The Citi Prestige® Card is one of the top all around cards for its 40,000 point sign up bonus, perks, and bonus categories. For some people, the Citi Prestige® Card‘s biggest perk is lounge access at all Priority Pass lounges worldwide, but for me the biggest perk is the $250 annual Air Travel Credit.

What is the $250 Air Travel Credit?

The Air Travel Credit is designed to offset air fares, baggage fees, award fees, lounge access, and some in-flight purchases.

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, and my entire 2016 credit on my January 2016 statement.

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

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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
  • $138.17: Turkish airfare for flights from Vilnius, Lithuania to Belgrade, Serbia
  • $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

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.

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.

But Some People Say You Can Get $500 in Statement Credits from Citi Prestige

The Air Travel Credit resets after your December statement closes each year, so if you get the Citi Prestige® Card now, you’d have about five months to earn your first $250 statement credit. Then you’d have about seven months to earn your 2017 Air Travel Credit before a second annual fee is due.

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So when people say you can get $500 in Air Travel Credits during your first year as a cardholder, that is absolutely true.

This $500 in Air Travel Credits more than offsets the annual fee for the first year, meaning you are “making money” to enjoy all these other benefits.

  • 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open
  • access to the Priority Pass lounges
  • the fourth night free on hotel stays
  • $100 statement credit to offset the Global Entry application fee
  • 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels
  • 2x points per dollar on dining out and entertainment

Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige® Card changes its offer tomorrow. I don’t think it will be good news, so if you haven’t gotten one of the best all around cards on the market, hurry!

You can get $500 in Air Travel Credits during your first 12 months as a cardholder, as long as you get $250 before 2016 ends and $250 in early 2017. This is in addition to 50,000 bonus points, lounge access, and a host of other killer perks.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

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