Middle Age Miles

Keep or Cancel – Citi Prestige – and Did I Get a Retention Offer?

citi prestige mastercard keep cancel product change retention offer benefits features
Citi Prestige Mastercard

Executive Summary

The $450 annual fee recently posted on my Citi Prestige Mastercard. We performed our usual review of the benefits of the card compared to the annual fee and made retention calls to Citi.

In summary:

  • We decided to keep the card and pay the $450 annual fee
  • Between the $250 annual travel credit and using the card for 4th-night-free hotel stays for a few more months, we can get value from this card that’s significantly greater than the annual fee, this year
  • We did not receive any retention offer
  • With the upcoming gutting of the 4th-night-free benefit, paired with the loss of 1.25 cent TYP airfare redemptions and the upcoming annual fee increase to $495, there is almost no chance we’ll retain this card when it comes up for renewal again next year

Previous Recent Articles

The Citi Prestige card has undergone some major changes over the past few months, and we’ve written extensively about the card. This includes a full review of the card’s features and benefits in this article from 2 months ago:

In addition, we published 2 other recent in-depth articles about the Citi Prestige card that are definitely of interest if you’re thinking of applying for the card or coming up for renewal:

We won’t repeat the content of these other articles here since we’ve written so much on the subject recently.

Retention Calls

I made 2 retention calls to Citi. Frankly, I was expecting a juicy retention offer. Historically, Citi has been good to us, including retention offers the past 2 years on the AT&T Access More card that were absolutely awesome (2x bonus ThankYou Points (TYPs) per dollar on up to $17.5k spend) (see Did I Get an Awesome Retention Offer on My Citi AT&T Access More Card? Why yes. Yes, I did.) In addition, we had about $25k of spend on the Citi Prestige card during the most recent cardholder year – including a decent amount of spend that we placed on this card with the purpose of helping us get a nice retention offer.

Both calls went about the same. My first call was on Friday 3/22/19, and my second was a week later on Friday 3/29. As usual, I said that the annual fee had posted on my statement, that I was on the fence about whether to keep or cancel the card, and that I wondered whether there were any retention offers available to help incentivize me to keep the account open. Each time, the answer was no.

There were some small points of potential interest that came from these calls:

  • The agent on my first call asked about product-change possibilities. He didn’t offer any suggestions, but rather asked me if there were any other cards I was interested in. I didn’t pursue this discussion because I knew I wanted to keep the account open. (Although in hindsight, I probably should have at least asked about a few cards to provide you with the data points!)
  • The agent on my first call reminded me that I have up to 60 days from the date my annual fee posted to close the account or product change, and receive a full refund of the annual fee.
  • The agent on my second call confirmed what I already understood to be the retention process. When a cardholder calls about potentially closing an account, he presses a button on his computer, and it automatically reviews the account for a potential offer. The system simply tells him whether to refer the cardholder to a retention specialist or tell the cardholder that there are no offers.

Keep-or-Cancel Analysis – Short Version

The Citi Prestige is a premium card with many features, but only a few are really relevant to our keep-or-cancel analysis:

$250 Annual Travel Credit – This runs on a calendar year basis. We’ve already used our $250 annual travel credit for 2019. If we pay the fee and keep the card, though, we can pick up another $250 credit in early 2020 before our annual fee posts.

4th-night-free (4NF) Hotel Benefit – As we’ve written about previously, this benefit is being gutted as of 9/1/19 – after that date, 4NF usage is limited to 2 times per year, and reservations will have to be made through the ThankYou portal or a ThankYou phone agent. The latter limitation means we will no longer be able to use discount codes on 4NF stays, and we won’t be able to earn points or elite night credits and won’t receive elite benefits. With those limitations and our travel patterns, as a practical matter 4NF will no longer be useful to us. (People whose travel patterns include 4-night stays at expensive all-inclusive properties that don’t discount may reach a different result here, but that’s a pretty narrow group.)

Middle Age Miles used the Citi Prestige 4th-night-free benefit on a fun holiday getaway at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva (now a Marriott Category 8 hotel!)

But right now, and for much of the next year, we expect to be able to recoup several hundred dollars using 4NF reservations made through the Citi Aspire Concierge. We have one 4NF refund in progress from a stay we’ve already made, and we have another 4NF stay booked during April. It’s also highly likely that we’ll have a few more stays during the rest of 2019 where using 4NF will be our best booking strategy.

Between this and the $250 travel credit for 2020, we will easily receive more value from the card in this cardholder year than we’ll pay in the $450 annual fee.

