Several months ago Citi followed the trend of other loyalty programs and made several “enhancements” to the Citi Prestige card effective July of 2017. The enhancements were as follows: Removal of Admirals Club access, Elimination of 3 free rounds of golf annually, and decreased point redemption value when paying for American Airlines flights with points. I quickly began to question the $450 annual fee, but recently Citi sent me several pieces of mail which confused the hell out of me.
$350 Annual Fee
Almost a month ago, Citi sent me official notice of an updated cardmember agreement. The agreement citied the changes to the card listed above, but included a strange one. My annual fee of $450 was being reduced to just $350! Previously, I had every intention of closing my Citi Prestige card because I could no longer justify the annual fee if I was losing Admirals Club access, but now that the effective annual fee was just $100, I figured that I would keep the card open. Shortly thereafter I received a second notice from Citi with another updated cardmember agreement.
$450 Annual Fee
Per Citi: “You may have received a letter from us notifying you of changes to your Citi Prestige account. This letter was sent to you in error, your card terms have not changed… We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. As a courtesy, we’re adding 1,000 ThankYou points to your account, you’ll see these points in your account in the next 1-2 billing periods… The benefits listed in the letter – including a lower annual fee, no late fees, return check fees, and relationship bonus – are only available to card members who also have a CitiGold, Citi Priority, or Private Bank account.”
With the first letter I was excited about the reduced annual fee and was going to keep the Prestige card open for another card year, but now that the annual fee has been changed back (or never changed at all) to $450, keeping the card open does not seem as reasonable due to the recent “enhancements” and redundancies with the new Chase Sapphire Reserve.
I have several credit cards, but seem to receive a lot more “correspondence” from Citi than any other card issuer. I wonder how many cardholders received the first letter in error and assumed the annual fee was being reduced to make up for the loss of Admirals Club access (I know I did). While I appreciate the 1,000 ThankYou points I do not think they are enough to (a) make up for the error (b) convince cardholders to continue to pay the $450 annual fee given the changing landscape of the premium credit card market.