Citi Prestige to add 5X dining & airfare; limit 4th Night Free

Update: Via a reliable source I’ve learned that the category bonus changes won’t take effect until January 2019 (I previously published Nov 9, 2018).  Also, I previously speculated that the current 3X rewards for most travel agencies will drop to 1X, but I’ve since learned that most travel agencies will earn 5X!

Exciting news about upcoming changes to the Citi Prestige card have dribbled out from multiple sources (here, here, and here, for example).  The headline news is that the Prestige card will soon offer 5X points for dining and airfare, but will also limit the 4th Night Free benefit to two uses per year.  Here’s a full summary of the expected changes including dates we expect to see each change.  Note that since we haven’t seen an official report from Citibank yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some of the stated dates are incorrect.  I’ll update this post when official information is released.

Old New Date Expected
Annual Fee $450 ($350 with CitiGold Checking) $495 ($350 with CitiGold Checking) January 2019
Bonus Categories 3X airfare, hotels, and most travel agencies
2X dining and entertainment
5X airfare, dining, and most travel agencies
3X hotels and cruise lines

Entertainment drops to 1X next September (9/2019)
January 2019
ThankYou Point Value 1 cent per point for cash
1.25 cents per point for airfare booked through the ThankYou portal
1 cent per point September 2019
4th Night Free Benefit Uncapped Limited to twice per calendar year September 2019
$250 Travel Credit Airfare Only All Travel January 2019?
Cell Phone Protection N/A Covers damage & theft May 2019
Lounge Access Citi Proprietary Lounges & Priority Pass Select Unchanged
Global Entry Fee Credit $100 Unchanged
Event ticket loss protection Reimburses lost or stolen event tickets Unchanged

My initial reactions

I’ll analyze this in full in future posts, but here are my initial thoughts…

Overall, I think that these changes make the Citi ThankYou program more relevant than ever before.  By combining the Prestige card with the Premier card, you can get fantastic earning power: 5X dining + airfare, 3X all other travel & gas, 2X entertainment.  Plus, you can get good per point value (1.25 cents per point) with the Premier card.  Better yet, you can transfer points to Citi’s growing list of transfer partners including JetBlue, Air France & Virgin Atlantic which can be used to book Delta flights, Avianca & Singapore which can be used to book United flights, and Cathay & Etihad which can be used to book AA flights.

Now for some point by point reactions…

  • $495 annual fee is a bummer. Even if you give full value to the $250 travel credit, the net annual fee comes to $245.  Compared to the Sapphire Reserve ($450 – $300 travel credit = $150), the Prestige will be considerably more expensive for those who pay the full annual fee.  In my case, I once had Citi Gold checking and ever since then I seem to be locked into the lower $350 annual fee.  It’s worth watching for CitiGold signup promotions to get this lower fee.
  • 5X dining is huge.  I realize it is only 1X more than the Amex Gold Card, but this one will work outside of the US.  Going back to using just one card for all dining purchases everywhere is great, especially since some restaurants don’t accept American Express.
  • 5X airfare is big too.  Yes, Amex Platinum cards already offer 5X airfare, but Amex cards offer minimal travel protections.  While the Citi Prestige travel protections aren’t as good as those offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, they’re still pretty good.  The main disadvantages are with trip cancellation & interruption where you get full coverage only if you use the card to pay in-full, and with trip delay where missed connections aren’t covered.
  • Loss of 1.25 airfare redemption is merely an inconvenience.  If you want to get that value from ThankYou points and you don’t have a Citi Premier card, you just need a friend with the Premier card who’s willing to book the flight for you.  You can transfer points to them and they can book the flight.  You can also get 1.25 cents value for hotel, car, and cruise bookings the same way.
  • 4th Night Free limit doesn’t hurt me, but… Personally, I’ve never used the 4th Night Free benefit more than twice a year, so this change doesn’t bother me at all.  Obviously those who use it more frequently will see this as a major devaluation.  More about this benefit can be found here: Complete Guide to Citi Prestige 4th Night Free.
  • $250 Travel Credit change is a nice to have.  Previously it was necessary to spend the money on airfare in order to receive the annual credit.  Now, all travel purchases will be reimbursed up to $250 per year.  That’s nice for those who don’t book airfare often.  Personally, I think that the Prestige will become my go-to card for most airfare purchases (especially when I’m paying in full and I don’t have a connection that I might miss) so I’ll easily earn the $250 without much thought.
  • Cell phone protection is probably a gimmick.  We don’t know the details of the cell phone coverage yet, but it will probably have at least a $100 deductible and will require having paid your cell phone bill with the Prestige card.  Personally I’m not willing to give up 5X earning with my Ink Business Cash card, so I won’t take advantage of this.

