This credit card’s $450 annual fee is totally worth it–for the first year

When I first heard about the Citi Prestige card’s $450 annual fee, I was shocked and disgusted. Now I want it. What is wrong with me?



  • The card earns points called “ThankYou” points
  • The card has a sign-up bonus of 50K ThankYou points after spending $3K in the first 3 months (Update: Minimum spend is now $5k).
  • 50K ThankYou points is enough for an $800 flight on American Airlines (they have a special relationship, very cute) or a $665 flight on any other airline
  • The card earns 3x points on airfare and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment, and one point/dollar on everything else
  • The card provides $250 in “air travel credit” each calendar year. Meaning if you get the card in November, then want to cancel it the next October before the annual fee arrives for the second year, you can still get two separate allotments of $250 to spend on airfare. You’ve just gotta use one $250 credit in 2016, then the next $250 credit in 2017, for example. Right there you’ve already made a net of $50 on the card for that first year ($500 in airline credits minus $450 annual fee, which is not waived the first year). The good thing about these credits is you still pay for the flight (instead of using reward miles) and earn loyalty miles with the airline (which you can’t earn on flights paid for with miles), then Citi issues you a credit on your account up to $250/year.
  • The card gives you $100 credit to be used on a Global Entry application. Once you’ve completed the background check and in-person interview for Global Entry enrollment, you’re approved for expedited entrance back into the U.S. from your global adventures. This also approves you for TSA Pre-Check, allowing you a short-cut through the insane security lines that have been causing such a fuss recently. If you already have Global Entry, you can use the $100 credit for one of your friends.
  • You can get your 4th night free at any hotel. Call and book your stay through Citi’s concierge booking service, and they’ll refund you for your 4th night at any hotel. On the earth. Even those fancy ones. What about those hotels that give you your 5th night free anyhow? Are you saying you can get your 4th and 5th nights free in that case? Apparently, yes. You just have to book it through the Citi concierge service.
  • You get complimentary access to “American Airlines Admirals Club lounges, plus hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select.” I’ve never been in an airport lounge so I can’t speak too much on this, but basically these two memberships cost hundreds of dollars a year and get you into lounges that have refreshments, wifi, comfy chairs, and sometimes even hot showers. Sounds like that long layover could turn into a mini vacation.
  • The card has just about all the travel coverage benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, minus the primary auto rental coverage in the United States. Coverage is secondary in the U.S. and primary internationally. I wrote more about auto rentals here.

What’s the shpeel?

This card could be brilliant if you spend a lot every year on hotels, flights and airport lounges. Otherwise, it’s really only brilliant that first year, where you get $500 in airfare credit, $100 credit for Global Entry, and the 50K points that are worth at least $800. $1400 minus the $450 annual fee = $950 net benefit. Tack on a 4th night free on your honeymoon splurge at a $800/night hotel and this card could be pretty beneficial. One traveler got over $4K in benefits the first year alone and gladly paid the second annual fee.

Is the $450 crazy? At least it’s not 10 grand like this credit card. Let me know what you think!

*Update: The card will lose some of its benefits in July 2017. Also, I tried out the trip delay insurance from the Prestige, and it worked great. Also tried the 4th night free benefit.

7 thoughts on “This credit card’s $450 annual fee is totally worth it–for the first year

  1. Get the card, absolutely worth it for the first year. Worth it past the first year if you fly on AA a decent amount (I do not sadly).

    But watch out for the 4th night benefit. Sometimes Citi’s concierge (carlson wagonlit) will overcharge you on a room. So yeah, you may get a 4th night free, but at a higher price. Doesn’t always happen, but just something to double check.


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