A couple of weeks back, I reviewed the Citibank Premier Miles Credit Card for all of you. Too bad, as a fallout of the breakup between Citibank and Jet Airways, Citibank is forced to revise the product proposition, and the earlier product is no longer on the market. To help you choose if to go with the Citibank Premier Miles credit card or not, I review the new card product for you below.
Citibank is currently offering to switch all existing Citibank Jet Airways Credit Card holders to this card product by June 30.
Sign-up bonus: If you are signing on for the card afresh, you will be offered 2 complimentary ticket codes which allow you to book domestic flight segments at least 15 days in advance on any airline in India. These codes have to be used via the Premier Miles Portal and you get a base fare waiver of upto INR 1,500 on your per ticket.
Additionally, all card holders, whether new, or switching from the Jet Airways Citibank credit cards, will be offered 10,000 Premier Miles bonus in their card account after making the first purchase of at least INR 1,000.
Fee: For new signups, the fee is INR 3,000 per annum, plus taxes. You get 3,000 Premier Miles in your account for paying the fee. For those cardholders switching from the Citibank Jet Airways CC, the fee will be pegged at INR 1,000 plus taxes per annum.
Eligibility: Not publicly disclosed.
Features: Considering I hold the older version, I can say this is a stripped-down version of the earlier product offering in India.
The Premier Miles credit card comes with access to the Premier Miles portal like mentioned above, where only Premier Miles customers can book their hotels or tickets. You get 10 Premier Miles / INR 100 spent on your airline,hotel and travel bookings made via this website. You also get 10 Premier miles / INR 100 spent on your airline bookings made directly with the airlines (via websites, callcenters and ticketing offices), however, a limit of INR 5,00,000 per calendar year has now been imposed for earning 10 PM/INR 100 on airline reservations. After that, you get the regular earning rate of 4 PM/INR 100.
The new variant launched is a Visa Signature card, so it offers the benefits of access to the Visa Signature lounge program, which is valid till 30th September 2012. The lounge properties include all the Plaza Premium Lounges in India, Singapore, HK, Malaysia,Canada and Oman. It also counts in the Mumbai lounges offered by Celebrations and Carnations. For some reason, unlike the MaserCard program, the Visa program does not have unlimited visits but 5 Visits per Quarter imposed on the card. Here are the T&C (in PDF). The Priority Pass benefit has been withdrawn (after customer research, no less ).
Premier Miles: The reason I loved the PM card was quite simply, the PMs itself, and the unlimited ability to earn them. That, for one, has been curtailed. Also, this product is now a funny concoction. This is an Indian credit card, however, does not offer access to 2 of the Indian airlines loyalty programs any more! Overnight, Jet Airways’ Jet Privilege program and Kingfisher Airlines KingClub program was exited from the program, and now the only Indian airline program you can transfer into is Air India’s Flying Returns. You also have Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific’s programs to transfer into. They all transfer into 1:1 points. Premier Miles never expire. (Sources have told me Avios and Delta Skymiles may be added as program partners soon, but till it is confirmed, this is a rumor).
Earning Premier Miles: Like I’ve mentioned earlier, for people who manage and book and their own travel plans, this card is for you. While Citibank has capped the ability to earn the 10 PM/100 Rs. to only INR 5,00,000, the ability remains unlimited via their own PremierMiles portal. However, be aware the card portal cannot handle complicated routings.
For any other spend, however, Citibank has increased the capability to earn to 4 PM/INR 100. This is a significant increase for the general spends category and I can see significant benefits coming your way with that change.
Redeem Premier Miles: The Premier Miles card offers the capability to transfer to the 4 programs listed above on a 1:1 ratio.
Citibank also claims to have revised their Premier Miles redemption charts for offering redemption via their own PM website. For Domestic Redemptions, the burn ratios have been brought down slightly, for instance, 10,450 miles for a BOM-DEL redemption instead of the 10,500 miles for a full-service Y redemption usually needed on Jet Airways. However, a new rider has been introduced, where for bookings inside 3 days of travel date, double Premier Miles will be needed. While my bookings are usually not last minute, this could be a disadvantage for some of you who may decide to redeem last minute.
The real changes are on the international redemptions, or so I am told. Citibank is apparently trying to work out redemptions at a rate which is lower than the airline’s own redemption rate. How the algorithm works is something I am working to decode, but this is a nice discovery. I was not enthusiastic about making redemption bookings via the PM website earlier, but this looks good now. Have a look at the redemption chart, for some sectors, which I discovered earlier today.
BOM-BRU on JetPrivilege costs 27,000 Miles on a one-way Y ticket and 54000 on a one-way J ticket. However, Premier Miles is undercutting it by a gorgeous 10%:
No, this does not come for free. The cost of this 10% off is usually an increased cash payout. Have a look below at booking via the Jet Airways website first on the BOM-BRU-BOM segment discussed above.
The cost is 54,000 JP Miles for Y (27,000 JP Miles o-w) Plus INR 23,292.
Now have a look at the booking via the Premier Miles portal.
This is 48,600 Premier Miles (10% less than the JP portal) + INR 26,859.
So, the way I see it, you are making up the difference via cash.
[Update July 2012: No redemptions possible using PremierMiles on Jet Airways]
The other interesting possibility this opens up, is that the booking made via the Premier Miles portal will be in a revenue earning fare class and you will get to earn about 8,000 JP miles on it as well (plus tier bonuses) and you stand the chance for an upgrade. However, I am still to make a redemption to see this happening and hence this is pure speculation till I can confirm this.
Overall assessment: Call me spoilt but Citi did it on their own by first giving me the ‘old’ Premier Miles product. And I love it. I won’t want to trade it for the new 4 PM per everything else product. However, it is a good product still, not a great one yeah, but a good one nevertheless.
However, I am told, the old product holders will also be gradually receiving communication from Citi to move to the new earning structure shortly.
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