Is Citi About To Change The Citi Prestige Card Again?

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When the Citi Prestige card first launched some of the benefits it offered were genuinely new in the miles & points universe and the card caught a lot of people’s imaginations (mine included). Benefits like a 4th night free at hotels and the ability to use Citi ThankYou points at an elevated rate for American Airlines bookings were examples of the new things we saw and the inclusion of an Admirals Club membership, a Priority Pass membership and a $250 per year airline credit all made a pretty compelling case for getting the card.

But then things changed.

As of 23 July this year a number of attractive benefits have been slashed or cut out altogether despite the $450 annual fee remaining in place and anecdotal evidence would appear to suggest that people have been ditching the card in droves. Now it looks like Citi may be considering yet more changes to its top-level rewards card.

Doctor of Credit has posted screenshots sent in by readers showing a survey that Citi has been sending out to customers asking for their preferences when offered a variety of different credit card benefits.

a boardwalk leading to a hut

Here are some examples of what Citi has been asking:

If your rewards card were to offer one of these two benefits, which one would you prefer?

  • Complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel, with a minimum 4-consecutive night booking which could be used up to 4 times a year
  • Complimentary 3rd night stay at any hotel, with a minimum 3-consecutive night booking which could be used up to twice times a year
  • Neither benefit would be valuable to me.

TFM Thoughts: It looks as if Citi are considering putting a cap on the number of times a year the complimentary night can be used….so that would be another devaluation.

The prospect of a 3rd night free rather than a 4th night free will probably appeal to a lot of people (it appeals to me) as 3 night stays are a lot more common than 4 night stays….but it loses a lot of its appeal if it’s limited to just two uses a year.

Looking at the list of benefits below which would be most valuable to you – rank three benefits 1 to 3:

  1. Credit towards airfare
  2. Airport lounge access
  3. No foreign transaction fees
  4. Free checked bag
  5. Global Entry/TSA credit
  6. Credit towards lodging, e.g. hotels, AirBnb
  7. Complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel with a minimum 4-consecutive night booking
  8. Complimentary 8th night stay at any hotel, after booking any 7 nights
  9. Complimentary breakfast when you book a hotel stay with credit card
  10. Airline or Hotel VIP status
  11. Credits towards car services e.g. Uber, Lyft
  12. Credits towards dining at restaurants
  13. Access to exclusive events
  14. Accidental damage insurance for your smartphone.

TFM Thoughts: This is interesting as the options are a mix of benefits the Citi Prestige card already offers and once to offered as well as a few new ones.

Some options are pretty worthless (at least from my point of view) but I can imagine some being of interest – free breakfast and a free hotel night after booking 7 nights (not necessarily all in one stay) look to be the better choices.

citi prestige credit card

In which categories of purchases would it be most valuable to you to earn extra points:

  • Electronics
  • Subscription services
  • Airfare
  • Hotel
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Dining
  • Transportation (taxis, car service, car rentals, public transport)
  • Entertainment (movies, theaters)
  • Online purchases
  • Apparel
  • Fitness & health services
  • Home repair & services

TFM Thoughts: The option that leaps out from that list is “online purchases” – the manufacturing spend community would leap on this so quickly it would make light look slow!

It would seem strange to make “groceries” a bonus category on a premium card and I can’t see too many people thinking that they’ll earn a lot of bonus points from “fitness and health services”…but a few others are a “must haves” for any serious premium travel rewards card….like hotels, airfare, transportation and dining.

a plane on the runwayA premium travel rewards credit card has to offer bonus points for airfare purchases if it is to have any chance of survival

Imagine the card could come with one or more additional benefits. Please indicate how important each of the possible additional benefits listed below would be to you in deciding to get and use this card (TFM note: I’m going to abbreviate some of the descriptions or I’ll be typing all day!)

