The Citi Prestige® Card is an exclusive, extremely generous travel rewards credit card that requires excellent credit and charges a $450 annual fee. With an impressive rewards program, a host of travel-related benefits, and a variety of luxurious (and practical) perks that aren’t available to folks who use lesser cards, Prestige lives up to its name – if you can meet its stringent credit requirements and afford its hefty annual fee.
Citi Prestige is comparable to other high-end cards, including American Express Platinum (charge card with a $450 annual fee), United MileagePlus Club Card (credit card with $450 annual fee), American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card (credit card with $450 annual fee), and Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Credit Card (credit card with $450 annual fee).
It bears repeating that Citi Prestige is an exclusive credit card. In fact, it’s appropriate for only a small fraction of all U.S. cardholders. If you don’t qualify for this card, consider a less exclusive Citi rewards card such as Citi ThankYou Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier.
- Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $4,000 within three months of signing up, you receive 40,000 bonus ThankYou points. That’s equivalent to $532 in airfare, $400 in gift cards, and variable amounts when redeemed for other items.
- Earning ThankYou Rewards: This card earns an unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on airlines, hotels, and travel agencies; an unlimited 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining (including restaurants and bars) and entertainment (including sports venues, movie theaters, concert halls, amusement parks, and museums); and an unlimited 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on everything else.
- Redeeming ThankYou Rewards: As Citi puts it, “You can redeem ThankYou points for almost anything” offered at Citi’s ThankYou portal. Common redemption options include gift cards, cash, general merchandise, direct purchases at Amazon and other online retail partners, and travel (with no blackout dates). Redemption minimums and point values vary by redemption method – for instance, gift cards generally value points at $0.01 apiece and start at 2,500 points ($25 value), general merchandise redemptions value points between $0.005 and $0.01 and start at 1,000 points (but usually require more), and cash redemptions value points at $0.005 each and start at 10,000 points ($50 value). For Prestige, travel redemptions offer the best value, with a 33% value boost on points redeemed at ThankYou’s in-house travel portal (roughly valuing each point at $0.013). If you don’t have enough points to cover the cost of an entire travel purchase, you can use your card to pay the difference.
- Transfer Points to Travel Partners: Prestige cardholders can transfer their accumulated ThankYou points to approximately ten frequent traveler programs, including Virgin America Elevate and Hilton Honors. Transfers usually occur in multiples of 1,000 ThankYou points and at 1-to-1 ratios. Hilton Honors transfers offer the best value, as you get 1,500 Honors points for 1,000 ThankYou points.
- Airport Lounge Access: This card comes with unlimited, complimentary access to approximately 1,000 Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide through the Priority Pass Select benefit – a $399 annual value. This benefit includes complimentary access for up to two traveling companions, provided they’re accompanied by the cardholder.
- Air Travel Credit: Citi Prestige cardholders get a $250 air travel credit each year. This credit is good against airfare and most incidentals, including baggage fees, charged by airlines.
- Complimentary Trip Extension: Citi Prestige cardholders can tack on an extra night at no extra charge to hotel stays of three nights or longer. (So, you can turn a three-night stay into a four-night stay for the same price.) This benefit can be claimed as many times as you wish, with no restrictions as to the hotel brand, location, or room night cost. However, you need to book your stay through Citi’s travel concierge – stays booked directly with the hotel or through third-party websites don’t qualify.
- Dedicated Airport Concierge: This card’s MasterCard Airport Concierge service provides a personalized, high-touch airport experience. Cardholders are met by a dedicated concierge at check-in, escorted through security, and assigned porters to carry luggage through the terminal.
- Global Entry Fee Credit: Prestige cardholders get a $100 credit toward their Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee, entirely offsetting the cost. The programs come with expedited passage through customs checkpoints at major U.S. airports and may confer reciprocal benefits in other countries, so this credit saves both time and money.
- Citi Private Pass BEYOND: Private Pass BEYOND, offered at no charge with Citi Prestige card membership, is a more exclusive version of Citi’s Private Pass feature. Private Pass BEYOND gives Prestige cardholders access to a range of exclusive events, such as football camps run by ex-professional players and celebrity chef dinners, often at discounted rates.
- Additional Travel Benefits: Citi Prestige has a host of other travel benefits, including 24/7 concierge service for assistance with reservation booking and management; medical evacuation coverage (up to $100,000) for critically ill or injured travelers abroad; and lost/damaged baggage coverage, up to $3,000 per item.
- Additional General Benefits: This card’s non-travel benefits include Citi Price Rewind, which refunds up to $300 per item when Citi finds a lower price within 60 days of purchase; Missed Event Ticket Protection, which reimburses you (up to $500 per ticket) when you miss a show, sporting event, or other qualifying event due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances; and return protection (up to $500 per item) on returned items not accepted by the original merchant within 90 days of purchase.
