CitiGold Account Holders Are Charged $350 Annual Fee on Citi Prestige Every January (See Update)

An update: Citi rep gave me incorrect info. See my new post on the subject.

You may remember my December post highlighting 50K points promo on CitGold account.  An amazing deal, no doubt. But there is one wrinkle which recently manifested itself. Here is the comment I got from one of my readers:

rich

I wasn’t aware of it at the time of writing the post, so thanks to the reader for bringing this to my attention. I went ahead and checked my Citi Prestige account and this is what I found:

citi prestige fee reversal

I called Citi and was told the same thing: When you get CitiGold account and happen to have Prestige, your annual fee is billed every January whether you like it or not. And I don’t like it! So, basically, I got  a partial refund of $262 only to be billed $350. BTW, even though the date shown is July, is was actually credited in December of 2015. Originally, I was charged $450 in the summer, when  I applied for Citi Prestige. Normally, you pay $450, but you get a $100 discount if you happen to have CitiGold. Are you confused? Welcome to Citiland.

Of course, the assumption is that the client will hang on to Citi Prestige indefinitely, and many will. After all, the card comes with a great sign-up bonus, all kinds of perks and $250 calendar year airline credit (read more on it in this page). But I’m a freeloader and want to maximize the perks, cancel the card, move on, then reapply for bonus in 18 months. Are you in the same boat? Here are some things you may want to think about:

1) If you already took advantage of $250 airline credit allowance, you can consider converting Citi Prestige to Citi Thank You Preferred (no annual fee). Many, including myself had a hard time changing Citi products, but according to Chuck on Twitter, it’s back on. I reached out to him, and he did say that according to terms, in order to get 50K points bonus on CitiGold account, you need to have a card that earns Thank You points. But it doesn’t have to be Citi  Prestige.

If you decide to go this route, make sure to transfer your points to miles if you were planning on doing so. Ditto for paid flights, since you get 1.33 cents toward airfare and 1.6 cents per point on American flights. If you also happen to have Citi Thank You Premier, you can just transfer points to it and then cancel Prestige. Converting to Citi Thank You Preferred is preferable (pun intended) because you won’t have to deal with 30-day points’  expiration   issue. Read more on it here  Of course, you will be foregoing new sign-up bonus on Citi Thank You Preferred, so this is something to consider.

2) If you have Citi Prestige but haven’t yet taken advantage of $250 credit, consider doing it soon, so it posts on current statement. You have 30 days  from the statement in which it’s billed to get a refund of your annual fee. If it falls outside of 30-day window, you are supposed to get a  pro-rated refund. I honestly don’t know what the policy will be in a situation like this, as I’ve had this card for quite some time. Will they give me most of $350 back or will they pro-rate it based on how many months I’ve had it so far? I’m not sure, but I will soon find out.

To recap:

First order of business is to buy $250 Southwest gift card (read my post on it). I will wait till the next statement and when the $250 credit posts, I will call Citi and attempt to convert it to Citi Thank You Preferred. I have only 800 points left, so I don’t have to worry about maximizing them for flights or transfer to miles.

If you do have a big stash, I suggest  you think carefully if this is the right time to convert Prestige because you will be missing out on potential leverage in the future. Oh, and don’t forget  golf benefit, “4th night free” hotel perk  and lounge access. Even though we have some flights coming up, I would  rather get a refund of the annual fee than get some mediocre snacks and slightly better seats.

If Citi refuses to convert Prestige, I’ll just have to keep it open till I get the bonus on CitiGold. After that, sayonara. I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with my husband’s Prestige. His account is in the same predicament as mine, but he hates making phone calls. I might try to send a secure message to Citi and ask them to convert to Preferred. I might even bribe him to call, we’ll see.

Now, on to buying those Southwest gift cards!

An update.

Here is the comment I just got from the same reader:

“Citi rep told me you have 37 days from the time the annual fee post to receive 100% back ($350 fee) after that it is a partial refund.”

Not sure if Citi will actually follow through, but it’s an interesting development.

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6 thoughts on “CitiGold Account Holders Are Charged $350 Annual Fee on Citi Prestige Every January (See Update)

  1. Hi,
    Rich was refunded the prorated fee and billed $350 in Jan only because he became a CitiGold account holder in December. Citibank’s policy is to refund the prorated fee in the next billing cycle after you sign up for CitiGold. I just so happens that Rich signed up in December. So your conclusion that CitiGold account holders are always charged the annual fee for the Citi Prestige in January is incorrect.
    Varun

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  2. @Varun Thanks for stopping by! Actually, it wasn’t my assumption. Rich was told that when he called. I know Citi reps say all kinds of crazy stuff, so I called to confirm it. I was told the same thing. It’s possible that both reps were misinformed, but I asked specifically if everyone with CitGold is billed in January and was told Yes. You might be right, though. I’m just going by what Citi told me. I’ll shoot them an email and see what the response is.

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    • @Varun @Mark I just got off the phone, and was told that it’s not billed in January for everyone. It does depend on when you got the account just like you said. So, it looks like I was misinformed by Citi rep. Thanks! Will write another post on it as well as other updates.

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  3. I had my original annual fee paid in June (when I got the card). Then I got Citigold in December. I got a prorated refund and a prorated recharge, to capture my prorated $100 savings, all in December. Then, in January, I got a $350 annual fee, basically locking me in for another 12 months, which I didn’t want to do. I’m missing out on the 2nd of the 2-fo-1 $250 credit and golf rounds. I called and they gave me 2,000 thank you points.

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    • @Dave C You should be able to get most of that $350 fee refunded if you convert the card to Preferred. Of course, you’ll miss out on the sign up bonus for the latter. I actually plan on trying to convert mine to Premier. Citi Gold deal specifies that Thank You card should open to qualify for bonus, but it doesn’t say it has to be the same exact card. I’m glad you got 2,000 points, at least. Still, you might want to consider converting your Prestige unless golf and other perks are crucial to you.

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