Is It Crazy for an Average Joe to Renew Citi Prestige?

This particular write-up was inspired by my post Is it crazy for an average Joe to consider Citi Prestige? It had a fair number of comments, but this is the one that caught my eye:

citi pr 1

And here is my response:

citi pr 2

The above pretty much sums up my feelings on the card, but I wanted to expand on it a bit. Basically, as it stands right now, once you maximize the $250 airline credit allowance, you are looking at out-of-pocket cost of $200. That’s quite steep, but it could be worth it even for regular folks. Here are a few scenarios, in the order of significance:

1) You plan to maximize “4th night free” benefit.

This is probably the most compelling  reason for an average Joe/Jane. I’m not all that familiar with this benefit because I’ve never actually got a chance to use it while I had Citi Prestige open. I burn hotel points whenever I can, and usually stay during holidays when rates are extremely high. Plus, majority of our getaways occur on a weekend and involve us staying only two nights.

My previous understanding was that whatever hotels were listed on this website were eligible. However, Citi has switched travel agencies and now, most properties can be booked while utilizing this benefit.

I actually asked my reader Rich if he could call and check if Aulani Disney resort in Oahu is eligible, and he kindly agreed. This is what he told me in the email: “They said only rooms at the standard rate are available. No villas that are owned by owners, only the actual hotel with the standard rate, no packages, breakfast, specials etc. She was very clear that it has to be the standard rate and may not be available on all dates. But, it is bookable. “

This is very interesting and opens all kinds of possibilities. Some hotels are simply not bookable on points, so “4th night free” benefit is the next best thing. The rates at Aulani are $400+ per night, so if you are planning on staying four nights anyway, the savings will pay for the annual fee and then some.

I’ve seen on some blogs including One Mile at a Time, that some readers have been able to combine this benefit with hotel promotions such as “3rd night free,” but I wouldn’t count on it.

2) You are REALLY into golf. Big time.

Many normal  people who don’t make six figures love to golf.  Citi Prestige gives access to three rounds per calendar year at some of the most expensive courses in the country. You can read about this benefit here As  reader Rich has pointed out in his comment, it can easily cost $250 each time.

So, if you golf three times, that’s a retail value of $750. While most normal people would probably never consider paying this rate, getting it for $200 is much more reasonable. It could be a nice splurge for someone who has an easy access to participating courses. And you can just tell your wife it’s free! No need to mention the annual fee on Citi Prestige.

3) You have a big family and plan to use lounge access several times during the year.

It’s definitely a nice benefit and can make your airport layover much more pleasant. Plus, you can get your family fed and entertained. Personally, I would need to have eight or more flights lined up before I would consider renewing Citi Prestige for that reason. But to each his/her own.

4) You plan to rely on travel protection that comes with Citi Prestige.

I admit, I almost always buy my own policy because I’m paranoid. But if you are someone who likes to rely on credit cards for your travel insurance needs, Citi Prestige is a fairly decent product. It even offers medical evacuation, a rare benefit. But it does NOT include medical coverage  policy, so you will need to purchase it separately. Read a guide to Citi Prestige travel protection benefits  here

5) You spend a lot on dining/travel, and plan to redeem points on American Airlines flights.

I doubt this would offset the annual fee when it comes to an average family, but it’s worth mentioning. Here is how category spending stacks up:

  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Since each point is worth 1.6 cents toward airfare on American Airlines and its codeshares, this could give you a decent return on your spending. Like I said, probably not a major thing to most regular folks, but something to be aware of.

The biggest reasons NOT to renew Citi Prestige

Well, besides the annual fee, of course. They are:

1) You may end up buying an airline ticket just to utilize the $250 annual credit.

Even if you buy airline gift cards, you’ll eventually need to figure out what to do with them: spend them or sell them at a loss. This perk is most definitely not as good as cash, a.k.a the way it’s presented at times.

2) The sooner you cancel Citi Prestige, the sooner you’ll be eligible for the sign-up bonus again.

You can receive it once your card has been canceled for at least 24 months. To me, this is the most compelling reason of all. Unless you are someone who makes out like a bandit due to all the perks that come with Citi Prestige, you will most likely get bigger value out of the sign-up bonus.

Readers, your thoughts?

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14 thoughts on “Is It Crazy for an Average Joe to Renew Citi Prestige?

  1. That’s great that the benefit is available for more hotels now! I still may consider this card in the future. In the case of Aulani, the hotel frequently has a 25%-30% off special with breakfast, so it may not be worth it to use the 4th night free benefit.


    • @Nancy It’s possible you might end up getting the special rate anyway despite what Citi travel partner said, but it’s hard to say for sure. I think it’s best not to count on it and be pleasantly surprised if you do.
      I recommend folks consider this card mostly for the sign-up bonus and look at additional perks as gravy.


  2. Your point number 4 about travel protection surprised me. You said you always buy that. Can you elaborate further on where you buy that and how much do you pay. I guess if that is so important to you then Chase Sapphire Preferred was a very good card to keep


    • @Caveman You make a good point, so let me explain. First, I don’t always purchase separate travel insurance. At times, I just get bare bones medical policy, especially if I pay with a premium card (when I’m working on a sign-up bonus).
      My reasons for going with a separate policy and not hanging on to CSP:
      1) I hate to pay annual fees without getting something in return, period. My travel plans may end up getting canceled, but I won’t get a refund of $95 on my card. I’m cheap.
      2) From what I’ve read, travel benefits on CSP are only valid on roundtrip tickets. I almost always book one-ways using miles.
      3) I’ve seen reports where Chase has denied claims when folks were flying on award tickets. I’m sure if you follow up, they will probably eventually approve. But it’s a nuisance I’d rather not deal with.
      4) I’ve used Discover card to pay for my cruise to Alaska. It gave me access to 10% back on base fare of the cruise. It ended up being $270 or something like that. However, I was required to use Discover as payment method. Even with travel insurance cost ($110 for four of us), it would not be worth it to renew CSP. Plus, I would still need a separate policy for medical insurance.
      5) I’m paranoid, big time. I’d rather have a separate policy in case Chase decided to change the terms quietly.

