Citi Prestige Card Review: Still worth The $450 Fee?

Our rating

4.5/5

See explanation of our ratings system

See breakdown of this card’s rating

Since launching in 2010, the Citi Prestige has overhauled its (many) perks several times — and it just underwent another round of changes in July 2017.

The card still comes with a pretty hefty annual fee of $450. So does it still live up to the costs? Our review will help you evaluate the updated version of the card.

What’s changing in the next year

Before we dive into the card’s benefits, here’s a quick run-down of what just changed in July 2017:

  • Point value for travel redemptions lowered
  • Admirals Club access dropped (Sept. 2016 for new applicants, July 2017 for current cardholders)
  • Reimbursements for the “fourth night free” hotel benefit are being calculated differently
  • You can now book fourth-night-free stays online (you used to have to call)
  • No more “three free rounds of golf” benefit
  • Better value for cash-back redemptions (1 cent per point, up from 0.5 cents per point)

Earning rewards

Here’s how many points you’ll earn with the Prestige card:

  • 1 point per dollar on regular purchases
  • 2x points per dollar on dining and entertainment
  • 3x points on air travel and hotels

Citigold customers will receive a 15 percent ThankYou-point bonus (based on that year’s purchases) annually, and Citi Private Bank customers will receive a 25 percent annual bonus.

When it comes to the value of each point, that varies by how you redeem them, and you have many options in the Citi ThankYou program. With gift cards, you can typically expect a value of 1 cent value per point. Your value may increase or decrease when you redeem for other things (such as travel or merchandise). The card also offers various redemption “discounts” when you use your rewards for travel, and that’s one of the things that’s about to change:

  • American Airlines redemptions: Points are worth 1.25 cents each, as of July 2017 (down from 1.6 cents per point) when you book an AA flight via Citi’s travel portal.
  • Redemptions for other airline tickets: Points are worth 1.25 cents (down from 1.33 cents each) when you book via Citi’s travel portal.

Verdict? The bonus categories (dining, travel and entertainment) are a definite plus and certainly nothing to sneeze at, especially if you travel frequently and can take advantage of the 3X category (airfares and hotels). But for a lower annual fee, you can get bonus spending on restaurants and/or travel with other cash-back and travel cards on the market.

The decrease in value for airline redemptions (next year) is something to consider, especially if you frequently took advantage of the 60 percent boost in value for American Airlines bookings. However, if you rarely redeemed via Citi’s travel portal anyway, this reduction of benefits is merely a glancing blow. And you’ll still get a competitive 25 percent boost in value going forward, should you choose to use the portal.

The benefits

These elite cards aren’t just about the points. The reason you’d pay $450 for the Citi Prestige card is for benefits, right? Here’s what the card gives you …

    • Lounge access – The card provides access to Priority Pass lounges. Up to two guests or immediate family members also get Priority Pass lounge access when traveling with the cardholder. The card used to offer Admirals Club access, but stopped doing that as of July 2017.
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Points transfer: Via the Citi ThankYou program, you can transfer your points to partner airline and hotel programs. In most cases, you get a 1:1 transfer ratio, or better. The current list of partners has a decidedly international bent, while similar programs from other cards offer more domestic carriers. Currently, you can transfer to: Asia Miles, EVA Air, Etihad, Flying Blue, Garuda Indonesia, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Hilton.
    • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck reimbursement: Every five years, Prestige cardholders are eligible for a statement credit that cancels out the application fee for TSA PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100). Keep in mind that Global Entry includes PreCheck. This perk can save frequent travelers lots of time at the airport.
    • Air travel credit – Each year, you get a $250 travel credit, which can be applied to airfares AND incidental fees like lounge access and baggage fees.
    • Insurance + similar benefits – Lost luggage, travel accident, extended warranty, price protection, trip delay/cancellation, auto rental coverage (secondary coverage) and more
    • Miscellaneous – Phone concierge (available 24 hours a day, in the language of your choice); Citi Private Pass
    • Hotel perks – You get the fourth night free if you book at an eligible property via Citi’s travel concierge. You must book four consecutive nights to receive this benefit. The amount you’ll be reimbursed will be based on the average nightly rate of your entire stay (prior to July 2017, you’d be reimbursed for the actual amount of the fourth night).
    • Relationship bonus – For those who bank with Citi, the bonus structure looks this:

Citi Prestige annual bonus

Citi used to give annual bonuses to cardmembers who didn’t bank with Citi as well – but it axed that perk in 2014.

Conclusion?

