Is the CNB card worth keeping if rumors are true?

The CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card has many perks, but its most compelling perk is that it offers $250 in airline free reimbursements per year, per cardholder, including authorized users.  You can add up to 3 authorized users for free to the main account.  This means that you can earn $250 x 4 = $1,000 in airline fee reimbursements per year.  If you know how to maximize these reimbursements, that’s an incredible deal for a $400 per year card.  Some have said that it’s possible to get four free authorized users.  That would be an even better deal.  But it may soon be irrelevant…

I consider this no more than a rumor at this point, but it is believable enough to warrant discussion. A Reddit user was told at a CNB branch office (H/T DoC) that the following changes were coming to the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card:

  • Airline incidental fee credit changes to $350 across all users.  In other words, you will no longer get $250 per user.
  • Authorized user accounts may cost extra.
  • CNB will no longer offer a signup bonus for the card (this is already true, at least at the time of this writing).

If the above changes really come true, the $400 per year CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card will no longer be a definite must-have card.  It will cost you money rather than being an annual money maker.  On the other hand, the card does come with many perks.  Will it be worth getting and keeping the card despite the rumored changes?

Let’s assume that the rumor is true and that there are no other changes in the works.  We then have the following major benefits from the CNB card:

  • $350 in airline free reimbursements per year (rumored)
  • 3X Earning Rate for gas, grocery, travel, and dining
    (Points are worth up to 1.31 cents each towards flights: See: The exact value of CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Points).
  • Airline Lounge Membership Fee Statement Credit with $50K Spend
  • Priority Pass with unlimited guests
  • Gogo Infight Wi-Fi: 12 in-flight passes per year per card.
  • Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit: Save $100 on each 2 (or more) person round trip domestic flight purchased through this website.
  • Global Entry Application Fee Statement Credit: $100 per 4 years per cardholder
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Primary coverage
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation: Up to $10K. Secondary coverage.
  • Hotel Theft Protection: Up to $1,000. Valid for hotels in the US and Canada only.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Up to $5,000.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $1M
  • Trip Cancellation / Interruption: Up to $5,000.
  • Trip Delay: Up to $500 per ticket for trips delayed 6 hours or more.

To determine whether the CNB card is worth keeping, I recommend coming up with a conservative estimate of how much you would be willing to pay for each of the above benefits.  If the total you’d be willing to pay is greater than the card’s $400 annual fee, then the card is a keeper.  If the total is far more than $400, then the card may be worth applying for even without a signup bonus.

I wrote this post because I’ve been wondering myself what I’ll do if the airline fee credits really change as rumored.  Below I’ve listed how much I’d pay for each of the above benefits (please don’t just use my numbers!  In many cases I don’t value things only because I already get the benefit from other cards).

  • $350 in airline free reimbursements per year (rumored): $300
  • 3X Earning Rate for gas, grocery, travel, and dining: $0 (I already have other cards with equal or better rewards in most of these categories)
  • Airline Lounge Membership Fee Statement Credit with $50K Spend: $0
  • Priority Pass with unlimited guests: $0 (only because I get this free from my Ritz card for myself and any free authorized users I add to that account)
  • Gogo Infight Wi-Fi: $30 (I already get 12 passes from my Altitude Reserve, so this is how much I’d pay for extra passes)
  • Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit: $0 (only because I get this free from my Ritz card)
  • Global Entry Application Fee Statement Credit: $0 (many cards offer the same)
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: $0 (Both my Sapphire Reserve and Ritz cards offer equal or better travel protections over CNB)
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation: Up to $10K. $0
  • Hotel Theft Protection: Up to $1,000. $0 (this is a unique benefit but I’d be very surprised if I ever used it)
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: $0
  • Travel Accident Insurance: $0
  • Trip Cancellation / Interruption: $0
  • Trip Delay: $0

So, there you go.  In my case, it looks like the amount I’d pay for the CNB card’s annual benefits (assuming the rumored changes) adds up to only $330.  If the rumored changes really happen and if I’m not grandfathered into the old rules, then I’ll cancel my card.

It’s important to note that I have both the Chase Ritz Carlton Visa Infinite card and the US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card.  I intend to keep both of those cards long term and between them they have most of the same perks that the CNB card has.  So, overall, the CNB benefits are worth less to me only because I already get them elsewhere.  If I didn’t have those other cards, I might have decided that CNB was a keeper even with a total of only $350 in airline incidental fee credits.

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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Rob
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Rob

I’m coming up with the same exact analysis, except I wouldn’t give any credit to gogo passes. The card would be gone from my wallet quickly.

Ashman
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Ashman

What’s the benefit of keeping the Ritz card anymore if it does not give you platinum status past 2020. My Ritz has come up for renewal and I dont have altitude reserve. Considering spending my $400 here as opposed to $450 on Ritz.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Anniversary 50k point night, pairs well with the Brilliant’s.

Blue
Guest
Blue

Yeah, but they are a lot less valuable with peak pricing.

