Why I Applied For The Citi Premier Card

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards
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I haven’t applied for many credit cards lately, though I just applied for a new card and was approved, so wanted to share why I applied, and what my approval experience was like.

The Citi Premier’s 60K bonus

Since mid-June, the Citi Premier℠ Card (review) has been offering a huge welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months.

Not only is that a huge bonus that’s worth a minimum of $750+ towards airfare (though I’d rather transfer points to Citi’s transfer partners), but the card is also very well rounded and offers lots of great benefits.

The card offers 3x points on travel and gas, and 2x points on dining and entertainment. I love Citi ThankYou transfer partners, especially when you consider how frequently they offer transfer bonuses. So there are lots of great reasons to pick up this card.

My eligibility for the Citi Premier

The terms on the Citi Premier application state that you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus if you’ve:

  • Received a new cardmember bonus on the Citi Rewards+, Citi Thank You Preferred, Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige, in the past 24 months
  • Closed the Citi Rewards+, Citi Thank You Preferred, Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige, in the past 24 months

I’ve had the Citi Prestige for eons, and back in the day I also had the Citi Premier. However, I wasn’t sure when I closed it. So I phoned up Citi, and they confirmed that I had closed the card in April 2017, which is over two years ago.

That means I haven’t opened or closed any of the above cards in the past 24 months, which also means I should be eligible for the Citi Premier bonus.

If you’re someone who doesn’t keep track of when you close cards and are in a similar situation, just phone up Citi, and they can tell you.

Why I got the Citi Premier

Obviously the 60K bonus is a nice reason to pick up this card, but my motivation goes way beyond that. My plan is either to keep this card long term, or to downgrade it to the Citi Rewards+.

Let me share my thoughts behind those two strategies:

Why I might keep this card

Some negative changes have been made to the Citi Prestige Card, and while I still have the card as of now, I’m not sure I’ll actually keep it long term. They’re changing the fourth night free benefit, and now they’re downgrading the travel protection, so I’ll have to crunch the numbers again.

However, I really value ThankYou points, so this is a good way to hedge my bets. Long term I might just keep the Citi Premier as my ThankYou currency card.

Why I might downgrade this to the Rewards+

At the beginning of the year the Citi Rewards+℠ Card was introduced. The card has no annual fee and offers one particularly unique benefit. Specifically, the card rounds up points to the nearest 10 ThankYou points, which could be awesome for small purchases.

After a year I should be able to downgrade the Premier Card to the Rewards+ Card, so this is a great pathway for getting that card.

My approval process

I applied for the Citi Premier on Monday, and didn’t get an instant approval, as I often find to be the case with Citi.

Fortunately yesterday evening, about three days later, I got an email indicating that I had been approved.

Bottom line

I’m very happy to have been approved for the Citi Premier. The card has a massive 60K point bonus, and is a card that I plan on keeping long term. Either I’ll use it as my primary ThankYou card if I no longer find the Prestige Card to be worth it, or I’ll downgrade it to the no annual fee Rewards+ Card after a year, as that card also has a unique value proposition.

Is anyone else picking up the Citi Premier? If so, what’s your strategy with the card?

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  1. When they did 60K bonus a few months ago I got it, and earned a total of 68K points because I spent the $4k on travel (#QatarFareSale). I just transferred those 68K to LifeMiles, netting me 85K thanks to 25% transfer bonus from Citi to LM. Those 85K allowed me to fly LH First yesterday, which is probably the redemption I’m most proud of to date! I also like 2x on entertainment.

    That is all. Thank you.

  2. My issue with Citi has always been the their own downgrading of the product/benefits and the transfer times to move miles to a partner. You see a reward ticket available, but its 3-5 days to transfer via Citi or instant if you use your Amex/Chase points.

    I finally got rid of all of my Citi points and will be cancelling all cards upon renewal date.

  3. I’m in the opposite position. I’ve had this card for quite a while, and its getting less and less use in my wallet. The card was great for travel purchases, with 3x rewards, but now that they dropped travel insurance and similar benefits, I no longer use it for travel. Similarly, since they are going to drop price rewind, I won’t be using this card for big non-travel purcahses.

    They may be a good transfer partner for you, but for anyone focused on domestic travel, they suck – only JetBlue as a transfer partner. If they had DL, AA, or UA, I could reconsider.

    The points earning structure does sound good, with 3x on travel and gas, plus 2x on many other categories. But then why not just use my Chase Sapphire Reserve? Its basically trading 3x on gas for 3x on restaurants, and I spend more on restaurants in a year. Plus… When purchasing airfare directly, Citi points are valued 1.25 each, which is nice… But CSR is 1.50 each. Of course, CSR does have a higher annual fee, but most of that fee is offset with other cash equivalent benefits.

    In the end, this product has been repeatedly devalued. This was previously a primary card for me, and its sad to say its likely the next to be cancelled.

