Changes for the Citi Prestige rumored. But will they matter?

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My own Citi Prestige card

The Citi Prestige was the darling of the premium travel credit cards for a while.  Its Admiral’s Club lounge access combined with the 4th night free travel benefit (no matter the price of your 4th night, that night including all taxes and fees were rebated and could be combined with a 3rd night free hotel offer giving you a half price 4 night stay), 2 free rounds of golf, and a 1.66 redemption rate on American Airlines flights / 1.33 on other airlines) as well as the $250 annual airline credit catapulted it over the likes of the Amex Platinum for best travel card. That is a run-on sentence but the benefits were rich 😉

Then last July, they announced a gutting of benefits.

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No more Admiral’s Club access after July 22nd, 2017. 4th night free is now a) exclusive of taxes and fees and b) a blended average of the 4 nights.  No more golf. And all flights on the Citi Thank You Portal redeem at just 1.25c a point (compare that to the Chase Spaphire Reserve which lets you spend points on the Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5 cents a point).

The announcement read like a list of reasons why Citi didn’t want to compete in the luxury card space anymore.

I’ve kept my card for the year, but plan to downgrade it to another product when the annual fee hits – simply because the value isn’t there compared to my Reserve.

But now Doctor of Credit reports *possible* new benefits being announced later this month.

  • Metal card
  • ShopRunner membership
  • ThankYou points worth 1¢ towards cash/gift card redemption
  • Points can be used when redeeming for 4th night free benefit.

The benefits may be announced July 17th, per Redditor jlucib.

So let’s think about if these would make the card worth keeping…

  1. A metal card. WHO CARES? So over this metal card fad. Make it thinner and lighter and I’ll care. A little.
  2. ShopRunner. While it’s worth $79 a year, you can also get this with any American Express card.  (link – appears to not be working at the moment)
  3. Using TY points at 1% for cash/gift card. It’s an improvement on a terrible way to redeem Thank You points and is still just barely “OK” with this theoretical improvement.
  4. Use points towards 4th night free benefit. Cool enhancement. Not worth writing home for.

The bottom line:

The improvements that have been leaked and not yet confirmed would NOT make this card better than or even equal to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

But there IS one class of consumer for whom the Citi Prestige remains an amazing deal: those that often stay 4+ nights in a single hotel. That’s not me. I managed it twice last year which covered the fee on this card, but it’s not my normal pattern.

If you do, you are probably making back $100-$300 every time, even with the changes to that benefit. You can cover the fee quickly that way. And if you book higher category hotel rooms (like suites) or rooms that include extra benefits like spa/parking/food credits, the 4th night free will be that much richer.

What would make Citi relevant in the top tier credit card world again? Some or all of the following:

  • Redeem points in the Thank You portal at 1.5c per point (equivalent to the Reserve).
  • Redeem for American Airlines flights at better than 1.5 cents a point
  • Ability to TRANSFER to American Airlines. I’ve never understood why this isn’t possible. And lets say that only Prestige cardholders could transfer their Thank You points… that would be a real benefit to the card. Although they’d probably want to give the same benefit to Citi Premier cardholders. Maybe Prestige cardholders could get 1.25 points per Thank You points when transferring to American.
  • Transfer bonuses: When you have a Prestige, you can transfer Thank You points with a 25% bonus when moving 20,000 points at once (taking a page from the Starwood Preferred Guest program and associated credit card)
  • Update the $250 airline credit to be good for any/all travel like with the Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Better transfer partners – especially hotel partners

Everyone talks about the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) now while the Prestige gets no love (for good reason). So what would get you to reconsider the Citi Prestige? Let me know in the comments or in the MilesTalk Facebook group.