Here’s our review of the Citi Prestige MasterCard credit card issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.
Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer Miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 21st September 2018.
Annual fee: $535.00/yr
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 miles
Local earn rate: 1.32 miles per $1*
Overseas earn rate: 2.02 miles per $1*
Bonus overseas earn rate: 2.42 miles per $1**
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income: $120,000/yr
* – relationship bonus for 0-5 years included
** – 1st October 2018 to 31st December 2018, including 0-5 years relationship bonus
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The annual fee on this card is quite high (over 2.5x that of its little brother, the Citi PremierMiles card). Moreover, as the 200,000 Citi Dollars (80,000 miles) sign up bonus promotion has now ended, you are only getting 62,500 Citi Dollars (25,000 miles) for your sign up fee. However, because there is no promotion – there are also no minimum spending requirements. Also at each renewal, on payment of the annual fee, you will be credited another 62,500 Citi Dollars (25,000 miles).
These Citi Dollars can be transferred into one of 12 frequent flyer schemes (including KrisFlyer) at a 2.5:1 ratio.
As we value KrisFlyer miles at 2 cents each, those 25,000 miles are worth at least $500.00 against future redemptions, so the card isn’t far off paying for itself.
Citi Bank uses a confusing array of terms for the points that their credit cards accrue. Citi Dollars, ThankYou Points, etc.
Basically, any “points” shown in your account, transfer into frequent flyer miles at a 2.5:1 ratio e.g. the sign up bonus is 62,500 points = 25,000 frequent flyer miles
I’ve held this card since 2016 and have always been charged the annual fee – moreover, it explains in the terms and conditions that the annual fee is mandatory.
This is probably due to the “prestige” nature of the card and because I actually only use it for a select number of transactions and direct the majority of my spending towards better points earning cards.
Sadly, since the 80,000 miles sign up bonus finished – nothing new has surfaced. Just the normal 25,000 miles will be awarded at sign up.
The Citi Prestige card earns basic rate of 3.25 Citi Dollars (1.3 miles) for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and 5 Citi Dollars (2.0 miles) for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency).
For transactions between 1st October 2018 and 31st December 2018 the overseas earn rate increases to 6 Citi Dollars (2.4 miles) per $1.
However, with the Citi Prestige card, there is also a Relationship Bonus.
The table here shows how it works. For the normal banking customer, it’s 5% in the first 5 years – more if you are Citigold.
So surely, 5% means 1.365 miles per local dollar, right? Wrong! That’s what I assumed, and so was understandably surprised at the end of my first card year when far fewer ‘bonus’ miles showed up.
This is actually very sneakily applied and has been mistaken on other reviews and forums in the past.
Actually the percentages referred to in this table are applied to your total overall spend and then paid in Citi Dollars, not miles e.g. spend $10,000 (locally or overseas) and at the 5% rate you will be rewarded with 500 Citi Dollars, which equates to 200 miles or a 2% bonus – not a great deal.
Here’s the proper explanation from a different section of the Citi website:
Frankly, it’s so confusing we have created a table to make it easier to understand what your actual miles earning rates will be, with the relevant bonuses applied.
So assuming you aren’t Citigold, after 10 years the earn rate rises to a maximum of 1.36 miles per $1 spent locally and 2.06 miles per $1 spent overseas.
I was thinking to myself “who keeps a credit card for 10 years?” only to discover my dusty old HSBC Premier MasterCard lurking the back of my wallet… so apparently – me!
|A note about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
Beware the ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ (DCC) offer you’ll often experience overseas when paying with your Visa or MasterCard. It’s very common when settling your overseas hotel bill, for example, to be offered to pay in SGD instead of local currency. This is a terrible idea, because:
a) you’ll suffer financially, even after the credit card foreign exchange fee is accounted for. If you remember the SGD amount you were offered to pay, then pay in local currency instead, once the transaction appears on your credit card statement you’ll generally find they were scamming you, you’d have paid at least 2% more using DCC.
b) you will earn credit card miles at the local spend rate if you accept DCC, because the transaction will take place in SGD, not the local currency.
In other words, you’ll pay more, and lose miles. Always insist on paying in the local currency of the country you are in.
How much is a Citi Dollar worth?
Anything from 0.3 cents (if you use them as a cash rebate against your statement balance) to 0.8 cents (if you convert them to airline miles, like KrisFlyer miles).
Clearly, the 0.3 cents option is terrible and represents a poorer return than you would expect to achieve from many cashback cards, so don’t do that. Conversion into airline miles is the best deal.
What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?
It’s the same for all 12 frequent flyer schemes which are part of the program, $25 each time you transfer from Citi to airline miles (like KrisFlyer miles).
Is there a minimum transfer amount?
Another snag is that since March 2017 the minimum amount of Citi Dollars you can transfer into airline miles is 25,000 (10,000 miles), and they must then be in blocks of 25,000.
