REMINDER: Citi Prestige Devaluation Approaching – Time To Use Those Points?

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When the Citi Prestige card came to market it brought with it some fantastic benefits and bonuses that helped change the landscape of the miles & points credit card world – yes, I think the card has been that important.

Up to the point at which Citi unleashed the Prestige card on the world the best known “high fee” card was probably the Platinum Card from Amex…..and that was a card on a slippery slope to irrelevance.

The Citi Prestige may come with a $450 annual fee (the same as the Platinum Card up until recently) but it was also introduced with benefits, perks and bonuses that more than made up for this outlay (I’ve discussed these in detail before).

a boardwalk leading to a hut

This is the card that almost certainly paved the way for the birth of cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the recently introduced US Bank Altitude Reserve card while also almost certainly influencing Amex’s decision to add an airline spending bonus category to its Platinum Card.

Make no mistake, the Citi Prestige card holds an important place in miles & points history and deserves quite a bit of respect.

Unfortunately there are a some inevitables in the miles & points world and one of those is the “benefit devaluation” and, sadly, not even the Citi Prestige card can avoid inevitability.

Citi warned us last year that a number of key benefits offered by the Prestige card would be tweaked (to make them less rewarding) or removed altogether (I discussed these here) so, with the 23 July start date for these benefit changes now just a month away, I thought it was time to remind readers of one of the big changes that’s about to hit.

ThankYou Points Will Be Worth Less For Some

Citi has been gradually improving the attractiveness of its ThankYou points currency by adding more and more transfer partners to its stable….but one of my favourite uses of ThankYou points has been to spend them directly on American Airlines fares.

Quite simply, if you use the Citi travel portal before 23 July 2017, you can book a regular American airlines fare and use your ThankYou point balance to reduce your out of pocket cost.

an airplane parked at an airport

Each ThankYou point used will reduce the fare being booked by 1.6 cents so, for example, 50,000 ThankYou points will net you a $800 credit against an American Airlines fare. If you don’t have enough points to cover the full cost of the fare it doesn’t matter – you just use your Prestige card to pay off the balance.

Citi Prestige cardholders can also currently use ThankYou points to purchase airfares with other airlines too….but only at a rate of 1.33 cents per point.

Once devaluation day is upon us these rates change….and quite significantly if you’re an American Airlines flyer.

From 23 July Citi ThankYou points will only offer a credit of 1.25 cents/point on all airfare purchases so, although that will only a be a 6.4% increase in cost to airfares bought from most airlines, it’s a huge 28% increase in cost on American Airlines airfares.

Is It Time To Burn ThankYou Points?

First of all this is definitely not the end of the world so there’s no need to do anything drastic…..but it’s definitely worth taking a look at how this will affect you.

If you’re one of the many flyers who has been making the most of the 1.6 cents/point credit you can get on American Airlines fares then now is probably the time to see if you have any future travel you can book before 23 July – why get 1.25 cents/point value later if you can get 1.6 cents/point value now?

Don’t forget that bookings through the Citi travel portal are still eligible to earn Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Dollars & Redeemable Miles so there’s quite a lot of value to be had by using points in  this way.

a group of round white circles with black and white textBookings through the Citi travel portal are eligible to earn Elite Qualifying Miles

If, on the other hand, you mainly use your ThankYou points for transfers to Citi’s partners (like Singapore Airlines & Cathay Pacific) then nothing is really changing for you….so why burn points if you don’t have to?

I’m a hybrid user of ThankYou points in that I have a 50:50 split in how I use my balance (roughly speaking) – I like to use my points for transfers to partners and for reducing my outlay on American Airlines flights. As I’m doing my best to reduce my flying on American I won’t be rushing to bring forward any bookings to beat the 23 July deadline and I’ll just continue accumulating points and using them (hopefully) on airlines I love….like Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines A380Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class – Not a bad way to use ThankYou Points

A Reminder Of The Other Changes Coming On 23 July 2017

In brief:

  • Admirals Club access will no longer be a benefit of the Citi Prestige card.
  • The “4th night free” benefit at hotels booked through Citi Concierge will be based on the average nightly rate (rather than the actual rate for the 4th night) and taxes will no longer included in the rebate.
  • The “3 free rounds of golf benefit that the card currently provides (at a limited number of courses in my experience) will be eliminated completely.

a golf course with a pond and a flagCiti is eliminating the free rounds of golf that the Prestige card offers

Bottom Line

Be aware of the changes coming on 23 July and make sure you consider how they’re going to affect you. It could be time to use up some ThankYou points on American Airlines fares if you think you’ll need to make those bookings anyway but, otherwise, don’t allow yourself to make any knee-jerk decisions – think things through and then act…that way you should be just fine.


  1. As a point-of-reference, I received an email today (6/23/17) from Citi informing me that, from 1/1/17 through 6/12/17, I have received $1992.47 in statement credits on my Citi Prestige account — $250 in air travel credit; the balance for hotel stays involving the “4th Night Free” benefit. I *did* book a flight on AA (my first since January 2009) to take advantage of the 1.6¢ point redemption before it vanished¹, but since — clearly — I don’t fly American very often, this isn’t a great loss to me personally; neither is the Admiral’s Club access, and since I don’t play golf . . .

    For me, this card remains a serious “keeper.”

    ¹ I credited the miles from the AA flights to my AS account (where I’m MVP Gold). This didn’t stop AA from overcharging me for seat upgrades and checked luggage (Bad AA!), but I eventually got the nearly $400 in charges credited back to my account (Good AA!).

    • Very clever of Citi to email cardholders with information like this so close to their benefits expiring. The card is a keeper for me to at this point but I’ll be reviewing things in a year’s time to see if I can still justify the annual fee.

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