Maximizing the Citi Prestige $250 Travel Credit

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Despite the 2017 announcement of adverse changes to the Citi Prestige® Card, the card still has serious appeal. 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, and 2X points on entertainment (through 8/31/19), 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

Citi Prestige® Card

  • Currently no signup bonus
  • $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 provdider 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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