Is the Citi Prestige® Card Really Worth the Annual Fee?

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The Citi Prestige® Card is the premiere ThankYou Points earning card from Citibank. Citi offers lots of great credit cards, but sometimes they get pushed to the side when compared to cards from American Express and Chase.

However, this card shouldn’t be overlooked. The Citi Prestige comes with a lot of great benefits, but it also comes with a premium price tag — making lots of folks wonder if it’s actually worth the annual fee.

Here’s a break down of the card so you know where the value is — or isn’t. We’ll show you how you can make up the annual fee by maximizing the card’s benefits, and we’ll help you decide if this card is worth it for you.

Citi Prestige Welcome Bonus

The first thing you’ll want to take into account when deciding if a credit card is worth the cost of the annual fee is the welcome bonus. Thankfully, the current welcome bonus on the Citi Prestige makes up for the annual fee without taking into account any of the card’s other benefits.

Key Benefits of the Citi Prestige

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits offered by the Citi Prestige.

Citi ThankYou Points

Citi ThankYou Points don’t get as much hype as Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points, but they offer good value and shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Citi Prestige is a powerhouse when it comes to earning ThankYou Points and offers lots of bonus categories so that you’ll be able to earn points fast:

  • 5 ThankYou Points per $1 spent at airlines and travel agencies.
  • 5 ThankYou Points per $1 spent at restaurants.
  • 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent at hotels.
  • 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on cruises.
  • 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on everything else.
Citi Prestige Rewards Categories
Image Credit: Citi

Citi ThankYou Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel in the Citi Travel Center.

To make up the annual fee by points alone you would need to spend $9,900 per year on flights and/or restaurants (you’ll earn 5x points on these purchases). That works out to $825 per month.

But, when you take into account the $250 travel credit (more info below), you would only need to spend $4,900 combined at airlines, travel agencies, and/or restaurants to make up the difference. That’s only about $408 per month!

Citi Transfer Partners

Using the Citi Travel Center is a great, straightforward way to use your Citi ThankYou Points, but you’ll usually get a better value from your points if you transfer them to one of Citi’s airline partners.

Citi Transfer PartnerMin TransferTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Avianca Airlines Lifemiles1,0001:1Almost Instantly
Air France / KLM Flying Blue1,0001:12 Days
Cathay Pacific
1,0001:124 Hours
Etihad Airways1,0001:16 Days
EVA Air1,0001:12 Days
Jet Airways1,0001:1Almost Instantly
JetBlue Airways1,0001:1Almost Instantly
Malaysia Airlines1,0001:1No Data
Qantas Airways1,0001:12 Days
Qatar Airways
1,0001:12 Days
Singapore Airlines1,0001:12 Days
Thai Airways1,0001:14 Days
Turkish Airlines1,0001:11-2 Days
Virgin Atlantic1,0001:12 Days

Transferring to an airline partner can get you more value for your points — especially when you’re booking luxury business and first class seats.

Citibank
Citi offers lots of great airline transfer partners. Image Credit: TungCheung/Shutterstock

Premium Travel Benefits

$250 Travel Credit

As a Citi Prestige cardholder, each calendar year you’re eligible for a $250 travel credit. This credit will be automatically applied to your account when you make any type of travel purchases including:

  • Flights.
  • Hotels.
  • Rental Cars.
  • Travel agencies and tour operators.
  • Trains and subways.
  • Taxis, limousines, and car services.
  • Passenger railways.
  • Cruise lines.
  • Bridge and road tolls.
  • Parking.
  • Buses.
couple at airport
Your $250 travel credit can be used on lots of different types of travel including flights, hotels, cruises, and even taxis. Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Bottom Line: Even if you only travel once or twice a year, you’ll easily be able to use up all of the $250 travel credit. For most of us, this benefit is as good as cash.

Complimentary Airport Lounge Access

A great perk that can make a long trip more comfortable is airport lounge access. Whether you enjoy a pre-flight snack, complimentary beverages, or a quiet place to work before a flight, airport lounge access is a great benefit to have.

The Citi Prestige comes with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. This grants you and up to 2 guests (or your entire immediate family) access to over 1,200 lounges in over 500 cities worldwide. Any additional guests will be charged $27 each.

Purchasing a Priority Pass membership separately costs hundreds of dollars, making this a valuable benefit provided by the Citi Prestige. (There are also other cards that include a free membership to Priority Pass too.)

Fourth Night Free Benefit

If you book a hotel stay of at least 4 consecutive nights through thankyou.com or by phone at 800-THANKYOU you’ll receive a complimentary night. The value of the benefit will be the average nightly rate of your stay (excluding taxes and fees).

As a Citi Prestige cardholder, you’re eligible for up to 2 “Fourth Night” benefits per calendar year (bookings made prior to September 1, 2019 will not count toward the 2 stay cap in 2019).

Bottom Line: The Fourth Night benefit can easily make up for the annual fee of this card in one stay. If you can utilize this benefit twice in a calendar year, the Citi Prestige should probably earn a spot in your wallet.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Benefit

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll love the expedited security that comes with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It’s even better when these perks come complimentary.

Every 5 years you can receive a reimbursement for a TSA PreCheck or a Global Entry fee that’s charged to your Citi Prestige.

Bottom Line: If you max out the $250 travel credit and use the $100 Global Entry fee credit, you’ll have already made up for 70% of the Citi Prestige’s annual fee. That’s without taking into account any of the other benefits like ThankYou Points earning or the fourth night free benefit.

