CNB Crystal Visa Infinite loses valuable perks as of Jan 1 2020

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On the heels of their point devaluation, CNB has announced severe cuts to the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card’s benefits.  CNB has published a document “Change in Terms to Your City National Bank Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card Guide to Benefits.”  Rumors had already circulated about some of this (found here), but now we have concrete changes to react to.  It ain’t pretty.

Here’s what’s changing on January 1 2020:

  • Airline incidental fees capped at $350 per year.  Previously it was possible to earn $250 per card per year.  So, with 3 authorized users, you could rake in $1,000 per year.  Now, the best you can do is $350.  The slight good news is that it appears that you can get rebated on up to $350 spent on a single card instead of shuffling cards around to try to maximize the benefit.  In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you spend $350 in incidental fees all on one card or across multiple authorized user cards.  Either way, you’ll get a maximum of $350 back.
  • Priority Pass membership now charges you for guests.  Wow, this is really bad in my opinion.  They went from offering unlimited free guests to zero free guests.  The industry norm these days is to allow two free guests.  With the CNB card you can still enroll two people into Priority Pass for free.  But each membership is drastically weakened by this new policy.  Now, each Priority Pass member can get into lounges for free, but if they want to bring guests they will be charged $32 per guest.
  • The Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit is being discontinued.  No more $100 discount on round-trip domestic flights for 2 or 3 people.
  • No more 3X rewards for gas or grocery purchases.  3X for travel & dining remains.
  • Authorized user cards will cost $95 each. For accounts opened before 1/1/20, this new fee will hit with your next annual fee after 1/1/20.  The pricing sheet can be found here.  H/T Giuseppe.

For more about the CNB card (prior to these changes), see: The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive.  And for my thoughts about the rumored changes (which were only partially correct), see: Is the CNB card worth keeping if rumors are true?

I think that many people will still see value in this card, but I plan to cancel with the next annual fee.

Hat Tip to reader Adam

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[…] See also: CNB Crystal Visa Infinite loses valuable perks as of Jan 1 2020 […]

hossaint

Is the $350 airline incidental fee per calendar year or per annual fee year? My renewal is in March so, if its per calendar year then I’ll use it in January and then cancel.

Samuel

I gave this some thought and actually although the changes have brought down the value of the card quite alot (its gone from extremely overpowered to being grounded but comparable to its competitors) the card is still decent and I think for 2 cardholders, the CNB Crystal still offers the best Priority Pass value for annual fee compared to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, US Bank Altitude Reserve, and for some people, the Citi Prestige… I am not counting the Amex Platinum here, it has great lounge benefits but it is missing the Priority Pass Restaurants…

Doing the math, considering the Net Annual Fees for 2 cardholders: Chase Sapphire Reserve is $450 + $75 – $300 travel credit = $225 net effective annual fee. US Bank Altitude Reserve = $400 + $75 -$325 travel credit = $150 net effective annual fee. The Citi Prestige is $495 + $75 – $250 travel credit = $320 net effective annual fee… The CNB Crystal is $400 + $95 – $350 airline incidentals credit = $145 net effective annual fee for two cardholders…

So if you want to have 2 cardholders with priority pass benefits, the CNB Crystal is the cheapest option. The Citi Prestige, although each pass is unlimited use and comes with unlimited guests and family members is much more expensive… Although you could argue that you only need the one card since the entire family can travel together so the annual fees would be only a little more if you hold just 1 card, 1 priority pass with the Prestige, I would much rather have TWO separate unlimited use priority passes and pay $105 LESS for those two CNB cards than 1 priority pass with the Prestige, since cardholders may not always travel together, so realistically they may need their own cards anyways… The US Bank Altitide Reserve actually does not make any sense, it is the worst of the bunch if you travel alot, because 2 cardholders would cost $5 more than the CNB crystal and it only includes 1 priority pass among all cardholders, and only 4 free visits per year plus 4 guest visits… The Chase Sapphire Reserve is probably the best value among the competitors in that it is unlimited allows bringing 2 guests, but again, that only assumes you travel together… Net annual fee for having just one cardholder on the CSR is $150, so $5 more than having TWO cardholders with the CNB crystal card, each with their own unlimited priority pass memberships… Assuming the two cardholders (say myself and my wife) generally travel together, we would be the most common guests anyway, and it is far better for us each to have our own individual Crystal cards with unlimited use priority passes so that we each always have the lounge access when travelling independently which happens alot, for example during business travel etc…

