July 31, 2014
Citi dumps distance based mile-earning
On the heels of Delta and United moving away from distance based mile-earning, Citibank has announced that they are ending the Citi Prestige card’s distance based Flight Points program. Also going away: Airport Angel lounge access, annual companion ticket, and the annual relationship bonus. On the plus side, they’re adding category bonuses (to catch up to the Premier card), increasing the annual travel credit from $200 to $250, adding Priority Pass Select lounge access, and enhancing their hotel benefit (now 4th night free with no restrictions on how many times used). The Devil’s Advocate at Hack My Trip has the full details here. My take: for most people, the very similar $125 Premier card is a better bet than the $450 Prestige card. That said, with the $250 in travel credits (assuming you get full value from it), the net price difference between these cards is only $75 and the Prestige card includes:
- 1.6 cents per point value when redeeming ThankYou points on AA or US Airways and 1.33 cents per point elsewhere (vs. Premier card which offers 1.25 cents per point for all flights).
- AAdmirals Club and Priority Pass Select lounge access
- Free golf benefits
- A 4th night free hotel benefit of questionable value (I’m not saying its not valuable, but I haven’t researched it yet to see if it would really save much money).
Greendot dumps MoneyPaks:
MoneyPaks are reload cards (like Vanilla Reload cards) that can be used to reload a number of different prepaid products (including Serve). Unfortunately, for consumers and mile/point collectors, MoneyPaks (and other reload cards) have been used by scammers and other criminals to launder and steal money. To combat this, Greendot has decided to completely phase out MoneyPaks in favor of a theoretically more secure, swipe at the register approach (aka “swipe reloads”). This is potentially a better solution for mile collectors than the CVS / Office Depot solution of not accepting credit cards for reload card purchases. If you know of a store that currently allows credit card purchases of MoneyPaks, then swipe reloads might also be possible with a credit card. MoneyPak cards are expected to be completely phased out by early 2015. Read more here.
Sears’ Lands End dump makes gift cards worth less, but Discover saves the day
In old news, Sears spun off Lands End in April. At some point since then, new gift cards issued by Lands End no longer work at Sears, Kmart, etc. A reader named Will ran into this issue after redeeming Discover Cash Back for Lands End gift cards (see “Maximizing Discover rewards: real value from merchant gift cards”). When he discovered that he couldn’t use the gift cards at Sears he reports that he had no problem getting Discover to refund his cash back. Kudos to Discover!