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Citi removed the luxury Citi Prestige® Credit Card from its credit card lineup for new cardholders in August 2018, but it’s returning — with major upgrades — in January 2019. The move was part of a Citi effort to enhance the card’s benefits based on customer feedback and to remain competitive with luxury cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The Citi Prestige® Credit Card was closed to new applications as Citi made its changes, including a nice boost to the number of points you can earn for spending on airfare, restaurants, cruises and hotels. But it’s also taking away some of the more popular benefits, such as more points value for travel purchases and relationship bonuses for cardholders with Citi banking accounts.
We’ll compare the old and new versions of the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, explaining what we like and what we don’t with the upgraded card. We’ll also look at the Citi Prestige® Credit Card’s two main competitors in the luxury credit card segment as alternatives to consider.
Compare: Old vs. new Citi Prestige® Credit Card
|Benefit||Old Citi Prestige® Credit Card||Citi Prestige® Credit Card|
|Sign-up bonus||75,000 points after spending $7,500 in the first three months||Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.|
|Rewards||3x on Air Travel & Hotels, 2x on Dining & Entertainment, and 1x on Other Purchases||5X on air travel & restaurants, 3x on cruise lines & hotels, and 1x on all other purchases|
|Points bonus||25% more value for points used to book airfare||None|
|Annual travel credit||$250 for airfare only||$250 covers all eligible travel|
|Relationship bonus||15% bonus points for Citigold, Citi Priority, Global Clients and Citi employees; 25% for Citi Private Bank customers||None|
|Free fourth night
|Unlimited free 4th night with no blackout dates when booking 4 consecutive nights at any hotel through Thankyou.com or Citi Prestige Concierge||Free 4th night can only be redeemed 2 times per calendar year as of September 2019 and booked at ThankYou.com or by calling 1-800-ThankYou|
Where the Citi Prestige® Credit Card stands out
Major points upgrade. The Citi Prestige® Credit Card has stepped up the points per dollar spent for travel, dining, cruises and hotels. For example, it now offers 5X on air travel & restaurants, 3x on cruise lines & hotels, and 1x on all other purchases.
A broader definition of travel. The card’s higher points per dollar spent for travel covers airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages and and bus lines.
Expanded travel credit. The old card’s $250 annual travel credit could only be used for air travel. The new version allows you to use the credit for any travel-related purchase.
Transfer your points. You can transfer your Citi ThankYou® points to 15 airline loyalty programs at starting at 1,000 points equal to 1,000 miles, except for JetBlue, which is 800 points per 1,000 miles.
Premium help. The card comes with access to the Citi® Prestige Concierge, an upgraded version of the Citi® Concierge service.
Cellphone protection. Starting in May 2019, the card will come with insurance for damage or theft of a cellphone if you use the card to pay your monthly bill. Terms apply.
Existing benefits remain. The new card still offers perks, such as up to a $100 credit to cover enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, free access to more than 1,000 Priority Pass Select lounges worldwide, access to a Citi Prestige concierge, travel and emergency assistance, trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay protection, price protection through Citi® Price Rewind and access to presale tickets and VIP experiences via Citi® Private Pass.
Where the Citi Prestige® Credit Card falls short
Higher annual fee. You now pay a $495 annual fee. You’ll also have to pay $75 for each authorized user you add to your card, up from the old $50 fee.
Goodbye more value points. With the old card, you received 25% more value when you redeemed your points for air travel on the ThankYou.com website. But that perk is going away with the new card.
Limited higher entertainment points. If you were a cardmember before Sept. 1, 2018, you’ll continue to earn 2 points per dollar spent on live entertainment, sporting events, movie theaters, amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals), tourist attractions (including museums, and art galleries), record stores, video rental stores and on-demand internet streaming media. But the higher points in this category will drop on purchases made after Sept. 1, 2019.
Higher points don’t count for spending on things like sporting camps, public and private golf courses, country clubs, stores that sell musical instruments or video games/accessories, video game arcades, bowling alleys and bookstores. They also can’t be earned at bakeries or caterers, along with restaurants/cafes inside certain department, grocery, discount and convenience stores, warehouse clubs or hotels.
Free hotel night capped. One of the favorite benefits of the old Citi Prestige® Credit Card was earning a free fourth hotel night every time you booked at least four consecutive nights at any hotel. That benefit is still available with the new card — but now you only get it twice a year. If you liked using the Citi Prestige Concierge to book your free fourth-night hotel bookings, that perk goes away on Aug. 31, 2019. After that, you’ll have to either do it online at ThankYou.com or by phone at 1-800-ThankYou.
No hotel partners. If you want to transfer your Citi ThankYou points to a hotel loyalty program, you can’t, since this card doesn’t offer that option like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express do.
