In part 5 of the “What’s in my wallet?” series, Citibank will be covered. Known for its ThankYou Rewards program as well as a strong relationship with American Airlines, Citi has a decent presence in the travel card market though well behind Amex and Chase. It also has a popular cash back card known as the Citi Double Cash Back card which gives 2% on all purchases, provided they are paid off. Interestingly enough, I believe I accidentally signed up for a Citi card 10-12 years ago in exchange for free pizza. I later noticed this on a credit report as it was closed after being inactive. People, do not sign up for credit cards in exchange for pizza, or anything besides a huge bonus. Or say your name is John Doe and enjoy the pizza.
This is the only Citi card I have, I opened it this past summer. I was deciding between the ThankYou Premier and the Prestige, as both had 50,000 point bonuses but I decided to go with the Prestige because it had a plethora of extra benefits. Though it has an annual fee of $450, there is a $250 airline credit, which can be used on any airline-related purchase, even the purchase of a ticket! These are given on a calendar year basis, so one could use two credits in the first year. The bonus actually went up to 75,000 points about a week after I signed up, so Citi offered to give me 25,000 extra points if I could meet the increased spending offer, which I did. I appreciated this gesture as I did not really expect it.
The Citi Prestige has two intriguing points for me. The first is that the Prestige gives the 4th night free on hotel stays, whether paid or if using points. Think of it this way, if you have 4 nights at $400 total, Citi will credit ¼ of that cost back to you. Alternatively, if you choose to use points, this would cost you 30,000 instead of 40,000, giving a 1.33 cent per point value instead of 1 cent. This can be a very generous benefit for those that have a lot of 4 night stays. One thing to note is that reservations online through Citi’s portal tend to be prepaid, so for regular refundable reservations it is best to call the Citi concierge line. You can also use Citi points to buy cash air tickets at a value of 1.25 cents per point, not as good as some of the other premium cards but decent if you really need to buy a ticket.
The other important point is the Citi ThankYou rewards program, which has a fascinating list of transfer partners, particularly Avianca and Turkish Airlines. Avianca is one of the few remaining programs without fuel surcharges, and Turkish has a very generous reward chart. Though I haven’t used any of my points yet, I plan to soon, probably with Turkish since its award chart is so fair in comparison to those of other airline award programs.
The accrual rates are pretty good, 3x on airfare and hotel, 2x on dining and entertainment, and 1x for everything else. The 2x for entertainment stands out as no other card offers this. This is useful when I go on vacation as I notice that tourist attractions such as museums tend to be coded as entertainment.
The Prestige also has several other benefits such as Priority Pass membership with unlimited guests and a $100 Global Entry/PreCheck credit. It also has the best trip delay insurance available, with a 3 hour minimum instead of the standard 6 or 12 that other cards give, with coverage up to $500. It also handles such claims in-house instead of using third parties like other banks. This card has no foreign transaction fees.
In all, Citi has a small but interesting portfolio of cards for those who are looking into something else besides Chase and Amex or have lots of 4 night hotel stays. The Prestige holds its own with other premium cards with its signup bonus bonus, trip insurance, and unique 4th night free benefit.