After doing the math, I think the CNB still wins out over those other three cards… It still has great travel protections, trip cancellation and trip delay insurances, other benefits, no foreign transaction fees, primary car rental… I think for a couple who have say an Amex setup with hotel keeper cards, the CNB crystal is still the best complementary backup VISA card… over even the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige… The Citi Prestige it seems only makes sense if you always make use of the 4th night free benefit…

In fact, if the card had a signup bonus, I would actually say that each cardholder ought to simply apply for their own card… Then it would be a net effective annual fee of only $100 for 2 unlimited use priority pass memberships and a great travel card…

Samuel

Hi Greg, yes I do plan to try to do a conversion to a Ritz card at some point, but that will take some time. Regarding the Prestige, right, its 2 guests *or* all immediate family members, I think theres an age limit but it allows you basically to bring your kids as well, so if you have say a family of 4 with 2 kids, all can get access to the lounge, which is slightly better than the Sapphire Reserve which only allows 3 people total. In my case since I have 2 kids, there are times when I may go to a Priority Pass restaurant and be bringing my kids… But that is a rare case, and I what I realized is, for lounges we are still covered for family by having other Amex Priority Passes… It is only restaurants where the Prestige is better than the Crystal, but even then, kids don’t eat much, so if we were travelling with two cardholders, the dining stipend of $28 each is probably already enough for a family of 4 at most restaurants.

Yeah, the travel credit is definitely easier on those other cards, and difficulty is something to consider, but based on data points, the incidentals credit on the CNB crystal is actually still rather easy to get (similar to how Amex used to be)… it doesnt have the same limitations that Amex has been adding to theirs…

Anyway, I think given that I am over 5/24, I currently have been debating between keeping my Citi Prestige or the CNB Crystal and after doing the math, I realized that I get more value out of the CNB Crystal, even if I were to add the authorized user at $95. Because of the way we travel, my wife and I often travel separately as she goes on alot of trips for business, and often there are Priority Pass restaurants that the Amex Priority Passes do not cover… So we want a good unlimited use Priority Pass for both cardholders. The Prestige actually for me has lost alot more of its value due to the elimination of travel insurances which makes it subpar for booking travel, and given that we have the Hilton Aspire and other Marriot cards for hotel stays, booking the 4th night free on the Citi portal isnt a really great deal… You lose all status benefits and earning and the prices are not that competitive I’ve found… The only other benefits of the Prestige it seems are the Dining bonus multiplier, but given that I have the Amex Gold card, I find I dont use the Prestige that much for dining… And the last benefit, $1000 per claim cell phone insurance while good, is not worth the much higher annual fee. I can get $600 cell phone coverage from the Citi Double Cash and that now earns 2x thankyou points for no annual fee… The CNB crystal is still great because of the travel protections and 3x points on airfare, plus primary car rental insurance and upgrades when booking cars on Enterprise, etc.

Mel

The airline incidentals that are included with CNB is a narrow category … seat selection is not even included!

Mel

What is a real joke is that the CNB fee for a Priority Pass guest is $32, yet you are only given a $28 credit at the restaurants. So it is better just to pay for your own food.

Vincent Bonilla, MD

Does anyone know an option to replace this card? my 2 favorite things are unlimited priority pass for the cardholder and unlimited for the guess ass well, and $1000, airline fee rebate.
Thanks

Vincent Bonilla, MD

Does anyone know which credit card could be an option for this one? I do like the no fee for the authorized users and unlimited priority pass for guests. The only credit card similar to this one and worthed that I know is the Ritz Carton which is not open for new applicants.
I spent probably > 50K per year. I would like to be exclusive as It can get.
It cannot be an AMEX because the priority pass changes.
Thanks

Giuseppe Benvenuto

Greg,

Specifically which Chase Marriott card is transferable to the Ritz card? Do you really have to wait a year for the request? I’ve been a Chase customer with a mothballed signature card for 15+ years. Do you think they would let me make the switch quicker?