What do you think about these changes?  Please comment below.

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

77
Leave a Reply

avatar
33 Comment threads
44 Thread replies
29 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
29 Comment authors
RickNick ReyesGreg The Frequent MilerPammrredskin Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
JL100
Guest
JL100

Almost all of my spend goes toward the many minimum spends I need to make each year so won’t put that much on the card. But fortunately I only use the hotel benefit 1 or 2x per year so that is neutral, and everything else is positive!

Ed. C
Guest
Ed. C

I wonder how Chase will respond to this shot across their bow?

Emily
Guest
Emily

This card will be getting cancelled next year. 4th night free is the only reason I keep this card. I would rather have the points from Chase or Amex, I’m not moving spend to this card. I will be looking to get rid of all my citi points.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Starting to think your way. Effective annual fee for the Prestige next year is $245. Effective annual fee for the CSR and AMEX Gold next year is $300. I value UR And MR partners more than TYP partners.

Emily
Guest
Emily

Yup. I don’t care how much you are willing to give me on dining if your currency is crap. I’ve only added to my citi balance because I’ve used it for 4th night free. I’m not going to move spend to it when they are taking away the largest benefit and raising the fee.

Duane
Guest
Duane

Hmmm…One would think the goal of accumulating points is to NOT pay cash for a four + night stay! They are probably minimizing this feature because most of us don’t use it! Besides the Bloggers, and of course TPG, why would you want to pay cash for a week’s worth of lodging anyway?? …and if you are comfortable enough to throw down the cash for a $600/night stay, accumulating points for anything should probably be the furthest thing from your mind anyway. It’s like a Centurian Card holder getting upset that he/she can’t get 3x at Burger King.

Emily
Guest
Emily

Well I traveled 75+ nights last year. I don’t do all of that on points. It wouldn’t make sense. Cash sometimes is a better value. Especially for stays at cheap places. I ran through over 1million points/miles last year. None were citi. I keep hoping I’ll find a freaking decent value for them.

Andy
Guest
Andy

Just cancelled my Premier this weekend so I won’t be able to get this card for 2 years. But I have never been a fan of Citi’s transfer partners and so the increased earning would’ve been mitigated by that anyway. I miss when the Prestige got 1.6 cpp on AA.

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

They have some nice and unique partners like Avianca and Turkish

Duane
Guest
Duane

I think rolling around n some quality Domestic transfer will be phase 2.

Dan
Guest
Dan

If you just look at this from a points maximization perspective, the only place this card comes in 1st place in is 5x dining (and even then, 5x chase points 1 quarter and 4x amex points the rest of the year is only minimally worse).

Greg, can you elaborate on some of the dates? I’m specifically curious about 4th night free cap.. I want to make sure 9/19 refers to September of last year rather than September 19th of this year (and it was something that I missed).

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

There was no restaurants category for Freedom this year.

Hadley V. Baxendale
Guest
Hadley V. Baxendale

GREG — If you can find out whether the purchase of entertainment event tix will still have “emergency loss” protection (illness, lose ticket, etc.) I would be grateful.

Even though Entertainment purchases will be halved under the new regime, if the lost ticket protection remains, that still might outweigh in putting those purchases on the card.

Thanks,

Hadley

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

I set this card up to Dump it 2 statements after my booked trip..I need the 4th nite free to make the card work and now it’s gone .I’ll transfer the points to Singapore airlines then add if needed by my Chase points ..I’ll get the Capital One card with the 50K deal when they offer it +10% points if I use their Hotel.com link..I buy my own travel INS. by AIG hope it’s good..You can always come back in 2 ??? years for a Sign Up deal BUT something new will come up.

CHEERs

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

You can do better buying hotels.com gift cards at 15-20% off + using cashback portal, rather than getting Cap1 card.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Yes u can BUT not all hotels can b booked with a Gift card . I’m afraid of $2K in GC’s and I can’t get the right Hotel.

THANKS

CHEERs

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

I think those are the same hotels that you can book with Venture. Do you need to prepay with Venture?

