2018 was a rollercoaster ride for Citibank’s top-tier credit card: the Citi Prestige Card. In spring the card stopped offering a sign-up bonus. In July it stripped and/or downgraded a number of implicit protections and benefits. Then in mid-August all active links for card applications disappeared. We thought the product was all but dead.
But like a character on Days of Our Lives, the credit card has risen from the dead. The card’s first airdate was yesterday, January 4, 2019. Though the application link is still generating an error at press time, the Citi Prestige card should be open for new applications in the coming weeks. However, it’s not quite the same card we remember from 2018. Here’s what you need to know about the Citi Prestige reboot.
Improved earning structure
Probably the greatest enhancement of the new Citi Prestige Card is a new ThankYou® points earning structure. Cardmembers will earn the following on purchases:
- 5X points on dining (This is the highest rate in the credit card industry)
- 5X points on air travel and travel agencies (This is the highest rate in the credit card industry)
- 3X points on cruise lines and hotels
- 1X point on all other purchases
For existing cardmembers, this new structure is went into effect yesterday. In addition, cardmembers–new and old–will still earn the old rate of 2X points on entertainment until September 2019, when they will earn just the standard one point per one dollar spent.
Annual credits improved
Similar to the old version of the card, the new card offers an annual incidental travel credit of $250. Previously, this was valid only on air travel. Now, this is a general travel credit (meaning you can use it toward purchases at hotels, on Ubers, and more).
Eventual devaluation of the famous “Fourth Night Free” benefit
Citi Prestige’s Fourth Night Free benefit has been the very reason many swear by this luxury credit card. When booking online through the ThankYou portal or calling the Citi Concierge for bookings, cardmembers can get their fourth night free at countless hotels and resorts across the world—for an unlimited number of times! Unlike other programs, which have affiliations with specific hotels, there are very few restrictions on which hotel stays are eligible to get the complimentary night.
Well, starting September 2019 this benefit will be capped at twice per calendar year. Plus bookings will only be available through the ThankYou portal (no more concierge bookings), reducing inventory significantly. However, bookings made until then will not count toward the cap and can still be made with the concierge. Our advice: Book now!
Higher annual fee
The new Citi Prestige Card comes with an annual fee of $495, up from the previous $450 annual fee. Additional cardholders fees hare $75 each versus 2018’s $50 each. Note, however: These new fees will not begin until September 2019.
Shopping and travel benefits
The revised suite of shopping and travel benefits of the Citi Prestige Card, which went into effect in July 2018 remain, including the “Best in Class” Extended Warranty protection and implicit Medevac insurance. On May 1, 2019, the card will add an additional benefit: free cellphone insurance, which protects from damage and theft.
Those who currently hold the Citi Prestige Card should have already been notified directly about these changes by email. For those who were once grandfathered into the annual relationship bonus (from the card’s original iteration), note that this relationship bonus will be phased out throughout 2019, meaning 2019 will be the final year to receive one.
We’re happy to see the Citi Prestige Card is back and not disappearing. The improved points earning structure helps justify the increased annual fee and the Fourth Night Free benefit still translates to an easy $1,000 on savings per annum. Overall, it’s still an excellent ultra-premium card for those who travel and dine out often. Namely, it’s ideal for travelers who typically buy travel insurance, as the card’s implicit insurances can save thousands per year.