New Changes to the Citi Prestige® Card (Including a 75K Bonus)

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Rumors have been swirling for months about changes coming to the Citi Prestige® Card and those rumors were recently confirmed but the details about the changes weren’t officially released. Well, now we know some of the specific changes coming in a couple of weeks to the Citi Prestige. Via The Points Guy, Citi just announced changes to the Prestige that will come into effect July 23, 2017. This is the same date that all of the former benefits to the Prestige will go away. Here are the new changes.

New sign-up bonus

The standard sign-up bonus for the Citi Prestige is 40,000 points after spending $4,000, a very underwhelming bonus. Citi will be upping the sign-up bonus to 75,000 points but the minimum spend requirement will by shooting up to $7,500. 75,000 points comes out to about $937 worth of airfare.

I wrote earlier that I thought it would be great to see the sign-up bonus up to 75,000 so that’s a huge plus for this card. But the spend requirement of $7,500 is very high and it’s going to be much less practical for many people to hit it, so that’s a major drawback. It’s $3,500 higher than the Reserve and $2,500 higher than The Platinum Card® from American Express. It does come with more points so that somewhat justifies the higher spend.

Changes to the 4th night free benefit

The 4th night free benefit is arguably the most valuable perk of the Citi Prestige and is how it distinguishes itself from other premium cards, such as the Sapphire Reserve. One of the issues is that in the past, you’d have to call in to the Citi Prestige Concierge to use this benefit (or do so by via email). Then, after Prestige Concierge booked the night for you, you would have to wait for a statement credit to be issued for the free night.

Now, you’ll be able to make that booking entirely online and the discount will be immediately applied. The other change is that you will be able to use Citi ThankYou points to cover the full amount needed for the stay or just a portion of it. The drawback is that these points are redeemed at one cent per point (though some would argue 1.33 cents per point when you factor in the 25% discount of the 4th night free).

As a quick aside, it still doesn’t make sense to me that the less-premium Citi ThankYou® Premier allows you to redeem hotels for 1.25 cents per point but the Prestige is stuck at 1 cents per point. 

A major concern is that this new way of booking might be similar to how other portals work that essentially operate like an OTA. This means that you might lose out on earning points, elite credit, and getting elite perks honored with certain loyalty programs like Hilton. Before, you would always retain those hotel elite perks. We still don’t know exactly how this will work but losing those perks would mean these changes actually make this perk less valuable for many people.

Update: As reported by DOC, these bookings will still allow you to receive your hotel elite status perks when booked via the phone.

The other issue is that business travelers could use the former method of redeeming the 4th night free to receive a reimbursement from their employer — that (questionable route) may not be possible any longer since the discount will be immediately applied. Also, you lose out on the additional 3X earnings you’d get before while waiting on the reimbursement.

Cashback redemptions

As rumored before, you will be able to redeem ThankYou points for cash back at the rate of one cents per point. I still think that if your goal is cash back redemptions you should go with other cards. Even when you factor in the 3% on airline travel and hotels and 2% on dining and entertainment, you’re still probably better off going with another cash back card — even a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card might offer better returns, depending on your spending habits.

Metal card

The Citi Prestige will be issued in metal. For many, including myself, metal cards have lost a bit of luster. I still like them but they’re not quite as unique as they once were and if you’ve got a few of them in your wallet, it can become much heavier to carry around. The Points Guy reports that this card is not as heavy as other metal cards so that might be less of an issue.

Benefits remaining the same

The Points Guy also reports that other benefits will be remaining the same, including:

  • Annual $250 Air Travel Credit (eligible to use on airfare)
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access immediate family or two free guests traveling with you
  • 3x points on air travel and hotels
  • 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • 24/7 access to the Citi Prestige Concierge
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection and Trip Delay Protection (some of the best trip delay insurance)

The annual fee will remain at $450, though in the past it’s been possible to get it down to $350 when you apply in-branch.

Final word

The 75K sign-up bonus is nice and certainly competitive but that $7,500 minimum spend requirement is significantly higher than other premium cards. The online 4th night free booking and ability to use points for them is convenient but if it means losing out on hotel elite perks, that’s a major blow to this card. The other changes, such as 1 cent per point for cash back redemptions and a metal card are nothing special.

So overall, these are likely positive changes, but I don’t think Citi has done anything to make the card stand out in a significant way. It’s still a valuable card, but I don’t see this card encroaching into Chase’s or Amex’s territory given the high minimum spend requirement.

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