[Unconfirmed] Citi pulls plug on anticipated Strata cards

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File this under “unconfirmed reports”, but we’ve received a tip from a seemingly reliable source that Citi has pulled the plug on its long-rumored “Strata” cards and those cards have been indefinitely put on hold. Doctor of Credit recently reported that these cards were expected to launch soon, but we had previously been told to expect a launch date closer to Q2 next year. I want to emphasize that none of this information is official, but I think it is at least very likely that you’ll be disappointed if you are waiting with bated breath on new Citi cards.

a girl whispering to another girl

We had previously heard some rumored details about the new Citi Strata cards, which included a very large bonus category likely coming on the “Elite” version of the card and an expected launch date in April or May of 2024, but we held off on publishing in part because I was always skeptical that any of this would come to fruition. It’s not that I doubted the source of the information, it’s that I doubted Citi’s commitment. I’d love to see Citi compete with the likes of the Chase Sapphire cards and the Amex Platinum card — I miss the old Citi Prestige card — I just never had much faith that they would actually do it. My impression has long been that Citi has been focusing on the lower end of the market in terms of offering solid cards that have no annual fee, modest welcome bonuses, and relatively limited rewards (a la Citi Custom Cash, Rewards+, and Double Cash) designed for a more “average customer” than those looking for ultra-premium options. It just didn’t seem to me like Citi had much desire to compete in the ultra-premium card space.

Then they launched a newly revamped AAdvantage Executive card a couple of months ago and it gave us some hope that maybe they actually intended to offer a set of premium benefits. The re-introduction of travel protections on that card seemed like a positive development and I felt more optimistic that maybe we would indeed see the Strata cards launched next year as we’d been told.

However, it sounds like things have taken a turn at Citi. They recently announced a major reorganization and it would seem reasonable that perhaps they decided that it just isn’t the right time to focus on a new product launch after all. We were told that the Strata cards have been put on hold — and if “on hold with Citi” isn’t a euphemism for “guzzled into an infinite vortex from which one is likely never to emerge”, I don’t know what is.

Keep in mind that although I think our source is likely reliable here, I would still categorize this as a rumor. It is certainly possible that our source is wrong and these long-rumored cards will launch after all. I wouldn’t bet the farm on a near-term launch, but know that we don’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Big Jeff

Any updates from your source? I was underwhelmed by the WF Autograph Journey launch, but still hoping something worth applying for to come out this year…

Lud

Citibank has a Prestige problem.
The thought I could not keep out of my mind whenever I hear anything about the coming Citi Strata is that of the old “2015 Citi Prestige”. Yeah, that super travel credit card, and that’s the problem I feel Citi is going to have.
No matter what great new travel card they’re planning to launch, it’s going to be in the shadow of the old Prestige. In humble opinion, Citi should re-launch the Prestige like AMEX relaunched the Platinum after the CSR appeared on the scene.

Last edited 4 months ago by Lud
Komma

The Citi Prestige is still offered in places like Singapore. So I’d imagine they could always relaunch it with a few changes.

Andrew

“and relatively limited rewards (a la Citi Custom Cash, Rewards+, and Double Cash) designed for a more “average customer” than those looking for ultra-premium options.”

What’s interesting is there’s a metric ton of value in this seemingly low yield program:

  • Citi DC is the only $0 AF card that gives you unbonused spend earning 2x miles. (Capital One has an AF for their two cards, Chase and Amex have lower multipliers on unbonused spend.) I’ve looked and BoA and Fidelity are the only two I’d consider as alternatives, though they’re cash-back only.
  • Rewards+ has two features – sub-$1 charges do better than 10 points per dollar. If you can find them, it’s a good yield. And the 10% points refund per year (up to 10k points) is nice too.
  • Custom Cash is the super cheat code. 5x on a single category, but you can have multiple cards. Use one for restaurants, one for airfare and one for grocery. Find me another program that gives you 5x for $0 AF.
  • Premier is the staple that you need for transfer partners, but also nice for some 3x categories, in case there’s something the custom cash multiplier doesn’t cover.
Andrew

That’s all to say, I’d love a premium card. But nothing realistically is going to earn more than what they offer already. It would be some sort of “perk program” card, likely.

