Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Banks like to target consumers with different deals in different places, and one of those places is in the bank branch itself.
Sometimes those deals are more generous because the bank already has you there in person and isn’t paying any extra to advertise once you’re there, so they may lure you in with a higher intro deal than you’ll see elsewhere.
Chase does this from time to time (though as of August, no longer does it for the United products), and Citi also does it with its ThankYou and AAdvantage travel cards.
On a recent field check of Citi in-branch deals, the AAdvantage card’s deal was a bit worse than the long-standing 50,000 miles for $3,000 in 3 months, clocking in at $15,000 in 12 months needed to get it, and the Executive AAdvantage was the same 60,000 miles as available online, but also with a higher $15,000 spending requirement.
Though the Executive AAdvantage offers a lower $350 annual fee for Citi Gold clients (versus its usual $450).
But we found one offer that stood out from what you usually see:
60,000 points for the Citi Prestige Card.
That’s versus 30,000 points for the best public deal you’ll find online.
What’s the catch?
Like the other in-branch deals, you’ll need to spend $15,000 on the card within the first year to be eligible for the full 60,000 points.
That works out to 4x points per dollar on your spending, OK, but not as high as most intro deals which are often 10x points per dollar.
But 60,000 ThankYou points on the Prestige can get you over $950 in American Airlines or US Airways cash airfare. You can use the points to book any American or US Airways flight, with every point worth 1.6 cents, so you don’t have to think about award availability.
Just book like cash and you’ll even earn miles on the tickets like they’re cash tickets. Or, you can transfer your points to several international airline mile programs for potentially more value.
It also offers a lower $350 annual fee for Citi Gold clients.
Why get it now?
While this intro deal itself isn’t the biggest, it is one of the more immediately valuable.
And you’ll want to get this card before October 19.
That’s because then they will stop offering one of the most valuable perks of the ThankYou Prestige: a companion ticket good for free airfare anywhere in the world.
If you are savvy and travel to Asia or other expensive destinations you can save $1,000 or more with this benefit.
The only catch is that you must pay the taxes on the companion ticket, which for places like Asia are usually less than $300, for domestic tickets less than $50, but for some trips to Europe can be as high as $700 or $800.
Anyone who gets the card before October 19 can book a companion ticket for travel until October 18, 2015.
You just need to make the booking within one year of getting your card. So if you open your account on August 18, you’ll need to book the companion ticket by August 18, 2015, with your travel no later than October 18, 2015.
Also get $450 in cash value
The card comes with an annual $200 airline fee credit that can be used for any airline expense of less than $100, including gift cards, baggage fees, and more.
But that credit rises to $250 in 2015, and you get it each calendar year. It also will become eligible for any airline expense, including airfare, and the full $250 can be used at once.
So it’s almost impossible not to get the full $250 in value out of the credit if you fly at least once a year.
If you apply for the card now, you’ll get the $200 credit for this year, which can be applied for airline charges of $100 or less, and the $250 credit next year which can be used for any sized airline charge, including airfare.
The credit becomes active in January each year, so you don’t have to wait until the anniversary of your card to use the second credit, and you’ll get $450 in cash value your first year. That’s enough to fully offset the annual fee you pay.
What else is changing?
There are a number of other changes in October, but the most important are:
Flight points are ending. The card will stop offering ‘flight points,’ which earn points based on the miles you fly.
New bonuses on spending. The card will move to 3x points on airfare purchases and 2x points on dining and entertainment, making it a strong contender with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Priority Pass Select added. You’ll get full Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you free access to over 700 airport lounges, and is the same card offered to holders of the Platinum Card from American Express. That’s in addition to free access to all American Airlines Admirals Clubs for you and up to 2 guests.
Free hotel night. You’ll get a free 4th night at just about any hotel worldwide. You just need to book your hotel with MasterCard’s travel agent, Carlson Wagonlit, and the rates they offer are usually the same as those on a hotel’s own website.
But despite these changes, this card can be a great value with this special in-branch deal. You essentially have no annual fee the first year thanks to the flight credits, get $950 in American or US Airways flight value, and get free access to American Admirals Clubs.
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