First Day of Citi Prestige “Enhanced Benefits”… Thoughts?

Welp, the day has come and the new and “improved”, “enhanced” benefits are here, including the 75k sign up bonus (not an affiliate link), after a massive $7500 spend.

Initial Thoughts:

(I don’t think I need to highlight the changes since it’s been pretty much beaten into the ground. If you still need reference, check Doctor of Credit:

This sucks. The Prestige was my first premium travel card and I remember being extremely excited to  apply for it. I travel for work at least once a month and tend to fly AA for these trips, so having lounge access was a plus (and an easy to way to ‘step up’ your flying experience). I never used the Golf Benefit. I used the 4th night credit to my advantage a couple times and used my travel credit to pay for an AA Platinum status challenge.

What do I do if I have the card or should I get it?

Retention offers haven’t been great based on feedback from numbers blogs and Reddit. I suppose you’d have to line it up with these factors:

(Note: I won’t reference what’s gone away since that’s pretense. Instead, I’ll focus on how to get value out of the card).

  • Break even point for this card is $450
    • $250 in travel credits, but ONLY for incidentals and not ticket purchases, bring the BEP down to $200. Supposedly, you can buy gift cards from the airlines directly, and the travel credits will cover it.
    • 4th Night Benefit: Are you going to use this benefit at least twice a year? If we consider average price of a 4th night to be $150, using it twice would save you $300 a year. However, this is a classic example of ‘diminishing returns’. Are you planning travel, solely because you have this benefit? If so, you’re still spending more than you should be because of the fact that you’re traveling for the sake of feeling like you saved money. Factor your net losses.
      • If you were already planning on trips and haven’t made bookings, you’re good to go.
      • Example: Wife and I have a honeymoon planned out for February 2018. We were already going to stay 4 nights in Bali and Singapore, so overall we saved about $600 with those bookings.
    • Point Redemptions: This is a sore spot for me, so excuse me if I sound bitter. We no longer get 1.6 cents per point with AA and 1.33 with everyone else. Instead, we get a normalized 1.25 cents per point. Let’s do the math here:
      • Let’s say a ticket is $1000 from AA. At 1.6 cents per point, you would need 62,500k points (1000/.016)
        • At 1.33, a $1k from anyone else would run you 75k,000
        • At the new 1.25, a $1k from ANY AIRLINE, would cost 80k
        • Overnight, the same exact flight now costs you 17,500 more points
    • Point Redemptions for Cash: DO NOT DO THIS. WASTE OF POINTS. 
      • Remember the above example? Let’s say you booked a flight for $1000. If you did a statement credit at 1 cent per point, you would need 100,000 points to cover the charge, costing you nearly 40,000 more points than the best case scenario under old redemption rules.
      • This is how credit card companies sucker you: They give you 75k, which redeems for $750 in cash as a welcome bonus, on top of the fact that you need to spend $7500 in 4 months, which STILL makes them money.
        • They give you $750, take $450, and your net is now $300. Then next year’s fee kicks in and you’re back to handing the money.

If you want the best value, it’s better to just transfer points to their partners. For example, if you transfer to Singapore Airlines, a first class West Coast USA to Singapore would be 118,000 miles roundtrip, with business at 88k. You’d be nearly 90% to an SQ business award after signup bonus and minimum spending and get a ticket that ranges from $4k-10k in price, depending on season.

 

extra-wide-space
For 118,000 miles, you could be flying over the Pacific in this majestic suite. Better than 1 cent per point in statement credits, am I right?

sqawardchart

If I didn’t have the card, I can’t imagine a situation where I would even want to sign up. The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum Card (which has an elevated offer of 60k) have lower spending requirements, lower bonuses, but way better benefits that the everyday traveler can use. How many people do you know realistically get to travel 4–5 times a year with 4 nights minimum, OR can afford rooms that run >$1k a night to make this card a “bargain”? Not many.

All in all, after my Honeymoon, I’m cancelling this card. I’m going to use up the $250 at the new calendar year, keep my card till the end of my Honeymoon (to make sure I still get the 4th night credit), and it’s going straight to cancellation.

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