Price Protection is a valuable benefit because it protects cardholders in case something they buy goes on sale shortly after purchase. Citibank has been one of the leaders in price protection because this benefit is available on almost every consumer credit card they offer.
However, Citibank cardholders are in for a shock with the Citi Price Rewind program devaluation that will see their price protection benefits lowered by 60%.
What Is Price Protection?
Price Protection is a benefit that many credit cards offer, but cardholders historically didn’t take advantage of. In a nutshell, if you make a purchase and can find a lower price on the exact same product within a specific time period, you can submit a claim to be reimbursed for the difference between what you paid and the lower price.
There are certain times of the year that credit card Price Protection is more valuable than ever. For example, November and December are highly competitive times for retailers and there are constantly price drops to drive traffic to their stores and websites. When you use Price Protection to find the lowest prices for gifts, it will truly be a Merry Christmas.
With the rise of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, apps are automating the process for consumers, which is turning a secondary benefit into one that has value rivaling the sign-up bonuses and other perks offered by premium credit cards. I use these apps and my Citi Prestige card to save on a regular basis when I shop online at Amazon.
Citibank itself automated the process for its cardholders with its free Citi Price Rewind program.
What Benefits Does Citi Price Rewind Offer?
Citi Price Rewind is generally considered the best of the credit card Price Protection programs. Price Protection from other banks is a manual process and the responsibility of finding lower prices rests on your shoulders. Not so with Citibank.
After you buy something, simply set up a Price Rewind tracker by registering your purchase online and Citibank’s intelligence tools will search for lower prices for 60 days. If they find a lower price, you will automatically receive a credit card refund.
Under the current rules, you can receive a refund of up to $500 per item and $2,500 per year. Personally, most of my refunds are only a few dollars from price fluctuations on Amazon. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there really add up over the course of a year. And because the process is automated via apps and the Price Rewind tracker, it doesn’t require any of my time!
For larger purchases, like TVs, high-end cameras and other electronics, I would also perform manual searches to complement Price Rewind’s Price Protection. The larger dollar purchases can result in some huge savings if you can find the right sale.
What Are the Changes to Citi Price Rewind?
Effective July 29, 2018, Citibank is devaluing the Citi Price Rewind program by reducing the per item and annual limits by 60% and excluding some items that are currently covered.
Reduction of Limits
The per item limits will be reduced from $500 to $200, a 60% reduction. And the annual limit will be reduced from $2,500 to $1,000, another 60% reduction.
Because I don’t buy a lot of big-ticket items, the $500 to $200 isn’t much of a factor for me. But, if you’re using your Citibank credit card as a primary credit card for purchases, the annual limit is a huge blow.
Personally, I don’t max out the $2,500 in Price Protection benefits annually, but I could see how the total amount of refunds each year could easily exceed $1,000.
Excluding Some Purchases
Prior to the new rules, Citibank was fairly generous with their coverage of Price Protection. They would cover items, such as tires, that other programs would not.
With the changes effective July 29, new exclusions have been added to Citi Price Rewind. The exclusions now include ammunition, consumables, firearms, tires and watches. Additionally, if the lower price is only available to members of a warehouse club where you have to pay a fee to join, those purchases are excluded as well.
Are Reduced Benefits a New Trend?
Recently, more premium credit cards have been reducing or eliminating benefits that can be very valuable for cardholders. For example, the American Express Platinum card started limiting access to Centurion Lounges, and Chase announced that they were eliminating purchase protection across their entire credit card portfolio.
Consumers are becoming more comfortable paying larger annual fees as long as they can realize enough value from the benefits to justify the cost. But banks are looking to boost their bottom lines so they are increasing annual fees while, in some cases, reducing benefits or making it harder for cardholders like us to use all of the benefits we paid for.
Follow RewardExpert as we continue to investigate this trend and review the pros and cons of whether a credit card still belongs in your wallet.
How to Maximize Price Protection Under These New Rules
Because the reduced limits of $200 per purchase and $1,000 per year are based per credit card, consider spreading your purchases across several Citibank credit cards. If you only have one Citibank card, consider adding additional Citibank cards to your wallet—such as my favorites, the Citi Double Cash or the Citi Prestige.
Also, be aware of the price protection benefits you may have with other credit cards that you own, such as Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards or Discover it.
My strategy is to maximize the annual Price Protection limits with my preferred cash rewards credit cards. Then, once I hit the limits, move on to my second favorite card to max out its price protection benefit limit. I’ll just keep going down the line until the limits reset at the beginning of the year.
Some Stores Offer Price Matching Too
You should try to take advantage of a store’s price match refund first. If the store reimburses you for a lower price you find elsewhere, you won’t have to file a price protection claim with your card issuer.
That means that it won’t count toward the total limit on your card. Several stores offer price protection, including Best Buy, Walmart and Target.
Remember that any purchase made before July 29, 2018, with an eligible Citibank credit card is still under the old limits of $500 per purchase and $2,500 per year. If you have any big purchases, consider making them before the new rules go into effect.
There are a lot of cards from various issuers that offer price protection, so you might consider getting another card as these new limits kick in.
Is the devaluation of price protection, return protection, lounge access and other benefits making you reconsider renewing your card when the fee comes due? Let us know in the comments which cards you’re considering giving up and which cards you would replace it with.