Nick Reyes

Either of the Chase Marriott personal cards should be upgradeable to the Ritz card.

In terms of waiting a year, Greg is saying that if you open a new Marriott card, you’ll need to wait a year to product change it. That part has nothing to do with how long you’ve been a customer — it’s something to do with the law about banks not increasing your fees during the first 12 months (including the annual fee).

If you’re saying that you have a very old Marriott card (not sure what you mean by a mothballed “signature” card — lots of Chase cards are Visa Signature cards — is it a Marriott card?), then you should call the number on the back of one of your cards and ask to product change to the Ritz card.

Giuseppe Benvenuto

Nick,

Thanks for your reply. What you’re saying about AFs and and waiting is understandable.

Sadly my old & unused Chase card is just a garden variety Freedom card (formally a 1st generation Ebay card from now defunct predatory bank I can’t recall, that became a Washington Mutual product, and now Chase).

Assuming the Ritz card is still around in a year, how does one actually go about requesting the upgrade?

Giuseppe Benvenuto

$95 Additional Card Fee per card confirmed. See new Pricing Information published to CNB’s website: https://www.cnb.com/content/dam/cnbcom/documents/cards/Crystal-Visa-Infinite-Credit-Card-Pricing.pdf

Giuseppe Benvenuto

Sadly, the fine print is not so forgiving. Existing accounts will be hit the $95 per AU… It’s just starting the next time they are charged an Annual Fee (their anniversary dated). Gotta watch out for those pesky asterisks:

“* If Account opened before January 1, 2020, the Account holder will receive a change in terms notice adding the $95 Additional Card Fee, effective on the one year anniversary of Account opening. The notice will contain information regarding the Account holder’s right to reject this change and the consequences of that rejection. “

Giuseppe Benvenuto

Like my name translates… Joe Welcome!

marc

I tried to get some info on the AU via website message system. no help

From: Client Contact Center
Subject: Fees and Service Charges
Received Date: 11/7/2019 2:29:36 PM
Message Id:
Thank you for your recent e-mail. Unfortunately we do not have any information on this matter at this time. Should you have additional questions please call us at 800-773-7100. We are available 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Sincerely, City National Bank

Original Message:
Message id:
Date Submitted: 11/4/2019 6:10:43 AM
Message Details:
My understanding is that there are some significant changes coming to the Infinite card as of 12/31/19. Can you tell me whether there will be a fee for authorized users. Thank you

Jay

Wow this is a terrible decision to remove all of these benefits at once , they should have slowly did it like citi . I’m definitely closing this card. I was a high value cross sell customer now they will get nothing from me.

Jags

It’s been reported that CNB under no circumstances will refund your annual fee once it posts to your account. I would recommend cancelling well before your AF posts. Although I signed up for this card in July I will cancel once I receive the $350 in reimbursements in January.

Josh

So if the $95 AU is a thing, makes sense to cancel them all before the AF hits ?

[…] devaluation of the City National Bank CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card (Doctor of Credit and Frequent Miler), I started planning to close this credit card since my $400 annual fee is scheduled to be billed […]

Karen in Florida

My husband and I applied at the same time in a Calif branch. He got approved with me as AU. I didn’t get approved initially and had to jump through all kinds of hoops and only got approved if I put him on as joint. Now I see that as an advantage as now we can cancel his card with me as AU and keep the joint account. I’m assuming we won’t we charged as AUs because we are joint and there are no AUs so 2 for the price of 1. I loved the card and had my husband use it as his main credit card because of the gas/grocery/dining, he didn’t have to fool with other cards. So sad about the news.