Rob
Guest
Rob

As long as the $300 Travel credit is easy enough for you to use, the remaining $150 you pay is a good price for the 50k night, which Pam points out pairs nicely with Brilliant’s 50k night for a weekend trip in a nice hotel. And if you don’t have a Brilliant card, I would want to keep the Ritz as a last ditch option to spend or MS 75k to get platinum status if you aren’t going to make status organically.

I thought I would never consider that, but I’ve changed my mind on the 75k spend for status thing mainly because I no longer care about getting Suite Night Awards since my experience using them has been awful. I now value them at $0 since I have discovered that SNA’s really represent an upgrade to a slightly bigger room on stays of less than 2 nights in cities that are not popular, during times that are not when I am on vacation with the family, which is when we need the bigger room.

Blue
Guest
Blue

Had mine clear for 5 nights at StR New York (as a Titanium)

John
Guest
John

I thought you couldn’t get the brilliant sign up bonus if you have ritz? Are folks foregoing the sign up bonus so that they can get the brilliant’s benefits or is there a way to get the bonus even if I have the ritz card?

Rob
Guest
Rob

You can’t now. But there was a brief window before the new rules were in place where you were able to sign up for the Brilliant and get the sign up bonus even if you had the ritz card. It was talked about quite a bit in blogs which is why many of us have both.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

Rob, if we get gold status (25 nights) with the Ritz card plus 15 EQ nights, does that mean that we only need to stay 10 nights to get platinum status (15+25=40)?

Also when you earn Platinum Status, is it good for the rest of the year, or the following year?

Rob
Guest
Rob

Unfortunately no Anthony. You would either need to stay 35 more nights after counting the 15 you get for having the card, or you would need to spend 75k on the Ritz card if you wanted platinum status.

Ned Lin
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Ned Lin

You are forgetting the unlimited PP that comes with AU on the Ritz(I have like 6 AUs 6 PPs). And travel protections that matches CSR. Ritz club passes is useful if you plan to stay at Ritz. Visa infinite $100 airline credit for short flights. I actually plan on cancelling the brilliant instead.

Gmoney
Guest
Gmoney

Can you do an update on the altitude reserve? How are you using it effectively (obviously 3x. Mobile payments). I am trying to figure out how to use Samsung pay effectively. One of the problems for me is living very rural where I don’t have many options and buy most stuff online instead of in person

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I think the card will be worth $50 Net fee ($400 – $350 airline credit) if you don’t have another Visa Infinite card. With the upcoming changes to the fee on the Citi Prestige, I’m much less likely to keep that card. The Priority Pass, 3x, GoGo, and airline credit + $100 visa infinite discount are all likely worth at least $50/year. You could also add some value to the Global Entry credit (ie. $20/year). Another benefit of this card is it’s a Visa and not an Amex (which has had difficulty coding internationally and being accepted).

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

To Greg’s point about the US Bank Altitude Reserve (AR). The CNB has a net AF of $50 vs. $75 for the AR. One would need to spend at least $25/(4.5-(1.3*3)%) = $4166.67/year on Mobile Payments.

Penny
Guest
Penny

Hi Greg, what is your main reason for holding on the US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card?

Boraxo
Guest
Boraxo

This rumors are not a shock. It is too bad a few greedy abusers have spoiled this for everyone.
Personally I think the card is worth it for families who use PP lounges as there are currently no other cards that offer unlimited PP usage. $50 AF after easy travel credits is less than 2 PP guest passes.
However elimination of the signup bonus would effectively eliminate applications – nobody gonna waste a credit inquiry for perks you can largely get elsewhere

Sue Markwood
Guest
Sue Markwood

Can rewards points transfer from one bank card to another? For example: Chase to CitiBank

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

No, you cannot.

JJ Lee
Guest
JJ Lee

Greg, it would be great if you create an article about the cards that you have and why you keep them.

Do you MS your way to Marriott Platinum status?

Btw, do you have the AMEX Brilliant?

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

He already did. Here is the link: https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/which-ultra-premium-cards-are-keepers-version-2-0/
He listed his personal keepers. However, things may have changed since then.

Greg used to buy back status and I think he utilized the riz calton card to reach titanium last year.

According to the link above, Greg has the Brilliant (formerly named Luxury).

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[…] post by Greg on Frequent Miler about a rumor the card is going to get devalued in the near future. His breakdown about the value of the card, if the rumors are true, is a great example of how two people can value a card differently based on their own situation of […]

Housing1st
Guest
Housing1st

This is probably implicit in what Greg is saying but if you’re locked out of the Ritz due to 5/24, CNB is still worth considering. Also, for those interested in the Broadway League benefit, which I acknowledge isn’t a large # of us, the seat selection and pricing for Broadway shows is a compelling benefit.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

Greg, should we sign up for the card speculating that we might get grandfathered in to the old rules (250×4)? Can the airline reimbursements be used on gift cards?

trackback

[…] one gives me Priority Pass with unlimited guests.  If rumors about CNB card changes really happen (see this post for details), the math on the CNB card will change a lot.  That said, I also have the Ritz card which has […]