  4. I’ve had this card since last summer and it’s my primary card these days in tandem with the Amex Gold.

  5. Applied and got approved through your affiliate link. Mainly did it for having the Citi transfer partners available, esp. with the newly discovered Turkish sweet spot for UA flights to Hawaii (look at the frequentmiler blog).

  6. @Ben, do you know if converting one of the Preferred/Prestige/Premier card is considered as closing a card ?
    I had a thankyou preferred card for years that i converted to double cash card last year and i also have a citi prestige for a few years now.

    If i apply for the premier card, would the conversion of the preferred card to double cash last year prevent me from getting the bonus ?

  7. I applied for the card a few weeks ago and am working towards minimum spend. I’m not sure if it will have a place long-term in my wallet or not. AMEX Gold is quickly becoming my go-to card for dining, and I have tons of options for airfare (Amex Platinum, airline cards, etc). For Uber/Lyft/Taxis, it is either Citi or Chase. IMO most people don’t really need to be in three or four transferrable currencies, so I will have to choose one or the other eventually. I would basically only be keeping the Premier for travel spend, and it doesn’t seem worth it for that. Between Premier and the Sapphire universe, Sapphire wins.

  8. Ben,

    Like your strategy. Having the Chase Sapphire Reserve already and with the Prestige benefits reduced don’t think I’ll chase the Prestige card/points. After I get the Chase business card the next strategy is for me, my wife and my 19 year old son (after he builds his credit rating) to get the CITI Premier for the bonus and then after a year to downgrade to the no AF Rewards card. With JetBlue allowing family pooling it is a good option. Not sure how long the 60k will be around, but I have to complete my Chase trifecta first. Given that CITI has a nice no AF option to downgrade to likely will just do the Premier and skip the Prestige. If one really wanted to keep or get the Prestige it could still be worth it if the 2 4th night free benefits are used. It’s just not there more me anymore with the Prestige. After CITI, probably would look at the Capitol One card.

  9. I picked up a Premier card back in February, mainly so that I could close my Prestige card if that seemed appropriate, without having to make a panic transfer of TY points. I chose that particular card because of 3x points on gasoline and 2x points on Entertainment, with the Prestige card dropping the bonus for Entertainment.

  10. Ben, are you certain current Prestige cardholders are eligible for the bonus? That’s not the way the terms read on the landing page. It says if you received a bonus on the Prestige you are ineligible. But the way the punctuation is, it’s not clear.

  11. @Ben

    I currently have Citi Prestige and I want to ditch it since I no longer value what (few) benefits it offers, but I want to make sure I can keep all of my Citi points. If I were to apply for premier, could I just transfer my thank you points to my prestige account, or would the points stay with the premier account?

  12. @ Jimbo — I’m positive in my interpretation here. With Citi the 24 month rule is based on whether you’ve opened or closed a card in that period. So if you’ve had a Prestige open (or closed) for more than 24 months, you’d be eligible. It’s fine for it to be open, you just can’t have opened or closed it in that period. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  13. @ 31pmc — You could transfer the points, though note that when you transfer Citi points you have only 90 days to transfer them to another partner. So you can keep your points, but you do have to eventually redeem your existing ones.

  14. Just did the same. Also a long-time Prestige cardholder who’s planning to cancel in September. If you downgrade, what will you do with your TY points to keep them from disappearing 60 days later?

  15. I’m in the same boat as a number of your readers — got the Citi Premier card several years ago for the bonus and now have over 150K points. But I never use the card now as I get better value on the whole with my Chase cards. I really don’t want to pay another annual fee but as Ben pointed out if I downgrade to a no-fee card I would have to use the points up within 90 days.

    Can someone suggest a good Citi partner (preferably an airline) to which to transfer my points . Virgin Atlantic seems like a good surrogate for Delta but are there better choices. Guys what would you do? Thanks

  16. In my experience with Citi TY rewards and downgrading – I had the Prestige as well as Premier – when I cancelled the Prestige, all points earned on the card were subject to expiry in 3-6 months (I forget) even though I still had the Premier open

  17. Citi Premier earning rates appear attractive but many if not most redemptions are valued at less than $0.01/point which reduces net yield with the annual fee making cash back cards a more attractive option with less effort required for achieving yield. I acquired the Citi Double Cash card within about two weeks of its announcement and have been a devoted user of the card for non-bonused spend but termination of most insurance benefits on all cards except Costco will result in Citi Double Cash account closure before September 2019. Also, Citi overseas customer service on the Double Cash card was difficult to understand, rarely resolved issues, and was protected by an irritating phone network.

    Thus, with loyalty point programs rapidly devaluing, eliminating reward charts with hidden devaluation, high annual fees with credits having severe limits relying on breakage for profit (AMEX), and secondary benefit cutbacks like shopping and travel insurance, our travel rewards spend is now focused only the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) and cash back cards which are AMEX Blue Cash (5% Old Blue), Citibank Costco, and a local credit union card for non-bonused spend which has no foreign transaction fees. If Chase follows Citi’s lead and cancels the CSR insurance benefits, the CSR account will be closed. Marriott and Hilton spend are on co-branded cards but do not receive much other spend due to devaluation and may very well be cancelled since keeping relatively unused credit card accounts open is a security risk. The drawer card concept of keeping a card for a free night is losing its attraction if the card is not worth spending on due to security risks and time required to monitor the account.

