Citi Prestige has done the biggest 180 in the history of credit cards.
I let go of mine just over two years ago, after it lost American Airlines Admirals Club access, the ability to redeem points for paid American travel at 1.67 cents apiece, and other benefits like free golf (though I’m not a golfer). Many people kept the card for its 4th night free hotel benefit, and of course it kept Priority Pass and the annual airfare credit.
In late 2017 Citi tweaked the card, making it metal, letting you use points as cash at a penny apiece, and allowing you to book ‘fourth night free’ hotels online (but then you wouldn’t earn loyalty points or receive status credit or benefits since it meant making the booking through their online agency). They temporarily raised the initial bonus on the card to 75,000 points.
The Points Guy himself declared “It’s great to see a credit card company upping its game in an unmatched way.” The changes though were such a dud that they announced a revamp of the card again a year later.
They added cell phone protection, and really amped up points-earning: 5x on airline travel and restaurants; 3x on hotels and cruise spend; 2x on entertainment.
However along with these additions came cuts effective September 1, 2019: points would only be worth a penny apiece towards airfare if spending for paid travel, and fourth night free on hotels would only be available for use twice a year.
The other major cut was that the 4th night hotel booking benefit would only be able to be booked online. That means your reservations will count as a third party booking, so no elite benefits or hotel points, and it means you won’t be able to access discounted rates that Citi concierges have been able to book as well as hotels that don’t appear through their portal.
Cardmembers were supposed to have until September 1 for these cuts to go into effect however it seems that the restriction to only book fourth night free may already be in effect. Multiple readers have shared their stories trying to book fourth night free. In both case they were told that phone agents are already restricted to using their own platform for making bookings, that they can no longer access rates outside of that platform. And in both cases the rates in question were higher than what’s available on the hotel’s website (in one case 30% higher).
I wrote off the fourth night free hotel benefit when the changes were announced in November, capitalizing it as though the restrictions were already in place. It looks like the limitation on what rates can be booked may already be in effect.
If you have the card what’s been your experience this week with fourth night free hotel bookings?