Competition for the best travel rewards credit card is fierce, and an old card has introduced some new perks to stay in the running.
On Monday, Citibank announced its revamped Citi Prestige Card, which will be available on July 23. Like other high-end cards, the Prestige comes with attractive travel benefits sure to entice customers, but some major differences between the Citi card and its competitors might make people think twice.
At first glance, the Citi Prestige caters to high-spending luxury customers who can afford to pay more for rewards. Case in point: new Citi Prestige members will earn 75,000 ThankYou Points after signing up, which is equal to about $935 when redeemed for air travel. The caveat is that to get this award, users must spend $7,500 in the first three months of opening the account.
This mandatory spend is unusually high compared to cards on the same level. For reference, the Chase Sapphire Reserve awards 50,000 sign-up bonus points (equal to $750 in travel) after customers spend $4,000 in the first three months. The American Express Platinum gives customers 40,000 bonus points (worth about $400 in travel) after using their card to make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months.
“The amount consumers have to spend to get the sign-up bonus — $7,500 — is high even for a premium card, which may make this card out of reach for even some frequent travelers,” said Kimberly Palmer, credit card expert for NerdWallet.com.
If you can get past the high spending requirement, there are a handful of really great benefits to using this card. First, users will receive 3 points for every dollar spent on air travel and hotels, and 2 points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment. One of the biggest draws, however, is deals with hotels. Cardholders will get a free fourth night stay when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel.
Cardholders will also enjoy 24/7 access to Citi Prestige Concierge, travel and emergency assistance, trip cancellation/interruption protection, trip delay protection, and access to presale tickets and VIP experiences for thousands of events each year through Citi Private Pass.
How it compares
Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum, the Citi Prestige comes with a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, no foreign transaction fees, and access to more than 1,000 Priority Pass lounges around the globe.
It also comes with an annual fee of $450, which is the same as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The American Express Platinum has a fee of $550.
With annual fees, you also have to take the annual travel credit into account. For the Citi Prestige, users will get an annual $250 credit for flight-related expenses (ticket, baggage fees, upgrades) made on the card. Subtract that from $450, and users will essentially pay $200 every year out of pocket to use this card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a $300 travel credit, dropping the cost of the card to $150 a year. American Express Platinum cardholders get a $200 credit, making the annual feel more like $350.
In the end, choosing the right travel credit card is a personal choice. All three cards come with comparable benefits, but the initial spend of $7,500 makes the Citi Prestige stand out from the crowd — and not in a good way.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.