The Citi Prestige Card has become one of the best credit cards around and one that it is constantly among my highest ranked cards. Among the many great benefits of the Prestige card is the ability to redeem ThankYou Points at a 1.6-to-1 ratio for American Airlines tickets. In other words, if the cost of an AA ticket is $480.00, you would only need to redeem 30,000 Prestige TY Points (the same ticket would require 38,400 TY Points earned from the Citi Premier Card).
On paper, this benefit is an indirect way of transferring points from Citi to AA given that the rate for discounted economy and premium cabin fares will often require a similar amount of points than a saver award booking with AA. In some cases, the amount of Prestige TY Points required could even be lower than what AA would require for an award on the same itinerary. And keep in mind that if you redeem Prestige TY Points for AA tickets you are for all intents and purposes buying a paid-ticket, which means you will earn miles and be able to upgrade your ticket, neither of which would happen on an award ticket.
Unfortunately, I have began noticing a trend that makes this Citi Prestige benefit kind of a myth and borderline misleading in some cases. The reason for this is that Citi uses a travel agency (Connexions Loyalty, Inc.) that often does not have access to the same fares offered directly by airlines or by other online travel agencies like Expedia. Let me illustrate this with a real-life example:
If I go to Kayak and search for a business class ticket from San Diego to San Juan on October 16, here is the lowest fare I get:
So Kayak is offering me AA’s web site fare of $402 (actual fare is $401.40). Expedia has access to the same itinerary for the same fare:
Therefore, if Citi had access to the same fare, I could purchase this itinerary for only 25,088 Prestige TY Points, which is almost exactly the same amount of miles AA would require for an award on this itinerary (25,000 miles). However, not only does Citi not have access to the same fare, but the fare they are offering for the same itinerary is 2.5 times higher than what is offered by AA and Expedia:
Therefore, instead of only needing to redeem 25,088 Prestige TY Points you would need to redeem 68,415 Prestige TY Points for the same itinerary! What good is it to be able to get so much more value by redeeming Prestige TY Points for AA tickets if the fares quoted for those tickets are significantly more expensive than what is available elsewhere?!
This is not something that will happen every time you try to redeem Prestige TY Points for AA tickets. However, I have noticed this trend enough lately to begin considering Prestige TY Points to be a little less valuable than before. If this is the main reason you have a Citi Prestige Card, perhaps it is time you do the same.
I did complain to Citi about this and, based on their response, they do not seem to care at all.
Have you experienced similar problems trying to redeem Prestige TY Points for AA tickets?