have the Citi Prestige® Card, use it as much as you can through July 23, 2017, before some of the benefits disappear. Besides the end of access to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounges, there are other changes in the works that could influence your decision about getting or continuing to carry this card:

BenefitCardholder benefits until 7/23/2017 Cardholder benefits after 7/23/2017
ThankYou Points redemptions for flights booked through CitiIf you were a cardholder before 9/1/2016, points are worth 1.6 cents apiece for American Airlines flights and 1.33 cents apiece for all other airlines.

If you became a cardholder after 9/1/2016, points are worth 1.33 cents apiece for flights on all airlines.
Points will be worth 1.25 cents for flights on all airlines.
Golf benefits Access to more than 2,000 courses worldwide. Three complimentary rounds of golf per year can be booked until July 23, 2017. Access to golf courses, but no complimentary rounds.
Fourth night free at hotels when booking for at least 4 consecutive nightsBenefit covers actual cost of fourth night, including taxes. Unlimited redemptions. Benefit will cover the
cost of the average nightly rate for your stay, but taxes are no longer included. Unlimited redemptions.

Transfer ThankYou Points wisely

The Citi Prestige® Card earns 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on airlines and hotels, 2 points per dollar at restaurants and for entertainment, and 1 point per dollar on every other purchase.

ThankYou Points can be transferred, usually on a 1-to-1 basis, to many travel partners, but your domestic airline options are sharply limited. Virgin America and JetBlue are the only domestic carriers among the partners, and you get less than a 1-to-1 swap with both airlines. With JetBlue, you can trade points 1.25-for-1, meaning 1,000 ThankYou points get you 800 JetBlue points in return. With Virgin America, the transfer rate is only 2-for-1.

You’ll get the most value out of your points by using them to book travel through Citi, where each point is worth 1.33 cents when redeemed for airline travel, or 1 cent when used for other travel expenses.

Get priority access to special events

Want to attend the most talked-about concert tours? You can score tickets with Citi Private Pass Beyond, one of the perks of the Citi Prestige® Card. For many shows, you’ll get priority seating and special pre-concert specials such as meeting the artists. With Private Pass, you’ll also have access to exclusive dining and sports events around the country.

A unique benefit is Citi Prestige® Card’s Missed Event Ticket Protection. If you have to miss an event due to sickness, accident or even lost tickets, you may be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket to a maximum of $5,000 per year.

Understand your shopping protections

Who doesn’t shop when they’re on vacation? If you’re traveling outside the United States, you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees for any purchases made abroad. And Citi® offers an array of protections for shoppers, including $0 liability for unauthorized charges, damage and theft protection, 90-day return protection, extended warranty and Citi® Price Rewind. With Price Rewind, if you or Citi finds a lower price on an item you’ve purchased and registered, you’ll be reimbursed the price difference within 60 days of purchase.

With the upcoming changes to the Citi Prestige® Card, the time to get the most out of the card is now. If you already have it in your wallet, be sure to maximize your value before July 2017. And if you’re considering getting it, take a look at the future benefits and weigh whether they fit your lifestyle. The Citi Prestige® Card is not a bad card, but it’s about to get a little less good.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.