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Don’t Overlook These Citi Prestige Card Updates: The Good, The Bad, And The Really Bad

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Credit card benefit changes are inevitable. Ok, that’s stating the obvious. But benefit changes do seem to be coming at us fast and furiously these days. The Citi Prestige credit card is up for some changes starting in January. As often is the case when my my go-to credit card benefits change, I have mixed feelings about these changes. Change can be good, bad, or really bad, as proven by these Citi Prestige upcoming changes.

Earning ThankYou Points (The Good)

Credit cards have to be competitive across issuers. Citi has stepped up to the plate making the Prestige card more compelling with their category bonuses:

  • 5X ThankYou Points per $1 spent on dining
  • 5X ThankYou Points per $1 spent on airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • 3X ThankYou Points per $1 spent on all other travel
  • 2X ThankYou Points per $1 spent on entertainment (this will be reduced to 1X point in September)

Many people who weren’t too keen on the Citi Prestige card before will be smiling about the 5x points on dining. Recently I lamented how disappointed many of us are about the Amex Gold card’s dining benefit being such a weird addition to that card. Dining is a big category spend for most people and 5x points with the Prestige card is as good as it gets.

The 4th Night Free Benefit Is Changing (The Really Bad)

I save thousands, yes thousands, of dollars each year using this card benefit. I’ve written about my savings before. Even though the benefit change doesn’t kick in until September, I went into mourning the minute I heard this news.

Beginning next September, the 4th Night Free will be available for use just twice per year. Unlimited use is over, kaput, R.I.P. The limit will apply to both the primary cardholder and any authorized users combined……OUCH! The 4th night free benefit will continue to be based on the average cost of all four nights. This change about which dollar amount the benefit is based on came about last year. If you travel less than I do and use this benefit only a few times a year, this change won’t affect you. For me, I’m definitely going have to come up with a new hotel stay strategy because I use this benefit on paid hotel stays a lot!

Travel Portal Redemptions to Decrease in Value (The Bad)

This has been a shrinking benefit for some time now. In the past two years, ThankYou Points redeemed through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center dropped in value from 1.6 cents for American Airlines-operated flights and 1.33 cents for all other flights to 1.25 cents for flights on any airline. Starting in September 2019, ThankYou Points redeemed through the travel portal will be worth 1 cent each. I did use my ThankYou points for AA flights when I first got this card and the value of those points were at their peak. It’s likely, going forward, that I’ll not do this much, if at all. Instead I’ll transfer my ThankYou points to a specific airline and use them for booking award trips.

Other Changes to the Citi Prestige Card (The Good)

Annual $250 AIR travel credit will become a $250 travel credit and can be used toward any travel purchase, not just airfare. Remember, if you currently have the Prestige card to make sure you don’t make the same mistake I almost did with the air travel credit.

Cell phone protection will be included as a card benefit.

Annual Fee Increase (The Bad)

The annual fee will go up from $450 to $495. Let’s face it, we never want to see an annual fee going up. And Prestige in life does come with a price :)

Bottom Line

The new Citi Prestige card will likely be popular given the bonus category changes and expanded use of the travel credit. The new card will have some kind of sign-up spend bonus, but that hasn’t been announced yet. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be re-thinking how they’ll use their Prestige card and looking to maximize the benefits it offers come January.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Overlook These Citi Prestige Card Updates: The Good, The Bad, And The Really Bad

  1. Christian

    Everybody has their own valuation on the different benefits of the card, but I’m not loving these changes. The 5x on dining is nice, but Amex is close at 4x. Does the Citi card offer the 5x intenationally? One shortcoming of the Amex gold is that the 4x is strictly domestic. Another point is the impending devaluation of the fourth night free benefit. This one is a biggie. I was seriously considering upgrading an existing card to the prestige until I saw this. Gutting the best benefit of the card cuts down majorly on the value proposition for me. Adding in the 4x grocery store earnings on the Amex gold, I’m likely to stick with what I have for now.

    1. Shelli Post author

      You make good points, Christian. No, the dining benefit on the Citi card is not restricted in the way the Amex card is. I’ve gotten oversized value from my Citi card so far, so I’ll watch the numbers very closely starting in Sept 2019 and see what I think about its value going forward.

        1. Shelli Post author

          Good question. Bookings made prior to September 1 (even if the stay occurs after that date) don’t count towards the 2019 limit. In 2019 you’ll be able to make unlimited fourth night free bookings through the end of August. Then the new limit kicks in.

  2. Sam

    Same thing here….I don’t know if I would be using Prestige going forward because of these changes. My AF posted and am debating if I should really consider keeping after 3 years of using it.

    1. Shelli Post author

      I think the group of those of us looking at how we’ll use the Citi card going forward is rather large. It also depends on whether you’ll put those Citi ThankYou points to good use or if Chase or Amex serve you better. Thanks for reading, Sam!

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