WR2
Guest
WR2

I’m one of those that frequently used 4th night free, so I wouldn’t say this is “exciting news”. If I can keep the $350 AF then I’ll probably hang on to it. The card will no longer provide outsized value, but I should be able to eek out enough value to justify a net $100 AF.

A B
Guest
A B

So you get 6.25% effectively on dining and airfare vs. the Sapphire’s 4.5% on dining and all travel. But you also have to have a premier card and let’s be real — you’re not going to use a friend’s account. Maybe a spouse — but then you’re still paying the AF on that one. So your AF isn’t really $495, it’s $590. Take out the $250 and you’re still at $340 vs. the Sapphire’s net $150. That’s an extra $190 to get an extra 1.75%. Your break even point is $10,857.14 — but that’s only if you strictly spend money on dining and airfare.

The remainder of travel (4.5 vs. 3.75 via premier) is still better with Chase. And while gas is technically better with Citi, I think most of us can do better than 3.75 on gas anyway.

With $3,000 in “other travel,” that breakeven point jumps to more than $12,000. Most consumers probably won’t be spending more than $1,000 a month on dining and airfare.

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

I’m getting some kind of retention bonus every year for Premier for 3 years in a row, and I’m paying $350 for Prestige, still have Priority checking account with Citi, and this qualifies for $350 AF. Will keep both cards. It’s a great combo together with AT&T Access More.

NinjaX
Guest
NinjaX

hilarious. u value TYP at 6.25% and UR at 4.5%? i wouldnt play this game for numbers that low.

A B
Guest
A B

Read Greg’s post. I’m using his numbers. If you are transferring to miles, good for you. You can get better value that way I some instances. But many people use points to book directly so they earn miles and status on redemption. That’s where the 1.25c and 1.5c come in.

DaveC
Guest
DaveC

I’ve had the Prestige since 2015 and hopefully am locked into $350 AF. Just got the AMEX Gold and Chase Ink Reserve. I guess I’ll cancel CSR now.

NinjaX
Guest
NinjaX

oh shit. u so VIP u got the Chase Ink Reserve? how do I become your student?

Neeraj
Guest
Neeraj

Is it likely that all TYP is worth 1c (vs keeping it at 1.25 for Premier) ? In that case a big loss for redemption.

VX_Flier
Guest
VX_Flier

Anyone know if I can product change my Citi Executive AA card to the Citi Prestige card? There isn’t a good reason to have the Citi Exec with these improvements to the Prestige.

A B
Guest
A B

Take a step back and consider if this is really an improvement. The point earning went up but the value of those points fell. The other benefits become worse as well. The Exec card probably isn’t worth it either, but Citi in general is playing you for a fool if you believe this card got better.

VX_Flier
Guest
VX_Flier

You make a good point, but I’m not sure that I want to walk away from a line of credit with Citi when I’m over 5/24.

A B
Guest
A B

Everyone has a unique circumstance. But there may be better options at lower AF.

One thing to consider is what your value would be if the Premier 1.25 goes away.

Nobody wants to have to carry a dozen cards, but as Greg points out every month, there are combinations that can give you 3-5% on almost anything.

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

Finally going to cancel 2 Platinums (personal and business), 2 EDPs, and get Amex Gold for groceries instead. Good combo – Amex Gold + BBP. Many Platinum benefits are unusable for me. But will keep Hilton Aspire for now.
Will keep Prestige, Premier and AT&T Access More – definitely a great combo. I was using 4th night benefit 2-3 times a year, mainly with TYP, getting 1.67cpp for that.
Will keep CSR for other travel and 1.5cpp redemptions (I use it sometimes for hotels and card rentals)
Will keep Altitude Reserve for everything else (non category spend with Samsung/Google Pay)
So for me the categories will be:
Airfare 5x – Prestige
Dining 5x – Prestige
Gift cards 5x – Ink Cash
Other travel 3x – CSR
Groceries 4x – Amex Gold
Gas 3x – Premier
Online 3x/2x – AT&T AM or Amex BBP, backup – Priceline 2x
Everything else 3x/2x – Altitude Reserve or Amex BBP, backup – Priceline 2x

Foreign combo:
dining 5x – Prestige
airfare/incidentals 5x – Prestige
other travel 3x – CSR
gas 3x – Premier
everything else 3x – Altitude Reserve , backup – Priceline 2x

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

Good break down.

