Citi Prestige Review [2021]: High-End Benefits for Frequent Travelers

This is a luxury card with some great benefits, if you travel enough to make the annual fee work for you.
Last updated Sep 16, 2021 | By Robin Kavanagh

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Travel credit cards often deliver exceptional value to cardholders who want to be rewarded for their swipes. But there is a higher tier of travel card that caters specifically to customers who travel often and enjoy the finer things along the way. 

The Citi Prestige card is one of the best credit cards for high spenders who also have a healthy dose of the travel bug. This Citi Prestige review will take a closer look at this luxury card so you can decide whether or not it’s the right choice for you.

Note: The Citi Prestige is no longer available for applications. Find other card considerations at the bottom of this review.

Luxury Travel Benefits

Citi Prestige

Intro Offer

50,000 points

Annual Fee

$495

Rewards Rate

up to 5X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 50,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants
  • Up to $250 travel credit every calendar year
  • Complimentary 4th night hotel stay
  • Transfer points to airline partners

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening
  • 5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases

In this Citi Prestige card review

Who should get the Citi Prestige?

The Citi Prestige card is aimed at those who have excellent credit and are looking for more high-end experiences from their travel credit card. With travel perks like a free night twice per year, an annual travel credit, and Priority Pass lounge access plus this card's ability to quickly earn travel rewards, the Citi Prestige can be a good fit for an avid adventurer.

You would have to travel often during the year to earn enough Citi ThankYou points and travel credits to offset the card’s $495 annual fee. However, the benefits of being a Citi Prestige cardholder also go beyond what many of its competitors offer, which may well deliver enough value for some.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Card issuer Citi
Credit card network Mastercard
Annual fee $495
Intro bonus Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening
Reward rate 5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent
Foreign transaction fee None

Citi Prestige benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: You can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening. These are redeemable for $500 in travel purchases through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
  • $250 annual travel credit: Every year, you can get up to $250 in automatic statement credits for purchases categorized as travel.
  • Free night at hotel: When you book 4 consecutive nights at a hotel using 1-800-THANKYOU or ThankYou.com, you get the fourth night free. You can take advantage of this complimentary fourth night benefit twice per calendar year.
  • VIP lounge access: As a Citi Prestige cardholder, you are given complimentary access to VIP lounges through a Priority Pass Select membership. With hundreds of locations in the U.S. and over 1,300 lounges and restaurants in airports worldwide, you can have some downtime before flying in luxury.
  • Earn major points: Citi Prestige rewards travel and dining purchases with huge point earnings per dollar spent. You can get 5X points for airline and restaurant purchases, 3X points on hotels and cruise lines, and 1X points for all other purchases.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: You can get a statement credit for up to $100 every 5 years, as an application fee reimbursement for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. This can be a time saver for both domestic and international travelers.
  • Lots of options for redeeming points: ThankYou points can be used for travel purchases, statement credits, exclusive events and experiences, gift cards, cash payments, and even charitable donations.

Drawbacks to this card

  • High annual fee: The Citi Prestige does come with an annual fee of $495. But once you figure in the annual credit and other travel perks, this card can pay for itself if you take advantage of its benefits. This card will not be a good fit for someone who does not use these perks.
  • Fewer travel partners: Citi does not have as robust of a transfer program as other credit card issuers like Chase or Amex, which have many hotel partners. While the list of Citi's hospitality partners has grown since they first introduced it, it will not provide you as much flexibility or value if you want access to a wider range of transfer opportunities.

Earning & redeeming ThankYou Points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look how your ThankYou points can add up with the Citi Prestige. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1.7 cents each, which is considered the average redemption value in the points-and-miles community.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $1,339.30

Year two earnings: $489.30

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the sign-up bonus, and the annual fee. If you take advantage of the annual travel credit, free night, and other perks that come with the Citi Prestige, you will get even more value out of this card each year.

Best ways to earn

Taking advantage of bonus categories is the best way to use any rewards credit card. Air travel and dining purchases are by far the best and fastest ways to earn ThankYou points. You’ll earn 5X points for every dollar you spend on airline and restaurant purchases — even fast food, cafes, bars, and lounges.

