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:
And here is my response:
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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