A lot just changed with this card, and it’s a mixed bag:

Perhaps the biggest change is the lounge access. The loss of complimentary Admirals Club access is a big one for frequent travelers. To keep it, you’ll need to either get American Airlines’ premium card (and pay $450 per year) or shell out hundreds of dollars per year on an Admirals Club membership.

The recalculation of the fourth-night-free hotel benefit could be a downgrade for people who timed their hotel stays so that the fourth night would be the most expensive night. However, the ability to book your fourth-night-free stays online is a time-saver.

Depending on how you redeemed your rewards, the devaluation of airline redemptions could decrease the value of the card for you.

And the unique three-rounds-of-golf benefit might sting for cardmembers who looked forward to using it each year.

And therein lies the rub – while the Prestige still has a lucrative points-earning structure, with these high-annual-fee premium cards, it’s not about the points for many people. It’s about the extras — the kind of extras this card is about to nix. It’s actually rather common for luxury cards to adjust their benefits from time to time; the Platinum Card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) has done the same over the years.

So, if you’re thinking about getting (or keeping) the Prestige, do a cost-benefit analysis. The competitive $250 travel-reimbursement credit, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck reimbursement and Priority Pass membership might still keep the card in the running.

For a lower annual fee, consider the Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 per year). It offers a lot of the same travel insurance protections and concierge services, and gives 3X points on travel (including gas) and 2X on dining and entertainment. For $95 a year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also lets you earn bonus points on dining and travel and has its own suite of airline transfer partners (including more hotels and domestic carriers).

Or, for similar luxury perks (including some that the Citi Prestige doesn’t have), the American Express Platinum card is an option worth weighing, especially since AmEx is ramping up its lounge game with its swanky Centurion lounges.

Our rating

This card’s rating was based on our standards for flexible rewards programs.

Updated July 2017

Rewards-earning rate: This card earns at least 2X in at least 2 bonus categories, meeting our standards.
Rewards value: This card guarantees a value of at least 1 cent per point for cash back and for travel.
Unique perks: This card offers lounge access, boosted value on airfare redemptions, credits against Global Entry and more
Fair annual fee: The monetary value of this card’s perks (Priority Pass access, $250 annual travel credit) equal or exceed the cost of the annual fee.
Bonus opportunities: The card has an advertised sign-up bonus, but no bonus-shopping portal or universal redemption/annual bonus (the relationship bonus is contingent on having a banking relationship with Citi). So we docked half a star.
 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Good Benefits. TERRIBLE service.

Card was recently issued. Due to reasons unknown (but probably due to Citi mis-printing a name on the card) my card has been frozen.

OK, so strong anti-fraud is good. However
(1) I wasn’t notified that my card was blocked, and had to find out by having my card declined.
(2) I’d been on an earlier call with a customer representative, who neglected to tell me the card was blocked
(3) Fraud department doesn’t work weekends, so I can’t have the card unblocked until Monday.

All-in-all, I see this as terrible service – which is inexcusable when card charges are so high.

Severely disappointed. Looking for other cards.

I have read the Citigold account holders only have to pay 350 a year for this card but when I call citibank they say it’s 450. Does anyone know if this true?

Citibank reps are not very informed when it comes to this Prestige card. There were several occasions where I had to educate them on the various benefits. I’m a Citigold member and was charged $350 on my first statement (which was offset by the $250 airline fee credit).

My Experience:
After 2years with the Amex Platinum, I canceled it (changed to the Green card) and I applied for this card Citi Prestige. My Approved CL issued is $31k….not bad IMHO. The Citi Prestige trumps the Amex Platinum in my book. For the non business owner but yet soon to be affluent / middleclass millionaires (my Petroleum Engineering degree or Accounting CPA people) this card is GREAT. It give you the perks you want 3x points airfare and hotels, 2x points dining and entertainment and 1x point everything else which makes it a GOOD (EVERY DAY) type of card. Which is exactly what you want when you are paying a HEFTY annual fee. It also gives you the HIGHEND stuff like Priority Pass and Admiral Club, a $250 airfare credit (yearly) which can be used directly for the purchase of ANY type of airline ticket OR expenses. Lastly the FREE NIGHT perk is AMAZING. Pay for 3 nights and get the 4th night free. There’s NO LIMIT to how many times per year you can use this feature/perk. From a “STAYCATIONS” for me in MIAMI at the (Fountianebleau) to a getaway VACATION in Las Vegas memorial day weekend (Aria Hotel). You can/should easily be able to recoup the Annual Fee of this card.