Purchases with hotels and cruise lines get you 3X points per dollar. So when you’re sleeping on the road or sailing the seas, every swipe of your Prestige card earns you points that can be turned into dollars to put toward your next trip.

Categories Rewards rate
Airline and restaurant purchases 5X
Hotels and cruise lines 3X
All other purchases 1X

In addition, the Citi rewards program allows you to pool your Citi ThankYou points from multiple Citi cards into one ThankYou account. This is important because only the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige can transfer to all the airline partners. But if you have a Citi Double Cash you can earn up to 2% cash back on your spending, which is more than the 1X on all other purchases with the Prestige, and then pool all those points together.

Maximizing your redemptions

You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to using your points. Citi offers a travel marketplace through which you can book your flights, hotels, cruises, and other arrangements for a trip and pay with points. If you make enough card purchases to qualify for the welcome offer, you’ll have $500 worth of points you can spend within months of opening an account.

You can apply your annual $250 in travel credits and possibly some of your points to the expense of booking four consecutive hotel nights through ThankYou.com so you can take advantage of your fourth night free benefit.

If these redemption options don’t appeal to you, you can always trade in points for statement credits, gift cards, or even cash.

Citi Prestige transfer partners

You can also take advantage of the Citi transfer partners. You can transfer to several airline loyalty programs and then redeem your rewards directly through those airlines. The Citi Prestige is one of the few cards in the ThankYou Rewards program that allows you to transfer your points to other programs, and in most cases, your points will transfer at a 1:1 rate.

Citi transfer partners include:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Citi Prestige FAQs

Is the Citi Prestige worth it?

It can be for the right kind of customer. This card is for the frequent traveler who wants to take advantage of perks and opportunities to earn lots of points while they see the world. It is a high-end card that delivers high-end benefits that make the $495 annual fee pay for itself if used right.

If you don’t travel enough to use $250 in travel credits, a free fourth night at a hotel of your choice, free access to VIP lounges in airports around the globe, or a fee credit to pay for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, then this card may not be worth looking into.

Does the Citi Prestige have Priority Pass?

Yes. When you are approved for the Citi Prestige card, you become a Priority Pass Select member. This means you complimentary access to more than 1,300 VIP lounges and restaurants around the world. You can also bring up to two guests with you for free.

Is the Citi Prestige card metal?

Like many other high-end credit cards, the Citi Prestige card is metal.

Does the Citi Prestige waive the annual fee for the military?

Citi currently waives all fees for those who qualify for benefits under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, but you have to apply to Citi directly for this waiver.

Other cards to consider

If you’re thinking the Citi Prestige card might not be your cup of tea, but you’re still looking for a high-end rewards credit card, here are two other rewards card offers to investigate.

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards are popular and deliver good value for travelers. The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns you 3X points for travel (not booked through Ultimate Rewards and excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining, which is less than what you get with Citi Prestige. New cardholders can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months — worth $900 in redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the annual travel credit is $300 instead of $250.

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes in with a higher annual fee of $695 (See rates and fees), but some significant benefits for those dollars. Cardholders can earn 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Plus, this card comes with luxury perks like access to VIP properties in the American Express Global Lounge Collection and its partner networks, complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts, and up to $200 annual credits for Uber. These benefits, coupled with complimentary rental car insurance and elite status with Marriott and Hilton make the annual fee worth it for many cardholders. Select benefits require enrollment.

You can compare the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum vs. Citi Prestige cards side by side to figure out which best fits your needs. 

Luxury Travel Benefits

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Special Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 10X points on hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2021
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
  • 10X points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months)
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 in Uber Cash, $300 Equinox credit, $200 airline fee credit
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • $695 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

Author Details

Robin Kavanagh Robin is a freelance writer who lives on the South Carolina beach. She has spent the last 20 years writing about all kinds of topics for publications such as The New York Times, Yes! Magazine, Next Tribe, Parenting, and various trade magazines. On FinanceBuzz.com, you’ll find her mostly writing about smart ways to use credit cards, navigating personal loans, how to save when traveling, and ways to improve your financial health.