Maximizing the Citi Prestige $250 Travel Credit

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While Citi has seriously downgraded the travel benefits and protections on the Citi Prestige® Card, the card still has appeal if you spend up large on travel and dining. With standout features like the 4th-night-free twice a year when booking a hotel through Citi Concierge, an annual $250 travel credit, 5X points on airfare & restaurants, 3x points on hotels and cruise lines, the Prestige Card consistently ranks as one of the best premium travel rewards credit cards on the market.

One of the first things we look for when assessing the value of a premium travel card like the Prestige Card is how to reduce the out-of-pocket expense of the card’s $495 annual fee.

As one of the only travel credits to cover any travel expense, the $250 Travel Credit provides the fastest way for cardholders to offset the annual fee, and if maximized, can be used twice in the first year of card membership, completely offsetting the annual fee.

Citi Prestige® Card

  • $250 Travel Credit will automatically be applied to travel-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, hotels, Uber, and more
  • Complimentary 4th night at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4–consecutive night booking via the Citi Prestige® Concierge (based on your average night stay, exclusive of taxes and fees – restricted to twice per year).
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • 5X points on Airfare and Restaurants, 3x on Hotels and Cruise Lines, 2X points on Entertainment (through 8/31/19), and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • $495 annual fee

What Will the Prestige Card Credit as a Travel Purchase?

The Prestige Card has one of the best travel credits of any premium travel rewards card. Unlike the travel credit on The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card or those found on American Express cards, the travel credit on the Prestige Card will cover all travel-related expenses, making it a lot easier to extract maximum value from the benefit. The Amex benefit also requires the cardholder to nominate a single airline for which credits are valid, while the Citi airline credit will apply across any provider that codes as travel.

“including purchases from airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, and bus lines.”

Citi determines if transactions are valid via the merchant code provided at the time of purchase, so technically any travel purchase should credit.

With the added flexibility of credits across the full spectrum of travel expenses, cardholders should have no issue maximizing the travel credit on the Prestige Card. And with the ability to claim it twice inside the first year of card membership (we’ll cover this below), the credit should offset the first year’s annual fee completely, and reduce the out-of-pocket expense by $250 every year after that.

Tip: Purchases made by an Authorized User on your account also count towards creditable spend.

The Citi Prestige® Card Air Travel Credit covers airfare and airline incidentals
The Citi Prestige® Card Air Travel Credit covers airfare and airline incidentals

Do Travel Purchases on the Prestige Card Credit Automatically?

Yes, the Travel Credit on the Prestige Card posts automatically to your account. The T&C’s on Citi’s website state that credits will post within 1-2 billing cycles, but our experience is that the credits typically post much faster, in some cases just days after the purchase posting to the account and at most a few weeks.

“Please allow one to two billing cycles after the qualifying purchase is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the account.”

Something worth taking into consideration also is that the travel credit may not count towards the minimum spend for new cardholders trying to achieve the signup bonus when the card is offering one. We’ve received conflicting reports on this one so it pays to call and clarify for yourself. To be on the safe side, it pays to put an additional $250 of charges onto your min spend if you plan on claiming the travel credit in the first few billing cycles.

Claim the Prestige Card Annual Travel Credit Twice in the First Year

Depending on when you apply for the Prestige Card, you will get to claim the Air Travel Credit twice in your first year as a cardmember. The travel credit is based on the calendar year, and your annual fee based on cardmember year.

“…your Card Account is eligible to receive statement credits of up to $250 per calendar year for Travel Purchases made by the Primary cardmember or Authorized Users and which appear on your billing statement during that calendar year. “

For example, if you applied for the card in July 2019 you can claim the $250 travel credit for 2019, and again when the benefit ticks over in Dec/Jan, as long as it’s before June 2020. Receiving $500 of airline credits for the $495 annual fee which is based on cardmember year.

Final Thoughts

While not quite as generous as the $300 travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the $250 Travel Credit on the Citi Prestige® Card is a versatile credit that adds tangible value to the card, and if maximized, effectively drops the card’s annual fee to $245 per year. And that doesn’t take into account the annual Priority Pass membership or 4th-night free benefits.

Have you had experience claiming the $250 Travel Credit on the Prestige Card? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Maximizing the Citi Prestige $250 Travel Credit
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Comments

  • This card works for me!!!!!!!!!!

  • I really like this aspect of the high-fee cards, and have had good and quick rebates off of this benefit with Chase, Citi, and AmEx.

