Citi Prestige Card: Damn It Feels Good to Be A Churner

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Damn it feels good to be a churner, sometimes. I’ve grown gun shy following my inexplicable rejection of the Barclays US Air Card which would’ve been my fourth. I swore off applying for cards during Lent and fought hard to ignore the affiliate links of my contemporaries no matter how great the offer.

Then I saw this post for the Citi Prestige on ThePointsGuy’s website (I want affiliate links too!) stating that for a limited time approved applicants receive 50k ThankYou Points after spending 3k in 3 months. I’ve always regarded Thank You Points as the third world version of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. Proof that MRs are a great currency came by way of flying the over-blogged Singapore Airlines Suite-Class. As for URs I’ve used them from flying business, for staying at Hyatt hotels, and for posting bail. Without question, it is the currency of choice for all ballers.

This brings me to ThankYou Points and Citi. As a marketing giant, Citi needs to use a different name for its awards program. Using ‘rewards’ in the title makes people feel special. Using ‘thank you’ makes me feel skeptical. Are you thanking me for paying the $450 annual fee or for capitulating to the 15.24% APR if I am dumb and end up in credit card debt?

Currently, I have the Citi Diamond Preferred card which was my first with Citi. This card changes names every week and has the worst rewards program. If anyone can make sense of Citi Easy Deals, let me know. For this reason, I have always been skeptical to hop on the ThankYou Points bandwagon.

So what changed? The benefits and the transfer partners as outlined below:

 Great Perks

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
    • $250 air travel credit goes great to offset the annual fee of $450. If you apply now you can use it this year and next year. That’s significant.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
    • This begins to rival Sapphire and Amex Gold/Platinum.
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
    • Entertainment? Interesting. Dining 2x is in line with Chase.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
    • Someone tell Amex SPG this please.
  • Admirals Club & VIP lounges
    • So long Citi AA Executive Card
    • It is my understanding that you have to be flying AA to gain access to the lounge whereas with the Admirals Club membership with the Citi AA Exec access was unrestricted.

Useless for Me

  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay. #points
  • Global Entry: $100 credit for applying for Global Entry. Global Entry is definitely worth it but my experience has been a bit random.

The Sign Up Bonus

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
    • What are ThankYou Points!

On paper this looks like a great offer but only if 50,000 ThankYou Points, hereon called PYTs is worth its weight in gold. Putting it in finance terms, 50,000 USD is great, 50,000 Mongolia Tugrik, not so great.

What are PYTs worth? It depends on how you redeem them:

Option 1: Directly for travel on American Airlines: According to the ThePointsGuy this option is worth $800. He writes, “You can redeem them directly for travel on American Airlines at 1.6 cents apiece (or 1.33 cents apiece on other airlines).” Can we do better than $800?

Option 2: Transfer Partners: The reason that Chase and Amex have cornered the points market isn’t only because they use the word ‘reward’ in their program name. It is because they have amazing transfer partners. Citi had Easy Deal partners (see above.) Now that has changed. Here is the list of transfer partners that we should all commit to memory:

All redeem at a ratio of 1:1 except Hilton for 2:3.

  • Air France-KLM
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Airways Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

I highlighted Etihad and Singapore because they have great aspirational yet attainable rewards. 94k KrisFlyer miles is all that is needed for a one way flight in suite-class from the US to Germany and onto Singapore. That’s a lot of suite-class and is worth a lot more than $800. I scratched out Hilton because the value of using the points for airlines far outweighs redeeming towards 50k room which run about $200-$400 a night.

While I am familiar with the other airlines on the list, I am not familiar with their programs as of yet. I’m sure there are some sunny spots in their award charts that can be exploited. Having more partners is a good thing.

Where did you come from lady and ooh won’t you take me there?

Get more PYTs! Most of us have already applied for the Ink Bold more than once, converted the Chase Sapphire from Visa back to MC back to Visa to get the signing bonus a couple of times, spent $5000 on Starbucks cards during our Freedom bonuses, among other ways to replenish the coffers of our UR reserves. Similarly, we all know that Amex Platinum Mercedes edition and Amex Platinum are two different products though it’s been years of waiting for the 100k offer for each and neither has arrived. Regardless, the generous product offerings of Amex provide the opportunity to swim in a pool of MRs with little effort.

The same is true of PYTs. Go check your mail and you’ll notice that Citi is sending you offers for the Citi PYT Premier, the Preferred, and the Business card. Potentially that’s worth another 100k+ PYTs which gets you to Singapore and back in style. And since Citi, in my experience, is the best company for card approval and ease of churn, it makes this plan feasible.

Though I will still use Sapphire as my everyday card, this may change as I learn more about Citi’s transfer partners.

There you have it. Till next time, keep churnin’ my friends.

 

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,
    Have you heard anyone churning the prestige card yet, or any of the PYT earning cards?
    I haven’t yet and would be helpful data point to know.
    Thanks
    Abhi

    • I haven’t. I don’t think it is as lucrative to churn the Prestige like the 100k Executive but I’m guessing that the other PYTs follow the same rules of 18 months.

      Even with that, it seems like every few months theres’ a new citi PYT card that nobody wants. I’ll reach out if I do.

    • I would imagine so. It’s probably like barclays arrival where the merchant name shows up and if it falls under travel then you redeem credit. So assume you pay AA $200 in taxes, it would say AA which is obviously travel.

      When I get the special welcome kit that comes in a shiny box I’ll call to find out.

    • From the T’s and C’s: Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases. Please allow 1-2 billing cycles after the qualifying air travel expense is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the account.

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