6 Reasons to get the Citi Prestige Card
This weekend I wanted to book flights to attend a wedding in San Antonio, TX in the fall. I started my search using Google Flights to get an idea of availability and pricing. I was not sure if I wanted to pay cash or use points–but, in the end, I decided to do a little bit of both, maximizing the value of my Citi Prestige Card. Allow me to share my rationale behind getting the $450 annual fee card in this post.
In fact, I was actually trying to limit this post to the Top 5 reasons to get the Citi Prestige Card, but I couldn’t do it–I had to go with 6 because there are just so many great reasons to sign up for this card and pay the admittedly HIGH $450 annual fee. But even if you aren’t a professional mile redeemer, and travel only a couple of times per year, you can easily get AT LEAST $1500 in value over the course of a year holding this card.
50,000 Point Sign up Bonus
First, the card has a very generous sign up bonus. If you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months you will earn 50,000 Citi Thank You Points. Conservatively, these points are worth about 1.6 cents each, so the bonus is easily worth $800 in free airfare. In fact, Citi Thank You Points can be used as currency to book flights at a fixed rate. If there is a seat for sale on a flight, you can use your Thank You Points to book it. The best value is to book on an American Airlines flight where you will get a fixed 1.6 cents per point value. To redeem these miles it is simple–the Citi redemption site charges the same fare as what the airline is charging on their own site–but you can pay in points, or a points/cash mix.
Great Flexibility and Easy to Use
This is actually how I used some of my points this weekend. I found flights on American Airlines from PHL to SAT selling for around $356 round trip in economy. If I had simply redeemed American AAdvantage miles for this flight I would have had to hope for award seat availability and then redeemed 25,000 miles for the round trip flight. Instead, since my Citi Thank You Points have a fixed 1.6 cent value on American, I was able to redeem just over 22,000 Points for the flights–no award search necessary. Also, American sees this purchase as a cash purchase, so I will also be able to earn AAdvantage miles on the flights.
If I had chosen to fly a different airline, I could have also used my Thank You Points, but I would have received a lower fixed value of 1.33 cents–but again, I would have been able to fly any airline that had seats for sale.
I also had the flexibility to determine my points and cash mix. If I had not had enough points for the trip, I could have simply paid the difference in cash. In this case I chose to use a mix of points and cash for the 3 tickets I purchased. In the end I paid 51,129 points and $252 cash for the 3 round trip economy tickets. This points-cash mix allowed me to maximize another perk of the Citi Prestige Card–but more on that later.
But, that’s not all! Thank You Points are also transferable to several hotel & airline partners:
Not all of these partners are a great value for transfers–but one definite highlight is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. By transferring Thank You Points to Singapore, you have access to all Star Alliance partner flights at competitive rates–or you can redeem for Singapore First Class, which is one of the nicest First Class products out there.
$250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year
This is another very valuable perk–which can actually make you money on this card. Since the card offers a $250 Air Travel credit each calendar year, you can sign up for this card now, and get a $250 statement credit on any airline purchase this year (i.e. if you buy a $350 ticket on Delta or any other airline, Citi will give you $250 cash back in the form of a statement credit). But it doesn’t just have to be tickets–any charge directly from an airline will count, including baggage fees, food purchases, upgrades, etc.
Use your $250 credit by December this year, and then it resets on January 1, so you can get another $250 credit before your next annual fee comes due. Even without the additional value that your Points and other card perks get you, Citi is essentially giving you $500 in credit if you pay them a $450 annual fee up front.
Also, if you do not yet have Global Entry, Citi will give you a $100 Global Entry credit once you apply and are charged the $100 application fee (good for 5 years). With this card, Global Entry is free!
The card also comes with two types of Lounge Access. First, you have automatic access to American Airlines Admiral’s Clubs anytime you are flying an American Flight. No additional steps are necessary. Once you have your American boarding pass, head over to the lounge and present your Citi Prestige card.
Second, you also get a free Priority Pass card. Priority Pass allows you access to over 900 lounges worldwide.
Fourth Night Free at Hotels
Any time you stay at a hotel for 4 or more nights and pay with your Citi Prestige card you get the fourth night FREE! This has an almost unlimited value potential. No matter how much the room cost (including taxes) you get a statement credit for your fourth paid night for the entire cost. So, lets say that I want to book a room in Barcelona for 4 nights. Each night costs $200. I call the Citi Concierge and book the rooms, they quote me the price of $800 for the 4 nights. After I pay, I get a statement credit for $200. It’s that easy–$600 cash out of pocket for $800 worth of hotel, or another way to look at it–save 25% on any hotel stay of 4 nights.
Now, I have had great luck with the Citi Concierge quoting me the same prices I was finding online before I called–however, always check online to see what the going rate of the room is, before you book.
Points Earning Rates
The earning rates on this card are fantastic for frequent travelers:
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all airfare and hotel purchases
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all dining and entertainment purchases
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Assuming that you value Thank You Points at exactly 1.6 cents per point (what they are worth redeeming for American flights), that is 4.8 cents back per $1 spent on airline and hotel purchases–4.8% cash back on these purchases is a great deal! It is also like getting 3.2% return any time you dine out or enjoy some entertainment.
Many people get scared away from this card based solely on the $450 annual fee–not waived the first year. However, if you are willing to look at the $450 annual fee as an investment for the next year–an investment that could easily net you $1500 in travel, or more, you should apply for this card.
Immediately after meeting the minimum spending you get 50,000 Thank You Points, worth at least $800 in American Airlines flights. Also, you get $500 in air travel credits over the course of 1 year and 1 annual fee. Furthermore, you can really maximize the value with unlimited 4th night free stays at any hotel. And, don’t forget the lounge access, and even the $100 credit for Global Entry.
If you are lazy, you can get at least $1500 in value for your $450 annual fee over the course of a year. If you want to maximize the value of this card, the sky is the limit. Transfer points, stay at more hotels, earn/redeem lots of points. This card is a no-brainer! My recommendation: Apply for the Citi Prestige Card now while the sign up bonus is at 50,000 points!