The Citi Prestige® Card now comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. (How ThankYou Points Work)

It also comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year. I can understand why some people are initially scared of the card’s $450 annual fee, but I cannot understand why anyone would skip the card because of the annual fee. For the first year, the Air Travel Credit, at $500, is worth more than the $450 annual fee.

The Air Travel Credit is designed to offset air fares, baggage fees, award fees, lounge access, and some in-flight purchases. It resets after your December statement closes each year, so if you get theCiti Prestige® Card, you can use the Air Travel Credit for $250 in 2015 and $250 in early 2016 before a second annual fee is due.

How does the $250 Air Travel Credit Work?

When Do You Get the Credit?

Each time your statement closes, charges on that statement that coded as Air Travel are credited back to your account until $250 in credits are received for the calendar year.

I used my entire $250 credit for 2015 up on my first statement. I’ll get a new $250 Air Travel Credit starting in January 2016, and I will undoubtedly use it up before my second annual fee is due in May 2016. That means I will have gotten $500 in free airfare and award fees for my first $450 annual fee. I already come out ahead before factoring in my 40,000 bonus points, airport lounge access, $100 Global Entry credit, three free rounds of golf, and the fourth night free on paid hotel stays.

Here’s what my first statement of my Citi Prestige looks like on citi.com:

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 2.36.26 AM

Let’s take a look at my highlights. On the top, you can see that I got the full $250 Air Travel Credit. It’s not an all-or-nothing credit; I just happened to use it all this month. If I had only made the $24.40 Delta charge, I would have gotten a $24.40 credit.

Next I highlighted in yellow all the charges that coded as Air Travel. The six charges are two award taxes, two airfares, and two bag fees.

  • $24.40: Delta award tax on an award from Chicago to Buenos Aires that I haven’t written about yet
  • $138.17: Turkish airfare for flights from Vilnius, Lithuania to Belgrade, Serbia this summer
  • $23.36: Singapore award tax on an award from Washington to Madrid that flies United
  • $25: Alaska Airlines bag fee
  • $15: Hawaiian Airlines bag fee
  • $97.47: Norwegian airfare on a flight from Madrid to Helsinki this summer

That adds up to $323.40 in Air Travel charges, so I got the maximum $250 Air Travel Credit.

I can’t imagine any reader of this blog not maxing out the credit each calendar year, since we hopefully all book enough award trips or low cost carrier flights.

Your PDF or mailed statement shows how much of your Air Travel Credit you’ve used, and how much you have left. Mine is all gone.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.50.44 AM

What didn’t earn the credit?

On my Alaska Airlines flight, I paid $1.99 to watch a TV show, a purchase which was processed by Gogo, not Alaska Airlines. I highlighted the charge in red on my statement because it coded as Computer Networking and did not trigger the Air Travel Credit.

Do You Earn Points on Your Purchases That Are Refunded with the Air Travel Credit?

One of the category bonuses of the Citi Prestige® Card is 3x on Air Travel and Hotels. I actually earned 4x on my purchases that were refunded by the Air Travel Credit.

This was the summary of my first statement.
Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.51.19 AM

Notice I had only $372.80 in purchases. As I mentioned above, $323.40 of that was Air Travel. The other $49.40 was the Gogo TV purchase and a purchase at a Bogota supermarket (that I made because theCiti Prestige® Card has no foreign transaction fees.)

Here’s the statement of ThankYou Points earned.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.51.29 AM

 

  • 970 = 3 x $323.40 in Air Travel purchases
  • 49 = 1 x my Gogo and supermarket purchases
  • The last 250 must be an unexpected bonus for clearing my $250 Air Travel Credit

That means I earned 4x total on purchases that were refunded by my Air Travel Credit.

Bottom Line

To summarize:

  • Airfare, baggage fees, and award taxes all definitely are covered by the Citi Prestige $250 annual Air Travel Credit. Pretty much any charge from the airline, including upgrade fees, lounge access, and inflight food and beverage purchases should count too.
  • Charges processed by Gogo do not count.
  • You get any credit you’ve earned at the same time as your statement closes.
  • You earn 4x ThankYou Points per dollar on all purchases covered by the Air Travel Credit.
  • My Air Travel Credit resets in January 2016, so I’l get $500 worth of Air Travel Credits for my first $450 annual fee.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

 

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