Prestige 50K offer hanging on by a thread. Still possible to get up to $1300 in flights for $450.

A couple of weeks ago I reported that the writing was on the wall for two great Citibank signup offers: the Citi Prestige 50K offer and the Citi AT&T Access More free phone offer (See: Two great Citi offers may soon be gone. What to do?).  I was right about the AT&T offer.  The last known link to that offer disappeared last week (congrats to those who got in on it before it disappeared!).  The Prestige card offer, though, did not completely die.  Instead, the public offer was lowered to 40K points after $4K spend.  Plus, we learned of a number of big changes with the card that will become effective late July 2017.

Prestige 50K Offer hanging by thread

Citi Prestige, What will change?

A number of big changes were revealed by the Travel Hacking 101 Facebook Group.  As of July 27th July 23rd 2017, we can expect the following changes:

  • No American Airlines Admirals Club access
  • No free golf
  • ThankYou points will no longer be worth up to 1.6 cents each towards airfare.  All airfare redemptions will be at 1.25 cents value.
  • The 4th Night Free benefit (details here) will no longer be based on the 4th night’s rate.  Instead, it will be based on the average nightly rate, not including taxes.

For American Airlines flyers, these changes are pretty bad.  Currently, the card makes ThankYou points much more valuable when used for AA flights (1.6 cents per point) and it makes flying AA more comfortable thanks to the Admirals Club access.  And, of course, golfers will lament the loss of 3 free rounds of golf (or, up to 18 rounds of golf in Asia).

The changes to the 4th Night Free benefit are arguably less drastic.  I hate that they’re excluding taxes from the calculation since taxes can sometimes be a significant part of a hotel bill.  And, the move away from refunding the actual 4th night’s rate will make it more difficult to get outsized value from this benefit.  Currently, it is possible (but difficult) to find hotel stays in which the 4th night is drastically more expensive than the first 3 nights (see this post for examples).  In those cases, the Prestige card’s 4th Night Free benefit is far more valuable than a 25% rebate.  On the other hand, in many real-world situations, the 4th night isn’t more expensive than average, so this change will be somewhat neutral (other than the tax thing that I already mentioned).  And, there are situations where the new approach will be much better.  For example, it is fairly common for hotels to run their own 4th Night Free promotions.  With the current approach, there’s no point in using the Prestige card for such a stay.  As of July 23rd 2017, though, a 4th Night Free hotel promotion could stack with the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free benefit to give you a total of 43.75% off.

The not quite dead Prestige 50K offer

At the time of this writing, there is still an active link to the old offer: 50,000 points after $3K spend.  This offer will almost certainly disappear very soon.   Then we’ll be left with the lesser 40K points after $4K spend offer.  And, if history is a guide, even the 40K point offer may disappear.  After all, we saw the same pattern with the Citi Premier card: the 50K offer dropped to 40K then later disappeared altogether.

My advice: sign up for the Prestige card ASAP.  Keep in mind Citi’s application rules (found here).  For example, if you recently signed up for a Citi card, make sure 8 days have gone by before signing up for a new one.

The $450 / $350 annual fee

If you signup online for the Prestige card, the default annual fee (which is not waived the first year) is $450.  If you are a CitiGold customer, they’ll charge you just $350.  Or, if you signup in-branch, you’ll be charged only $350 (but then you won’t be able to get in on the existing 50K offer).

Either way, is it really worth it?

Prestige Card Key Benefits

There’s no question that the Prestige card is pricey, but it does come with a number of excellent benefits:

  • $250 air travel credit (including airfare) per calendar year
  • American Airlines Admirals Club access (through July 22 2017)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership which includes the ability to bring guests in for free (that makes it better than the Priority Pass Select membership which comes with the Amex Platinum card)
  • Free golf (through July 22 2017)
  • 4th Night Free Hotel benefit (details here)
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • ThankYou points 1.6 cents each towards AA airfare; and 1.33 cents each towards all other airfare.  (Changing to 1.25 cents as of July 23 2017)
  • Earn 3X points for airfare, hotels, and travel agencies; 2X for dining and entertainment

If you regularly pay for airfare, the $250 air travel credit alone can effectively reduce the annual fee by that same amount.  For example, if your annual fee is $350, then the effective annual fee would be only $100.  As long as you value the card’s other perks, that’s a great deal.

How to secure up to $1300 in flights for $450

If you signup now for the still-available 50,000 point offer, then in your first 12 months of card membership, you can use the $250 airline fee credit twice, and get up to $800 in airfare from your 50,000 ThankYou points.  Here’s how:

  1. Sign up for the Prestige 50K offer (found here)
  2. Meet the offer’s minimum spend requirements in order to earn 50,000 bonus points: Spend $3,000 in 3 months.
  3. Use the card to purchase $250 or more in airfare this year.  $250 should be automatically reimbursed to your credit card account.
  4. Use the card to purchase $250 or more in airfare next year.  Again, $250 should be automatically reimbursed to your credit card account.
  5. Log into your ThankYou Rewards account to purchase airfare with your ThankYou points.  50,000 points will get you $800 in American Airlines airfare, or $665 in airfare with other carriers.

