Citi escalates credit-card wars with boost to dining, air travel perks

The big banks’ credit-card wars are heating up again.

Citigroup, one of the largest issuers of U.S. credit cards, is revamping the rewards structure for its top-tier card to compete with offerings from J.P. Morgan Chase and American Express, according to a statement obtained by CNBC.

Banks have been fighting to entice big spenders to use their cards for years. That battle escalated in 2016 when J.P. Morgan introduced its Sapphire Reserve card, which came with lavish perks and was so popular the bank initially ran out of the metal used for the cards. That forced American Express, which is more heavily dependent on spending by affluent users, to increase the rewards rate for its premium cards.

Now, Citigroup is joining the fray with a card that more heavily incentivizes users to funnel all their dining and air travel purchases through it. The bank froze applications for its Prestige card this summer as it reviewed how to make it more compelling. Affluent spenders prioritized bigger bonuses on dining and air travel, where they spend a combined $13,000 a year, the New York-based bank found.

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