Use Air Travel Credits to Get Your Prestige Card Annual Fee-Free

citi prestige

There’s been a lot of buzz regarding the newly revamped Citi Prestige credit card lately, but the $450 annual fee is certainly hard to overlook.

For some, it’s probably a deal killer seeing that it’s $450. That’s not cheap. But there’s a simple way to offset the entire cost of this enormous fee and actually put some money back in your pocket!

Use the Credit for Airfare!

The beauty of the Citi Prestige card is that it comes with a $250 air travel credit that can be used toward anything airline-related.

Not just in-flight purchases like booze and sandwiches, but actual airline tickets as well, which is a huge advantage over the $200 annual credit offered via the Amex Platinum.

So you can buy airline tickets you were going to purchase anyway and get the money straight back via a statement credit.

For the record, it also works for baggage fees, flight upgrades, award taxes, lounge access, and some in-flight purchases (I’m assuming duty free is excluded).

But what makes it even better is that the air travel credit is an annual benefit, meaning you can take advantage of it twice in 365 days thanks to the way Citi calculates a year.

They go by calendar year from December through the following December, so you could technically get the air travel credit twice in one 365-day period quite easily.

For example, once in June 2015 and a second time in say January 2016, all before your second costly $450 annual fee is charged.

Note: The annual fee is not waived the first year, unlike these other cards.

The net result is $50 back for $500 in travel purchased with the card, assuming you spend $250 twice.

So instead of paying $450 for the privilege of carrying the Prestige card in your wallet, you’re actually getting $50 back. That’s much better, isn’t it?

The caveat, obviously, is that you need to spend $500 on air travel. You don’t actually get $500 back in your pocket.

The only way you could actually get the money back is by purchasing airline gift cards and reselling them.

Or perhaps buying airfare or an airline gift card on someone’s behalf and having them pay you back.

Either way, it should take most, if not all, of the sting out of the $450 annual fee.

I purchased a Southwest Airlines gift card for $250 off their website and received a credit two days later. I think I received it so quickly because my statement happened to close two days after the purchase. In any case it was quick and easy!

flight purchase

air travel credit

On that statement it also said, “Congratulations you have made the most of your flight experience!
You have used your $250.00 Air Travel Credit for the year. The credit will reset to $250.00 after your December 2015 billing cycle.”

I’ve heard you can even possibly get three airline credits in one year if you time it to perfection while only paying a single annual fee, but that might call for some excellent time management.

Citi Prestige $250 Air Travel Credit FAQ:


  • This is an annual calendar year benefit for purchases made from December through the following December
  • It works for purchases made by the primary cardholder or an authorized user, but can only be used once (you can’t get the credit for each user; I wish!)
  • You need to be current at the time of the statement credit fulfillment
  • It can take 1-2 billing cycles for the credit to appear, but mine appeared in two days
  • There’s a chance the merchant won’t accurately identify the transaction as an airline-related purchase. If that happens you can call Citi (phone number on back of card) and ask for the credit
  • You can purchase airline gift cards direct from carrier websites and receive the credit
  • You can get credited over time for multiple flight-related purchases (I just simplified it by making a single $250 purchase)


By Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.

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