What to do when the annual fee renews

After a year of enjoying the Prestige card’s benefits, call to say that you want to cancel the card (make sure you’re speaking with a human first – the automated system may actually close your account).  You should then be transferred to a retention specialist who can see if your account is authorized for any good retention offers.

The timing is great for this.  With AA Admirals Club access and other key benefits going away a year from now, I expect that Citi will be more aggressive than usual with their retention offers at that time.

If you get a valuable offer, consider keeping the card for another year (and then make sure to use your $250 in airfare credit in 2018!).  If not, consider downgrading the card to a no-fee ThankYou Preferred card so that you won’t lose any remaining ThankYou points.  See: Cancelling your Prestige or Premier card? Here’s how to keep your ThankYou points alive.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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    • I expect so but haven’t tried it. As long as Air Tahiti charges your card as an airline ticket purchase it should work. I do know that you can use thankyou points to book that flight (with points currently worth 1.33 cents each for that redemption)

      • Thank you for the info on paying with Thank You points. Do you think it would work to pay $250 with the Prestige and the remainder with my points? I wasn’t sure since it isn’t directly through the airline.

        TIA

    • I don’t mean to be a shill for these guys (Citi), who have been getting a lot of flack lately, but in my experience with them, they have been super helpful — more than they needed to be, technically — in giving the airline credit under marginal circumstances. Call.

  1. Wait, so you’re still pushing the card and telling people they can get $800 in value for their 50k TY points? Is the 1.6cpp benefit also not going away until next July? This seems like the kind of change that would be in effect immediately if they’re announcing it.

  2. Just 2 days ago, I downgraded Prestige to TY preferred card, so that the clock will reset if I wanted to get Prestige in 2 years (assuming they still have some bonus offer then).

    Should I have asked for any retentions first? I didn’t try any retention offers prior to PC this card. Too late? Note that getting a retention offer on Prestige takes about 2 hours on the phone as the service is currently slow.

    • As you pointed out, the Citi retention department is hard to get on the line these days (the word is that most employees have been temporarily assigned to the new Costco cards). Hopefully that will clear up in a few months or sooner.

      Given that, you probably did the right thing. The good news is that Citi has been willing to offer pretty good retention offers for the Preferred card as well, even though it has no annual fee.

  3. Greg,
    If I use my 50K Thankyou points to buy a $800 refundable ticket on AA, what happens if I need to cancel the ticket? Do the points go back, I get an airline voucher, or something else?

      • Is the process of refunding the points what requires many phone calls or is just cancelling a ticket that difficult? Do you know what happens if you cancel via American? If I’m ok with just getting the cash back to my statement instead of the points, is that possible?

        • I don’t really know that it will be difficult, but my assumption is that refunding the points won’t be automatic. I’m pretty sure you have to go through your travel agency (Citi ThankYou to cancel). No, I don’t think they’ll give you cash back instead

  4. I’m hesitant whether I should go for the $450/50K version or $350/40K version. If redeeming for AA ticket, 10K difference is $160 before July 2017. But if i want to keep the card for long(er) term, wouldn’t the $350 route be better when combined with the retention offer (hopefully)?
    What other aspect can i use to evaluate this situation?
    thanks for your input.

    • That’s a really good point that I hadn’t thought of. As you point out, if you have a Citi branch nearby then you can get the $350 annual fee in-branch so that will keep your annual fee lower for the long run. That offer requires more spend ($4K instead of $3K) and results in fewer bonus points.

      My take: If you think its likely that you’ll want to keep the card after a year (despite the big reduction in benefits planned for a year from now), then I would recommend the in-branch offer for the lower annual fee.

      • You don’t have to do the in-branch offer to get the lower fee. I opened a CitiGold account for the 50K AA (didn’t get it of course, but not relevant), then used your link to apply for the Prestige (this was a while ago) and the annual fee of $350 hit just fine without me doing anything.

  5. If you purchase a plane flight through expedia will this trigger the airfare credit or will it only work through the airline directly?

    • I am interested in hearing the answer to this as well. I just received this card, so do not know whether I have to go through the Thank You points to make “any” flights, as well as booking to get the @250 credit. Thank you!

  6. Already used up most of the TY points from a variety of TY Card applications, including a Prestige 50K for myself a while ago. I’ll almost certainly cancel within the year. I did think recently about applying for the wife in a hurry for a Prestige to get the 50K offer but I decided against it. I still have a $250 credit from my Prestige to use before cancelling next year. And we don’t have enough cash airline expenses to cover two more $250 credits honestly. I doubt I have enough time for her to apply for the CitiGold 50K AA offer (she is targeted) and then do the Prestige before the zombie link goes away. We could probably use the ~$1,000 dollars in TY credits on a flight I could book before next July, but I have lots of AA miles too, and it would involve spending a bunch of cash as well since I won’t have enough points for the whole thing. Didn’t work out for me. Think through the whole thing before you commit to a $450 annual fee.

  7. I just got this card the other day for the 50k bonus. If you spend $250 in airfare & you receive the $250 credit, does this count towards your required 3k spend to receive the bonus points? Does the $450 annual fee count towards the required 3k spend?

  8. Last Year as a new citi customer just applied for the premier card and got approved just 6k… a month later tried the prestige and got denied…. Just waited the premier hitted the anual fee and just used the 50k link and finally got approved with a decent limit of 20k 😛

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