I’ve been a big cheerleader of Citibank’s credit card products, and earlier this year I posted about the Citibank Prestige Credit Card being launched in India. The product indeed seeks to take the premium product space that was vacated by the Citibank Ultima, which sort of went downhill last year.

Citibank, with this product, has been put in the same league as American Express Platinum, which wants to target the premium end of the market, what they lovingly call the affluent segment.

Anyhow, when I reviewed the product, I decided to get me one as well. However, I finally went about the process a few days ago and I just received my welcome package late last week which included the cards (including add-ons), a nice booklet about the features and the Priority Passes. Also, I got a call, which invited me and a +1 to a client event which featured Nicolai Friedrich.

I accepted the invitation, and it turned out this was an event for early customers of Citibank’s Prestige Card in Mumbai, to formalise the launch and offer them a World of Unforgettable Experiences. Yep, that was the theme of the evening which was held at Hotel Trident, Nariman Point yesterday, and I could only figure out the theme as we went along.

I arrived at the venue with my Fiancee, and it was pretty much the Citibank way of doing things, understated, but chic.

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We were escorted to a bar, with appetizers and drinks being served in plenty. I was not drinking, but my fiancée tells me the customized wine cocktail she requested was one of the best she’d had in a long while. After the registrations were complete, we were all brought to the main hall for the event, where we were in for a visual and mental treat, with Nicolas displaying his magic/tricks/antics and getting the audience all involved. Hey, they even had an orchestra playing!

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After an hour long session full of magic, if you so want to call it, he did leave the audience with a memorable, i.e., unforgettable experience. Nicolas continued to mingle with the audience later, and show them some more illusions on a personal level. People could not definitely not figure out what happened here, but they all clapped.

One of my favourite illusions was when he borrowed a INR 10 currency note from someone in the audience, made them mark the note, and later convert it/claim to convert it into a INR 1000 currency note. I wish I could give him all the tenners in my pocket and get a 100 times returned from him as well.

Next up, the Executive Chef of The Trident Hotel, Mumbai, Joy Bhattacharya trouped in with his team of chefs. There were no less than six of them on stage, and each one of them had crafted a section of the vast spread on offer for dinner, in line with the global nature of the card and the audience. He requested an audience with the food his team created, and I thought that was a nice touch because at such events, the chefs usually are lost in the background.

While I do confess I click food pictures, yesterday, I was too hungry to be clicking pictures. All I can tell you is there were spreads from Spain, South East Asia, Latin America, Nordics, other parts of Europe and a massive closet full of desserts. I’m sure there was more stuff out there than what I sampled.

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There were business executives from Citibank present, and these are the people responsible for the products that I like. Right from Muge Yuzuak, who is the Country Head for Card Products, Citibank India to the entire team of Citibankers who I can credit or brickbat with features of this or various other products, they were all there.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and on our way out, a box of desserts was also, still on our way out with us.

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It was one interesting evening and I was glad to be a part of it. Of course, the Prestige is now one more option for me to put all my spends on, more so when I am travelling abroad, since I get 2 Prestige Points per INR 100 spent, which convert to 8 airmiles in my book, and hence, one of the best cards to spend out there on when you’re travelling I say!

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 9 Comments

Beginning of this month, Citibank announced its 2x miles promotion for International Spends, which came just in time for the summer season. To be able to get 2x miles on your international spends, you do need to go over here and register for the promotion, and then all your international spends between May 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014 will be counted for awarding upto 25000 bonus PM miles. Remember, the deadline to register is May 31, 2014 and you need to receive an acknowledgement from Citibank within 7 days confirming they received your registration and everything is okay.

You can read further details about the promotion in this blogpost. Here are the detailed terms & conditions.

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A couple of months back, I’d put out some of the feelers I was hearing about Citibank Prestige being launched in India. I’m glad to report the rumours are mostly true! You see, Citibank went downhill with the Ultima, then decided to reinvent the product as the Citibank Prestige in India. Ultima will now be an invite-only card again going head to head with the American Express Centurion in India.

The Citibank Prestige has been on offer since about a month now, and is looked at as a lifestyle card, however, I look at it as a great travel credit card. Lets have a look at all the features of this product.

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Citibank Prestige is offered as a Visa Infinite card in India, taking it up a notch from the other Citibank offerings in India which have been at best at the Signature level.

Sign-up Bonuses/Annual Renewal Bonuses: Citibank Prestige has a pretty large bonus, and it comes with 2500 points on sign-up which will get converted to 10000 airmiles of your choice into AI Flying Returns, SQ KrisFlyer, BA Avios, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Eva Air, Cathay Pacific, Delta airmiles or Hilton HHonors, Taj Inner Circle and IHG reward points. You get 5000 miles with Etihad Gold and 5000 BA Avios as well. You also get INR 10,000 worth of gift vouchers from the Taj or ITC Hotels depending upon your preference. Both these bonuses are valid for each membership year you sign up for, and are sort of paying you back your fees of INR 20,000.

