Maximizing the Citi Prestige $250 Airline Travel Credit

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Despite the mid-year announcement of adverse changes to the Citi Prestige® Card, the card still has serious appeal. With standout features like the 4th-night free when booking a hotel through Citi Concierge, an annual $250 airline travel credit, 3X points on airfare & hotels, and 2X points on dining & entertainment, 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 $450 annual fee.

As one of the only travel credits to cover airfare in addition to airline incidentals, the $250 Air 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

Citi Prestige® Card

  • 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $5,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening
  • $250 Air Travel Credit will automatically be applied to flight-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more
  • Complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4–consecutive night booking through the Citi Prestige® Concierge
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • 3X points on Air Travel and Hotels, 2X points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment, and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • $450 annual fee

What Will the Prestige Card Credit as a Travel Purchase?

The Prestige Card has one of the best airline 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 airline travel credit on the Prestige Card will cover airfare, 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 carrier.

Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including airfares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases.

Citi determines if transactions are valid via the merchant code provided at the time of purchase, so technically any purchase from an airline should credit, although Citi does hedge its bet’s here in the T&C’s.

We do not determine whether merchants appropriately identify all transactions you make on your Card Account, but we do reserve the right to determine which purchases are eligible for the statement credit.

With the added flexibility of credits on airfare, cardholders should have no issue maximizing the airline 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 Air 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 1-2 billing cycles after the qualifying air travel expense 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 airline credit may not count towards the minimum spend for new cardholders trying to achieve the signup bonus. 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.

This statement credit is an annual benefit available for purchases appearing on your billing statements from December through the following December. Pending transactions that do not post in your December billing cycle will count towards the next year's Air Travel Credit. 

For example, if you applied for the card in July 2017 you can claim the $250 travel credit for 2017, and again when the benefit ticks over in Dec/Jan, as long as it’s before June 2018. Receiving $500 of airline credits for the $450 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 Air 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 $200 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 Air Travel Credit on the Prestige Card? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Maximizing the Citi Prestige $250 Airline Travel Credit
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  • 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?

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