  18. JimT – The various Amex credits, for me, generally are valued at 100% face value. This is across a variety of types of credits (Uber, Grubhub, Saks), certificates (Hilton free weekend night, Marriott certs, Delta companion tickets) and benefits (lounge access, travel protections, concierge, etc). And remember that Membership Rewards points can be cashed out at 1.25 cents with a Schwab brokerage account.

  19. Best Citi transfer partner IMO? Singapore, hands down. Fly their new first class product and you’ll see why! Btw, I also think that’s the 2nd best Amex transfer partner, after Aeroplan.

  20. Anthony, thank you for your insights and I am glad the credits work for you. For me, the credits force spending in venues I never frequent (Cheesecake Factory and Saks), rarely frequent (Ruth Chris), or really never use (Uber, Grubhub, airline incidentals). We have made good use of the Marriott free night certificates but get no free night with the AMEX Hilton Ascend since the required $15,000 spend is directed to more profitable cards. I really wanted to like the new AMEX Gold card and the AMEX Platinum card benefits are attractive but the high annual fees, limited credits, and many reduced point redemption values have the cash back cards putting more money in my pocket at years end with far less hassle. Financial analysis of the AMEX Schwab Platinum card with the $200 annual credit and $0.0125/point value deposited into a Schwab account by itself and combined with more lucrative point earning cards results in more money in my pocket at years end with cheaper cash back options. AMEX has provided exemplary service over the years and I am disappointed than none of the AMEX travel cards present a worthwhile ongoing spending yield. In that regard, the AMEX SPG card with the $65 annual fee was a standout for non-bonused spend and the SPG loyalty program really rewarded loyalty and attracted new customers with their credit card. Have a nice day.

  21. I am in the same situation as Ben and others who have commented about considering getting rid of my Prestige card when the next AF is due. From what I have read other places, I believe that the following sequence of events would preserve the TYP earned from my Prestige card long term (not just three months).

    1) Open Premier card and earn bonus (since my Prestige has been open for > 2 years)
    2) Add Premier card to same TYP account as Prestige card
    3) Downgrade Prestige card to Rewards + card

    I think all the credit card points in the combined account would not expire as long as the Premier and Rewards + account remain open. Can anyone confirm or correct my understanding?

  22. Ben, coincidentally, Gary at VFTW blogged on the Premier / Prestige bonus today and he is very definitive that you cannot earn bonuses from both the Prestige and Premier cards regardless of time since open/close.

    One of you is right for sure.

  23. I’d pick up the Rewards+ soon, to take advantage of the 10% points rebate. Sure, you’re forgoing the 15k SUB, but getting 10% back on 150k points over 2 years covers that (note: rebate applies to 100k/year max).

    Unless you’re playing the long game and planning to sit on TYPs for that long – i.e. you’d redeem no points over 2 years, open the Rewards+ 2+ years from now, its SUB would post, and then you’d finally start redeeming points, all with 10% rebates …as long as you stay under 100k/year. I don’t think that’s a good idea, as things seem to be devaluing more and more quickly.

    If you do open the Rewards+ soon, obviously don’t hit the minimum spend on it until the Premier’s SUB posts.

  24. Definitely not long term for me after they gutted the travel protections. I’m not planning to renew either the Premier or Prestige. Not sure why anyone would use it over a Chase card.

  25. Ben….is the Citi Premier a Visa or a Master card. I thought it was Visa but they referenced a Master Card in my acceptance letter. I have yet to receive the physical card as I am on vacation.


  26. I just downgraded my Prestige card to the Rewards+ , so I really did not cancel a card – just changed it. But does that count as a cancellation per the 24 month rule?

  27. I have the same question as @Randy, i had my Preferred card product changed to double cash last year, does that count as a closure/cancellation for the Preferred card ?

  28. @ Jimbo, I have had the Citi Prestige card for four years now. Had a Citi Premier,
    Closed it and then 25 months later I got the Citi Premier again and got the bonus. So Ben is right.

    Separately I did the math and intend on keeping the Prestige card. Yes, the benefits have been severely slashed, however there is still value for me and thus i am keeping the card, for now.

  29. Apparently I am in a very small minority, at least among travel blog readers. The one and only use for my Premier card, the reason I’ve kept it for years, is entertainment. I spend several thousand dollars a year on theater and concerts. At every opportunity I purchase tickets for friends and they reimburse with cash. I subscribe to several theaters, make 1-2 trips to NYC for theater each year (using miles to travel and points to stay!), and go to a fair number of concerts. This card pays for itself for that alone, and I can’t imagine getting rid of it.

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