As of January 2019 Citi is going to be making some huge devaluations to the Prestige card that will made it one of the most underwhelming premium travel cards out there. Citi’s efforts to try to make a card to compete with other premium travel cards falls way short of its goal. Its changes don’t align with other cards at the level Citi is trying to compete with, and at its increased price tag you’re paying more for a lot less value.
One of the biggest changes, one that made the card so desirable in the first place, is the 4th night free perk. Booking a hotel with Citi’s agents you would get the 4th night free, this alone could pay for itself after 2-3 booking depending on the price of the property. Its now been reduced to just twice per calendar year starting January 2019 which is a huge blow to the value of the card. It’s all up to how many times you plan to use the benefit per year, anything more than twice and your value is taking a deep dive.
Earnings to the card do get a generous bump, but will it really make up for the higher annual fee? Airfare will be at 5X earning which puts it on par with the American Express Platinum card. On top of that dining is also getting 5X which is a first for a premium travel card like this. These are two of the more positive changes to this card which gives you more back on your day-to-day purchases and expenses. However is it compensated by the loss of redemption value?
Redemption value is dropping to be on par with other travel cards out there. 1 point is now going to be worth 1-cent worth of travel instead of 1.25-cents. This loss of value reduces the overall power of the points you’re earning and for most use cases of this card I’d consider this to be close to negative value change depending on your spending habits.
Another positive change is the use of the airfare credit. It’s being transitioned to a general travel credit that will work more like the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s credit and deduct on anything that codes as a travel related expense. This is how I feel any travel credit should be when it comes to premium travel cards and what you get from the card in reimbursements.
Next we have the annual fee. Citi believes that you’ll pay more for this card over its competitors. When the changes roll into effect the annual fee will be boosted up to $495 instead of $450 (still $350 for Citi Gold clients). With all the overall feature changes to this card I don’t believe that the higher annual fee is justified. This might also lead to a change in the market that will make $495 the new normal for premium travel cards which is not good for your wallet if you aren’t getting your full value of the card back every year.
Table of Changes
|Annual Fee||$450 ($350 with CitiGold Checking)||$495 ($350 with CitiGold Checking)|
|Bonus Categories||3X airfare, hotels, and most travel agencies
2X dining and entertainment
|5X airfare, dining, and most travel agencies
3X hotels and cruise lines
Entertainment drops to 1X next September (9/2019)
|ThankYou Point Value||1 cent per point for cash
1.25 cents per point for airfare booked through the ThankYou portal
|1 cent per point|
|4th Night Free Benefit||Uncapped||Limited to twice per calendar year|
|$250 Travel Credit||Airfare Only||All Travel|
|Cell Phone Protection||None||Covers damage & theft|
|Lounge Access||Citi Proprietary Lounges & Priority Pass Select||Citi Proprietary Lounges & Priority Pass Select|
|Global Entry Fee Credit||$100||$100|
|Event ticket loss protection||Reimburses lost or stolen event tickets||Reimburses lost or stolen event tickets|
The Bottom Line
It’s tough to see where this card would fit in to my personal card lineup. Airfare for me is usually covered by my American Express Platinum card which earns 5X on airfare, during my travels expenses are usually put on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card which earns 3X on dining and travel. Both of these cards have a much larger redemption value for me with incentives such as 35% back on premium cabin redemption and Chase which my points are worth 1.5-cents due to the Reserve card. My value goes further with these two cards than Citi’s and the only case in which I would see myself going for this card was if I was going to reduce my premium travel cards to a single card.