Andrew

Fair points (particularly on my hyperbole.)

Agreed the slightly higher cpp redemption on points is nice, that is an edge that CSP has.

Regarding the Chase and Amex card earn strategy, I don’t consider that generalizable because it doesn’t apply to anyone who doesn’t own a business. For W2 people like me, applying for a business card is technically fraud. (As of 2022, there were ~132M W2 employees in the US, ~61M people employed by a small business. Unclear how many people would be eligible for business cards.)

Citi, Chase, CapOne and Amex all have ways to redeem awards on SkyTeam, OneWorld and Star Alliance. Their are niches in each one (these days, I prefer Eva business redemptions which is only possible with Citi and CapOne), I’m curious why you generally perceive Chase to be superior regarding partners.

I will be fair on another dimension: Citi, from a customer service perspective, straight sucks. If you have to call them, kiss the hour goodbye. If you get a name change, your month is gone and you will probably be using faxes and pneumatic tubes before it’s over. But if you can do things online, it’s not a big deal.

Scott

Hey Nick,

I’ll be brief in saying its generally a very interesting discussion between you and Andrew. I’ll say in general I’m with him. Simply because I think with the ‘niche’ Citi has with Turkish, Choice (for 2:1 value) and Wyndham, that’s quite a value add not available with Chase or Amex.
I for example am desperate to get the Citi Premier (or one of the relevant rumored card(s)) to make a particular booking with Turkish. As well as a possible Choice reservation in Northern Europe with that value.
I say this as someone with 6 figure points with both Chase and Amex.

M Bbx

Just closed my Citi account that I run heavy revenue through. My AA relationship is also ending do do very poor customer service and market understanding.

Are these two companies sharing management??? Dumb business loses great core customers….

Chase, Amex and Delta…. A far better combination.

M Bbx

As an advantage executive card heavy user I would be very disappointed if this is true. But Citi has failed to keep up with Chase and many others on consumer facing products for years.

American Airlines is no longer the leader they once were and it seems Citi is of the same cloth.

It look like the Chase Sapphire, Amex Platinum and Delta are far better partners to work with….

At least you know what they say might happen…..

With Citi it’s far less likely that they will offer anything compelling to consumers ever….

Komma

While Delta is certainly a nicer airline to fly on, their loyalty program/point value from cards is pretty atrocious. Skymiles are more or less always 0.01 which makes almost all cashback cards far more useful.

Last edited 2 months ago by Komma
Tom

Great artilcle!

Lee

Banks that are “in the game” have a premium travel card and a mid-level travel card. Citi realized its premium card (the Prestige) sorely needed a refresh. When most banks do a refresh on a card, they suspend applications, there’s a quiet period, and then the update is released. Citi’s scenario had the look and feel of just that. Why would it be any different?

Your “empire builder” comment makes no sense. A name change coupled with a card refresh . . . building an empire? How many iterations of the Chase Freedom have there been?

Your reference to “Indians” is intolerant. If a WASP was behind Citi’s strategy, would you still call it empire building? But, if you’re going to reference “Indians,” you might as well mention Vasu Raja, a key AA executive involved in establishing AA’s Loyalty Points scheme, which is widely applauded.

I will include you in my prayers.

Brandon8100

Were we reading the same article?

Brutus

Sir, this is a Wendy’s.

Alex King

This has got to be the most bizarre comment

[…] 9/25/23: According to a source close to FM, these cards are being shelved and won’t launch anytime soon. Chances are this is due to […]

Captain Smith

I would have liked to see your mug somehow implemented into this web story.

Brutus

“Web story”

NK3

Good to know. Any intel into all of these recent reports on Citi restricting product changes? I saw numerous references on Flyertalk, reddit, etc that people are being told that they are no longer allowing conversions to the Custom Cash card (also some Double Cash reports). I am hoping this is temporary, but it seems like it is more than just a single misinformed agent saying this.

ECR12

Not sure of the reports but I switched one o my premier card to custom cash 6 weeks ago without issue.

Last edited 8 months ago by ECR12
Bob

I just downgraded from Premier to DC last week.

Lukas

Thanks for the heads up! Loved this article.