So if you have 99,999 Citi Dollars, and you don’t have time to tick it over buying a quick pint of milk, you’ll only be able to transfer 75,000 Citi Dollars across to KrisFlyer (and will be left with 24,999 in your Citi Dollars account).
On the plus side, Citi Dollars never expire and so unless you have an urgent or specific redemption need, there should be no harm in letting them accumulate.
How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?
The official line is “up to 5 working days”. In reality, the last few times I converted, it took around 2 days both times. Not a bad turnaround.
Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?
Citi Dollars can be transferred at 2.5:1 ratio into the following frequent flyer programs:
- Air France / KLM (Flying Blue)
- British Airways (Executive Club)
- Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)
- Garuda Miles
- Malaysia Airlines (Enrich)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways (Privilege Club)
- Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)
- Thai (Royal Orchid Plus)
and 2.5:1 into the following hotel loyalty programs:
- IHG Rewards
- Club Carlson
This is where this card really shows its value and the following perks are why I keep it in my wallet:
- Prestige Priority Pass membership, unlimited lounge access (usually US$399 per year) and complimentary guest access (usually US$27).
- International Complimentary Night Hotels and Resorts Program – 4th night free in any hotel in the world, unlimited usage, when booked through the Citi Concierge.
- Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi Access – even the top rate paid account (US$39 per month) only gives you 2,000 minutes – this is completely unlimited!
- Esso and Shell fuel savings
- 25 Citi Dollars (10 miles) per $1 spent on hotel stays with Kaligo (this can work very well – see our article here)
- 8 one-way complimentary airport limousine transfers (minimum spend of $1,500 per quarter applies)
- Complimentary JetQuay access for you and a guest (restrictions apply)
- Many more benefits, listed in full on the Citi Prestige microsite
The unlimited Prestige Priority Pass plus guest is a must for any frequent traveller who may not have airline status or doesn’t always fly in a premium cabin. When travelling long haul, we always book business or first but on the shorter hops, the expense simply isn’t worth it.
This still allows you lounge access or even in some locations, vouchers in airport restaurants and bars. Being able to guest someone in for free too is great when travelling with a colleague or client (it usually costs US$27 per guest).
The International Complimentary Night benefit is genuinely an excellent deal. You must stay for at least 4 nights and the concierge must be able to book the hotel for you.
However, we have really pushed the concierge over the last 18 months, getting them to book via our hotel loyalty programs, corporate discount portals and various other quite complicated and obscure routes. They have never disappointed.
The concierge will even check for you to see if they can get the same hotel for a cheaper rate (they once found a villa in Bali I wanted to book, for $200 less!).
We conservatively estimate that this perk saves us $2,500-$3,000 per year in free hotel nights. Obviously, we travel much more than average and the amount saved depends on how much the hotel’s per night cost is – but there are some great potential savings to be gained here.
Note: The International Complimentary Night Benefit has taken a bit of a beating over the years – they no longer pay taxes and it cannot be used in combination with Kaligo, but it’s still a great rebate. Just be careful to actually pay for the room charge with your Citi Prestige card otherwise you will not be refunded the money (they do check!)
Similarly, the unlimited Boingo access is a super perk for any frequent international traveller. Download the app, enter your details (having signed up through the MasterCard portal) and then whenever a Boingo hotspot is in-range you can use it freely.
Even better, a growing number of airlines have signed up to Boingo meaning that whilst travelling at 36,000ft, you can stay connected, for free. When you log in you will be warned about additional charges but worry not, if you dig into the terms and conditions, the MasterCard scheme is not subject to this. I actually wrote part of this article whilst travelling on a Singapore Airlines A350 – easy access, good speed and, best of all, free.
Here’s a list of current airlines, and it’s growing all the time:
Aer Lingus, Aero Mexico, Air Berlin, Air Europa, Air France, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, American Airlines, ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Etihad Airways, Eurowings, EVA Air, Finnair, Garuda Indonesia, Iberia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Malindo Air, Qatar Airways, Scoot, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, WestJet
Citi doesn’t tend to run many promotions for this card, unlike the PremierMiles Visa. First and foremost this is not a traditional “miles earning” card and their offers, therefore, tend to lean towards lifestyle options such as advance and discounted theatre tickets, discounted car hire, hotel offers etc.
The earning rate on this card is not the best, but there are no minimum spend requirements so you can channel the majority of your spending elsewhere if you wish (e.g. Standard Chartered Visa Infinite).
The ability to transfer miles into several frequent flyer schemes other than KrisFlyer is also a great feature, indeed we often use this card to top up our British Airways Avios balance, which we tend to use for Cathay Pacific first and business class redemptions.
But the real value of this card comes from the perks – 4th night free, Unlimited Boingo, Prestige Priority Pass+guest. If you use them, and use them correctly, they can end up saving you thousands of dollars.
Given that we already explained the annual miles bonus is already worth around $500 in our opinion, you are getting a lot of perks for very little cash ($35!).
If you meet the earning criteria, this card is going to transform your travel experience.
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