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There’s a battle going on amongst credit card companies to deliver the most value-laden of perks to customers. For a while, it seemed like Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum were alone at the top of the ranks, but new Citi Prestige changes could tip the scale in your favor when it comes to new cards available early next year. Let’s take a look at what’s changing and how.
Higher earning categories
Citi Prestige will soon award 5x ThankYou points per dollar spent on airfare and dining. Unlike American Express Platinum, this includes airfare purchased from any medium, not just Citi’s own travel portal. This is a major advantage to those that make a lot of air purchases on their credit card through various portals.
Some fares are tough to find when booking specifically through a credit card travel agency. Citi research among 1,000 affluent Americans shows that consumers spend an average of $4,992 and $8,088 a year on dining out and air travel, respectively.
Additionally, if you’re thinking about booking a cruise, Citi Prestige will now deliver 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent.
A travel credit card that’s easier to use
While the annual fee of the card is going up from $450 to $495 beginning in September of next year, the $250 travel credit is now applicable to any travel-related spend — not just air travel. Previously, the spend had to count as an airline to be part of the perk, which left out many cardholders who flew less frequently.
Don’t worry, the slightly higher fee won’t skimp on any of the existing benefits for frequent fliers. Priority Pass Select membership to over 1,000 worldwide lounges and travel protection when it comes to travel delays are staying put. The latter is a benefit that many don’t realize the card provides and can be a substantial perk when flights or trains are delayed.
You can be refunded the cost of overnight hotels and qualifying meal expenses. The $100 waiver for Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check fees continues, which is a nice amenity.
Better cell phone protection
Beginning in May of next year, this will be the credit card of choice when it comes to searching for cell phone protection. If you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Citi Prestige, you would be covered in the event of damage or theft of your phone.
Some categories will earn less in these Citi Prestige changes
Unfortunately, if you were a traveler that scored bonus points when spending in the entertainment category, you are losing the double points bonus that used to be in place. Things like theater ticket purchases and amusement parks often counted in this category.
Famous fourth-night free benefit limited
Many travelers revered the fourth-night free benefit of this card, which allowed you to book three nights at a hotel and be reimbursed the cost of the fourth night. While this perk has evolved over the past few months in its value, it is finally getting a kick in the pants for those that use it frequently. It is being limited to twice per calendar year, effective Sept. 1, 2019.
Luckily, cardholders still earn 3x ThankYou points on all hotel purchases. According to Citi representatives, most people that used this perk typically only used it once per year (meaning few cardholders will be affected).
Points are worth less
Citi offered a particularly rewarding benefit where you would receive a 25% discount when using points toward an air travel redemption, but that will be going away in September 2019. This means that your Citi points will be redeemable at a penny per point going forward, which is a big loss when compared with other cards.
Redemptions using Chase Sapphire Reserve where members get a 50% bonus when redeeming their points, is a far better deal. Although, this change won’t be as tough for those that take advantage of the new 5x points earning for air travel using this card.
All in all, these are some hefty and welcome Cit Prestige changes. The Citi Prestige card will be open again to new applications by late January 2019.