The Citi Prestige® Card 50k offer expired. You can find the current 40k offer here: Citi Prestige® Card

I’ve deleted all links from the rest of the post since it is out of date.

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The Citi Prestige® Card is one of the very best credit cards for earning free travel. That’s partially because of its 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open and partially because of its perks like a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, lounge access, and a $100 Global Entry application credit.

I was explaining the card to my Dad the other day, and I realized how all the benefits could work together for humongous savings on a single vacation.

Let’s imagine a trip for two from New York to San Francisco for four days. If one person has the Citi Prestige® Card, over $3,800 can be saved:

  • $100 on TSA Precheck
  • $2,398 on flights (one direction in flat bed)
  • $1,046 on hotel
  • $50 on baggage fees
  • $100 on lounge access

Let’s work through the example, which should be illuminating even if you travel solo, don’t live in New York, don’t golf, etc.

Before the Trip

Once you get the card, you should apply for Global Entry and set up a 20 minute interview with Customs and Border Patrol. Pay the $100 application fee with your Citi Prestige® Card, and it is refunded as a statement credit. (If you already have Global Entry, you can pay someone else’s $100 application fee with your credit.)

A successful application gets you Global Entry on international trips and TSA Precheck on all trips. TSA Precheck will come in handy on this domestic vacation as long as you both have TSA Precheck. Otherwise, one of you will speed through Precheck and have to wait for your partner after security.

Money Saved on Precheck: $100

Booking the Flights

There are three ways to get free or cheap airfare with the Citi Prestige® Card:

  1. Use the $250 Air Travel Credit
  2. Use your ThankYou Points like cash toward the purchase of any flight
  3. Transfer your ThankYou Points to airline miles and book an award

I’ll use all three methods in this example.

One Way with $250 Credit / Pay with Points

Let’s book the outbound from New York to San Francisco in economy on American Airlines. Why American Airlines? Well the airlines almost always exactly match each other’s prices on the JFK to San Francisco route, but American Airlines has a special relationship with the Citi Prestige® Card, so that you get a higher value for your points when redeeming them for American Airlines flights.

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On thankyou.com, book one person one way from New York to San Francisco for 11,756 ThankYou Points + $0. That’s a rate of 1.6 cents per point for your ThankYou Points.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 12.05.43 AMBook the other person one way from New York to San Francisco on the exact same flight on aa.com with your Prestige. The $188.10 charge will be cancelled out when the statement closes and a $188.10 credit posts. This is part of your calendar year $250 Air Travel Credit.

One Way with Business Class Award

For the return, let’s book a flat bed, so that the couple arrives home rested. United’s flights from Newark to San Francisco and Los Angeles all feature flat beds in Business Class.

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You can book Saver award space on United flights with Singapore miles according to the Singapore award chart, often for fewer miles than United would charge for the same flights. Plus Singapore never collects fuel surcharges on United flights.

United charges 25,000 miles one way within the continental United States for First or Business Class. Singapore charges 20,000 miles one way for the same award space. You can transfer ThankYou Points to Singapore at a 1:1 rate, and they appear in your Singapore account the next day.

You can search for Saver award space on united.com, and then call Singapore to book the space for 20,000 Singapore miles + $6 per person. Here is award space in flat bed Business Class four days after our outbound flights.

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These Business Class beds are very expensive with cash, at $1,022 one way, but the couple gets them for miles + $6 each.

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The couple spends $12 and 51,756 ThankYou Points on flights instead of $2,410.

Money Saved on Flights: $2,398

Booking the Hotel

You can get free hotel stays from the Citi Prestige® Card by transferring ThankYou Points to Hilton points and booking Hilton awards. I don’t like the transfer rate of 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton points though. I’d probably want 1,000 to 3,000 before I considered the transfer.

Or you can get the fourth night free on four night hotel stays by booking with your Citi Prestige® Card through the Citi Prestige Travel Concierge. As I explained in “At What Hotels Can You Get the Fourth Night Free with Your Prestige and Other Questions Answered,” you don’t get 25% off the stay, you literally get a credit that matches the cost of the fourth night plus taxes on that night.

At the Grand Hyatt San Francisco, that’s the same difference because the dates mentioned in this post have the same price each night.

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You’d get 25% off this bill or a savings of $648.13 if you booked these four nights with your Citi Prestige® Card through the Citi Prestige Travel Concierge.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 12.15.13 AMBut at some hotels, there is a huge difference between weekend and weeknight prices that you can take advantage of.

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At the Parc 55 San Francisco on our dates, the weekends are $539 plus taxes, and the weekdays are $899 plus taxes.
Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 12.14.45 AMThe free fourth night would be worth $899 + the 16.4% taxes, or $1,046.44 off the listed price.

Money Saved on Hotel: $1,046.44

Days of Travel

Checked Bags

Let’s assume each person wants to check a bag. American charges $25 per person for the first checked bag. Charge that $50 to your Citi Prestige® Card, and you will get it refunded on your next statement through the $250 Air Travel Credit.

United offers you two free checked bags each for flying its p.s. Business Class service from San Francisco to Newark.

The couple saves $100 roundtrip on checking one bag each through these benefits, but the free checked bags on the United flight were already accounted for in its ticket price.

Lounge Access

The Citi Prestige® Card offers free American Airlines Admirals Club access when you fly American Airlines, which this vacation does on the outbound. Only one cardholder is needed because he can bring in two guests for free. Here’s my recent experience in the Admirals Club in Miami. Our couple can expect free alcohol, soup, and light snacks as well as a comfortable place to sit and get free wifi before the flight.

Flying United p.s. Business Class grants free access to the United Club in San Francisco. Again our couple can expect free alcohol, light snacks, and a comfortable place to relax.

Normally lounge access is $50 per person per visit. This is $200 saved by the free lounge access, though the free United lounge access was accounted for in the money saved on the p.s. ticket.

Money Saved on Days of Travel: $150

Golf

The Citi Prestige® Card offers cardholders three free rounds of golf per calendar year at over 2,400 public and private courses. Check out my full post on the Prestige’s golf benefit. Some of the nicest courses included are the TPC courses. One TPC course is among the San Francisco courses you can play for free with this benefit.

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The TPC Harding Park normally goes for $176 on the weekend.

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Money Saved on Golf: $176

Total

By using 52,000 ThankYou Points and most of one year’s $250 Air Travel Credit (that would reset in 2017) plus other benefits like the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, the Global Entry statement credit, and free rounds of golf, one couple can save over $3,800 on a four day trip to San Francisco. Only one member of the couple needs to be a Citi Prestige® cardholder to get the benefits in this post.

This example is admittedly cherry-picked, but hopefully it illustrates the many ways that the Citi Prestige® Card can be used by travelers to save money and upgrade their experience.

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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