An update: This card now comes with 50,000 points sign-up bonus. As a result, this offer is superior to Citi Thank You Premier card. I will definitely be applying in August if it’s still around.
In my post a few weeks ago, I wrote how I’ve applied for Citi Thank You Preferred card that comes with a bonus of 30,000 Thank You points after spending $2,000 in 4 months.
In short, I planned to speculatively transfer my entire stash of Thank You points to Air France frequent flyer program. Except, things didn’t really go as planned. My minimum spending was met and I checked the statement fully expecting my 30,000 points. Well, they weren’t there. The only amount listed was 2,200 points.
I had a bad feeling right away. Usually, Citi gives you the points with your closing statement when the minimum spend is met. I went ahead and sent a secure message and here is their response:
Bummer, just what I suspected. My husband had a Citi Thank You Preferred card, but I closed it within the last 12 months. This is a new Citi rule, and I’ve mentioned it before in my blog. Somehow, though, I thought this particular card wasn’t affected. Wrong!
You gain some, you lose some in this hobby. I totally understand where Citi is coming from, and kudos to that bank for cracking down on churners like me. It’s about time. I’ve said before that banks don’t owe me anything, that’s why I don’t get mad when stuff like this happens. Thumbs up, Citi!
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Yes, I’ve just used this photo in another post. What, you’ve got a problem with recycling?
So, now I have to come up with another plan. I need to get more transferrable Thank You points to top off my Air France account, since it requires 100,000 miles for 4 one-way tickets to Paris at the current rate. And I need them by next July.
So, the first thing I planned on doing was to close my husband’s and my Citi Thank You Premier cards. Since Citi sign-up bonus is now tied to the date of card closure, my reasoning was: the sooner I do it, the sooner I’ll be eligible for it again. More on that later.
This new development has also put a card on my radar that I haven’t previously considered. Introducing Citi Prestige. The card pays me commission (and has been for some time), but I thought Citi Thank You Premier (also pays me) is a better fit for most regular American families.
Even though the bonus is tiered (read more in my page of bonuses), you get more value out of it compared to Citi Prestige. But since I’m tapped out with Citi Thank You Premier, I will probably try for Prestige after all. Here are the details on the sign-up bonus:
Sounds great, right? So why didn’t I mention it before? Well, it comes with a $450 annual fee, not waived. Gasp! Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. See how it comes with $250 air travel credit each calendar year? It’s valid for regular flight purchases and should even work for gift cards as long as transaction is processed by airline.
I imagine Southwest gift cards should work, but YMMV If you sign up mid-year, you can collect it twice and get $500 in credits, which will more than make up for the annual fee of $450. Then you cancel it… or not. For some, 3 points for travel and 2 points on restaurants could make it a keeper, though not to me.
Since my family only flies via award tickets, I would probably sell Southwest gift cards to Cardpool or a similar merchant. Your points are also worth 1.25 cents when redeemed towards airfare, and actually more when used for American flights. This could be very useful to hub-captive AA travelers.
I saw Stefan from Rapid Travel Chai mention that you may be able to get an offer of 60,000 points, instead of 30,000, but it requires minimum spending of $15,000 in 12 months in order to get the bonus.
This is a deal-breaker for me, but I thought I would mention it. See this post for more. Also, Doctor of Credit blog reports that some were able to get an offer of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. It didn’t come up for me, but you may be targeted, so check it just in case.
What’s attractive about Citi Prestige is the fact that it unlocks the possibility of airline mile transfers, which is precisely what I need. Only certain Citi cards are eligible, and Prestige and Thank You Premier are among those.
I decided to take a look at Citi Prestige around August and decide if it’s worth the hassle and the annual fee. Why August? Well, the more I thought about it, the more I don’t like the idea of speculative transfer to Flying Blue program. Take a look at their expiration policy:
Yes, you have to take flights to keep miles from expiring. I don’t like it one bit. What if we don’t end up going to Europe as planned? So, the idea is to get Citi Prestige in my husband’s and my names and keep all of our Thank You points intact, and in “transferrable” form. That means keeping Citi Thank You Premier Visas open till August.
If we get approved for Citi Prestige, I’ll cancel Citi Thank You Premier Visas. Update: Per Frequent Miler, the points will expire when you cancel the card. It’s better to downgrade to Citi Thank You Preferred card instead.
Sure, it means I won’t be able to get as much of a refund on my annual fees, but it seems worth it to keep flexibility. Are you confused by all of this yet? This thought process once again falls into OCD-type reasoning.
That way, we’ll be able to collect $250 credit X 2, and transfer to Flying Blue in July of 2016. After that, sayonara to Citi Prestige and hello to Citi Thank You Preferred…again. Decisions, decisions. This hobby sometimes feels like a job, but a job where I get paid handsomely for my time.
You should definitely keep track of the dates (opening and closing of accounts) when it comes to Citi cards. Citi is getting smarter, no question about it. You may also consider Citi Prestige if you have/recently closed Citi Thank You Premier card. However, I recommend you wait a month or so to sign up, unless you are targeted for 50,000 points offer. That way, you will be able to collect $500 in airline credits.
Readers, does my reasoning make sense? Any suggestions?
P. S. You may also want to check out this post on Miles4More which discusses these cards as well as Citigold checking account.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.