SO_CAL_RETAIL_SLUT

From my own experience, I get a great return for my yearly fee- I only have one Infinite card and no AU’s. I get it, many of you like to play the points game. For me, I use CNB for both petsonal and business banking.
Before you throw the baby out with the bath water, a few points to keep in mind. If you have already made the decision to cancel, instead of losing the trade line, contact your CNB banker and product change from Infinite to Signature. For those concerned about their rewards balance, you could probably retain your rewards by product changing to the Signature card. Both Infinite and Signature fall under the City National Rewards program and operate the same, and CNB uses the same internal s6stem to mange the program for both cards.
Personally, I appreciate how CNB manages my accounts It’s rare for a bank of their size to operate their own credit card program – most don’t have one or use a correspondent bank. CNB’s credit operation is entirely in house
One of the features I like about the Infinite card is the yearly $550 rebate for the Admiral’s Club. I realize that you have to spend 50k on the card, and I more than meet that threshold.
CNB is geared to a higher net worth individual/family, and the Infinite card reflects that.

jeph36

My AF hits in July, so I will be keeping it for a while to use up the points and get next year’s $350 credit. I certainly liked the idea of the $100 Visa Infinite discount, but never used it due to circumstances. Likewise, never used the Priority Pass for more than just me (not long enough connections with family at the right airports/terminals). And I could not get my oldest kid to the age to become an AU, so it was just me + P2. On the other hand, I think this is the 2nd year in a row I have received a spend bonus of some sort – right now I am doing spend $5K, get 10K bonus points thru year-end. That makes regular spend ~3.3% and gas/groceries ~5.5% and gives me a little hope. I am sitting here hoping that by the time my AF rolls around, enough people will have cancelled that they will decide to give me a retention bonus of some sort to justify a new ~$50 for another year.

Billy

Somewhat ironic that I just got a note in the mail today reiterating it’s awesome benefits (no mention of all the devaluations notes here).

Anthony

Well, I’m not applying to this card now, that’s for sure! I’ll just keep my Ritz card which now demolishes this card in terms of benefits.

Mike Odom

Whoa, Michigan State colors?! Did someone lose a bet? 😀

THEsocalledfan

Man, glad that bank was not open when in MSP to see you guys! LOL

debit

Can people confirm the fee for AU? Please link.

I think this card has become completely useless then. The priority pass is not worth it for the AU then.

Paul

Hmm… so is the last card to have Visa Discount Air benefit the Ritz Carlton Visa? I wonder if it is going away completely, or if the Ritz card will keep it. I wonder if Visa is getting rid of it, or if it is coming from CNB.

OR97

On a related note is the Ritz card available via product change?

Brian

Yes, but there may be some kind of requirement on how long you have had the current Marriott card you are changing from. You can send a message to see if possible, then call to complete.

Lukas

Any clue how to find out which PP card belongs to which CC? I have four and would like to make my RC card-issued PP my primary one.

Rob

The PP card expiry dates might line up with credit card annual fee dates – otherwise Priority Pass 800# can give you the answer.

Josh

I sharpee the card on the back

T. Jones

I certainly hope the Ritz card doesn’t suffer a similar massacre.

Paul

I always debate whether or not to keep the Ritz card (because I don’t love Marriott), although I got two roundtrip tickets to Charleston for nearly nothing using discount air. I also saved over 300 dollars using free night cert in Charleston. Even if they get rid of the discount air benefit and priority pass, I will probably keep the card. We are big users of the club lounge certificates at Ritz properties under $400. If they took away club certs, I’m done! Marriott recently added points plus cash for club lounge rooms on many hotel websites, which is significantly more money than when we would book points, and then call to upgrade to the club lounge for a one-time fee. We used to pay about 150 to upgrade to the lounge (sometimes 75 if it was a special) with points. Now, agents direct to website which means higher cash rate, higher club rate for points plus cash. For five nights in Maui, it was $2000 plus the points needed for club access. That’s $400 per night just to add lounge access. Um… NOPE! That’s outrageous!! I don’t love Marriott, but big fan of the way we are always treated at Ritz.

Anthony

I really hope the Ritz doesn’t axe these benefits. I just cancelled my Prestige so I won’t have Priority Pass at all.