Lara S.
Guest
Lara S.

Dang. I knew it was too good to last. I use the 4th night free almost every month on trips overseas. And I don’t know where I am going far enough in advance to plan it out so I could use my now two limited ones to benefit me the most e.g. on the most expensive hotels to help negate that big annual fee. This makes this card basically on par with CSR for me now. The points are not as flexible in terms of airlines I fly since I am a United/Star Alliance person (and for most people I think this has been a thing too, that the transfer partners are not as good as CSR) and now no more 4th night free. Just a big bummer. Guess I will look to see how much I can use points to upgrade on Turkish (which is a pain btw, you have to CALL THEM to upgrade using miles) or Singapore…. Thanks for the heads up so I can plan as much as possible!!

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

“While the Citi Prestige travel protections are quite as good as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, they’re still pretty good.”
Greg, you mean “…are not quite as good as…?”

Neil
Guest
Neil

I’ve been charged $350 Prestige annual fee for a few years. As I recall I had Citigold for a brief while (when it was cheap) and since then have kept the Citi checking account open. I’d just as soon close it – anyone know if you keep the $350 fee once you close all Citi bank accounts?

Danny
Guest
Danny

I’m just speculating, but I think there’s some identifier that ties your Prestige account to your “citigold” checking account. Once you renew and there’s no checking account, i’d guess you’d be at the full price. When I became a citigold for a few months, my $450 annual fee got pro-rated and refunded and I was subsequently charged the $350.

Neil
Guest
Neil

Thanks, my hope is once Citi starts charging you $350 they keep doing so (i.e. hopefully they don’t check each year to see if the lower fee is warranted). We’ll see! I went ahead and closed the checking account, I’ll find out sometime next year whether the fee stays at $350 or jumps to $495. At $350 the card is a keeper, at $495 it’s marginal (I probably use 4th night benefit once a year, I’ll have to run the numbers when the fee hits).

mrredskin
Guest
mrredskin

datapoint: I canceled my citigold checking two years ago and still only get charged $350

Neil
Guest
Neil

Thanks for the data point. Fingers crossed!

mrredskin
Guest
mrredskin

no prob. you should be fine. the $350 fee is the ONLY reason I still keep mine

John
Guest
John

I rarely stay 4 nights anywhere except on a cruise ship. I should get a passle of points this way. I let this card go a long time ago after getting the bonus, same for the Premier. My 2 years are up soon. I am hoping the Prestige will not make me stick to the 2 years for the relaunch. I will be dropping the Amex. Bus. Platinum and keep the Blue Bus. card. My top expensive cards will be the Ritz and probably this one. I see some real good use for this one. Let’s see what the bonus will be.

By the way, you did a great job in Chicago this past weekend.

trackback

[…] The rumored changes surrounding the Citi Prestige card have been confirmed. Citi will re-launch Prestige in January with some exciting changes and an unknown sign-up bonus. The big caveat here is the increased annual fee and the (gasp!) limit on the 4th night free benefit. It’s really hard to say whether the net effect is positive or negative. Let’s have a look at the changes: (Frequent Miler has a good chart summarizing changes from several sources.) […]

Danny
Guest
Danny

I think they’ll end up reducing the Premier benefit to 1 cent per point. It seems strange to have the lower annual fee card with a higher redemption value. I need to decide if it’s worth risking one more year on Premier if they decide to reduce the redemptions there too.

A B
Guest
A B

Agreed. And then all the rubes will be holding onto an even more depreciated Prestige card.

Ed. H.
Guest
Ed. H.

CitiGold accounts require a combined asset value of $200,000?

Rick
Guest
Rick

I just want to confirm the update that travel agencies will earn 5x. This could be huge as hotel reservations and cruises booked through a travel agency would earn 5x, as opposed to 3x if you book your hotel or cruise directly.

Ed. H.
Guest
Ed. H.

But the travel agent would need to charge you directly for a hotel stay – as a prepaid arrangement. In many some cases this would prohibit you from collecting hotel status perks and hotel chain points. Maybe your thinking of a tour package inclusive of hotel – but again there’d be no hotel chain points earned.

Rick
Guest
Rick

You are correct that 5x would require a prepaid booking directly payable to the OTA, and would preclude points or status recognition. It would have to be on a case by case basis.