Annual Fee of the Citi Prestige is $450

How to get that AF$$$ back easily:
1 vacation trip using perks of the Citi Prestige: (Airfare credit of $250 pays for the entire ticket or helps reduce the cost$$$)+ Free Night on a 4 day getaway(estimate avg cost of a Fri or Sat night at a MID tier hotel $200 or more). Recouped AF of $450….YES!

Bonus (repeat the below example CONTINOUSLY thru out the year with wifey or GF or a significant other….)

1 STAYCATION example: 4th of July weekend or labor day weekend (Tues-Fri*) or (Wens-Sat*)
*= the Complimentary Free Night i.e.(most Expensive $$$)night……Yes again!
So everything else you get with this card is Truly Free like Priority Pass, 3Comp. Golfing Rounds, Free late check out and breakfast and Admiral Club Access. My critique is the 1:1 transfer partners needs to expand a bit more domestically.

I try to look for Credit Cards that I don’t mind being stuck with after the bonus sign up is gone. This card is one of them. Plus it looks cool and different. Amex has to up their game. Many of us (credit savvy) people used the AMEX as a backup card due to the poor point accumulation, but keeping it for the Status symbol, Priority Pass and the illegally buying of a $200 gift card from our designated Airline to justify Amex $450 AF. Game over for me with that!
Oh I almost forgot to mention Amex authorized user $175 FOR WIFEY CARD… Citi Prestige is only $50 for a second card. $125 savings right there for me.

I wish it was metal too….lol

I could not make Citi Prestige work for me, and finally cancelled it last week. For the first several months, glitches prevented me from registering this card for online payment. I was in direct contact with their IT people and with a few apathetic customer service representatives, and the issue was never properly resolved. At this day and age, if you are a frequent traveler you need to control and pay your bills from the road, and not depend on paper statements being delivered in the mail. The limit was also not adequate – one international business class ticket often costs me alone 12,000 USD. Therefore, a limit of 9,200 USD may be cute if you only use your card for restaurants, but as a credit card that – as claimed – was designed to support your international business lifestyle, Citi Prestige only talks the talk but does not walk the walk. After all these years, it seems like American Express Platinum continues to be the only serious product in my market segment.

I know I’m a bit late to the party, but don’t waste your time calling Citi about these changes…I just called Citi to ask about the upcoming Priority Pass benefit and was on the line with the lady(who was very nice) for half an hour…unfortunately, she had NO CLUE what I was talking about. I had to point her and her supervisor to the Citi Prestige webpage to show them the benefit that they’re offering.

A couple of questions for all:
Do we know yet what is determined by 3x for Travel Agencies ? Would this include things like Expedia etc or only traditional brick and mortar travel agencies ?
Similarly will entertainment include Amazon.com which I believe other Citi cards or similar (may be thinking of BoA) include this ?
Will air travel credit be online (like AMEX platinum) or have to call in to receive credit ?

Lastly one comment on the 4th night free perk, my understanding is that in October this will be ANY hotel as long as booked through Carlton Wagonlit rather than right now having to book through Luxury Hotel Collection only.

Thanks all

This is still a great card as of today and before doing away with free companion ticket. Many people forget that you can easily authorize your spouse or mate as a card user and instantly you can get another free companion ticket within the same year. You can authorize up to three additional users. Plus, if you have a Citi gold bank account, your annual fee is reduced to $350/year. Take away $200 or upcoming $250 in airline credits, the annual fee is very reasonable, especially with all the other perks: Avist First, Sixt elite, National Emerald, 1.6x redemption of points with American Airlines or US Airways, and lounge accesses. And even better, you can now transfer those thank you points for 1:1 to partnering airlines to let your points go even farther than their $0.01 cash value. I like the upcoming 3x rewards for travel. I cancelles my Citi Preferred after using the companion ticket and kept this Prestige card. Even after Oct 2014, I think I will still keep it. Spirit Incentives is a pain to use. But if you play with it, you can get great deals. I booked 6 tickets this summer to Luxembourg on British Airways for about $6500 total using the companion benefits. It would have cost even less on other airlines as BA charges too much for fuel surcharges.

Premiere use to have most of the same perk in regard to 15% off flights, miles flown as points, and BOGO airline ticket per year. Then it was gutted. Prestige picked up all these great benefits plus a couple of more. And now….. it is being gutted too!! No more 15% off flights, no more buy one get one tickets, no more points for miles flown…. Citi majorly watered down this $450 card… I wish they would keep it the same versus offering and taking it all away after you sign up….

