Safaris, Maps, and the Citi Prestige MasterCard

I’ve had travel on the brain non-stop over the past several weeks! We’re in the midst of planning our South African adventure and that’s been a challenge, to say the least! Who knew that safaris fill up more than a year in advance?! Probably many people but one of those people was not me. Until now. If you have a safari you’re eyeing, you’d be served well by booking way in advance… And if you have any thoughts on doing Victoria Falls on a budget, I’d love to hear them!

Those of you who know me well, know that I like maps. They’re not just beautiful to look at (in my opinion) but they’re also very useful to me in my job. I’ve had one crumpled on the love seat in my office for maybe a year now. Every time someone comes in to talk with me while I’m working, they partially sit on it, crumpling it some more. After this happened maybe one hundred times, I went and got a quote on how much it would be to get it matted. Let’s just say $150 to matte a $15 map is not in our budget. But this weekend, I had an epiphany. What about hangers? Long story short, this is what I ended up with!


I thought it was a genius idea until I googled it and saw that hundreds of other people had the same idea. Oh well, I love the end result! Well, minus the wrinkles that I hope might fade with time…

For those of you who read any miles and points blogs (other than this one) you’ve read about the Citi Prestige MasterCard. The big bloggers who get paid when someone is approved using their links push this card hard. I’m guessing that the affiliate payout is pretty hefty. Well, they have yet to convince me that this card is worth the hefty $450 annual fee. That is until this week.

Let’s go over the benefits of the Citi Prestige card:

  • You receive 50,000 Thank You points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months. Thank You points have some potential but fall fairly low on my spectrum of desired points and miles.
  • You receive a $250 airline credit per calendar year. So, in your first card member year, you’d get $500 in airline credits ($250 in 2016 and $250 before your annual fee is due in 2017). We’d use this credit to the fullest so this is a $500 benefit to me.
  • Complimentary access to Admirals Clubs when traveling on an American Airlines ticket. We’ve depleted our AA award accounts with our South Africa trip so who knows when we’ll fly American again.
  • Complimentary access to other lounges through Priority Pass for you and up to two guests or all immediate family members (spouse and children under 18). We love lounge access. This is a huge benefit for us, especially when we travel in coach since food on planes these days is limited or non-existent. (And with a coach flight to see Adele coming up, this would get used soon!)
  • Some sort of golf benefit giving you a few rounds of free golf that I don’t really understand… I’m not a golfer.
  • A statement credit for the $100 application fee for Global Entry. I’d love to give this a go, but all four of us would need it for it to be any good to us and at $100 per person, we’ve just waited in line like everyone else when we re-enter the US. 
  • And lastly, a statement credit is given for the cost of the fourth night on a 4+ night hotel stay booked through the Citi concierge. And this is where my mind has been changed about this card…

Some of you may know that I have a roundish birthday coming up next year and the hope is to spend it with my family and friends in Anguilla. I’ve never been to Anguilla but my twin swears it is heaven on earth and I’m definitely up for some HOE as I head over the hill (is that even a thing anymore?). From what I understand, the beaches are unspoiled and there are only a few (one?) chain hotels. Hmm, unspoiled beaches and few chain hotels… Coincidence? I think not.

But I am a fan of chain hotels because I can use my points that I got from credit cards to pay for them. Alas, that’s not going to be an option for us in Anguilla. And rinky dink hotels in Anguilla are around $350 a night! Whoa, that way exceeds my hotel expense threshold. But, you only turn 40 once, right? Of course, since the planning of this extravaganza began, I’ve been trying to think of a way to bring the hotel costs down. We hope to get there and back using miles so that helps and we will only be eating out probably once a day since we’ll be packing so much food with us, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to reduce the hotel costs.

Well, about a week ago, Citibank changed the concierge services they use so that they are now able to book basically any accommodations, including hotels and bed and breakfasts that are available for booking directly (you can’t book them through third party websites like Travelocity, AirBnB, or Expedia). Before, the concierge was forced to go through Carson Wagonlit and their options were much more limited (I wasn’t able to find one hotel on Anguilla that was bookable through them).

Even though I do not yet have the Citi Prestige card, I called up the concierge twice and inquired about hotels on the island of Anguilla. I was informed by both agents that as long as the hotel can be booked directly through the hotel or B&B’s website, phone number, or email account, the hotel is eligible for the fourth night free benefit.

So now, when you add in the fact that I would be able to save nearly $350 for one night in Anguilla, on top of the other benefits, the get/don’t get analysis points in favor of picking up this card during my next application round.

Generally speaking, I only apply for cards with no annual fees (with the exception of Alaska Airlines although their personal card fee can be negated after spending $1,000 in the first three months… Again, I digress…). But, in the case of the Prestige, I would get and would use $500 worth of airline credits ($250 in 2016 and $250 in 2017). And I would have approximately $350 refunded to me for the Anguilla hotel. That’s in addition to the 50,000 Thank You points I’d get which are worth $500 in gift cards at a minimum and the lounge access for when we don’t travel in business class. All these benefits  well exceed the $450 annual fee and make it worthwhile for me to add this to my card stash.

Now to decide who’s link should I use…


**As usual, I get no compensation whatsoever for any links found in this post.

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