Citi Prestige joins elite travel cards with a huge sign-up bonus

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Attention, big spenders: the Citi Prestige card has a new sign-up offer that could pad your wallet.

Starting July 23, the card will come with an increased sign-up bonus of 75,000 points (up from 40,000 points) — worth about $935 when redeemed for air travel through the Citi ThankYou portal. Compared with other travel and airline credit cards, the Prestige bonus is large.

This offer is good for new account holders who spend at least $7,500 within the first three months of opening an account. That’s a pretty hefty minimum spend requirement, but it may be worth it for consumers who regularly put at least $2,500 a month on their credit cards (and pay it off in full).

What can you do with 75,000 points? Possible trips include:

  • A five-night Western Caribbean cruise for two, leaving from Mobile, Alabama.
  • Four tickets in the general admission front section to the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival on Aug. 19 at Jones Beach Theater in Long Island, New York.
  • Two round-trip tickets from Miami to Belize City in mid-September.

Along with the bumped-up enrollment offer, Citi made two other improvements to the card:

  • You can now more easily use the 4th Night Free perk to book a complimentary night at any hotel. This used to be a complicated process. Now when you book through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, you’ll receive the fourth night free as a discount at checkout on any stay at least that long. That discount will be based on your average nightly rate minus taxes and other fees. Previously, cardholders would have to wait for a statement credit.
  • The value of points when you redeem for cash has doubled. For example, 50,000 ThankYou Points will be now redeemable for $500 instead of the $250 it was previously worth.

Bigger price, bigger perks

The Citi Prestige is one of a handful of upscale travel rewards credit cards that charge sky-high annual fees ($450 in the case of the Prestige) in exchange for elevated perks. The cost of ownership and the luxury benefits are competitive with similar cards like the American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Citi Prestige cardholders also will receive:

  • An annual air travel credit of $250.
  • A $100 statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
  • Complimentary access to the 1,000 Priority Pass Select Lounges worldwide for the cardholder and immediate family or up to two guests.
  • 3 points on air travel and hotels, 2 points on dining and entertainment and 1 point on all other purchases.
  • A 25 percent bonus when they redeem points for air travel through the Citi travel site. So, 10,000 points would be worth about $125 in airfare.

Should I get this card?

If you don’t already have a premium travel or airline rewards credit card and you’re in the market for one, the sign-up bonus alone is worth more in the first year than the annual fee. And, if you want to make the most out of your sign-up bonus, Citi’s ThankYou Points take on an increase in redemption value when used for booking airline travel through Citi’s portal.

And, through Sept. 20, points earned from eligible Citibank credit cards will have an increased transfer value of two Hilton HHonors points for every Citi ThankYou point. This means the sign-up bonus of 75,000 Citi ThankYou Points will be worth 150,000 Hilton HHonors points if you transfer them. Combine that with the fourth-night free benefit and the annual air travel credit and you could be in for some serious savings on your next trip.

But, as with all rewards cards, if you aren’t paying your balance in full every month, the value of any points earned through spending is likely to be exceeded by what you’ll pay in finance charges.

Is this the best travel card?

It’s important to know that there is no such thing as one “best” card. It all comes down to personal preference and spending habits. For someone who rarely travels by air, the boosted redemption values, airport lounge access and annual air credit likely won’t have enough value to justify the steep annual fee. Or, if your preferred hotel and airline are not transfer partners with Citi, you may get more value from a different card. It pays to shop around to find the best rewards card for your lifestyle.

Read the full Citi Prestige card review here.

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