As we reported on Sunday, the Citi Prestige is set to be refreshed on Sunday with a new 75K-point sign up bonus. Are you interested in 75K points? Of course you are. But if you’re looking to apply when the new bonus goes live, there are a few key considerations in prepping to take advantage of the new offer.
Consideration #1: Citi 24-month rule
A signup bonus of 75K points is enough to turn anyone’s head — when we consider that 75K is potentially enough for a round-trip business-class ticket to Hawaii or 2 round trip economy class tickets to paradise (using Singapore Krisflyer), that signup bonus starts to sound downright fantastic. And those are far from the only or most valuable uses of 75K ThankYou points. So let’s not mess this one up — the first key term of which we need to be aware is Citi’s typical 24-month language that will surely accompany this offer:
Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.
Pay close attention there. If you have opened any of those cards in the past 24 months, you will not be eligible for the new bonus. If you have closed any of those cards in the past 24 months, you will not be eligible for the new bonus. So do not close any of those accounts before applying. If you have one of those accounts and want to close it, I suggest doing it immediately after receiving the sign up bonus for the next card you want in the ThankYou ecosystem. That is to say that if you have a ThankYou Premier open and want to close it, open the Prestige card next week and close the Premier card once you have hit the spend and received the sign up bonus on the Prestige.
You might wonder why I said I’d wait until you receive the bonus rather than just cancelling that Premier immediately after you are approved for the Prestige. I’d do it that way out of an abundance of caution. Since the terms state that the bonus points are not available if you have opened or closed one of those cards in the past 24 months, I would be extra careful not to close one of those cards before I received the bonus points (lest they say that I was eligible to receive the bonus points when I applied but wasn’t any longer eligible by the time I earned the bonus). The truth is that you could probably cancel the Premier card immediately after being approved for the Prestige….but I’m not going to put 75K points at risk on that assumption. Of course, if Citi didn’t give me my points, at least I know a good lawyer.
So what should you do if you currently have a Citi Prestige card that you opened more than 2 years ago?
The answer isn’t cut-and-dry. There are two possibilities I see:
1) Try to open a second Prestige card
2) Downgrade to a ThankYou Preferred
In the past, Citi has allowed people to hold more than one of some of their cards. It may be possible to have two Prestige cards, but I’m not sure. I would personally prefer to try Option #2 — downgrade my Prestige to a ThankYou Preferred. I would not recommend product-changing to a card outside of the ThankYou product family. For example, if you product changed your Prestige card to a Citi American Airlines card, I believe that Citi would mark your Prestige card closed and open a new Citi American Airlines account for you (something similar happened when I PC’d from the Citi American Airlines card to the AT&T Access More card and the two accounts now show separately on my credit report). If you stick within the ThankYou family, it should not result in a close/open situation (though YMMV).
You should be able to product change to a ThankYou Preferred this week and then apply for the Prestige next week. While I can’t guarantee that will work, I firmly believe it will.
Consideration #2: Yes, it counts against Chase 5/24
Opening a new personal credit card will count against your Chase 5/24 status — that is to say that if you have opened 5 or more credit card accounts in the past 24 months, you will not be approved for certain Chase cards. Applying for the Citi Prestige will count as one of those 5 new accounts if your Prestige application is approved. If the Prestige will put you at 5/24, consider applying for a Chase card that is limited by 5/24 before you apply for the Citi Prestige. I’d consider the Ink Business Preferred for the 80K sign up bonus, the Ink Cash card for the ongoing 5X category earning, or one of the Sapphire cards if you spend a lot on travel and/or aren’t interested in a business card.
Consideration #3: You’ve gotta spend $7,500 in 3 months
While the sign up bonus is a monster, so is the minimum spend required to pull down that sign up bonus. Can you spend $7,500 in the next 3 months? Of course you can….but how are you going to do it? Have a plan. I recently had the good fortune to catch a mistake before I made it. I assumed I had hit the spend threshold for a bonus, but one day I had a random inspiration to double check it. I was incredibly lucky to think to do it on what I later realized was the final day of the spending window. When I added up my purchases, I was about $100 short of the necessary spend. With less than an hour left to spend. Amazon gift card to the rescue — but man, that was close. Know how you’re going to meet the spend and stay organized.
The good news here is that the Citi Prestige card is a Mastercard. This means that you can still use it to pay your mortgage via Plastiq. Readers with a mortgage or car loan (or other bills normally paid by check, such as bills for a contractor or utilities) could always use Plastiq to help meet the required spend. See our Complete Guide to Plastiq payments for more info.
Those things considered, does it still make sense to apply for the Citi Prestige 75K offer? Of course it does. That”s a lot of ThankYou points, and despite not quite being the #1 transferable points program by most measures, I’ve still found ThankYou points incredibly valuable for the right situations. At the very least, there is value in diversifying. Sometime last year, I needed some more Singapore Krisflyer miles. While I could have transferred points from Chase, I needed my Chase points to transfer to Hyatt for a stay. I could have transferred points from Membership Rewards, but I wanted to leave my Membership Rewards balance intact to take advantage of the (since-changed) pay-with-points rebate. Having ThankYou points as a third option turned out to be a great way to keep all of my points in place to give me the most value out of each separate program. And if you’re looking to amass Singapore or AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue points for a big award, this signup bonus can help you get one giant step closer. Provided you plan appropriately, you should be able to take advantage of the new offer and position yourself for a nice balance of Citi points.