Citi Prestige India: The best card for foreign spends.
Update [1 January 2020]: Citi has revised some of the on-going benefits for the Citi Prestige Card and you may not like them.
The Citi Prestige card offers one of the best mileage earning rate when it comes to international spends, here's my analysis of the card after using it for almost a year.
Citi Prestige comes with an annual fee of ₹20,000/- plus taxes, but I wouldn't hesitate to pay it because the renewal benefits alone make up for it. However, this one still doesn't come close to HDFC DinersBlack which I got as a lifetime free card.
Citi Prestige is the star of this category. Their application process is the smoothest of all the cards I've applied for till now. I was previously using the Citi PremierMile, which came free with my Citi Priority Banking account.
I appealed for a new card, but the application got rejected because my company isn't incorporated in India. Still, I am happy that they communicated the decision within 24 hours.
I later contacted the CitiPhone helpline and requested them to upgrade my existing PremierMile card (with a limit of 3 Lakhs). My existing card was swapped with the Citi Prestige within 24 hours. It took another three days to receive the card. I am impressed by how quickly the request was processed. AmEx should learn a thing or two from them.
The welcome bonus (also apply to renewals) is equivalent to what you pay for the card.
You get ₹10,000 in hotel voucher (Taj or ITC). They sent me the voucher within two weeks from the date of first transaction. Please note that there are some differences between the two:
- Only the Taj voucher can be used to pay the corresponding taxes.
- You get one voucher of value ₹10,000 if you go for Taj, and you get four vouchers of value ₹2500 each if you go for ITC.
In my opinion, the Taj voucher gives much more value than the ITC voucher.
In addition to the hotel voucher, you get 2500 Prestige Reward Points equivalent to 10,000 air miles. The rewards points were credited within two weeks from the date of first transaction.
Upgrading from PremierMile to Prestige is even more rewarding. You can double your miles. You get a conversion of 2 PremierMiles to 1 Prestige Reward Point.
- Given that you have 10,000 PremierMiles,
- When upgraded you'll get 5000 Prestige Reward Points.
- 5000 Prestige Reward Points are equivalent to 20,000 Air Miles.
I upgraded my PremierMile card within a month so I got an annual fee reversal as well.
Rewards on Spend:
Citi Prestige offers an excellent reward earning rate, you get 1 Prestige Reward Point (or 4 Air Miles) / 100 on domestic spends, and 2 Prestige Reward Points (or 8 Air Miles) / 100 on international spends.
For international transactions in US$ Dollars, Citi adds a 3.5% mark-up
on the INR equivalent of the US Dollars, at the conversion rates published by the card networks.
For international transactions effected in currencies other than the US Dollar, the transaction amount is first converted into US Dollars, at the conversion rates published by the card networks. On the US Dollars amount, 3.5% mark-up is added on the INR equivalent.
During my recent trip to Europe here's the difference in currency conversion, this will help us calculate the exact reward benefit.
Date of Transaction: 19 July 2019 in Brussels
EUR to INR Rate: ₹77.44238
However, the conversion rate offered by the bank was ₹77.7911.
Transaction Amount: €100
Billed Amount: ₹7,779.11
Markup Charged: ₹272.27
Amount Charged: ₹8,051.37
Miles Earned: 155 Prestige Reward Points or 620 Air Miles.
This comes out to ~8%. Excluding the markup charged, the reward earnings come down to 4.5% to 5%. So, the rewards earned on domestic as well as international spends are approximately equal.
The estimation is for Air Miles redemption. This may vary based on how you use these reward points. One Prestige Reward Point is equivalent to ₹1. You get the maximum value when you convert these points to Air Miles.
Citi Prestige doesn't give as many on-going benefits as compared to AmEx Platinum Charge Card, which comes with a great selection of hotel elite tier statuses and dining benefits.
Taj Epicure membership alone is worth ₹13,500 + taxes. It offers come great perks like:
- 50% as Epicure Points on the first three transactions at any of the restaurants.
- Two room upgrade vouchers that are applicable for a maximum of 5 nights.
- Happy hours (1+1) on drinks between 6pm-8pm every day at all bars, plus an additional 25% as Epicure points.
Here's a detailed review of Taj Epicure Membership.
Lounge Access and Airport Service
Citi Prestige comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership with unlimited lounge access. The rupee value of this membership is around ₹30,000.
Lounge access for guests is not free. However, all supplementary cardholders also get a complimentary Priority Pass membership.
You also get access to all the lounges that are a part of Visa Airport Lounge Access Program.
Update (Jan 2020): You can now avail 20% off on retail rates for airport transfers and 25% off on retail rates for meet & assist services. In lieu of this, both the aforementioned annual complimentary services, each limited to 2 uses, will be withdrawn.
Overseas Medical Insurance
This is another great benefit offered by the Citi Prestige. I travel to Europe at least four times a year, and this saves me a minimum of ₹4,000.
The medical insurance issued to me was by THE NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LTD and is valid for a maximum of 30 days per trip. It covers up-to US$50,000 in hospitalisation expenses, with US$100 in deductibles for each claim. The insurance is valid worldwide, including the US and Canada.
I'd recommend you to ask the Concierge to include your passport number in the certificate, as they don't do it by default. Some countries might raise a question on this.
Fourth Night Complimentary
I used this benefit for my stay in Capri, Italy. This alone saved me a minimum of ₹25,000. The concierge uses Hotels.com for this offer. You can use the website to find your preferred property, and ask the concierge to book it for you.
This option may not give you the maximum value every time. There have been multiple instances where I could get much better deal when booking using my DinersBlack Card or AmEx Platinum Charge Card.
The concierge will charge the card in USD. This means you also get 2x Prestige Reward Points for the booking as well.
Update (Jan 2020): Avail a complimentary 4th night stay at select hotels, now up to twice in a year.
Update (Jan 2020): The earlier complimentary green fees benefit at select Golf courses globally, will be withdrawn.
Exclusive Relationship Bonus
You get accelerated earning if you do banking with Citi. For my CitiPriority account, I get added 15% Prestige Reward Points. The CitiGold gets added 30%, and the CitiGold Private Client gets added 50% Prestige Reward Points.
The Citi Prestige credit card is complimentary for CitiGold Private Client customers
Citi Prestige is an amazing card when it comes to benefits on international spends. Given that you get what you pay for every year, it doesn't hurt to have it in your wallet.
However, if you're not a frequent flyer, you may not be able to extract more than what you pay for.