With so many rewards cards on the market that carry no annual fee, there must be a good reason to justify having an account that charges a high amount to access its perks. CitiBank offers the Citi Prestige Card for $400 annually, but offers rewards geared toward the frequent traveller and high spender that are tied into the MasterCard World Elite program.
The Citi Prestige card and MasterCard World Elite program are designed with international travelers in mind. The card has an integrated chip, making easily accessible for global retail in countries where the magnetic stripe is not the standard. And the many perks of membership are geared toward frequent business travelers or a luxury lifestyle.
Unique Rewards and Point System of the Citi Prestige Card
In addition to the general points, which are the typical one point per dollar of general purchases, users also get the higher double points when the card is used for dining, whether at fine restaurants, cocktail lounges or for fast food. But the really interesting addition to the point system is the addition of getting one point per mile when charging airline flights to the card. For frequent fliers, this can add up quickly. Also for frequent travelers, there is the added bonus of gold status Hilton HHonors membership, unlimited use of airport lounge access for up to three people, fifteen percent travel discounts and a free companion ticket each year. Like other high-end rewards cards, the points themselves do not expire and there is no limit to how many can accrue, with the caveat that the card must remain in active use with at least a single transaction every twelve months.
Citi’s concierge service is available to cardholders with twenty-four hour access. The service will assist with booking flights, making dining reservations or even helping with shopping. This is a decent perk for busy travelers, but as there are many free online services to assist with these things it is not as valuable to cardholders who are not on the road.
When spending $2,000 in the first three months, the cardholder earns an initial 30,000 bonus points, worth $300 in gift cards. Additional points can be earned through signing up for Citi’s online account management and paperless statements. Each year, users will also be eligible for bonus points based on usage and relationship status. This Relationship Bonus perk starts with a small five percent and grows depending upon total spending and whether the cardholder has is an existing Citigold or Private Bank client. The five percent basic bonus is for the first $50,000 in spending, with an additional bonus of five percent for Citigold and an additional fifteen percent for Private Banking clients. For cardholders charging between $50.000 and $99,999.99, the basic and Citigold bonuses go to ten percent and the Private Bank bonus rises to twenty percent. Over $100,000, the basic bonus is twenty percent, plus fifteen percent for Citigold and thirty percent for Private Bank clients. These relationship bonuses add up very substantially for those accounts with spending in excess of $100,000 on travel and dining.
Booking hotel or resort reservations through the Citi service has some bonuses as well. Citi Prestige card members are eligible for a free fourth night with no blackout dates, twice per calendar year. This perk is available when booking four consecutive nights, but only at World Elite Luxury Hotel and Resort locations as defined by the MasterCard program (the list includes over 800 hotels globally). The MasterCard Citi Prestige travel site also has offers for air travel ranging from free upgrades to substantial discounts or free companion tickets depending upon the carrier, though most are geared toward business or first class tickets only. More special offers are available on cruises, tours, rental cars and chauffeur services. When in need of a private jet, this is also the place to look for discounted service. MasterCard’s World Elite program offered through Citi Prestige also has additional offers that are made available online.
Golf lovers will also enjoy a perk tailored to them. The primary account holder is eligible for three complimentary rounds of golf through the Citi Prestige Golf Portal. This perk renews annually, as well. Green fees are complimentary at over 2400 golf courses around the globe.
Citi Private Pass is available for Citi card members to get tickets for many entertainment and sporting events, as well as signing up for celebrity sports clinics or other unique opportunities. Complimentary tickets for guests are sometimes available through this service.
More Travel Perks and Personal Protection
The Citi Prestige card allows for international purchases without any foreign transaction fees. This can amount to substantial savings when compared to the three percent typical of many cards. The card also come with the types of travel and purchase protections generally built into MasterCard use. Citi Prestige also publishes thirty-three exclusive city guides that are available to acount holders. Other insurance is provided for trip cancellation or interruption, baggage loss or delay, emergency evacuation and transportation and even basic roadside assistance.
The Citi Prestige Card comes with zero-liability for unauthorized charges, fraud protection and identity theft protection. Purchase Security protects items from theft or damage for up to three months, while Return Protection allows members to apply for refunds on purchases when the retailer will not take a product back. The Ticket Saver benefit allows account holders to get a reimbursement for the cost of tickets to missed events under covered circumstances.
Citi has made it possible to pool their “ThankYou Points” with friends and family. By using their Facebook app, members can now group points across accounts. By giving or receiving points, travel rewards can be more quickly within reach. Groups can also choose to donate their rewards to charity in this way.
Rates, Fees and Limits
With a standard APR of 15.24% (and as high as 29.99%), the Citi Prestige Card is not meant for users who retain a high balance. The base fee for the Citi Prestige Card is $400 annually, with an additional $50 for additional card holders on the same account.
The Citi Prestige Card does not have a pre-set spending limit. To qualify for this card, account holders will generally need a credit score above 700. The target audience for this card is more of a luxury oriented traveler, and as such, this type of credit requirement is probably not much of an issue. The lack of a cap on the spending power of the card is indicitive of the type of credit that Citibank would expect from an applicant.
The Bottom Line
The Citi Prestige Card is an excellent, best in class rewards card for those who can afford it. At $500 per year, it is not for everyone and certainly not for the casual user. With higher rewards point bonuses targeted at users spending over $100,000 per year on this card, and the best benefits geared toward international travel and luxury hotels, it is clear that the best value from this card is gained by business travelers and those with high levels of disposable income, though through very savvy use this card could also open doors to a luxury world that might not otherwise be available to many users.