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UPDATE: Changes to the Citi Prestige® Card are now live, you can find a full breakdown of the changes in our update post.
When rumors began circulating earlier this month about significant changes coming to the Citi Prestige® Card, most people were not surprised. After all, this card provided many benefits that were so good it was hard to believe they were real. The annual fee for the card, while steep at $495, offers so many perks, that something way bound to change.
Those changes have been confirmed and will take effect on July 23, 2017. The important thing is to determine if the Prestige Card is still a desirable credit card. The best way to do so is to compare what changed, the nature of those changes, and what has remained the same. Current Benefit Terms & Conditions.
Benefits and Features That Remain Unchanged
The following benefits and features of the Prestige Card will remain unchanged after July 23, 2017:
- Annual $250 Air Travel Credit, which is provided in connection with any airline-related charge, airfare included.
- $100 Statement Credit for Global Entry application fee (The $100 application fee credit resets once every five years)
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases
- 24/7 Access to the Citi Prestige Concierge
- If you have an eligible banking relationship with Citi, you will continue to receive your Relationship Bonus (up to 25%)
- Complimentary access to Priority Pass Select Lounges for cardholder, authorized users, immediate family or up to two guests
- $495 Annual Fee
The annual $250 Air Travel Credit essentially reduces the out-of-pocket expense of this card to $245, considering that anyone that has this card likely spends at least that amount on air travel a year.
Another important development is that the Priority Pass related benefits remain unchanged. This is one of only two cards that in addition to granting the cardholder access to Priority Pass Lounges also allows complimentary access to immediate family or up to two guests. With other cards that provide Priority Pass Lounges access, you have to pay a fee, typically $27, for each additional guest.
It is also great to know that the points-earning structure of the card will not be changing as this is one of the most generous cards for day-to-day spending thanks to its numerous bonus categories.
Complimentary 4th Night Benefit
The one benefit that makes the Prestige Card out from all other cards is the Complimentary 4th Night benefit. With a $495 annual fee, this is the one benefit that together will the annual Air Travel Credit can quickly help people break even or even profit from this card.
Had this benefit been eliminated Citi would have likely been flooded with cancellations. Fortunately, it was not removed, although the implementation of the benefit has been modified.
For reservations made on or after July 23, 2017, the Complimentary 4th Night benefit will be calculated based on the average nightly rate for your entire stay. Furthermore, taxes will no longer be included within the statement credit. Currently, the Complimentary 4th Night benefit is calculated based on the rate for the fourth night, including taxes, regardless of whether the rate for the fourth night was higher or lower.
Since hotel rates can vary significantly by night, having this benefit calculated based on the average nightly rate is likely to be favorable in some cases and unfavorable in others. Overall, it is likely a wash.
The one aspect of the changes to the Complimentary 4th Night benefit that stings a little is that taxes will no longer be credited. It is unclear if “taxes” also include resort fees, although it is safe to assume it does as they're itemized on folios separate from the room rate. In that case, taxes and fees could easily exceed $100 a night for resort stays.
If you can get a Complimentary 4th Night benefit credit of at least $200 once per year, assuming you were also able to get the $250 Air Travel credit, you will continue to break even on this card. Any additional Complimentary 4th Night benefit credit earned will result in you ahead with the Citi Prestige® Card.
Admirals Club Access
Effective July 23, 2017, access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges will no longer be offered with the Prestige Card. This change hurts if you are a frequent American Airlines flyer. Otherwise, its impact is minimal.
Redeeming ThankYou Points for Flights
Currently, you can redeem ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige Card at a rate of 1.6 cents towards the cost of travel for American Airlines flights and 1.3 cents towards the cost of flights for all other airlines. Effective July 23, 2017, the rate at which ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige Card can be redeemed will be 1.25 cents towards the cost of travel for any airline. Therefore, not only is the value of redemptions going down overall, but there will be no extra incentive to redeem points for American Airlines flights.
Complimentary International Golf
Currently, the Prestige Card offers three complimentary rounds of golf a year at over 2,000 golf courses. Effective July 23, 2017, this benefit will be eliminated.
If you are not a golfer, this change is likely inconsequential to you. If you are a golfer, this shift represents the elimination of hundreds of dollars a year in savings.
Additional Rumored Changes
While not confirmed yet, there is speculation that if you apply for the card after August 31, 2016, you will not get access to Admirals Club lounges at all. Therefore, if the Prestige Card is a card you plan to apply to and that is a benefit you are interested in enjoying until July 23, 2017, make sure you apply by August 31, 2016, to be on the safe side. UPDATE: This is now confirmed and will be implemented in July 2017 for existing cardholders
The value of the Prestige Card has diminished significantly with these changes. However, considering the annual Air Travel Credit remains unchanged and that the Complimentary 4th Night benefit will still allow you to receive significant credits for your hotel stays for four nights or longer, there is still plenty of reap from this card.
If you're on the fence about the card, give customer service a call and have them step you through the benefits to help figure out the best course of action for you as a customer.
While the card is likely worth keeping for all post-changes, the question of whether it is worth using post-changes is much harder to answer. Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige Card towards air travel may no longer be an ideal use of those points, but you can hopefully still get good value from transferring those points to Citi's transfer partners.
Keep in mind that none of these changes go into effect until July 23, 2017, so you have essentially an entire year to continue to enjoy all the current benefits.
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