  • Wow the spend requirement is pretty steep at $5K.
    Too bad I can’t/won’t spend that much money in 3 months…

  • Sounds like a great card to add to my arsenal!

  • This card seems really good. The airline credit and Priority Pass alone are worth the fee. All the other benefits are a bonus.

  • Can you get the Citi Prestige if you already have the Citi Premier?

  • I thought about getting this card, but then the Sapphire Reserve came out… Last day for the 100K CSR bonus is tomorrow!

  • Each benefit of this one is slightly below the chase sapphire reserve card. Lets hope Citi reacts and actually adds benefits instead of cutting things back.

  • I have the Prestige card, I got the credit last year, but had to fight for it. It seems only charges that are processed by an airline will qualify. On a trip on Air Canada last year, because my charge was processed by Citi’s in-house travel service, the charge didn’t qualify. I had to send in my boarding pass to prove the charge was in fact a paid flight! This is a good way to discourage cardholders from using the in-house travel service!

  • Citi Prestige needs something more to compete with CSR i believe. Right now i have CSR and Amex platinum and i plan to keep CSR for long time. Citi needs something more than 4th night free because most people rarely stay at 1 place for that long.

  • Where’s the link for 50,000 TYP after $5k spend? I clicked on one of the link above and it only takes me to the 40,000 after $4k spend.

  • Very nice, would be great if you could also add some European promos as well.

  • Maybe Citi might match Chase’s $300 credit.

  • I’m debating whether to renew my Prestige in a few months. Do you know if there is a grace period on when I must cancel before the AF is non-refundable? For example, it used to be (might still be) 30-60 days after AF posts for most Chase cards to receive a full refund of the AF.

    • You’ve got to cancel the card by when the fee is due to be paid to have it be refundable. After that, you’ll receive a prorated amount based on when you cancel.

      • Thanks! Didn’t realize Citi still gave prorated refunds. Might come in handy to keep the card for the Priority Pass access on an upcoming family trip. Too bad the 4th night free benefit takes so long to post…

    • Prestige is 37 days from when your AF posts. I learned this the hard way on my Premier and had to pay the fee so I asked about my other cards too. I just assumed it was 30 days from when the statement closed where the AF posted which was wrong.

  • If only TY points were more valuable I would get this over CSR…

  • Told my sister that she needed to dump the Amex Platinum since the travel credit was so much more restrictive. Even still, I am thinking about dumping my Prestige when the annual fee comes up (unless the retention offer is too compelling)

  • Timothy McCormack says:

    This is a good mileage grab, you can get a lot of miles quickly. I have no problem meeting the spending target if I focus all my purchases on one card for the period. Last time I was gunning for a promotion tied to spending, I was a little short, but a quick shopping run to restock the pantry got me over the hump. I’m almost thru that big stash of canned goods I purchased to meet the requirements.

  • Cathy Krasnianski says:

    Great card, but not happy about changes taking place later this year. Will need to re-think.

  • Trying to decide between this and the Chase Sapphire. They look pretty similar except for the extra 1K spend required

  • Would paying for AA status match qualify for the air travel credit?

  • New to Citi – is it possible to transfer 500k Points to EY and fly Apartment? And/or to Air France an fly First?

  • I am looking for a new primary card with the changes coming to the Citi Hilton I’m reading about (AMEX will get exclusive rights to Hilton branding). This information is awesome for someone like me. Keep up the great work.

  • great benefits unfortunately citi thank you points are hard to use.

  • Does the prestige $250 travel credit includes hotels.com, expedia or other third party booking? Someone has mentioned that it does cover but I wasn’t sure.

  • My AwardWallet entry for my Citi TY premier card shows a $250 air credit (which was earned while I had a Citi prestige card earlier this year). Can I use the credit by making an airline purchase on my premier card?

  • Activated card early July 2019. $250 travel credit was automatically applied on my July statement.

  • The customer service has been a horrible experience for me which was shocking. They kept putting security blocks on my account and when I called to try to get it cleared up they frequently had system issues and were not able access the account. Incredibly frustrating as I spend most of the year out of Country on business (which I submit travel notices for to keep them aware). A month of no card access as they need to send a letter to confirm my identity to my home address in the US and still no letter. This is by far the worst customer service I’ve experienced especially from a CC with a fee as high as theirs.
    I did receive a full travel credit though.

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