Travel With Confidence

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

With the Citi Prestige, you’ll be covered up to $5,000 per trip if your trip is cancelled or interrupted by any of the covered situations.

Trip Delay

You’ll be eligible for up to $500 to cover necessary expenses if your trip is delayed 6 or more hours.

Baggage Delay

If you arrive at your destination, but your bags don’t, you could face some unexpected expenses replacing necessary items. With the Citi Prestige, you’re eligible for up to $500 per person, per trip if your bags don’t reach your destination within 6 hours of your arrival.

Lost Baggage

Occasionally, airlines will lose or damage a bag. No one wants it to happen to them, but if it does you can be prepared with lost baggage coverage. The Citi Prestige includes a benefit of up to $3,000 per bag ($2,000 for New York residents) with a maximum of $10,000 per year if your bag is lost, damaged, or stolen.

Travel Accident Insurance

If a serious injury or death occurs while traveling, your Citi Prestige’s travel accident insurance provides up to $1,000,000 in benefits. This insurance covers you, your spouse or domestic partner, and any dependents traveling with you.

Emergency Medical Evacuation

When you pay for at least a portion of your trip with your Citi Prestige, you’ll be eligible for up to $100,000 in emergency medical evacuation coverage. These situations include things like unexpected injuries while traveling — which can be extremely expensive if you don’t have any coverage.

Bottom Line: The Citi Prestige offers lots of benefits that are hard to quantify but invaluable when you need them, like trip cancellation, interruption or delay insurance, lost and delayed baggage insurance, and travel accident insurance.

Business Man Walking with Suitcase
Having the Citi Prestige in your wallet can make travel a lot more comfortable and convenient with perks like airport lounge access and travel insurance. Image Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Drive With Confidence

Car Rental Benefits

As a Citi Prestige cardholder you’ll enjoy complimentary elite status with 3 major car rental programs (Hertz, Sixt, and National) as well as complimentary World Elite Mastercard Car Rental membership.

Car Rental Insurance

If you rent cars frequently, you’ll love the coverage that comes complimentary with your Citi Prestige.

You’ll be covered in the event of damage or theft to the rental car; the coverage is primary when outside the U.S and secondary within the U.S. (secondary coverage requires that you file a claim with your auto insurance company first).

Shop With Confidence

Missed Event Ticket Protection

The Missed Event Ticket protection plan is a pretty unique feature of the Citi Prestige. Unexpected things happen sometimes, and it’s nice to know you’re covered regardless. This benefit provides coverage up to $500 per ticket with a maximum of $5,000 per calendar year.

Covered losses include an accident or illness that prevents you from attending an event, jury duty, the death of a family member, and more.

Cell Phone Protection

The cell phone protection plan offered by the Citi Prestige can make up for the annual fee with 1 lost cell phone! This benefit is capped at $1,000 per claim and $1,500 every 12 month period and comes with a $50 deductible. You must be paying your cell phone bill with your Citi Prestige to be eligible.

Cell Phone Protection
Your cell phone is covered when you pay your bill with your Citi Prestige. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Purchase Protection

If you pay for an item with your Citi Prestige and it’s damaged or stolen within 90 days, you’re covered up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year with purchase protection coverage.

Extended Warranty

Extended warranty protection extends the manufacturer’s warranty by 2 years if the original warranty is 5 years or less.

Return Protection

If you purchase an item and try to return it within 90 days with no luck, your Citi Prestige card can save the day. The Citi Prestige return protection program offers a benefit of up to $500 per item with a maximum of $1,500 per calendar year.

Hot Tip: The cell phone coverage plan that comes with the Citi Prestige might be one of the most overlooked benefits of this card. If you are paying for a separate cell phone insurance plan already, you could save money by instead using the complimentary coverage that comes with the Citi Prestige! 

Who Should Get the Citi Prestige

You might want to consider the Citi Prestige if you:

  • Spend more than $408 per month combined on flights, at travel agencies, and at restaurants.
  • Are paying for a separate cell phone insurance plan.
  • Want airport lounge access.
  • Are planning to apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
  • Often pay for hotel stays of 4+ nights.

The Citi Prestige might NOT be right for you if you:

Final Thoughts

Not every credit card is right for every person. While the Citi Prestige offers lots of great benefits for frequent travelers, it still might not be the right card for you.

However, if the benefits offered by the Citi Prestige Card appeal to you, you should seriously consider adding this premium card to your wallet.

If you’re undecided, check out this post which compares the Citi Prestige to another popular premium credit card: The Citi Prestige Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express.


FAQ

How does the fourth hotel night free work?

If you pay for a hotel stay of at least 4 nights with your Citi Prestige (booked through Citi), you’ll receive a reimbursement for the average cost of your hotel room.

For example, if you stayed 4 nights in a hotel that cost $200 per night, you would receive a credit of $200. If you stayed 4 nights in a hotel and the first 2 nights cost $150 per night while the 2nd 2 nights cost $200 per night, you would receive a $175 credit (the average cost of all 4 nights).

How does the $250 travel credit work?

It’s easy to use the $250 travel credit that comes with the Citi Prestige. When you use your card to pay for travel expenses like flights, hotels, cruises, or even an Uber, you’ll receive a statement credit for the purchase amount (up to $250 per year).

Is the Citi Prestige worth keeping?

The Citi Prestige card has gone through some changes recently which is making many people wonder if it’s worth keeping. While some of the card’s benefits have been decreased, it still offers lots of great perks like the fourth night free benefit (now capped at 2x per year), a $250 travel credit, and cell phone coverage (new as of May 2019).

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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