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Million Mile Secrets reader Fran B emailed:
Is the Citi Prestige card worth keeping after the first year? The 50,000 ThankYou point sign-up bonus was great, but the $450 annual fee is a lot! If I keep the card, will I get the $250 statement credit for airline fees (like airfare and baggage fees) every year I’m a cardholder?
Great question, Fran B!
Because the annual $250 statement credit for airline fees (that you’ll get each year you’re a cardholder), Priority Pass access, American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access through July 23, 2017, and the 4th night free perk, can more than offset the $450 annual fee!
I’ll explain who should consider keeping this card, even after sign-up bonus the first year.
More About the Citi Prestige Card
Link: Citi Prestige Card
There are lots of cards with great sign-up bonuses. But once you earn the bonus, some cards don’t offer great incentives to keep them.
And because the annual fee for the Citi Prestige card is high ($450), Fran B is smart to question whether she should keep the card after the first year!
The Citi Prestige has an excellent sign-up bonus of 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. (EXPIRED.) That’s worth $800 toward paid flights on American Airlines or its codeshare partners for international travel through July 23, 2017.
And other perks like:
- 3 ThankYou points per $1 you spend at airlines, hotels, and travel agencies
- 2 ThankYou points per $1 you spend at restaurants and select entertainment (includes movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions)
- $250 statement credit for airline fees such as airfare and baggage fees appearing on your statement from December to the following December
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry application fee
- Access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges for primary cardholder and immediate family, or 2 guests (as long as you’re flying on American Airlines or American Eagle that day) through July 23, 2017
- Priority Pass Lounge access for primary cardholder and up to 2 guests (additional guests $27 per person, per visit)
- 4th night free when you book 4 consecutive nights at any hotel (must be booked through Citi Prestige Concierge and paid in full with your card)
- No foreign transaction fees
The $450 annual fee is NOT waived for the first year. And you can read my full review of the card here.
Who Should Consider Keeping the Citi Prestige Card After the First Year?
The $450 annual fee for the Citi Prestige card is offset by the $250 statement credit for airline fees (like airfare and baggage charges) you’ll get each year from December to December of the following year.
That effectively brings the cost of the annual fee to $200 ($450 annual fee – $250 statement credit) per year.
But what are the other reasons you might consider keeping the Citi Prestige card?
Folks Who Use the 4th Night Free Perk
Update: Beginning July 23, 2017, the 4th night free perk will refund the average cost of a 4-night stay, NOT including taxes.
I’ve written about how to save on paid hotel stays with the 4th night free perk from the Citi Prestige. And why it’s 1 of the 10 best deals in travel.
Cardholders can get their 4th night free on a paid hotel stay of 4+ consecutive nights at at any hotel booked through Citi’s Travel Concierge. This includes major hotel chains and independent hotels!
This is especially valuable when you combine it with hotel promotions for Big Travel. And you’ll earn points for your stay!
There’s also no limit to the number of times you can use the perk each year. So you could save hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars if you have multiple paid hotel stays planned.
Folks Who Enjoy Airport Lounges
With the Citi Prestige card, you’ll get access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges for the primary cardholder and immediate family, or 2 guests (as long as you’re flying on American Airlines or American Eagle that day).
And Priority Pass Lounge access for the primary cardholder and up to 2 guests.
If you’re a frequent flyer or travel a lot with friends & family, this perk could be very valuable.
Because a one-time lounge pass can easily cost ~$50 per person!
Folks Who Spend a Lot in the Card’s Bonus Categories
If you spend a lot at airlines and hotels or at restaurants or tourist attractions, it could be worth keeping your Citi Prestige card after getting the sign-up bonus.
That’s because you’ll earn 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at airlines, hotels, and travel agencies. And 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at restaurants and on select entertainment like movie theaters, amusement parks, and tourist attractions.
So your points could really add up!
With Citi ThankYou points, for example, you can get Big Travel by transferring your points to Singapore Airlines miles to fly on United Airlines to Hawaii.
Folks With Other Citi Cards That Earn ThankYou Points
For some it’s worth keeping the Citi Prestige card because it increases the value of Citi ThankYou points you earn with other Citi ThankYou points cards like the Citi ThankYou Premier or Citi AT&T Access More cards.
When you have the Citi Prestige card, the Citi ThankYou points you earn with other Citi cards can be worth hundreds towards flights on American Airlines and its codeshare partners.
Because you can combine the Citi ThankYou points you’ve earned into your Prestige account. And they’ll be worth 1.6 cents each on any flight in the Citi portal that’s listed as an American Airlines flight through July 23, 2017.
This includes American Airlines flights that show as “operated by” British Airways, Finnair, and Qantas, for example. So you can fly to places like Australia, Helsinki, and Fiji, without having to hunt for award tickets or worry about blackout dates!
Folks Who Love to Golf
Just remember, only the primary cardholder can use the free rounds.
Folks Who Appreciate Trip Insurance & Baggage Delay Protection
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption – Coverage for up to $5,000 per covered traveler if your trip is cancelled for an eligible reason
- Trip Delays – Get up to $500 per covered traveler when your trip is delayed for more 3+ hours
- Baggage Delay – Get up to $500 per covered traveler if your checked baggage doesn’t get to your destination within 3 hours of your arrival
- Lost Luggage – Luggage or items inside are lost or damaged for up to $3,000 per covered traveler ($2,000 per bag for New York residents)
The annual fee is $450. But it will be offset by using the $250 airline credit you’ll get each year you’re a cardmember.
So assuming you’ll take at least $250 in paid flights over the year, you’d have to see the Prestige as worth $200 to break even. So think about how much you’ll likely save by using the 4th night free perk, free lounge access, and from transferring to airline partners for Big Travel, or using Citi ThankYou points to for 1.6 cent each on American Airlines flights with no blackout dates.