Citi destroys most card benefits in September

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Earlier today, we reported that Citi is dropping Price Rewind from its cards on September 22, 2019. What we didn’t realize at the time was that this is just part of a wide decimation of benefits coming to almost all of Citi’s cards (including the Prestige). These changes are so sweeping that I have to think Citi has something up their sleeve in terms of updating / refreshing / changing benefits. If these benefit changes are just a new stripped-down strategic vision, Citi’s offerings are about to take a leap behind the competition.

Benefits going away

On September 22, 2019, the following benefits will be stripped from all Citi cards (yes, including the Citi Prestige):

  • Worldwide Car Rental Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection
  • Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Delay Protection
  • Baggage Delay Protection
  • Lost Baggage Protection
  • Medical Evacuation
  • Citi® Price Rewind
  • 90 Day Return Protection
  • Missed Event Ticket Protection
  • Roadside Assistance Dispatch Service
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance

Additionally, the following benefits will be removed from the Citi Double Cash and Citi Dividend only:

  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection

Other cards will retain extended warranty and purchase protection.

Update: Note that the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi will retain cardmember benefits such as Worldwide Car Rental Insurance, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, Roadside Assistance Dispatch Service, Travel & Emergency Assistance, Damage & Theft Protection, Extended Warranty, and more.

Why this is a big deal

We reported earlier about Citi killing Price Rewind, which is kind of surprising since they just cut the benefit by 60% less than one year ago. That’s both kind of surprising and disappointing, though I have to imagine that they were taking a beating on that benefit from those “in the know” enough about benefits to use it (in other words, I suspect the customers most likely to use that benefit are already the least profitable customers).

I’ve long thought Citi’s missed event ticket protection was an overly generous policy that was probably subject to some abuse.

However, eliminating standard travel credit card benefits like car rental insurance, roadside assistance, and lost baggage protection puts them at a pretty significant competitive disadvantage compared to other travel cards on the market.

Further eliminating trip delay & cancellation benefits and baggage delay are real head-scratchers on a premium product like the Citi Prestige, especially after announcing an increase in the annual fee. Personally, I was unhappy to see the elimination of trip delay benefits as I certainly intended to use my Citi Prestige card for any bookings made for the #40KFaraway challenge. However, according to the notification upon login at the Citi website, coverage will be in effect for purchases made before September 22, 2019 — so theoretically I’m good to go with booking things now for future travel beyond September 22nd.

That said, I’m really unimpressed with these changes as a whole. I’ve certainly been enjoying 5x at restaurants and on airfare with my Citi Prestige card since those new bonus categories began, but my positive past experience with trip delay coverage has certainly been an influence in keeping it. Going forward, I think I likely wouldn’t forgo trip coverage offered by other cards in order to earn 5x ThankYou points.

Bottom line

Citi is eliminating most of the ancillary benefits on all of their cards on September 22, 2019. This is a surprising shift given that it even strips key benefits from the Citi Prestige card, which is already about to take a huge hit to the 4th night free benefit. I hope that Citi has some sort of total refresh coming and actually intends to re-introduce at least some of these benefits, but thus far we have no indication that they will. Remember that purchases made before September 22nd, 2019 will enjoy your current coverages, so keep records to know which items are covered in case you need to file a claim.

H/T: Doctor of Credit

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