  1.  Flash Points – limited time offers for extra points thanks to “points happy hours” and special redemption days where points go twice as far for gift cards, travel, products and more.
  2. Heavy Card – after reaching a spending threshold you get a more prestigious looking card
  3. Limited edition – the first to sign up to the car receive an “ultra-limited edition card”
  4. Clear Pay – new technology that immediately links all your digital payments to your card at the touch of a button.
  5. Ride on Points – pay for car sharing services with points
  6. Point of sale payment – use points to pay for purchases at the point of sale
  7. Advance thanks – redeem points for a trip before you’ve earned them
  8. Set in stone rewards – redeem points at a reliable rate that doesn’t fluctuate (e.g domestic flight 20,000 points, international flight 40,000 points etc…)
  9. On us – enjoy a surprise when you least expect it, at stores like Starbucks, 7-11 and even your local bar. Just look out for a text telling you we’ve got you covered.
  10. Badge value – earn badges when you spend a certain amount in different categories. For each badge you earn , enjoy 500 bonus points. Hit them all and get 1,000 points.
  11. Helping hands – enjoy one free use of services like TaskRabbit, Postmates, handy and more.
  12. Spa treatment – get a free 15 minute massage
  13. Wellness category – earn points at an accelerated rate at partners including juice bars, yogas studios, gyms etc…. Use points at these locations too.
  14. Clear points – enjoy the simplest points redemption in the business thanks to a range of new services including a progress tracker. to see how close you are to your goals, tips on what you can do with your points etc…

TFM Thoughts: Wow…there’s a whole load of meaningless/pointless ideas in there.

If you select options 2 or 3 you need to have a very close look at yourself as you’re way to easily flattered by a company trying to make money out of you.

Any options to spend points at retailers, car services, gift cards etc… will almost certainly be a terrible value proposition.

The idea of earning badges appears to be trying to get adults to regress back to pre-K. It’s a pathetic marketing idea that’s verging on the insulting.

Overall I don’t see much in that list that can’t be devalued very quickly or that offers any real value over what’s already available.

a hand holding a credit card

Elsewhere in the survey there were a couple of other interesting suggestions including:

  • 3 points per $ spent online 1 point of all other spend
  • 2 points per $ on travel 1.5 points everywhere else
  • 5 points per $ spend on air travel
  • $300 dining credit
  • $300 air travel credit
  • 25% back on the points you redeem

I’m not going to type out everything in the survey so, at this point I’m going to recommend you head over to Doctor Of Credit and see the rest of the screen shots…some are more interesting than others.

Overall Thoughts

While a couple of things look genuinely interesting I can see more negatives than positives here.

It looks like Citi is actively considering limiting the number of “4th night free” redemptions a cardholder can use in a year while a lot of the benefits it appears to be trying to promote aren’t exactly worth that much or are all that useful.

I can see Citi altering the 4th night free benefit and attempting to placate cardholders with things like free 15 minute massages or bonus points at yoga studios…..and just how many cardholders will maximise those?!

If we were to see an introduction of a $300 air travel credit that would be great….but as much as I’d like to see the 25% point rebate introduced I have no doubt that it would be capped so low that it wouldn’t be all that meaningful – Citi isn’t about to let us have 25% back on a 400,000 point redemption.

The biggest positive that could be introduced would be a bonus category for online spend….but that wouldn’t last more than 6 months before it was either curbed considerably or cut altogether as the manufacturing spend brigade went to town.

It will be interesting to see if anything ever comes of this or if this is just a fishing exercise by Citi.

If anyone from the bank is reading here’s a bit of feedback for you: there really isn’t much that you’re suggesting that would make the Prstige Card better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve card…hopefully that gives you food for thought.

What do you think about some of the proposed benefits (and non-benfits)? Would any of them change your opinion of the Citi Prestige card?


  1. Hehe it is probably my fault! i use the 4th complimentary sometimes 4 times a month 🙂 But i spent at a lot of money with the card abroad and they take huge exchange fee

    • I’ve used my Prestige card abroad a lot and the mastercard exchange rate has always been close enough to spot rate to not make a big difference – where were you (in the world) when the exchange rate was so huge?

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