      That said, I do think CSP has decent travel protection benefits. I’ve mentioned this point before and do believe it’s worth renewing for those who travel on a regular basis.


  3. Funny enough, I have been debating this very thing in my head for a few days 🙂 The main reason I am considering keeping it is I know exactly how I would use the $250 credit, and I also know of at least 1 situation where I would likely use the 4th night free. I had actually booked a trip we are taking next week through the Citi concierge to take advantage of the 4th night free, but recently decided to cancel the hotel and do a vacation rental. Then, today, I got a $50 Amazon GC in my email from Citi “thanking me for using the 4th night free benefit.” I have to admit, I am not sure what I’ll decide, but those kinds of “extras” do make it a little harder to cancel!


    • @DAS I definitely think there are scenarios where it makes sense to renew the card. If you absolutely intend to take advantage of several perks, it could be worth it. Lounge access, hotel discount, airline allowance are very nice benefits. Plus, as of now, Citi prorates the annual fees. So, if you happen to cancel at the beginning of 2017, you’ll get a good chunk of the fee back. That way, you’ll get the airline credit, plus a refund. Of course, Citi may change its policy, so I wouldn’t count on it 100%. I think everyone should evaluate it individually. For me, it was a no-brainer to cancel. We have one flight scheduled this year, and nothing else till next June. Plus, we use hotel points for almost everything. But everyone has different needs.


  4. I thought that the rule was you couldn’t get the bonus again within 24 months of opening or closing a citi account.
    If so, is this potentially another reason to renew your Prestige so as not to reset the clock upon cancellation? Can you get another Prestige bonus while still having one account open? Does anyone know?


    • @Lindy I looked at the terms, and this is what they say: ” You will receive 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases are made with your card within 3 months of account opening. Balance transfers, cash advances, account fees, interest and items returned for credit are not purchases. Bonus ThankYou Points not available if you have had a Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.”
      So, my understanding is that the longer you keep Citi Prestige open, the more you’ll delay eligibility for the sign-up bonus. Once you close it, the clock starts on 24 months’ waiting period. Makes sense? I know it’s all extremely confusing and Citi may change the rules down the road. But as it stands right now, closing or converting the card will make you eligible for the bonus sooner.


  5. 1. Any idea if Priority pass that we got will still be valid at the lounges after canceling the Prestige card? I have a 6 hour layover in KUL in December, but I am planning to cancel Prestige card in a day or two.
    2. When you canceled Prestige card, did you move credit to different card or lost the CL? I have 20k CL on Prestige right now.
    3. I heard the even though you can move TY points from Prestige to say, Premier after canceling Prestige, those points WILL expire nevertheless. Can you pls confirm?



    • @Sam Thanks for stopping by! Let me address your questions one by one:
      1) I don’t believe you’ll be able to use Priority pass after canceling Prestige. Here is a direct quote from terms:
      “In the event of the cardholder cancelling or not renewing their Priority Pass membership or their payment card with the card issuer, the Priority Pass card shall be invalid effective from the cancellation date or the expiry date (as applicable) of their Priority Pass membership or their payment card. Any lounge visits made by a cardholder using an invalid card, including any guests, shall be charged to the cardholder. In the event that Priority Pass membership has been revoked due to the cardholder’s payment card being cancelled, Priority Pass reserves the right to pursue legal action to recover any outstanding charges. Cancellation of membership must be in writing to the Priority Pass office where the card was issued.”
      You might get away with it, but I wouldn’t count on it. Your Citi Prestige is connected to Priority Pass membership, and in all likelihood they will see that the card is no longer valid.
      2) I just went ahead and canceled Citi Prestige via secure message. First, I used up my remaining points, but it wasn’t a huge amount. In the past I tried to convert Citi Premier card to Preferred version, but wasn’t able to. I suggest you try it if you have a decent amount of points and are not sure what to do with them.

      3) See my post on this topic
      Your points might expire in 30 days or possibly 90 days. The terms are a bit confusing (it’s Citi after all!). Your Citi Thank You Premier profile in Citi Thank You center should let you know which points expire when. Check it after transferring your points from Prestige.
      Like I said, try to convert Prestige to Citi Thank You Preferred if you possibly can. That way, you won’t be under pressure to use them up.
      Hope this helps!


      • MFF – thanks for your prompt reply. Appreciate the inputs. I will try to PC Prestige to TYP. But as in the past I am not hopeful because when I had Citi Exec card, there was no PC option.
        On a different note, I made a mistake of combining points of Prestige and Premier. I would like to use up Prestige points first, but since I can’t uncombine, I don’t know from which account the points will be redeemed.


      • Just an update – I was able to convert the Prestige to Thank you preferred card. Now I look back, I haven’t asked what other options I had in there…but does the job I guess. Now, will it reset getting Prestige in 24 months starting today? Thanks.


    • @Sam No problem! I don’t have Citi Prestige or Premier right now, but I do remember that each card has its own Thank You account associated with it. I would call Citi and ask if they can unlink accounts. As long as Prestige is open, you should be able to redeem the points accordingly. Hope it works out for you.


    • @Sam Thanks for the update! That’s great news. It should reset the clock as far as qualifying for Citi Prestige bonus goes. I’ve seen data points on this in the past where Bank reps have confirmed it. Of course, you never know with Citi, but you should be fine.


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