Yesterday I discussed some interesting correspondence I had received from Citi. Originally I had every intention of closing the Citi Prestige card in 2017 due to the loss of Admirals Club access, but with the decreased annual fee I figured I would keep the card open and let it ride. Now that the annual fee is remaining at $450 I think the best strategy for me is to close the Citi Prestige card in 2017.
Why Close The Citi Prestige Card I Once Loved? – Admirals Club Access
As an American Airlines traveler when the Citi Prestige was updated to include Admirals Club access switching from the Citi AAdvantage Executive credit card to the Citi Prestige was an easy decision. For a much lower effective annual fee of $200/year ($450 fee – $250 travel credit = $200) vs. $450 for the Citi Executive, I would still receive admission to Admirals Clubs throughout the world (In fact, we made great use of the London Heathrow Admirals Club using my Citi Prestige card). Majority of the time I was flying American Airlines anyway so I never had issues accessing the Admirals Club (unless I forgot my physical Citi Prestige credit card). Now, I don’t see very much value in keeping the card open because in July of 2017 cardholders loose Admirals Club access it Citi does not appear to be replacing the benefit with any other airline clubs.
Although I do still receive Priority Pass Membership through the Citi Prestige card, I also receive this benefit through both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum cards. As you can see, airline club access is no longer a factor for me when trying to decide between which premium credit card to keep open.
Why Close – Earning Points
As many of you may know I recently opened (and absolutely love) the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When compared to the Citi Prestige the Sapphire Reserve has a much more appealing points earning structure. Both cards earn 3x for “travel,” but the Citi Prestige only earns 3x points on Airfare and Hotel purchases and the Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points on Airfare, Hotels, Taxis, Parking, and Trains. Chase Sapphire Reserve also earns 3x points on dining worldwide where the Prestige only earns 2x. Entertainment also earns 2x with the Citi Prestige, but only 1x with the Sapphire Reserve (a very small portion of my annual spend).
As you can see, there is quite a bit of redundancy between the two cards. While the Citi Prestige was once my daily driver, I no longer carry the card unless traveling on American Airlines. (Which I have forgotten more times that I am willing to admit and been denied access!)
Why Close – Points Redemptions
When I first opened the card I could redeem ThankYou points as a statement credit for American Airlines flights for 1.6 TYPs per Dollar. The best part of this redemption is that the flights earn Elite Qualifying Miles since they counted as paid flights. This proved to be incredibly valuable under AA’s old loyalty program structure as I could book an $80 r/t flight from ORD to LAX and earn 3,480 EQMs for just 5,000 ThankYou points. With the recent “enhancements” this redemption dropped to just 1.33 TYPs per Dollar. Chase’s Ultimate Reward points can be used the same way for ALL travel purchases at a rate of 1.50 UR Points per Dollar.
On top of that, Thank You Points and Ultimate Rewards Points transfer to nearly identical transfer partners (as far as I am concerned). I am sure there are other points/miles gurus who get every last penny out of loyalty programs who will disagree with me, but for common traveler I do not see many differences between the two.
Again, there is a lot of redundancy between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige.
Why Keep The Citi Prestige Open – 4th Hotel Night Free
I would not do this post justice without discussing the 4th night free benefit still offered from the Citi Prestige card. Although the rules are changing slightly in 2017 for how the benefit works, cardholders ultimately receive a statement credit for the 4th night when staying at a hotel. The benefit is incredibly easy to use and may be one of the most undervalued perk on the premium credit card market.
Personally, majority of my travels are paid for by my company and I am unable to book hotels on a personal card. On top of that I rarely am able to spend 4 nights on vacation in a row making this perk essentially worthless for me. Also, the American Express Platinum card offers a similar service though the Fine Hotels & Resorts program (although much more difficult to take advantage of). Anyone who frequently takes trips of 4 nights or longer could easily take advantage of this benefit and end up quickly justifying the $450 annual fee, but for me personally this benefit is of little value.
I used to love my Citi Prestige card, but with the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and the recent “enhancements” I find it difficult to justify keeping the card open. Keep in mind my situation is mine alone and it is important to fully understand what value you get out of any credit card before deciding to open/close an account. Most likely I will contact Citi shortly before my annual fee is due in order to convert the card. I have not yet decided if it makes sense to convert the card back to the Citi AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard or to downgrade the card to the Citi ThankYou Premier card (which offers 3x points on gas purchases). No matter what the decision ends up being, I can no longer justify keeping the Citi Prestige card in my wallet given the upcoming changes.