MORE Changes Coming to Citi Prestige – And It’s the Last Straw for Me

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The Citi Prestige has been losing its luster for me over the past year.

The card is NOT currently open for new applicants, but it’s returning soon.  I stayed positive when Citi announced its latest changes to the Citi Prestige last month.  The card will soon earn 5X points per $1 for travel and dining, receive an improved $250 travel credit, and offer valuable cell phone insurance.

But when I step back and look at the past few years I’ve had the card, the incremental changes have resulted in something I can no longer accept.

The Citi Prestige Used to Make Flying American Airlines VERY Enticing

And it’s enough to make me cancel my card.

What Was Once My Favorite Card Is No Longer

When the Citi Prestige was introduced, it was by far my favorite card.  But Citi continues to strip benefits to the point that it’s unrecognizable:

  • The Citi Prestige once had American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access.  They eliminated that benefit.
  • The Citi Prestige once came with trip delay insurance that kicked in after just a 3+ hour delay.  They changed that to 6+ hours (still good, but no longer the best).
  • The Citi Prestige once earned points that you could redeem for 1.6 cents each on American Airlines, and 1.33 cents per point for all other airlines.  Then they eliminated special redemption rate on American Airlines.  Then they reduced the 1.33 cent per point redemption rate to 1.25 cents.  Now they’re reducing it to 1 cent.
  • The Citi Prestige once came with a benefit allowing you to receive your 4th night free at just about any hotel, including taxes.  Then they decided they would NOT reimburse taxes.  Now they’re capping the amount of free 4th nights from unlimited to twice per year.

But now there are more details about the upcoming changes, and they’re not good.

1.   4th Night Free Can Only Be Booked Through the Citi ThankYou Portal

This is unacceptable to me.  Here’s why.

Previously, you were able to call or email the Citi concierge to request a 4th night free on your stay.  The concierge would then book a room for you directly through the hotel website.  As far as the hotel was concerned, you made a direct booking through them.

Beginning September 1, 2019, you’ll be required to book through the Citi ThankYou portal to get the 4th night free.  And because the Citi ThankYou portal is a 3rd party booking service, you will NOT earn elite night credits, you will NOT earn points for your stay, and your elite status will NOT be recognized.  You also can’t use hotel promotions in tandem with the 4th night free.

2.   Annual Fee Increasing for More of Us Than We Thought

When Citi announced this latest wave of changes, we learned that the $450 annual fee would increase to $495.  However, the understanding was that folks with a Citi Priority account would only pay a $350 annual fee for the Citi Prestige card.

That won’t be the case after all.  Only Citi customers with a Citigold or Citi Private Banking account will continue to pay an annual fee of $350 for the Citi Prestige.

3.   Increased Authorized User Fees

To add an authorized user on the Citi Prestige currently costs $50.  But once these changes take place (your cardmember anniversary after September 1, 2019), you’ll pay $75 per authorized user.

Is This Card Worth the Fee Any Longer?

Not for me.  The Citi Premier℠ Card, once light years behind the Citi Prestige, may very well be the better option for most folks now.

As Harlan pointed out, the new earning rates are pretty great.  And that might be enough for several of you to keep the card.  If you spend a TON on travel and dining, the Citi Prestige could make sense for you.

Jasmin plans to keep the card because of its generous Priority Pass lounge access, which allows you to bring 2 guests OR immediate family.  Other cards that come with Priority Pass only allow for 2 guests.  So Jasmin can bring her family of 4 into a lounge for free with the Citi Prestige.

You can’t do that if you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express!

The best Priority Pass membership you can buy costs $429, and still charges $32 per guest.  So if you travel with family, this benefit alone can be worth far more than the annual fee!

As for me, I’m through romanticizing a card I fell in love with years ago.  It’s a totally different organism.  I can find better ways to spend $495.

Do you plan to apply for this card when it relaunches shortly?  And for folks who have the Citi Prestige, will you keep or cancel your card after these changes take place on September 1, 2019?

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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