Belinda
Guest
Belinda

Crying here about the 4th night free devaluation. Although it was a pain to use…it could save me when I didn’t have enough points to use at my favorite overpriced Conrad’s in HK and Tokyo. I’m like some others here too..I would rather have membership rewards and chase ur…I’m in Houston so I’m a United and Southwest captive. Ugh. Plus their price rewind thing is getting so restrictive…I bought a bunch of overpriced Supreme stuff and they won’t let me match it to any auction sites even if there is a buy it now price. I can’t find any non auction sites to match that stuff to. I’m thinking of using my husbands old presidential plus united card to earn flexible elite qualifying miles and calling it a day! I see they have price protection for 90 days…wonder if they will match to a buy it now price on an auction site?????

Duane
Guest
Duane

I absolutely love this! Open market competition baby! This should put the #1 (Chase) and #2 (Amex) on notice. I have grown sick of how our points community has barricaded itself into laying down for Chase….5/24 from any card is absolutely absurd, but almost everyone confirmed to this because nothing else came close to the UR program and Chase’s stranglehold on having arguably the best co-branded cards on the market!

Even my ‘beloved’ AMEX followed suit with ‘lifetime language’ and the RAT.

Hopefully CP ONE, Wells Fargo, and B of A decide to fully commit to this hobby……#churnandAndBurnrenaissanceRidesAgain

trackback

[…] Citi Prestige Analysis by Frequent Miler […]

trackback

[…] I posted news about big changes coming to the Citi Prestige card as of January 2019: Citi Prestige to add 5X dining & airfare; limit 4th Night Free. In response, some readers asked if this marked the end for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Others […]

5inkaddict
Guest
5inkaddict

For me this talk of how amex is now better than chase is silly… In fact I really hope chase doesn’t touch CSR. If they reduce the 1.5 and match 5x it will be a disaster.

Unless you are redeeming for business/first CSR is unmatched with it’s 1.5c economy value. Plus when you are a family with kids – you don’t need to find award space when doing 1.5 through portal. Combined with ink 5x it is in a league of its own – especially when that mean 5x in 85% of my spend though gc… I hold a nice stash of MR, don’t get me wrong, especially though their offers and on some specific things but in general…. If you are looking to redeem for econ… CSR all the way.

trackback

[…] many websites posted about the changes, I referred to this post on Frequent Miler which provides a easy to follow list of the changes and when they’ll take effect. I realize […]

trackback

[…] January 2019, when Citi Prestige bonus category changes go into effect, I expect my wallet to contain the following cards (along with the bonus categories I expect to use […]

trackback

[…] past few days and weeks, there is no doubt that the newly revamped Citi Prestige Card and Amex Gold Card and their effect or lack thereof on the Chase Sapphire Reserve have been […]

trackback

[…] Citi Prestige to add 5X dining and airfare; limit 4th night free (via Frequent Miler) […]

trackback

[…] upcoming changes to their ultra-premium Prestige credit card: starting next year they’ll add 5X rewards for dining & airfare and limit 4th Night Free to 2 uses per year.  In response, and even though I’m excited about these changes, I listed the reasons why I […]

trackback

[…] that Citibank’s upcoming Prestige card changes have made ThankYou points relevant again, I decided that it was time to write up a complete […]

Rick
Guest
Rick

Well, I just received an official e-mail from Citi with the official changes. Starting 01/04/19 5X for air fare, dining and travel agencies (had to find travel agencies in the fine print), 3X for cruises and hotels, 2X on entertainment until 08/31/19 then 1X, and 1X for everything else. Travel center redemptions reduced from 1.25% to 1.00%. No further relationship bonuses after 2019. 4th night free limited to 2 times per calendar year for bookings made after 08/31/18. $250 airline credit expanded to include all travel expenses (similar to the CSR travel credit). Annual fee increase from $450 to $495 and AU fee increase from $50 to $75 for renewals after 08/31/19. $350 annual fee continues for Citigold customers only. Citi Priority customers no longer receive the $350 annual fee.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Post scheduled for 3 minutes from now….the 4th night free took another huge hit.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Yes. Upon further review of the new benefits 4th night free reservations after 08/31/19 can only be made through the Thank You portal. Concierge bookings will no longer be allowed. The is a huge hit to the 4th night free benefit. Portal bookings limit the available hotels eligible for the 4th night free benefit and must be prepaid. You will not receive elite status recognition or hotel points with portal bookings. I will cancel the card.