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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!


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8 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

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