Tag Archives: citi

Things I Like: Citi Prestige

It’s probably weird that I get excited over things like new credit cards, but I’m currently really excited for my new Citi Prestige card. It’s the card that I wanted most during my most recent round of credit card applications, and I’m happy to say that I was approved and received the card.

Based on the advice from Rapid Travel Chai, I went to a Citi branch and applied for the credit card in person to get a better offer than what was available online. By applying in person, I was able to get an offer for 30k points after spending $3000 within the first 3 months of having the card, an additional 30k points after spending $15000 within the first 12 months, and an annual fee of only $350. I’ve read that this offer is supposed to be for Citi Gold customers, but the banker that I worked with didn’t ask if I had any checking account relationship with Citi, and there seemed to be only one offer available at the branch.

Why am I excited for this card?
1) Thank You points can be redeemed for 1.6 cents each by booking AA/US flights. I have an old Citi Forward card that gives 5x points for restaurant spend, which means that I am now getting 8% back at restaurants. The Citi Prestige also offers 3x points on most travel spend (airlines, hotels, travel agencies), which means that I’m getting close to 5% back on those categories. This is far superior to cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
2) There’s a $250 airline credit each calendar year, and it’s automatically redeemed (so no need to choose an airline) and is valid for all airline purchases (so no need to buy gift cards in certain denominations). This means that the ongoing annual fee is effectively only $100, and if I wanted to, I could cancel within a year and get $500 in airline credits for only $350.
3) This card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership that gives you free access for two guests as well as yourself. This is superior to the Priority Pass membership that comes with the Amex Platinum card, as guests cost $27 each with that membership.
4) Admirals Club access is another benefit. Great for me since I primarily fly AA and wanted to cancel my Citi Executive card.
5) The normal credit card benefits are good and generous. This card comes with all of the insurances that are associated with high-end credit cards like trip delay (only 3 hours instead of 6 or 12 hours like other credit cards), trip interruption or cancellation, baggage delay, lost luggage, return protection, etc. I will happily put all of my purchases on this card and know that I’m going to be well covered.

Other benefits that are nice:
1) Global Entry fee reimbursement (once every 5 years)
2) 4th night free for hotel stays booked through their travel agency
3) No foreign transaction fees

This credit card doesn’t get enough love in the miles/points blogosphere (probably because I imagine that it doesn’t have an affiliate link), but it looks to be a keeper in my book. I generally don’t go for cash back cards since it’s not as “sexy” as redeeming miles for first class (although you can transfer Thank You points to a number of foreign frequent flyer programs), but at these cash back rates, I don’t think I can rationally choose miles.

Why I’m Keeping My Citi AAdvantage Amex Card

My annual fee also just posted on my Citi AAdvantage Amex card. I originally got both a Citi AA Amex and a Citi AA Visa card two years ago for 50k miles each. Last year, I cancelled my Visa card and ended up getting a retention offer on my Amex of a $95 statement credit and 1000 bonus miles for every statement in which I charge $1000 or more for the next 16 statements. I was glad to keep one card, as I still valued the 10% rebate on redeemed miles up to 10,000 miles per year.

This time around, I honestly didn’t care about keeping the card. The only benefit that I really value is the 10% rebate on redeemed miles, but I have an old Barclays US Airways card that gives 10k anniversary miles every year, and that card will be transitioned to a new card that offers the rebate benefit. Since I’m assuming that the benefits won’t stack (although who knows for sure), I wasn’t going to get any meaningful incremental benefit by keeping this card, so I called to cancel.

I was pretty adamant about canceling the card when I called in, and I have spent less than $5000 on the card in the past year. But lo and behold, they gave me a retention offer of a $95 statement credit for making 5 purchases within the next 3 months. Sure, I’ll take that offer, as this means that I can also keep another Amex card for Small Business Saturday.

Moral of the story: call in to cancel your cards–you might get a retention offer to change your mind.

Choosing Which Credit Cards to Hold or Cancel and Calling the Citi Retention Line

My first major set of credit card applications was October 2012, where I got a Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa, a Citi American Airlines Visa, a Citi American Airlines Amex, and a Barclays US Airways card. I decided to outright cancel the Bank of America Alaska card in preparation for applying for a new one for my last set of credit card applications, although I ended up downgrading instead to a no annual fee card (which still charged me an annual fee, but that’s the subject of another post). I also decided to cancel the Citi AA Visa, as I definitely didn’t need two American Airlines credit cards.

That left the Citi AA Amex and the Barclays US Airways card. If you redeem American miles frequently, then holding a Citi American Airlines card is a good idea because you get a 10% mileage rebate on all redemptions up to the first 100k miles you redeem each year (i.e. you can get up to 10k miles back this way), and 10k American miles are worth more than the $85 annual fee for most people. In addition, I decided to hold onto the Citi AA Amex over the Visa because of the chance that Amex Small Business Saturday would offer rebates to Amex cards used at small businesses, which would further offset the annual fee. However, I wasn’t wedded to holding onto this card since I can add another Citi AA card to my next round of credit card applications in January, as the 12+ month churn cycle for Citi cards still seems alive and well.

For the Barclays US Airways card, I was a little bit on the fence. I signed up for a version of the card that gives 10k bonus miles every year, which again is generally worth more than the $89 annual fee for most people. But what made me decide to hold onto the card was the offer that I got for a 25% mileage rebate on award redemptions, and this offer was targeted to this credit card. So given that holding onto this card will earn me 32.5k miles (10k from anniversary bonus; 22.5k from a 90k award redemption to take advantage of the 25% rebate offer), I think it makes sense to keep it for now.

So for the Citi AA Amex card, I decided to call the number on the back of my card to see what they could do for me about the annual fee. When I told the phone rep that I wasn’t sure whether or not the annual fee was worth it to me, she told me about all of the meaningless benefits like priority boarding and a free checked bag (meaningless to me because I’ll be AA Executive Platinum next year). When I told her that I didn’t care about those benefits, she offered me 500 miles to keep the card since I was a valued Citi customer.

500 miles? I thought she was joking. But she was seriously offering me 500 miles to pay an $85 annual fee. 500 miles is worth maybe at an extreme valuation $10 to me. At that point, I was mildly offended, so I told her to just cancel the card if Citi valued my business at 500 miles.

At that point, she came up with a much better offer: a one-time statement credit of $95 (the annual fee is only $85), and the opportunity to earn 1,000 bonus miles for each of the next 16 billing cycles where I spend more than $1,000 on the card. I don’t need to do anything to get the $95 statement credit, and 2x miles on all spend for the first $1,000 spent each month is pretty compelling. Offer accepted. I’ll be sure to start bringing this card to me whenever I go to CVS for the next 16 months.