This offer is expired. See the new offer and analysis here.

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The Citi Prestige® Card is the best card on the market. It comes with:

  • 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open
  • $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year
  • free access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges for you and guests
  • 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels
  • the fourth night free on paid hotel stays
  • free rounds of golf
  • $100 rebate for Global Entry

The card has a $450 annual fee that is NOT waived, but as long as you have a plan to maximize the 50,000 bonus points and $250 annual fee credit by getting it twice in your first year with the card, you should come out way ahead.

Here’s how I’d use the 50,000 bonus points to get at least $800 and probably a lot more value.

The $250 Air Travel Credit should be simple to maximize to get $500 worth of statement credits before your next annual fee. The Air Travel Credit refunds to you the first $250 per calendar year that you charge to the Citi Prestige® Card in the categories of:

  • airfare (booked with the airline or an online travel agency like Orbitz)
  • award taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges
  • baggage fees
  • upgrade fees
  • onboard food
  • seat selection fees
  • airline change fees

Get a $250 credit in 2015 for airfare or fees and another in early 2016, and you’ll get $500 worth of credits in your first year with the card.

But there’s one wrinkle. Check the fine print on the Air Travel Credit from the card’s offer page:

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 4.06.55 PM

You see that? “Calendar year” doesn’t mean January 1 to December 31. If means January statement period through December statement period. That means if your statement closes on the 15th each month, your calendar year 2015 is December 16, 2014 to December 15, 2015.

This means two things:

  • You don’t have until December 31, 2015 to make charges that count toward the 2015 statement credit.
  • If you get the Citi Prestige® Card in December, your first 12 statements will be January through December meaning you only get one $250 statement credit in the first 12 months.

That leads me to a conclusion:

Either get the Citi Prestige now or wait until January.

If you get the card now, you will have one statement that closes in 2015. You must get your full $250 credit for 2015 on that statement (which I did easily on my first statement) because the $250 credit resets on your second statement that will come out in January 2016. You’d have 11 statements to get your next $250 credit before your next annual fee.

If you get the card in January, you will will have 11 statements (February through December) to get your first $250 credit and one (January 2017) to get your second $250 credit before your second annual fee.

Bottom Line

Because of the fine print on the $250 Air Travel Credit, you need to get the Citi Prestige® Card now or from January 2016 on in order to get $500 in statement credits from the benefit during your first $450 annual fee.

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