5x TYP earning on Dining & Airfare – 5x TYP earning on dining is best-in-class or close to it (6.25% points rebate, at our baseline value of 1.25 cents per TYP). In the US, we typically use 4x Membership Rewards (MR) earning on our Amex Gold card instead, as we usually squeeze a bit more value out of 4x MR than 5x TYP (despite our baseline value being a bit less for 4x MR, 6.0% versus the 6.25% for 5x TYP). But for international restaurants and at US restaurants that we’re not sure will code correctly on the Amex Gold (generally, restaurants that use Square or Toast processing systems), the Prestige 5x TYP earning is clearly best-in-class and bumps up the value of the Prestige card a bit further.

As for airfare, 5x MR on the personal Amex Platinum card is clearly better than 5x TYP on the Prestige (to us, at least). But, there are situations where the Prestige card’s travel protections are valuable to us, and thus we put a few airline tickets on the Prestige; thus, it’s another slight bump up in the value of the card.

These factors don’t move the needle by a lot, but they are nice-to-haves that also make us feel better about paying the fee to keep the card for another year.

Looking Ahead to Next Year

When our fee hits again in March 2020, it’ll be an increased fee of $495. The 4NF benefit’s remaining value to us will be gone. At that point, we’ll be looking at value of only the $250 annual travel credit plus some modest benefit flowing from 5x TYP earning on Dining and Airfare. Barring a huge retention offer, some really beneficial change in features between now and then, and/or some nuanced play relating to the Citi 24-month rule on new TY-earning card bonuses, the Prestige card looks to be doomed then.

What do you think about keeping, canceling or product changing the Citi Prestige card given the current state of its benefits package? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!

At Middle Age Miles, we love to bring you travel, credit card and points-and-miles information that you can use to help make your travel dreams come true. To see all of our tips and insights, please Like and follow us on social media at:

Please share and re-tweet our posts and tell all of your friends about Middle Age Miles! Thank you!

18 thoughts on “Keep or Cancel – Citi Prestige – and Did I Get a Retention Offer?

  1. Lew

    I love my prestige cc. I get a reduced fee ($100) by having a Citi gold bank account which in turn is is free due to being a senior. I use the priority pass lounge benefits a lot. But next renewal will be hard to justify with increased annual fee and elimination of the bank credit to the annual fee. I really hope by then they will offer a retention bonus.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey Lew – great to hear from you. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you. Historically, the Prestige has been a great friend. You have an especially sweet deal on it! It’s sad that the benefits have eroded so much over the past 2-3 years, to the point where it’s about to become irrelevant and fall out of our wallet unless something changes soon. Have a great weekend! ~Craig

  2. Rob

    I’m torn about the Prestige too. I definitely agree the 5x Air is better than 5x air on Amex Plat bc of the insurance, which is important to us. But even though it pays 5x on restaurants as well, I find myself opting for the 4x membership rewards on the Amex Gold, even when I have both cards in my wallet. I have an inherent distrust that Citi is more likely to devalue, or alter terms in a way that may make me regret choosing to stockpile TYP over MR. For now I’m keeping it as well, but a stiff wind could blow me over on the decision, tbh.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Rob – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sounds like we’re on the same page. That recent cut in TYP redemptions to only 1 cent with Prestige spooked us, too; it makes us feel like 1.25 may be hanging by a thread on the lower-fee Premier. We find those 1.25-cent redemptions really useful in our situation where we’re still chasing status levels with AA. Hopefully you can get some value out of 4NF or some other Prestige benefit; if not, it might be time to look into product change options. ~Craig

  3. Dukie02

    The addition of the TY Rewards+ card with it’s 10% back on redemptions (across all linked TYP accounts( sweetens this enough for us to keep Prestige another year (plus the $350 grandfathered fee). I also got no love on retention last month, but am happy for now. Hopefully I can keep redeeming all my TYPs at 1.25 with a Premier attached to my account also.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Dukie02 – Thanks for the comment. Solid keeper play at the $350 fee, with the 3-headed Rewards+/Prestige/Premier combo. Do you know if your fee will still be $350 next year, or if it will go up to $495? It would be tougher to justify keeping Prestige next year if you’re at $495. Also, I’m not sure if you can get your hands on an AT&T Access More card now (assuming you don’t already have one), but it would be a nice way to juice your TYP earnings further with 3x earning on online purchases as we’ve outlined in a few posts. Thanks again for the comment, and I hope you continue to enjoy Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

  4. Dukie02

    Hi Craig. Love your posts. I am not hopeful that the fee will stay at $350 next year, but perhaps still $100 off?

