Citi recently gutted their credit cards of (almost) all benefits, making the cards harder to justify a spot in my wallet.
The Citi Prestige used to be my go-to card for travel due to the 4th-night free perk and 6-hour trip delay insurance. However, since the trimming and removal of benefits took place on Sept 22, it’s hard to stomach the $495 annual fee.
Downgrading and Keeping Citi ThankYou Points “Alive”
I plan to downgrade the Citi Prestige to a Citi Double Cash or Citi Dividend card. Some people have mentioned that it’s no longer possible to product change to the Dividend card, so I’ll keep you updated if it’s successful or not.
Unlike Chase and American Express, it’s not possible to pool points together from the same family of credit cards for the purpose of “keeping them alive” — in the sense that we normally think.
Even if you have a ThankYou rewards card open, you are essentially closing the card (but keeping the same account number). In my case, ThankYou points from the Citi Prestige will not be automatically kept “alive” or pooled with a Premier card after product changing the card (even if I was product changing it to another ThankYou card like the Premier — strange, I know).
When you product change a Citi ThankYou card, you have 60 days to transfer or cash the points out. This means that after my downgrade call, I have 60 days to redeem the Citi Prestige ThankYou points; otherwise, I’ll lose them.
Transfer Airline Partners
Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to airline partners at a 1:1 rate, and there are occasionally promotional rates. For example, JetBlue has a 25% bonus when you transfer points by 10/19/2019.
Below is a list of all the Citi airline transfer partners.
Citi 24-Month Rule
Other changes to my Citi card set up is that I’m finally eligible for a Citi ThankYou intro bonus again. It’s been two years since I received a bonus from the Citi Prestige.
Citi has a rule where you can only get a bonus for a specific group of cards once every two years. The 2-year clock isn’t only based on when you apply for a card. Product changing and canceling a card can reset the clock.
If you’re in a similar situation, be sure to apply for the new Citi card first before requesting a product change for the old card.
In my situation, I applied for the Citi ThankYou Premier before requesting a downgrade for the Citi Prestige. The Premier card has an attractive intro bonus, and I plan to transfer the points out to airline partners.
The strategies outlined in this post aren’t for everyone. I have a wide range of cards from various issuers that offer better travel insurance, which I prioritize over spend multipliers.
If you are someone who purchases extra travel insurance and protections when you travel, then the Citi ThankYou cards might be a good fit since the removal of benefits has no impact.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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