Fees: The Card comes at a fee of INR 20,000 plus taxes per annum.

Eligibility: A reader posted that the gross income per annum for this card is about INR 40 Lakhs, though this is not validated by the Bank. So you may be able to get this for less as well.

Features: The card comes with quite some power packed features.

  • Etihad Guest Gold: Primary Cardholders get Gold membership and 5000 bonus miles in the first year of membership. In the current scenario of their tie-up with Jet Airways, this can be a very good way to get lounge access while flying Jet Airways. Also, if you transfer 20000 miles into Etihad Guest in the first 6 months of your membership, you get another 6000 miles as bonus.
  • BA Executive Club Upgrade: On taking a flight with BA, you get upgraded one-tier up from your current BA Executive Club Tier. You also get 5000 Avios bonus one-time.
  • Hotels: Citi has tied up into the Visa Luxury Hotels program and are offering a free night for every continuous 4 night stay (discounting the 4th night). You also get 20% discount on BAR rates at Six Senses Spa properties around the world. At various chains in India such as the Taj, ITC Hotels, Leela and The Lalit, you get upto 20% off BAR rates as well.
  • HHonors Gold: Visa Infinite card holders are eligible to get HHonors Gold complimentary this year. Hence, Prestige Card holders will get this benefit as well. Like you know, it gets you a shot at upgrades, and also free breakfast at Hilton properties. Status will be valid till March 2015. Primary as well as supplementary cardmembers get this benefit.
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade Tier: Jade is the mid-tier for Shangri-La hotels. It gets you free breakfast and double occupancy for the price of single occupancy. Primary as well as supplementary cardmembers get this benefit.
  • Taj Epicure Plus & Inner Circle Gold Tier: Taj InnerCircle is the loyalty program of Taj Hotels. You get upgraded to their Gold Tier. You also get membership to the Taj Epicure Plus Dining program where you get 25% of your meal cost back as points.
  • Complimentary Meet & Greet and Limo Service: Members will get twice a year, complimentary meet & greet services and limousine transfers (1-way) which can be used between the primary and add-on card members.
  • Priority Pass: All cardholders and their add-on card holders will get an unlimited use Priority Pass each (valid till December 31, 2014).
  • Golf: Complimentary greens access at 18 golf courses across the Asia Pacific.
  • Complimentary Sailing: If you happen to be in Mumbai, you get a 1.5 hour sailing session complimentary.

Earning points: You earn 1 point for every 100 INR spent in India, and 2 points for every 100 INR spent in foreign currency. Also, if you are a CitiGold or Citi Private Client, you get a bonus on your points depending on your spends on the card in a year:

  • INR 5-10 Lakhs get 10% bonus
  • INR 10-15 Lakhs get 20% bonus
  • INR 15 Lakhs+ get 30% bonus

Redeeming points: Like I mentioned above, each point can be converted to 4 miles from the following programs: AI Flying Returns, SQ KrisFlyer, BA Avios, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Eva Air, Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles, Delta SkyMiles. You can also transfer to HHonors, Taj IC and IHG Rewards Club.

Bottomline: I find this a very very attractive proposition for those of you who are frequent flyers. There are other features I haven’t wrote about here, such as USD 50000 travel insurance, but look at the whole package and you’ll see how it makes sense for a sum of 20,000 INR.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 3 Comments

PremierMiles is one of my most used credit card in India, and I definitely love it when they add more and more transfer partners. There has been a recent addition, and this is the Qatar Airways Privilege Club, where you can now transfer your PM for a 1:1 ratio. To be sure, Qatar Airways is […]

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You know it only too well. I love PremierMiles. There are at lease 2-3 times promotional spending periods during a year, and even otherwise I earn 10 miles per INR 100 on airline spends, and 4 miles per INR 100 spend on every other spend. The last time they offered double miles, I went home […]

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A couple of weeks back I wrote about the Citibank Prestige Credit Card, which I expect to be offered by Citibank as a replacement to the Ultima as of April 2014. There are a lot more signup benefits which will be on their way, and some of them are enlisted below: Etihad Gold: The cardholder […]

Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 4 Comments

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 10 Comments

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Last week, I wrote about my 2013 Mileage Credit Card strategy, where I told you guys I managed to get something about 264,000 miles basis credit cards issued in India for the full calendar year. For 2014, here are the credit cards I am looking at having in my wallet. Take note that while I […]

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