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have the ATTAM via product change from a few years ago. It’s been a great card, especially with retention offers (I also got the 2*$17.5k bonus!). It’s been my non-bonus category go-to. I just really miss the old 1.6c AA redemptions!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Many thanks for the compliment; very much appreciated. That’s awesome on your AT&T AM card. Sounds like you’re killing it on that angle as well. And oh how I hear you on the 1.6 cent AA redemptions. That’s a benefit I’d love to have back! ~Craig

  5. Rick

    Unfortunately, my renewal will hit in September so my annual fee for renewal will be $495. That being said, I have already booked through the Concierge all inclusive vacations for October and March 2020 in which the 4th night free will save me $860. That savings plus the $250 travel credit makes it well worth keeping the card for another year. I will cancel the card in 2020 unless Citi relents and continues to allow the Concierge to book 4th night free reservations. Only being allowed to book the 4th night free through the travel portal was the final devaluation that for me broke the camel’s back.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Rick – Thanks for the comment. It sounds like you found 2 brilliant uses of the 4NF benefit for the last hurrah of your Prestige card. We feel exactly the same as you – that final devaluation of 4NF tips the scales so that the benefits no longer justify the annual fee.

      Have a great time on your all-inclusive trips! And I hope you continue to enjoy Middle Age Miles. ~Craig

  6. Sue

    In light of the recent elimination of benefits, do you have any advice as to whether to cancel or downgrade? Are there any downgrade options that make sense if you don’t have the Prestige? Thanks.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey Sue – Great to hear from you and great question. I’ve been considering an article on what are the best uses of Citi cards in light of the elimination of so many benefits, and that kind of goes hand-in-hand with your question on what to do with the card.

      On Prestige, for us personally, this doesn’t change anything. We’re going to squeeze the last bits of juice from the 4NF benefit while we can still use the concierge with discount codes/rates. Then we’d plan to product-change when our annual fee hits again (after using the 2020 travel credit of course!). What will we product-change to? I’m not quite sure yet, and in general the decision depends on each person’s individual circumstances. For example, what cards do you have, how does it impact your ability for sign-up bonuses on other cards, etc. Depending on what Citi cards you currently & previously held, several cards could be options – Premier, AT&T Access/Access More, Rewards+, Double Cash, Dividend. ~Craig


        I was looking for insight on our situation and came across your blog/post.

        We have the JPM Reserve so most of our spending goes on that and I am not the biggest fan of the TY points transfer partners. What we do use the Prestige card for is annual subs to opera, ballet, theater and concerts, etc. and that perk is going away — along with missed ticket protection.

        So, we just applied for the Premier card and intend to merge its TY account into our pre-existing Prestige account and once done, plan to product change the useless Prestige into the Citi Rewards + card. In this way, we will be able to redeem TY points for airfare for 1.25 cents via the Premier card since the Prestige is also losing this ability and for good measure, should be able to receive the 10% points rebate for such redemption due to holding the Reward Plus card.

        What do you think of this? i am interested in your opinion!

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Hi Hadley – Thanks for the comment and question, and we appreciate you reading Middle Age Miles! I think your strategy is well thought-out and spot-on. I really don’t have anything to add other than to enjoy the extra 10k TYPs every year! I hope you continue to read and enjoy the site 🙂 ~Craig

          1. HADLEY V. BAXENDALE

            Thanks very much!

            Try to get your blog on MilesFeed! It is so much better than most!


          2. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

            Thanks Hadley! That’s good advice. I just re-submitted MAM to MilesFeed. I’ve done it before without success, but I’ll keep trying!

  7. Bob H

    to Craig and Hadley:
    You may well be aware of this but I verified today that if I combine my Prestige TY points to my Premier TY points, it is easy to combine. HOWEVER… and I mean HOWEVER, the TY points that were associated with my Prestige will expire 60 days after closing the Prestige card even if I had combined those points with my Premier account before closing the Prestige card.. Yes even if I combine the TY points from both cards, and then close the Prestige and keep the Premier open , the TY points from my Prestige must be used or loosed (is loosed a word?) within 60 days. The better option is to convert the Prestige account to the Rewards + account which is a no fee card that earns TY points, and then all the points from the Prestige convert to the Rewards + card as well and have no 60 day rule. Once I have done that, I can always later combine points from the Rewards + card to the Premier card and then make travel arrangements using the better value that the Premier offers. I would love to hear that I am wrong on this, but I have checked and rechecked. so use caution before combining and then closing one of the cards. PS I have been a travel card guy for quite a few years and just stumbled on your travel blog today. I have now book marked it so I can review it frequently. Thanks for doing!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Bob – I’m glad you found Middle Age Miles! Thanks for the excellent comment. I had lost track of this rule about losing points after a certain time period upon closing a Citi card. The last time we closed one, we transferred all the remaining TYPs on that account from Philly to me. Those points had a 90-day clock – but at least Citi “spent” them first for me when I made a redemption. This reminder certainly tips the balance toward a product change to a no-fee TYP-earning card like Rewards+, which I believe is what Hadley was contemplating. I’m pretty sure that the converted card will remain on the same ThankYou account as before it was converted – so if your Prestige & Premier cards are already linked into a single TY account, they should still be linked after convert Presige to Rewards+.

      Thanks again, Bob, for reading and providing this very insightful comment. I hope you continue to enjoy Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: