Marketing materials portray it as the gateway to fancy living, what with its travel benefits, gourmet promotions, and exclusive event invitations. It even comes in a handsome metal cardface, for that extra premium feel.
But is it worth the hefty cost of ownership, especially during this COVID-19 period?
|💳 tl;dr: ★★★★|
|The Citi Prestige is no doubt the pick of the $120K cards, but the inability to use most of its benefits right now means you may want to hold off applying/renewing until COVID-19 passes.|
|The good||The bad|
|This Citi Prestige review forms part of my collection of credit card reviews. I’m constantly adding new ones, and you can browse the entire collection here.|
Overview: Citi Prestige Card
Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the Citi Prestige Card.
|Income Req.||S$120,000 p.a||Points Validity||No expiry|
|FCY Fee||3.25%||Transfer Fee||S$26.75|
|Local Earn||1.3 mpd||Points Pool?||No|
|FCY Earn||2.0 mpd||Lounge Access?||Yes|
|Special Earn||10 mpd on Kaligo||Airport Limo?||Yes|
|Cardholder Terms and Conditions|
How much must I earn to qualify for a Citi Prestige?
The Citi Prestige has a S$120,000 p.a income requirement, although it is also available to Citigold customers (min AUM: S$250K) who earn at least S$30,000 p.a.
In addition to this, there are reports that you can get the Citi Prestige as a secured credit card, with just a S$15,000 fixed deposit. I was skeptical when I heard this, but know a couple of people who managed to get approved this way (they might have been able to demonstrate other assets, though).
If you want to try your luck on the secured version, visit a Citibank branch to make inquiries.
How much is the Citi Prestige’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
The Citi Prestige has an annual fee of S$535. Supplementary cards are unlimited and free for life.
|💳 Annual Fees for Cards in the $120K segment|
Annual fee waivers are not available for the Citi Prestige, so don’t even think about asking (Citigold has run acquisition promotions in the past where the first year’s fee was waived, but that’s about it). If a once-in-a-century global pandemic doesn’t convince Citi to waive the fee, nothing will.
Citi Prestige members have the choice of 25,000 miles (in the form of 62,500 Citi ThankYou points) or an iPad/Dyson hairdryer in the first year.
Subsequently they’ll receive 25,000 miles (in the form of 62,500 Citi ThankYou points) each year they renew.
25,000 miles for S$535 works out to about 2.14 cents per mile. This is above the price you should be paying, but remember, we need to look at the benefits in totality.
What sign-up bonus or gifts are available?
The Citi Prestige does not have a public sign-up bonus, although it occasionally sends some targeted offers to potential members. The most recent one I’ve seen is a 25,000 bonus points (10,000 miles) offer for spending S$15,000 in the first 3 months of membership.
Needless to say, it’s an extremely weak offer compared to what’s out there, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re going to sign up for a Citi Prestige anyway.
Customers who sign up for the Citi Prestige through SingSaver will receive additional cash gifts, as shown below.
|🎁 Current Sign-Up Bonuses/Gifts|
|New-to-bank customers are defined as those who do not currently hold a principal Citibank credit card, and have not done so in the past 12 months|
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spending||🌎 FCY Spending||➕ Bonus Spending|
|1.3 mpd||2.0 mpd||10 mpd on Kaligo|
Citi Prestige members earn 3.25 ThankYou points for every S$1 spent in Singapore Dollars, and 5 ThankYou points for every S$1 spent in foreign currency (FCY).
5 ThankYou points are worth 2 airline miles, so that’s an equivalent earn rate of 1.3 mpd for local spending, and 2 mpd for FCY spending.
|👫 Relationship Bonus|
The Citi Prestige card features a “relationship bonus” which awards 5-30% more points depending on your tenure with Citibank, and whether you have Citigold status.
Contrary to popular belief, a 5% bonus does not mean you earn 1.3 * 1.05 = 1.37 mpd. Instead, the relationship bonus percentage is applied to your overall dollar spend amount to derive bonus points. For example, if you spend S$10,000 in a year with a 5% bonus, you get 5% * 10,000= 500 bonus points, or a paltry 200 miles. The bump in mpd is a mere 0.02!
Here’s how much you can earn on local/overseas spending with the relationship bonus:
In terms of miles earning potential, the Citi Prestige ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack.
From now till 31 December 2020, Citi Prestige cardholders will earn 25 ThankYou points for every S$1 spent at Kaligo (equivalent to 10 mpd). There is no cap on the bonus that can be earned, but note that Kaligo’s prices can be more expensive than other booking sites. Do some comparison shopping and decide if the extra miles are worth it.
When are ThankYou points credited?
ThankYou points are credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
How are ThankYou points calculated?
Here’s how you can work out the ThankYou points earned on your Citi Prestige Card.
|Local Spend||Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 3.25. Round to nearest whole number|
||Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 5. Round to nearest whole number|
Unlike some cards which award points for every S$5 spent (such as the OCBC VOYAGE and UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card), the Citi Prestige awards points for every S$1 spent.
Why does this matter? It means you lose fewer points through rounding. Consider the following:
|Citi Prestige Card||UOB VI Metal|
|$5||6.4 miles||6 miles|
|$9.99||11.6 miles||6 miles|
|$15||19.6 miles||20 miles|
|$19.99||24.8 miles||20 miles|
|$25||32.4 miles||34 miles|
|$29.99||37.6 miles||34 miles|
If you’re an excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate points:
|Local Spend||=ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*3.25,0)|
|Where X= Amount Spent
For the full list of formulas that banks use to calculate credit card points, do refer to these articles:
What transactions aren’t eligible for ThankYou points?
The following transactions are ineligible for ThankYou points, as per the general Citibank rewards T&Cs. I’ve highlighted a few noteworthy categories below:
- Educational Institutions (MCC 8211-8299)
- Donations (MCC 8398)
- Government Services (MCC 9000-9999)
- Insurance (MCC 6300)
- Professional Services and Membership Organizations (MCC 8651-8661)
- Quasi cash transactions (MCC 6529-6540)
- Real Estate Agents and Managers (MCC 6513)
- Top-ups to prepaid accounts like YouTrip and GrabPay
- Utilities payments (MCC 4900)
Citibank cards do not earn points with RentHero, but they will with CardUp.
What do I need to know about ThankYou points?
|💨 Expiry||↔️ Pooling||✈️ Transfer Fee|
|No expiry||No||S$26.75 per conversion|
ThankYou points earned on the Citi Prestige do not expire, but they also do not pool across cards. If you have 10,000 ThankYou points on the Citi Prestige and 15,000 ThankYou points on the Citi Rewards, you cannot redeem 25,000 ThankYou points at one shot.
This means you’ll need to pay as many conversion fees as you have Citi cards, and if you cancel your Citi Prestige, you’ll need to transfer all your points out first or else forfeit them.
Citibank has the widest variety of transfer partners in Singapore, with 12 airline and hotel programs to choose from. This gives you access to some great sweet spots, like with British Airways Executive Club, Etihad Guest, and Turkish Miles&Smiles.
Points transfer at a 5:2 ratio, with a minimum transfer block of 10,000 miles.
|Frequent Flyer Program||Conversion Ratio
(ThankYou Points: Partner)
Transfers cost S$26.75 per program, regardless of how many points are converted.
ThankYou points can also be redeemed for cash rebates at a pretty dismal rate of 440 points =S$1. Although this is sometimes boosted by 10-20%, it still represents horrible value, and shouldn’t be considered.
Other card perks
Fourth Night Free
One of the biggest draws of the Citi Prestige is the 4th Night Free benefit, which allows cardholders to stay four nights at a hotel for the cost of three. Depending how frequently you travel and the type of accommodation you stay in, the value from this benefit alone can more than cover the card’s S$535 annual fee.
Here’s how it works: Citi Prestige cardholders make a hotel booking through the Citi Prestige concierge of at least four nights. The average pre-tax rate of the four nights will be refunded within 6-8 weeks of completing the stay.
In the example above, the cardholder receives a refund of S$118 (the average of S$100, S$130, S$160 and S$80). Since the refund is on the back end, elite credit and hotel points (if applicable) are earned on the full amount of spending.
A maximum of one free night can be enjoyed per stay, and if you think you can circumvent this by making separate bookings, Citi’s on to you. The T&Cs state that if two bookings are made in the same city, there must be at least 7 days between the check-out date of the first stay and check-in date of the second.
The 4th night free benefit can only be enjoyed by the principal cardholder. Principal cardholders cannot make bookings on behalf of other people.
The Citi Prestige concierge can book (almost) any rate that’s available on the hotel’s public website, or on Expedia. Why I say “almost” is because Citi now excludes “member rates”. These are slightly discounted rates that hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton offer as an enticement to join their loyalty program.
Citi claims that this is in line with their policy that rates must be “publicly available”, but that’s kind of disingenuous, given how these rates can be accessed by simply joining the loyalty program for free.
Citi has recently been tightening the screws on the 4th Night Free program, adding unfavorable terms such as:
- Full and half board rates, single/multi-room suites, home & farm stays, serviced apartments and villas no longer qualify for this benefit
- All bookings must be prepaid
The second point has been the source of much confusion, because hotels (especially in the current COVID-19 climate) may only offer flexible rates. Does that mean such properties aren’t eligible for the 4th night free benefit at all? Different CSOs say different things, so YMMV.
Although this hasn’t happened in Singapore yet, it’s worth noting that other countries (USA, Thailand, Indonesia) have started capping the maximum number of times the 4th night free benefit can be used per year. Whether this makes its way here remains to be seen, but either way, I feel this once-great perk is dying a death of a thousand cuts.
Complimentary Airport Limo
Citi Prestige cardholders enjoy complimentary airport limo transfers, but this benefit has been nuked in a big way.
Once upon a time, spending just S$1,500 per quarter in foreign currency would unlock four free airport limo rides. But in April 2019, Citi nerfed the benefit, hiking the spending requirement to S$20,000 per quarter (!) while reducing the rides to two. That was an outrageous change, and the bank’s attempts to spin it as an “enhancement” didn’t help.
In February 2020, Citi walked back the changes…somewhat. The minimum spend was reduced to S$12,000 per quarter- better than before, but still a far cry from what it used to be.
|Qualifying Spend (QS)||Rides per QS||Maximum
|UOB PRVI Miles AMEX||S$1K per quarter in FCY||2||2 per quarter, 8 per year|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||S$2K per month||1||24 per year|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||S$3K per month||2||2 per month, 8 per year|
|OCBC VOYAGE||S$5K per month||1||2 per month, 24 per year|
|Citi Prestige||S$12K per quarter||2||2 per quarter, 8 per year|
Simply put, the Citi Prestige has one of the weakest limo benefits on the market right now. At least they’re allowing cardholders to accumulate limo entitlements throughout 2020, in light of the current COVID-19 situation.
Unlimited Complimentary Lounge Visits
Citi Prestige cardholders enjoy unlimited lounge visits via Priority Pass, along with one guest. This benefit only applies to the principal cardholder; supplementary cardholders do not receive access.
As far as cards in the $120K segment go, this is pretty competitive. Note that the Citi Prestige is the only one to offer a guest benefit; guests are chargeable with all other cards.
Buy Miles At 1.54 Cents With Citi PayAll
- Condo Fees
- Electricity Bills
Citi Prestige members earn 1.3 mpd on PayAll transactions, which represents buying miles at 1.54 cents each.
From time to time, Citi Prestige members can earn bonus miles on PayAll when a certain minimum amount is transacted. In March 2020, cardholders who spent at least S$15,000 in a single transaction earned 4,500 bonus miles, for a cost per mile of 1.25 cents each. Alternatively, they could spend S$30,000 in a single transaction to earn 11,000 bonus miles, for a cost per mile of 1.2 cents each.
PayAll transactions will count towards the minimum spend for airport limo rides, as well as any other Citi sign-up offers.
Complimentary Travel Insurance
|Accidental Death||Medical Benefits||Travel Inconvenience|
|S$1,000,000||S$50,000||Luggage delay: S$400
Travel delay: S$400
Lost luggage: S$1,000
Cardholders are covered for up to S$1,000,000 for accidental death or dismemberment while traveling on a scheduled public conveyance, with further coverage also for travel inconvenience like lost luggage or flight delays. There’s S$50,000 of coverage for medical expenses, and S$100,000 for emergency medical evacuation.
Citi Prestige members get the occasional invite to special events, and 1-for-1 offers on concert tickets/4 Hands Kitchen experiences, but these are understandably on hold until large scale gatherings can resume.
Citi Prestige members can currently enjoy three free local golf games at the following clubs
- Sentosa Golf Club (weekdays only)
- Sembawang Country Club
- Marina Bay Golf Course
- Orchid Country Club (till 30 Sep 2020)
No paying guest is required for Sembawang Country Club, Marina Bay Golf Course and Orchid Country Club. A minimum of one paying guest per cardholder is required for Sentosa Golf Club.
Additional World Elite Benefits
The Citi Prestige is a World Elite Mastercard, Mastercard’s highest tier. This unlocks certain additional benefits for cardholders.
For example, Citi Prestige cardholders can enjoy a free Boingo Wi-Fi account, with access to more than 1 million hotspots worldwide including inflight internet on certain airlines. Boingo members can enjoy free Wi-Fi on Singapore Airlines aircraft equipped with Panasonic systems.
Cardholders also enjoy extended warranty protection, fast tracks to hotel elite status, and special discounts on dining, travel, shopping and more.
Summary Review: Citi Prestige
The Citi Prestige can be a very valuable card indeed, and there’s a reason it comes out on top in the $120K credit card showdown. During regular times, the benefits make it a good investment for frequent travelers (used judiciously, the 4th night free benefit alone can more than cover the annual fee).
But in the current COVID-19 season, the value proposition is marginal at best:
- Airport limo: Not usable
- Airport lounge access: Not usable
- Inflight Wi-Fi: Not usable
- 4th night free: Most staycations won’t be long enough to utilize this benefit
So what does the S$535 really get you now? 25,000 miles, and the ability to buy miles slightly cheaper than other Citi cards with annual fee waivers. Therefore, I can’t see any compelling reason to get or renew a Citi Prestige card at this point in time.
If your annual fee is due imminently, it may make sense to temporarily drop the card, applying again when travel restrictions are lifted. You don’t really lose much by doing this, beyond paying a S$26.75 fee to transfer your points out (and starting the expiry clock on your miles, depending on which program they’re transferred to). Depending on how long the pandemic lasts, you may even be a new-to-bank customer when the time comes to reapply.
So that’s my review of the Citi Prestige Card. What do you think?
|An essential card for miles chasers, with few viable alternatives|
|A very good card, although other equally good alternatives may exist|
|A decent card to round out your collection, but not absolutely essential|
|Very limited use cases, and outperformed by most other cards|
|Paperweight. Use for picking teeth or ninja stars|