Compare it with Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express
|Citi Prestige® Credit Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve®||The Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Regular purchase APR||17.99% - 25.99%* (Variable)||19.24% - 26.24% Variable||N/A|
|Rewards||5X on air travel & restaurants, 3x on cruise lines & hotels, and 1x on all other purchases||3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.||5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.|
|Sign-up bonus/welcome offer||Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.|
|Foreign transaction fee||0%||$0||None|
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
$300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
This card is perfect for those who travel and eat at restaurants regularly, but aren’t scared off by a $450 annual fee, which is partly offset by an annual $300 travel credit. If you’re ready to take the plunge, this card rewards you by letting you Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That converts into $750 — 50% more value for your points — that you can redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees. Alone, it’s not as good as what’s offered by the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, but those points are more lucrative as they carry 50% more value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and used for travel. It also has a broad definition of travel, including airline tickets/fees, rideshares like Uber or Lyft, public transportation, tolls, car rentals, lodging and cruises.
Like the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, this card comes with an annual travel credit. But it comes with a catch — you must spend the entire credit before you can start earning higher points in the travel category.
Like its competitors, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a free Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge membership and up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment credit.
Your points can be transferred 1:1 toward several major airline and hotel loyalty programs — this includes JetBlue, Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Iberia, Singapore Airlines,
Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, World of Hyatt, Marriott, IHG and Ritz-Carlton. There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions if you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with more robust travel and purchase perks, including trip delay and cancellation insurance; travel accident insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; trip delay reimbursement; emergency evacuation and transportation; rental car insurance and discounts; purchase protection; return protection; and extended warranty protection. But it doesn’t offer access to a dedicated concierge like the Citi Prestige® Credit Card and the The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.*
Up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees & more at one qualifying airline*
No foreign transaction fees & exclusive airport lounge access*
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Platinum Card® from American Express
With an annual fee of $550, this card is one of the most expensive in the luxury travel category — but membership has its privileges. The card welcomes new members with 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. That adds up to an instant $750 that can be used to book travel at the Membership Rewards® website.
The card also comes with credits, including $200 for Uber rides, $200 to cover airline fees on the carrier of your choice and up to $100 to cover enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. There’s also access to airport lounges, including Centurion Lounge, international American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escape.
The Membership Rewards points you earn on this card can be transferred to 18 airline or three hotel loyalty programs. When you book airline travel on the card via Membership Rewards, there are no blackout dates or seating restrictions, and your points don’t expire.
Of the three luxury cards reviewed here, only The Platinum Card® from American Express offers automatic Gold status at Starwood and Hilton hotels. It also comes with free Boingo internet access at more than 1 million hot spot locations worldwide.
In addition, there’s access to the Platinum Card Concierge, which can help cardholders with things like custom itineraries and tailored recommendations when traveling, making restaurant reservations, finding the best event tickets or offering help with gift buying. And it also includes cellphone protection, return protection and extended warranties.
Because The Platinum Card® from American Express is a charge card, the balance must be paid off every month, which isn’t the case with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Prestige® Credit Card. For a luxury-branded card, it’s surprising that The Platinum Card® from American Express doesn’t come with more robust travel protections like the other two cards, such as trip delay/cancellation insurance or lost luggage reimbursement.
The bottom line
Citi should be applauded for some of the improvements it has done to raise the bar on the luxury Citi Prestige® Credit Card, including more points for travel and dining. But with two worthy competitors — Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express — in this space, is it enough?
Questions you need to answer before making your final choice include:
Does the annual fee match what a card offers?
With annual fees topping up to $550, you want to ensure that the perks that come with the card are worth it. Also, do the math so you know if you’ll spend enough on a card to justify the higher fee.
How lucrative is the sign-up bonus or welcome offer?
This is a great way to quickly add points that can be used to book travel. Just make sure you’re comfortable charging the amount required in the specified period of time to bank those bonus points.
Can you earn points where you spend the most?
Points can really add up when you spend on travel, dining, supermarkets and gas, especially if the card offers multiple points per dollar spent in those categories.
Are the travel and protection benefits good enough?
Check to see how much you can get when it comes to travel insurance and protection of purchases bought with the card.
How many benefits will you actually use?
While it’s nice to have strong perks with a luxury credit card, you need to consider if you’ll actually use them. For example, if you’re always using taxis, a credit for Uber rides might be a good perk to have. But if you’re someone who isn’t really interested in attending concerts or sporting events, having access to premium tickets or special events might not be as important.
Can you transfer your points to other airline or hotel loyalty programs?
This is a big perk that can give you flexibility if you’re wedded to a particular airline or hotel loyalty program.
Can you get more value for your travel points?
If you use the card regularly to pay for air travel, hotels, vacation packages and rental cars, don’t you want more value for those points? See if your card offers more value for travel if you book it on a special website so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
Do your points expire?
The ideal card comes with points that don’t expire. But if they do come with an expiration date, check to see if there are simple ways to preserve your miles, like making a purchase at least once a year with your card.
Is there a cap on how many points you can earn?
A good card won’t limit you on the number of points you can earn.