From time to time, banks make changes to their rewards programs and benefits. Sometimes, these are good. Sometimes, these are bad. Even where they’re the latter, banks love to call them “enhancements”. That’s really annoying, but maybe if you squint hard enough you can kind of make out a group of people who would benefit.
That said, it takes a certain kind of nerve to call the changes that Citibank made today to the Citi Prestige “enhancements”.
Citi has raised the limo spending requirement more than 13X, while cutting the entitlement by half
The Citi Prestige currently offers complimentary airport limo transfers for card members who spend at least S$1.5K in foreign currency within a quarter. Hitting this threshold unlocks four complimentary trips a quarter, and a maximum of eight per year.
Well, not anymore. Effective 1 April 2019, Citi has changed the T&Cs of the benefit such that you need to spend S$20K in a quarter to unlock two rides.
Let me state that again, lest people think it’s a typo. Citi has cut the allowance in half, while raising the spend requirement by 13X (Yes, I’m aware the new spending requirement can be in any currency, while the old was in foreign currency only, but anyone who quibbles over this point is missing the forest for the trees)
Perhaps I should also show it in infographic form, because it’s crucial everyone gets how absurd this is:
It’s the kind of change that makes you wonder if the team added an extra 0 by mistake, or mistook today for April Fool’s day.
But you’ve not even heard the punchline yet. Citi called this an enhancement. What’s enhanced? You can now book your limo rides online instead of through the concierge. Because technology.
The site will go live on 1 April 2019, and here’s the link for your convenience, but seriously…
How does the Citi Prestige’s new limo benefit compare to other cards?
With the impending changes, here’s how the Citi Prestige’s limo benefit measures up.
|Card (Income Req)||Min Spend Requirement||Max Uses||Airport Drop/Pickup|
|UOB PRVI Miles AMEX ($30K)||S$1K FCY spend per quarter unlocks 2 rides (excludes online transactions)||2 per quarter, 8 per year||Drop only|
|Citi Prestige ($120K)||S$20K spend per quarter unlocks 2 rides||2 per quarter, 8 per year||Drop or pickup|
|HSBC Visa Infinite ($120K)||S$2K spend per month unlocks 1 ride (first two/year are free, four/year free for HSBC Premier customers)||24 per year (includes the free trips)||Drop only|
|Maybank Visa Infinite ($120K)||S$3K spend per month unlocks 2 rides (no min spend if >$60K spending in prev. year)||8 per year||Drop or pickup|
|OCBC VOYAGE ($120K)||S$3K spend or S$1.5K FCY spend per month unlocks 1 ride||2 per month||Drop or pickup|
While other banks require customers to spend anywhere between $1-3K to unlock limo transfers, Citi is asking for $20K.
If I were the product manager of the HSBC Visa Infinite or OCBC VOYAGE card, I’d be rubbing my hands in delight at the own goal Citi scored today.
Is the Citi Prestige card still worth keeping?
In my opinion, the two main benefits the $535/year Citi Prestige card has now is the unlimited visit Priority Pass and the fourth night free benefit.
We’re already seeing the fourth night free benefit get capped in the US, and one wonders if it’s a matter of time before those changes get rolled out here too. An unlimited visit Priority Pass is nice, but it’s something you could get with other cards at roughly the same price point.
If you enjoy other benefits like 1 for 1 dining experiences, or find the Citi Prestige concierge to be helpful, maybe you’ll grin and bear it. But what gets my goat about this is the tone-deaf way Citibank has presented the changes. Just look at this eDM.
“Unparalleled privileges”. “Enhanced experience”. It’s just insulting to the intelligence of your customers. It still amazes me that companies try to pass obviously negative changes off as enhancements- seriously, what do they think we are?
I’ve found the Citi Prestige sort of useful over the past year (attended a few 1 for 1 dining events and used the limo transfers), but I’ve already decided not to renew it the next time round. I haven’t even used the fourth night free benefit once, plus lounge access is covered by my AMEX Platinum Charge card. All this does is further confirm my decision to not renew, and I’ll get my limo transfers from the UOB PRVI if need be.
Citi has every right to change the terms and conditions of its Prestige card benefits. But please, don’t be disingenuous about it.
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