Fellow Citi Prestige owners who had to pay $500 annual plus $150 per authorized users and saw features like Priority pass leave(only to now comeback when other features are leaving) and are now witnessing the removal of the companion feature but the annual fee is the same, I have one message…

LETS SEND A MESSAGE BY CANCELLING OUR MEMBERSHIP when the companion ticket is removed.

NO MORE BAILOUTS FOR CITI.

Be aware of upcoming changes:
You will not be able to get flight points anymore! That means that the biggest plus of this card will be gone. Also they cut the loyalty bonus to 15 percent per year – no more extra bonus for big spenders and/or citi gold clients. Without these benefits the card is not worth 50 bucks anymore and for sure not 450!

This card is brutal. I currently have it and the customer services, technology glitches, and flight booking are all TERRIBLE. I can’t tell you how many problems I have had with it.

The prestige travel benefits do offer a free companion ticket but you HAVE TO use the Spirit incentives website. The problem is that the choices are VERY limited. The Spirit incentives website publishes and offers the lowest fare, which means that if the lowest fare option is 1+ stops, you have to commit to that. You do not have the choice of paying more for a non-stop flight. Even if the nonstop flight is just $1 more, too bad, it’s not the lowest published fare.
One would think that speaking to a person and offering logic would get you somewhere, think again. These people are like robots and just repeat the party line.
I would NOT recommend the citi prestige card. I spent over 4 hours (non-consecutively) trying to make travel plans. The $$ saved is not worth the aggravation and limitations.

Surprised to read that The Premier and Prestige cards have been discontinued.
as I was in the Bank yesterday and was offered both.
Can anyone tell me however – Can you choose which airline/flight and class you want to book. AS I fly a lot mainly international and across the Atlantic 6-8 times a year, but only like travelling Business Class. Also can the companion ticket be used in conjuntion with a ticket issued for points.
Would be pleased to hear from ayone.
Thanks

Opened the prestige card last month and already saved $480 on a companion ticket on Jetblue to DC, $800 on a companion ticket to Aruba on Jetblue, $100 on the global entry travel program and received 30,000 ty points for signing up which I am applying as a $300 payment on my mortgage,

Airline tickets are easy to get. You do not get to select the airline or route as they always give you the lowest fare. I was surprised that jetblue ever was the lowest. I checked the rate quoted by the companion program against the airline websites and found that it really was at least 40 to 50 per cent less.

So far it has worked great for me.

Hi Sarah, do you have to book your flight ticket only through Spirit to get the free companion ticket? Also, when they mean free companion ticket, do they only mean the flight ticket exclusive of taxes and other fees? Thanks.

The 21 complimentary golf games indicated in the brochure (Singapore-based members) are not aligned with the website, which is 3! I called Citibank, spoke to an officer and they said they would reply – said I wanted in writing as verball assurances no use to me – or others. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Am-Ex Platinum does have concierge service.
We travel 3-4 times a year,, half that international. We have multiple vacation plans & an AMEX Platinum card. I’ve found through the years that trying to book an airline using “points” is TOO restrictive or costly for booking airline travel. Booking international flights are best served when using an agent or dealing directly with an airline of choice.

Atul, the companion fare option is great. My husband and I use it frequently each year. You are offered one domestic or international airfare ticket (buy one, get one free) each calendar year. Each additional card holder is offered the same benefit each year.

Can any one explain to me how the free companion ticket works? is it really good?

Nice summary of the card! I am Prestige card holder too and at first I thought the $500 was a bit steep. You are spot on with the rewards and on the surface, the benefits to cost ratio seem a bit less what AMEX is offering. However, one benefit the Prestige card offers (not sure about AMEX) is the Concierge service. I am a bit fan of this service, a call center operation that really goes the extra mile. I have used them to order flowers for family, book a entire trip to London for my family and all sorts of other things, that are way out of the box. This service is almost like having a personal secretary on call 24×7. So, in total, I do not know of a better cared service. What are you thoughts.

You have neglected one of the main benefits of the prestige card.

If you book travel through the Thank You Network you get a 33% discount ONLY if you have the Prestige Card.

Now combine this with the fact that a customers Thank You account pools nearly ALL Citi benefits (including other Credit Cards, Bank Accounts, etc…or at least one can easily set it up that way. For example I eat out a lot and have their Citi Forward Card which gives me five TY points for every dollar spent at a restaurant).

And here’s the kicker…the 33% discount will apply to ALL your TY Points earned through all the various Citi Channels.

If you start doing the math, this can really start adding up (and if you travel a lot…it will REALLY add up with their travel miles credit as well…).

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