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The Citi Prestige® Card is an exclusive, extremely generous travel rewards credit card that requires excellent credit and carries a $495 annual fee. With an impressive rewards program, a host of travel-related benefits (including a generous annual travel fee credit worth $250 per year), 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.
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 the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card or Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
When you spend at least $4,000 in eligible purchases within 3 months of opening your account, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou points. That’s worth up to $500 when redeemed for travel at the ThankYou Rewards portal.
$250 Annual Travel Credit
Citi Prestige cardholders get a $250 travel credit each year. This credit is good a range of local and long-distance travel purchases, including airfare, hotels, ground transportation, and purchases made through travel agents.
For a limited time, Citi is extending travel credit eligibility to supermarket and restaurant purchases. In other words, cardholders who don’t plan to make qualifying travel purchases may still earn credits on up to $250 in supermarket and restaurant purchases.
Earning ThankYou Rewards
This card earns an unlimited 5 ThankYou points per $1 spent on air travel and restaurant purchases; an unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on hotel and cruise line purchases; 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).
Travel redemptions consistently offer the best value, at a flat $0.01-per-point through the ThankYou Travel Center. This rate applies to all types of travel, including airfare, hotels, and rental cars.
Airport Lounge Access
This card comes with unlimited, complimentary access to approximately 1,000 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass™ Select – a $399 annual value. This benefit includes complimentary access for the cardholder, any authorized users, and up to two traveling companions, provided they’re accompanied by the cardholder.
Complimentary Trip Extension (Fourth Night Free)
Citi Prestige cardholders enjoy the fourth night free on eligible hotel bookings of four nights or longer. You can invoke this benefit twice per calendar year.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
As a Prestige cardholder, you’re entitled to a fee credit against Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee that entirely offsets the cost – up to $100. 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.
Transfer Points to Travel Partners
Prestige cardholders can transfer their accumulated ThankYou points to approximately 15 frequent traveler programs, including Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and JetBlue TrueBlue. Transfers usually occur in multiples of 1,000 ThankYou points and at 1-to-1 ratios. Transfer partners and point requirements are subject to change.
Prestige cardholders enjoy special access to more than 2,000 golf courses around the world, including private courses not open to the general public.
Cell Phone Protection
Prestige comes with complimentary cell phone protection (covering theft and damage) when you pay your cell phone bill with your card.
This card’s annual fee is $495. The authorized user fee is $75. 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.
This card requires excellent 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.
- Large, Flexible Travel Credit. Citi Prestige comes with a $250 annual travel credit. The credit applies to virtually all local and long-distance travel purchases, including ground transportation.
- Generous Airport Lounge Benefit. This card offers complimentary access to approximately 1,000 airport lounges for the cardholder, authorized users, 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 four nights or longer has the potential to be extremely valuable, not least because 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. Just mind the twice-per-year cap on trip extension redemptions.
- Rapid ThankYou Point Earnings on Air Travel and Restaurant Purchases. Citi ThankYou Prestige earns an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent on air travel and restaurant purchases. That’s a far better rate of return – 5% on spending – than most competing travel cards.
- 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.
- Hefty Annual Fee. This card’s $495 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.
- 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. 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 excellent 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 don’t have preset spending limits. Such 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.