Published on July 16th, 2017 | by Chuck106
Positive Changes Coming to Citi Prestige on July 23 (75,000 Point Signup Bonus, Online 4th-Night Booking, Cash Redemption, Metal Card) + Analysis
The following positive changes will take place on July 23rd:
- Signup bonus will go up to 75,000 Thank You points, though it will have a high spend requirement of $7,500 within three months
- The Citi Prestige 4th-night-free benefit will be able to be booked entirely online, and the discount for the fourth night will come off at checkout
- You’ll be able to pay for the hotel booking with Thank You points at a rate of 1 penny per point
- The Prestige card will be metal
- Prestige cardholders will be able to redeem points for cash at a rate of 1 penny per point
I asked Citi about the rumored Shoprunner benefit addition and they replied that they don’t have anything to announce on that; maybe we’ll still hear about that in the future. They also could not give a clear end-date for the increased 75,000 point bonus.
75,000 Signup Bonus
75,000 Thank You points is the best ever bonus on the Prestige card that comes to mind. While the card has a $450 annual fee, it also comes with a $250 airline credit which can be used twice during the first year, more than offsetting the annual fee.
75k is excellent, and anyone who is eligible to get a Thank You signup bonus should consider it for sure. If you can meet the spend, it’s worth getting this card instead of the 50,000 Premier signup bonus, then you can downgrade after the first year. Just make sure you are eligible for the bonus and aren’t bumping into the 24-month rule limitation (like me and many of us are).
While this signup bonus increase is maybe the biggest immediate news, bear in mind that it’s a temporary signup bonus increase, perhaps for a few months. As always, signup bonuses go up and down.
We all love doing things online instead of dealing with phone reps. This new method simplifies the process a lot, and it’s nice to be able to see the 4th night discount immediately while checking out at thankyou.com, as opposed to the old system where you get the money back as a statement credit.
While you can use the online booking option if you choose, the Citi Prestige Concierge phone booking option will remain exactly as before: the fourth night will be billed to your card and it’ll come back as a statement credit.
There are many reasons why using the online option can be a net negative:
- You won’t get credit card points (3x travel) for the cost of the fourth night since it’s discounted at checkout
- You won’t get hotel points since the booking was done via online travel agency (Citi); previously, the booking was like a cash booking for points purposes, done via Citi Concierge
- You won’t be able to use special rates and corporate discounts since the booking is done through an online travel agency (Citi); previously, it was like a cash booking, and special discounts could be added
- Those booking business travel will have a harder time getting reimbursed for the 4th night
Again, if you these factors matter to you, simply use the Citi Prestige Concierge booking method over the phone, and everything will run exactly as before.
Paying with Thank You points
Beginning July 23, you’ll be able to pay for all or part of your hotel stay with ThankYou points while booking the four night stay.
Paying for hotels and other travel with Citi’s online booking portal at a redemption rate of 1 cent per point isn’t new. (Airfare is even given a higher value of 1.25 cents for Prestige cardholders.) But since it wasn’t possible, in the past, to get the 4th-night benefit via online booking, it wasn’t either possible to use points in conjunction with that benefit.
Still, at the end of the day, you’re just getting 1 penny per point. I don’t see why anyone would use this option instead of redeeming out the points for cash (see below) and paying for the booking with a credit card. You still get the same 4th night free, so to say you are getting 1.33 cents value (due to the 4th night benefit) is misleading. Better book with a credit card and get points for the trip.
Another premium metal card. HOW MUCH WILL IT WEIGH???!!! 🙂
Citi tells us that existing Citi Prestige cards will be replaced with metal cards.
The addition of being able to cash out points at one penny per point is useless to some and invaluable to others. Citi doesn’t have an easy way of redeeming points for cash at full 1-penny value (though you can get a check for your mortgage at that rate), and now it’ll be easy to get the 1 penny without any tricks. Moreover, it will probably be possible to cash out Thank You points from other Citi cards at 1-penny per point, if you have the Prestige card, by transferring it over.
Citi has clarified with Doctorofcredit that Prestige cardholders will receive the 1 cent value even on their other ThankYou cards like Preferred and Premier.
The increased signup bonus is excellent, and well worth considering if you are eligible and can meet the spend. The online booking sounds nice, as does the new cash redemption option.
Remember, it’s not all roses: we’ve known for a while that Citi will be making many negative changes on July 23. The positive changes mentioned above are meant to mitigate those somewhat.
- The free golf benefit will be removed
- No more American Airline redemptions at 1.6 cents-per-point
- The airfare redemption rate of 1.33 cents-per-point will be lowered to 1.25 cents-per-point
- The fourth-night-free benefit for hotels will be based on average nightly rate instead of the 4th night’s rate
- The fourth-night-free benefit will no longer include taxes
- No more Admirals Club access
Did Citi redeem themselves (pun intended) with these positive changes? I don’t see it. The signup bonus is irrelevant for existing cardholders, and the online booking + cash redemption are mostly just enhancements, not additional value. Still, they’ve made aspects of the card more palatable, which was likely their goal. And they’ll keep signups strong with the increased bonus.