Why My Citi Prestige Card Has To Go


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I recently wrote a post discussing annual fees and explaining how I go about deciding if I should keep a credit or charge card when the annual fee becomes due and, just recently, it was decision time on the Citi Prestige card.

I’ve been a fan of the Citi Prestige card since it was first launched and, even after the devaluation back in July this year, I still thought the card was worth keeping.

But things change and my recent review of what exactly I’m getting for my $450 annual fee didn’t come out looking too positive.

As I’ve said in the past, the way I decide if a card is worth its annual fee is by closely examining the benefits that it provides, deciding which ones I genuinely use and then assigning a value to each of those benefits.

This gives me an idea of what value I’m getting from the card benefits and I can then tell how much of an asset or liability it is to me.

citi prestige credit card

Here’s how my review of the Citi Prestige card went:

Main Benefits & Their Value To Me

  • $250 air travel credit – $250 in value to me
  • Priority Pass Membership – $30
  • No foreign transaction fees – $20
  • 4th Night free benefit – $0
  • $100 Global Entry credit – $0
  • 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on Air Travel & Hotels – $0.045/dollar spent
  • 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on Dining Out & Entertainment – $0.030/dollar spent
  • 1 ThankYou Point per dollar spent on all non-bonused spending – $0.015/dollar spent

How I Reached My Valuations

Air Travel Credit – The $250 air travel credit is easy to use and with all the airfares I book I easily get full value out of this.

Priority Pass – I already get the most useful Priority Pass membership from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card so I don’t need membership for myself…but I do need a membership for Joanna.

To get this second membership I can either pay $50 for an additional Prestige Card or $80 for an additional Chase Reserve card for Joanna – keeping my Prestige card allows me to get Joanna a Priority Pass membership for $30 less than I would otherwise pay.

No Foreign Transaction Fees – I’ve taken the unusual step of giving the “no foreign transaction fees” benefit a value as it’s the only MasterCard I have that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and that offers good points earning opportunities in categories I’m likely to spend in when abroad.

I like to make sure that I have at least one Amex, one Visa and one MasterCard in my wallet when I’m abroad (that covers all the bases) and, with Amex cards often not accepted in foreign establishments, it’s even more important to have a good MasterCard in my wallet.

4th Night Free – I cannot assign a value to the 4th night free benefit because, no matter how cool that benefit sounds, I can’t escape the fact that I didn’t use it once in 2017 and I can’t see an opportunity to use it in 2018 either. (If you’re a fan of the 4th night free benefit this is a post you should read)

Global Entry – I can’t assign a value to the Global Entry credit either as I already have this benefit through my Amex Platinum card and my Chase Reserve card too – I don’t need 3 Global Entry credits.

What This All Means

I’m paying an annual fee of $450 for a card whose benefits I value at $300 so, to make up the $150 shortfall, I need to be using the card often enough to get that amount of value from the ThankYou points that I earn when I spend on the card.

This is where I have a problem.

I don’t use my Citi Prestige card for unbonused spend – I prefer to use my Starwood Amex card for all my unbonused spend as I value Starpoints over Citi ThankYou points.

The SPG Amex Card is my go-to card for unbonused spend

I don’t use my Citi Prestige card when dining out – I prefer to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve card which offers me 3 points for every dollar I spend.

I don’t use my Citi Prestige card when booking air fares (except to use up the $250 credit) – I prefer to use my Platinum Card from Amex which earns me 5 points per dollar I spend.

I don’t get much chance to use my Citi Prestige card at hotels – I generally stay at chain hotels which all offer their own co-branded credit cards which I hold (Marriott/Starwood/IHG/Hilton) and which all offer a better return on my spend.

Even when an opportunity arises to use the Prestige card at a hotel it’s still only a 50:50 chance that I’ll actually use it – the Chase Reserve card offers me the same return so that’s an option too.

What this all essentially means is that I have to get at least $150 of value from whatever I spend on Entertainment…and that’s going to be tough.

To earn $150 in ThankYou points from spending in the entertainment category I would have to spend a massive $5,000…and that isn’t going to happen.

Even if I made more of an effort to use the Prestige card when staying at hotels the spend requirement just to break even on the annual fee is simply too high – I have other credit cards that I would prefer to keep and use. 

These are the cards I’m most likely to use for bonused spend on a day-to-day-basis

Bottom Line

For my circumstances the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has turned out to be a Citi Prestige killer.

Yes, Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to more airline loyalty programs than Chase Ultimate Rewards points….but I’m happy enough with the transfer options my Chase cards give me.

There is simply too much overlap between the benefits that the Reserve and Prestige cards offer and, when it comes down to it, my Reserve card is the one I find myself pulling out of my wallet when the time comes to pay.

So, the math tells me the Citi prestige Card will have to go as it doesn’t justify its $450 annual fee.

The question I’m asking myself now is should I get rid of it completely or should I downgrade it to a cheaper card? That will take a bit more thought.

1 COMMENT

  1. Random thoughts . . . with the proviso that “no size (or credit card, for that matter) fits all.”

    1) I *do* use the “4th Night Free” benefit, and did at least twice in 2017 — once at the Hyatt Regency in Mexico City, and once while staying at an independent hotel in Spain. By booking through the Citi Concierge, I *did* get over 5,000 points w/Hyatt, plus the 3x Citi ThankYou points at both hotels.

    2) Keeping in mind my not-so-unique situation of being stopped from getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card owning to the 5/24 rule when it was first released — along with subsequently losing out first on the 100k bonus, then on the 50k bonus, then, at least temporarily, losing access to the card completely because I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card and Chase has decided you can only have one card or the other . . . I would prefer NOT to upgrade my card, but rather to “downgrade” to one of the Chase “Freedom” cards and then apply for the CSR to be whatever bonus I can — and am hesitant to do that just in case Chase sees fit to deny me the card for some *other* reason I don’t know about. Thus, the Citi Prestige card remains my go to “super-premium” card, while the CSP, the Citi ThankYou Premier, and my SPG Amex cards remain my go-to “premium” cards.

    3) On more of a general note, one *always* gets a better point return using one’s SPG Amex when staying at a Marriott property than when using the Marriott Rewards card by Chase. That said, when *not* staying at either an SPG or Marriott property, I always use my Citi Prestige. This is even sometimes true when staying at a Hilton, despite having my soon-to-change Hilton Surpass card from American Express. (Sometimes it’s a better deal to use the Citi card; sometimes my Hilton card — I’ve found it changes sometimes.)

    4) The ONLY reason that I continue to keep my Citi Premier is that it includes gasoline as a 3x purchase, while oddly enough, the Citi Prestige does not.

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