Traveling used to be reserved only for those with ample money and a taste for luxury. Thanks to a healthy dose of competition among airlines and an increased desire to travel among the less than wealthy crowd, booking a flight for business or pleasure is far less expensive and less elite than it used to be. Still, we’ve all experienced first-class envy when running through the airport – a desire to take it easy in the members-only lounge, longing to be at the front of the boarding herd, or sitting in preferred seats with a decent amount of legroom once on board. Without paying the hefty price for airport and in-flight amenities, most travelers are forced to be content with the coach experience. However, for some frequent flyers, the ability to achieve first-class status in some aspects of traveling is made easier simply by being a Citi ThankYou Prestige credit cardholder.
The Citi ThankYou Prestige credit card is not just a travel rewards card; it is a true experience. With unmatched benefits, this first-class card is worth taking a closer look.
First and foremost, the Citi Prestige credit card offers a robust rewards program, as do the other ThankYou rewards cards offered through CitiBank. Cardholders earn three rewards points for each dollar spent on airfare and hotels, and two rewards points for each dollar spent on entertainment and dining out. All other purchases receive the standard one point per dollar spent. Cardholders are not limited to the number of rewards points they can receive while maintaining the card, nor are rewards set to expire after a certain time frame. As a promotional bonus, any cardholders who qualify for and receive a new Citi Prestige credit card are eligible for a 50,000 rewards bonus when $3,000 in purchases are made within the first three months after account opening. The rewards accumulation system and potential bonus make the travel card attractive to those who fly often, but there’s more!
Cardholders are not limited to how rewards can be redeemed, as may be the case with comparable travel credit cards. The Citi Prestige credit card offers the most bang for the proverbial buck when rewards are used to purchase airfare with American Airlines, followed by other airfare purchased through Citi’s partner airlines. For example, 50,000 rewards points can be redeemed for a $800 American Airlines flight, or a $665 flight with any partner airline. Not too shabby, right? Rewards may also be used for non-travel redemption, such as hotels stays or rental cars. That same 50,000 rewards balance is the equivalent of a $500 hotel stay, for instance.
Rewards may also be transferred to other direct airline or hotel points programs, but a minimum of 1,000 points must be used when taking advantage of this option. There is no fee to transfer points from Citi to another loyalty program, and there is no restriction on the number of times that can be done. Cardholders also have the option of redeeming rewards for merchandise, gift cards, tickets through LiveNation.com or travel getaways. Citi has partnered with ThankYou.com to offer an impressive spread of items that can be purchased in exchange for earned points from the Citi Prestige credit card.
While the travel rewards available through the Citi Prestige card are attractive, the first-class travel experience is just around the corner for cardholders. One of unique perks that sets Citi Prestige apart from other travel cards is the once-per-year $250 air travel credit applied to any flight-related expenses charge to the card, such as airfare, baggage fees or seat upgrades. Additionally, cardholders have the opportunity to extend a qualifying hotel stay for a fourth night at no cost when the Citi Prestige credit card is used. More benefits come by way of the following:
- 24/7 access to the Citi Prestige Global Concierge
- Access to Citi ThankYou Events and Citi Private Pass Beyond events
- Access to elite travel perks, such as private jets and car services
- Unlimited access to airport lounges
Finally, Citi Prestige cardholders who also fall under the category of Citigold or Global banking members through CitiBank have the opportunity to ramp up rewards even faster. An annual 15% bonus is applied to the rewards points earned throughout the year for Citigold or Global banking members, while private bank clients receive a 25% rewards bump.
The Fine Print
Although the Citi Prestige card has a great deal of allure for frequent flyers who don’t mind a little luxury now and again, the credit card comes with a big price tag. The annual fee is $450 and is not waived for the first anniversary, making the benefits not necessarily worth the expense for travelers who aren’t out and about often. If you happen to have an authorized user associated with the Citi Prestige card, you can tack on an additional $50 per year, per user to the standard annual fee.
In addition to a hefty cost compared to other travel rewards credit card, the Citi Prestige card comes with a few challenges from the start. According to Citi, an applicant must have an exemplary credit history and score to qualify for the Prestige credit card, meaning a high level of current income, no past due accounts, and low balances on all other revolving credit accounts. If you’re lucky enough to get approved for the Prestige card, be prepared for an annual percentage rate ranging between 15.49% and 25.49% that fluctuates in line with the broad interest rate market. No low introductory rate is offered at this time, nor are there any promotions for balance transfers.
If you prefer to feel like an A-lister when you travel, the Citi Prestige credit card may be the best fit for your needs. The perks included with the card seem endless, ranging from access to private jets and special events to airport lounges and ’round the clock concierge access, and the potential for rewards on travel and non-travel purchases is relatively high compared to other credit cards for travel. However, the Citi ThankYou Prestige card is not a great choice for individuals who aren’t a fan of a high annual fee, or those who simply don’t travel enough to justify that fee. Also, the travel rewards card isn’t meant for individuals with less than perfect credit, no matter how much they long for a stepped up travel experience.