Citi Prestige Ups Its Game in Travel Protection, Covers Your Award Tickets Starting May 15

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The Citi Prestige Card has been the ‘it’ card for the past year. It’s chock full of benefits. Citi has built a premium card to surpass others at the price point. It’s built a transferrable points program, let you use the points at a strong value towards paid airfare, and bundled not just traditional benefits like lounge access but unique benefits like VIP treatment at restaurants and free golf. Here are the 15 things that I love about it.

The card earns triple points on air and hotel spend, and double points on dining and entertainment. It has great airline transfer partners. There’s a $250 airfare credit that you can use buying tickets (no messing around with gift cards). You get American Airlines lounge access when flying American same day, and a Priority Pass Select card with unlimited visits and 2 free guests each time. You get free golf and fourth night free on hotels booked through the card’s concierge.


Etihad Airbus A380 First Apartment. Etihad is a Direct Points Transfer Partner

The travel protections are outstanding, too. I love the trip delay coverage. This is the best card to use to buy airline tickets. The Citi Prestige Card will cover up to $500 in expenses when you are delayed 3 or more hours. You must be on a round trip ticket (trip not to exceed 60 days) and have charged the full cost of your ticket to the card. The $500 benefit applies to each spouse (or domestic partner) or dependent (under 19) that’s delayed whose ticket you charged to the card.

Today Citi emailed out notice that effective May 15 a new travel benefits guide goes into effect and as far as I can tell the changes are all actually quite good.

Car Rental Damage Improvement

Outside the U.S. coverage is primary for up to a 31 day rental and up to $100,000 (it’s secondary on rentals in the U.S.).

The policy is explicit that it applies even when you use discount codes to reduce the price of the rental as long as the balance of the rental is paid with the card.

Trip Delay and Cancellation Improvement

The card provides you with trip cancellation coverage and also trip delay coverage. The improvement here is that the coverage applies not only to tickets paid entirely with your card, but now also to tickets paid in part with your card — although in that case you’re covered only up to the amount you actually paid with the card. (Up until now I relied exclusively on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for this benefit.)

The most common situation where you’re paying only part of the cost of a ticket with a card is either:

  • where you’re paying with gift cards
  • Where you’re paying with miles

Note that paying with the ThankYou Points earned with the card is treated as paying for travel entirely with the card. So this is about where you’re booking an award ticket or paying with some other points for your ticket.

If you’ve only got $5 or $10 in security taxes on a domestic award this change isn’t much help.

But imagine you’ve got an international trip with high airport taxes — a UK award may cost you $250 out of pocket, so your coverage for things like a hotel room and meals in the event of a travel delay would be capped at that $250. And if you’re booking an award with fuel surcharges, you may be traveling in a premium class of service on miles but coming out of pocket $1000. In which case you’re unlikely to hit the limitation.

So you can now use the Citi Prestige Card to pay taxes and fees on your award tickets, earn triple points, and still enjoy things like trip delay coverage. Got a delayed flight? Save your receipts and ring them for a reimbursement claim when you get back from your trip.

More Covered People

It used to be that travel benefits like delay and cancellation were limited to the primary and secondary cardholders on the account, the accountholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and their children 18 years old or younger.

That means if you bought a ticket for friends, or a significant other that wasn’t a domestic partner, their travel wouldn’t be covered.

Now they cover a much broader array of people. Trip cancellation and delay and lost and delayed baggage coverage now applies to your travel companions as well as to a fiance, the children of a domestic partner, in-laws (siblings, parents, children), grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews. I hope you’ve got a big family!

Other improvements

Extended warranty coverage now adds 24 months of coverage onto a manufacturer’s warranty instead of 12 months. And purchase protection has gone from 60 days to 90 days.

Are there other improvements I’ve missed? I didn’t notice a single negative change. This is awesome.

(HT: @Nick_Roosevelt)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I got an email from Citi with the same announcement for my Advantage Gold MC the other day.

  2. Absolutely love the card! Been more than a year since I got it when I applied it through one of the branches. 50k sign up, and 30k TY points once I hit $15k within the year and 30k AA miles for opening Citi Gold simultaneously. About 20 round trips including 3 international trips to India, fantastic card. I was bit surprised when $250 credit is not applicable when you buy tickets though TY website and had to be directly with airline, other than that absolutely love it. Of course I need it to be in Metal like Chase Marriott

  3. Gary,

    I’ve read the insurance certificates carefully. Where do you see the round-trip ticket requirement?

  4. Remind me on the CSP… If you pay for award ticket taxes on it and you cancel because of illness, they don’t reimburse the lost points either do they?

  5. Gary,

    Only the trip cancellation/interruption coverage has the language: “In the event of partial payment, we will only reimburse the lesser of the actual amount paid for with your Citi card.”

    Trip Delay, Baggage Delay, Baggage Loss provide full coverage even if only a potion of the ticket is charged to the card. So in instances of awards tickets for a delay and/or delayed/missing baggage, you still have full coverage.

  6. @Michael A
    I’m with you in that my understanding of the prestige benefits did not require a RT ticket. This, for me, is a big reason that this card is better than my CSP for trip protection.

    Gary, can you confirm? Thanks.

  7. Ok..I have to ask, did someone strongly insisted you take down the post about AMEX layoffs? Funny how it just disappeared without a trace.

  8. One upgrade I noticed is that a covered reason for cancellation now includes an injury or illness to your pet! Big thumbs up for this coverage!

  9. Gary, are taxes part of the “common carrier fare”? I think that’s the phrasing they used; I thought taxes might not be part of it (but if they file the total fare, then it probably is).

    Doesn’t limiting to the taxes on award tickets make it borderline deceptive – having a coverage for which the limit is $5 or $12 or whatever it is on domestic award is no coverage at all.

  10. If I put the AA award travel fees (Approx $135) on Prestige, does that count toward the $250 annual airfare credit? Or is it any benefit to put on the Citi AA Platinum instead?
    Is the Citi Platinum worth paying the renewal fee?

  11. The same changes apply to my no fee Citi Dividend card. It’s no longer offered, but was replaced by the Double Cash Back card, so I’d guess the benefits apply there too.

    A general question is how you decide to use a card based on its benefits? For your example of $10 in award taxes, it seems like an easy call, but what about a larger purchase, if the rewards offered by another card dwarf the Citi benefit. Do you give up the higher reward on the off chance that you’d need the trip delay or extended warranty benefit?

  12. What really jumped out at me was the expansion of the extended warranty coverage from 12 to 24 months. Historically, I have used my Amex cards to cover purchases where I wanted to extend the manufacturer’s warranty. Does the Prestige now outshine Amex in this regard?

  13. @Gary – so you deleted the post on layoffs for no reason? It’s definitely gone from your blog.

  14. there are numerous positive reports on chase sapphire travel insurance benefit. Citi is more prone to playing games rather than offering real benefits IME. I will still stick with CSP

  15. @rick b – not intentionally, and i’d go looking for it but i’m on the slowest inflight internet connection i’ve had in awhile (worse than on an emirates a380 and that’s saying something!)

  16. If my understanding is correct for $50/year I can add an additional user and that person gets their own Priority Pass and it also allows them to bring in two guests. Can that person also get the 4th night hotel rebate or is that benefit only the primary card holder?

  17. Neither CSP nor prestige will provide liability coverage. Most likely your insurance won’t work overseas. So all this talk of insurance coverage being pushed by bloggers is BS (especially for rentals outside the us/Canada)

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