- Important Fees: This card’s annual fee is $450, and you need to pay $50 for each additional authorized user. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments both cost $35.
- Credit Required: This card requires stellar credit, not to mention adequate resources to handle a high spending limit. If you have any blemishes on your credit report, you’re unlikely to qualify for it.
- Generous Airport Lounge Benefit. This card offers complimentary access to approximately 1,000 airport lounges for the cardholder and up to two companions. If your travels primarily take you through major airports in North America, Europe, and Asia, you’re more likely than not to encounter at least one participating lounge wherever you go. The same can’t be said for the airport lounge benefits offered by United Mileage Plus Club and American Express Delta Reserve, both of which have fewer than 150 airport lounges in their networks.
- Trip Extension Benefit Can Be Incredibly Valuable. This card’s complimentary fourth night on hotel or resort stays of three nights or longer has the potential to be extremely valuable for two reasons. First, it’s unlimited – you can use it on as many four-night (or longer) trips as you take. Second, it’s good at any hotel or resort property worldwide. While some branded hotel credit cards offer similar trip-extension benefits, it’s rare for non-branded cards such as Citi Prestige to do so.
- Rapid ThankYou Point Earnings on Travel Purchases. Citi ThankYou Prestige earns an unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on hotel and airline purchases. That’s faster than Diners Club Elite and American Express Platinum, both of which usually earn just 1 point per $1 spent on travel (though Platinum earns 2 points per $1 spent through American Express Travel, Amex’s in-house travel portal).
- Awesome Points Transfer Ratios. You can transfer ThankYou points to participating frequent traveler programs at very attractive ratios – occasionally better than 1-to-1. That’s fairly rare in the travel rewards niche, where it’s common to see ratios of 5-to-1, 10-to-1, and even higher.
- Great Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth more than $530 when redeemed for travel purchases made through Citi’s ThankYou portal. That’s significantly more than competitors such as Diners Club Elite (no sign-up bonus).
- Large, Flexible Travel Credit. Citi Prestige comes with a $250 annual travel credit – larger than American Express Platinum‘s $200 credit, and more versatile than Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, which only credits checked bags and in-flight purchases.
- Hefty Annual Fee. This card’s $450 annual fee pays for a lot of luxury benefits, so it’s probably worthwhile for frequent travelers who like to move in style. However, even by the standards of directly comparable cards, it’s on the high side, and may, therefore, turn off some cost-conscious cardholders. Diners Club Elite ($300 annual fee) is more reasonable.
- Confusing Redemption System. Citi Prestige uses a variation of the ThankYou Rewards program, which is one of the more complicated and expansive credit card rewards programs around. Redemption minimums and point values vary widely depending on how you redeem: different merchandise and cash equivalent categories (such as gift cards and regular cash) all have different minimums, values, and special considerations. And, while the best redemption options undoubtedly involve travel, the ThankYou travel booking portal has limitations – for example, no Southwest Airlines flights. Unless you’re already familiar with ThankYou Rewards, it’s likely to take you a few hours to get familiar with the program, read all the fine print, and learn the best ways to maximize the value of your points.
- No Companion Airfare. Citi Prestige doesn’t come with a complimentary companion airfare benefit, a potentially powerful perk that can save you hundreds (and potentially thousands) of dollars per year. You can use your annual air travel credit to cover the cost of a companion’s ticket, but using your credit in this fashion interferes with your ability to use it on other worthy purchases, such as baggage fees and in-flight meals. By contrast, American Express Delta Reserve gives you one free companion airfare voucher every time you renew your card.
- Requires Fantastic Credit. This card requires near-flawless credit. Only a relative handful of potential applicants are likely to qualify. If you’re not confident that you can qualify, it’s probably better to avoid disappointment (and a credit pull) and forgo applying altogether.
- Has a Preset Spending Limit. As a credit card, Citi Prestige has a preset spending limit that restricts your ability to make multiple large purchases in short succession. This is a drawback for international travelers who regularly purchase expensive overseas flights and hotel rooms, as well as people who need to make large non-travel purchases (perhaps for DIY home improvement projects). Some direct competitors, including American Express Platinum, are charge cards without preset spending limits. These cards boost your spending power, as long as you can pay off your balances in full each month.
The Citi Prestige® Card isn’t for everyone. Actually, it’s not for most people. And that’s okay. Most people don’t travel often enough, spend enough time in airport lounges, or take advantage of enough exclusive, members-only events to make this card’s hefty annual fee worthwhile.
However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a lifestyle that aligns with this card’s perks, or you aspire to attain such a lifestyle, it’s hard to do better than Citi Prestige. As a bona fide jet-setter, or perhaps a frequent business traveler who’s reliably reimbursed for travel purchased with a private credit card, you can easily get your money’s worth – and then some – out of this card.