Samuel

I think the best priority pass now outside of the Ritz is the Citi Prestige. The Citi Prestige still has the restaurants, and 2 guests + all family members.

debit

Why is the card not worth renewal? The effective fee is only $50 which is a good price to pay for priority pass for two people. What am i missing?

Adam

This document confirms the removal of 3x on grocery and gas

https://www.cnb.com/content/dam/cnbcom/documents/cards/rewards2020.pdf

YoniPDX

Kinda of thankful now that was I didn’t waste a trip to LV or CA to stop into a CNB branch put it off after the devalue this past summer. Would have ended up burning 5/24 spots for me and P2 as well as my eldest. Hopefully this not a harbringer of a CSR devalue on the horizon.

Yet also a little tinge of regret that I didn’t push to pick up the card in early 2018.

Going to have rethink 5/24 with the rapid changing landscape of churning.

Marc

If you have CNB points and plan to cancel card, I assume would loose those points?? Maybe cash out on a statement credit or gift card.

Rob

My annual fee hit today. Think I will eat it for another year then cancel. Any suggestions on cashing out with no imminent travel plans? I’m wondering booking a ticket with changes permitted would be convertible to credit towards a subsequent flight.

Also – are any gift certificates known to be still working with the airline credit?

HAI

My annual fee just hit and I plan to just swallow it. That will give me a year to dispose the points I have.

Adam

In the same boat! Best way to quickly cash out the points?

Rob

I just ordered amazon gift cards. Gets you like .90 cents per point.

Josh

How do you do that, thru the portal?

Rob

Login to your account. On Account Summary page it will show your Account, credit line, current balance and available credit. Right under that it says “householded reward points” with your balance of points right next to it. I clicked householded reward points which was hyperlinked. That takes you to the city national rewards site. Then right under your name where it says “Welcome Josh” you should see it say “shop rewards” and gift cards is an option under that menu.

Yuri

Will they refund AF after it hits? Mine is due in a few days.

jeph36

Greg (or anyone), do we know of any reports of being able to downgrade to the no-fee Visa Signature card and being able to keep the points alive? Assuming that did not trigger any credit check/new account (for 5/24 or similar), that would be ideal to avoid needing to cash out the points at a less-than-stellar rate.

https://www.cnb.com/personal/cards/credit-cards/visa-signature.html

Edit: The following text is on the page for that card, giving me some hope there is a downgrade path to keeping points alive. Of course points _could_ be worth less for redemption with that card. And the link in the note for that this term leads to a dead page.
“Combine Points from all of your City National business and personal credit cards that come with City National Rewards to earn premium Awards more quickly.”

miki

No longer worth it if you are not single/

caveman

Do you lose your points if you close the card or you get some time?

Rob

They just told me you lose them if you don’t use them before the closure. But that is just one CSR.

Rob

Just a word of advice to close your card before your annual fee hits. My fee hit on this current statement and I haven’t paid it yet. When I called to cancel they gave me some lip about how they will request it be waived but can’t guarantee it will be refunded. Evidently the 800 number CSR’s just send an email to your relationship manager who they claim is going to call me to process the closure.

11/10/19 Update — Banker called and refused to refund the fee.

Kneemuh

What a depressing day. This has been such a great card for so many years, it’s a sad loss for sure.

Just a quick data point to confirm exactly as Rob said — even though my fee posted just yesterday, it’s up to the relationship manager to look into getting the fee reversed and closing the account. I’m supposed to get a call back within 2-3 business days.

CaveDweller

I Love my Bankers ” Greed is Good ” as long as it’s with ” OPM ” .
CHEERs

U K

You’re also missing another big change : the $95 AF per AU

U K

Phone agents confirmed $95 per AU, starting with first AF billed after Jan 1, 2020

U K

All AUs 🙁 So if your AF is billed on or after Jan 1st, 2020 you will be hit with $95 for each and every AU you have. So 3 AUs will mean a total AF of $400 + 3 * $95 = $685

Blip

Well I know a card that I’m definitely not renewing

Iwantmoremiles

If I don’t have it yet, would you say it’s a good idea to get it now if I can so that I can get the current benefits?

bill

I wonder if the card will still offer access to Priority Pass restaurants.