Changes Coming To The Citi Premier Card

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards
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The Citi Premier Card is Citi’s mid-range card earning ThankYou points, which is essentially a competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review).

Citi has just announced some significant changes to this card, which can either be positive or negative, depending on what you’re hoping to get out of this card.

New Citi Premier bonus categories

The Citi Premier Card is getting new bonus categories:

  • These changes kick in as of August 23, 2020
  • Existing cardmembers get the best of both worlds — they’re receive the new bonus categories as of August 23, and will maintain the existing bonus categories through April 9, 2021

As of now the Citi Premier offers the following bonus categories:

  • 3x points on travel
  • 3x points on gas
  • 2x points on dining
  • 2x points on entertainment

With these changes, the Citi Premier will offer the following bonus categories:

  • 3x points on airfare and hotels
  • 3x points on gas
  • 3x points on dining
  • 3x points on supermarkets

To recap the changes:

  • The card is losing 3x points on travel purchases other than airfare and hotels
  • The card is losing 2x points on entertainment
  • The card is gaining 3x points on dining (rather than 2x points) and 3x points on supermarkets (rather than 1x points)

Those are some incredibly well rounded bonus categories going forward, if you ask me. Earning bonus points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare, and hotels, is almost unrivaled.

The Citi Premier will offer 3x points on dining

Citi Premier loses 1.25 cent per point airfare redemptions

Currently Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to ThankYou airline partners, can be redeemed for 1.25 cents towards airfare, or can be redeemed for 1.0 cents towards various other purchases.

As of April 10, 2021, ThankYou points earned on the Citi Premier can be redeemed at only one cent each towards airfare purchases. I figured this change would happen sooner rather than later, because similar changes were made to the Citi Prestige Card last year.

Personally I don’t view this as being a huge deal — my favorite use of these points was always transferring them to airline partners, and that opportunity continues.

I value ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each due to the ability to transfer them to other programs, and that opportunity remains.

You can still transfer ThankYou points to airline partners

Citi Premier gets $100 annual hotel credit

As of August 23, 2020, the Citi Premier will be getting a $100 annual hotel credit, which you can use when booking a $500+ hotel through thankyou.com.

Don’t get too excited about that, though, since there’s usually a significant opportunity cost to booking through Citi’s website (you typically don’t earn elite benefits if it’s a chain hotel, and you can often find cheaper rates elsewhere).

The Citi Premier is adding a hotel credit (which is of limited value)

Bottom line

These changes are a mixed bag, though personally I think they’re positive overall.

For those who liked earning 3x points on travel purchases other than airfare and hotels, and liked earning 2x points on entertainment, this is a negative development. The same is true for those who redeemed points towards the cost of airfare.

However, for other people this is going to be a spectacularly well rounded card. Earning 3x points on airfare, hotels, dining, supermarkets, and gas stations, is almost unrivaled.

What do you make of the changes to the Citi Premier Card?

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Comments
  1. Overall a mixed bag. Some will find it positive and some negative. IMO it will not be a must have card, just another option among many. It is losing its unique bonus categories and gaining very standard ones, which is probably a good move for a general consumer, but for us in the hobby, less exciting.

  2. Are the airfare devaluation and other non-category changes kicking in for everyone on Aug. 23?

  3. I assume you can’t use the $100 credit in conjunction with a fourth night free booking if you have the Prestige as well?

  4. @ GoAmtrak — Updated the post to reflect that, sorry. The redemption change kicks in April 10, 2021.

  5. @ Colin — Yeah, you can’t combine the two, since each is contingent upon using that card for the hotel stay.

  6. Losing the entertainment and travel categories makes this one harder to keep alongside the Amex Plat and Gold. Gas and hotels are the only non-overlapping (and lower return) categories. The biggest upside may just be that it’s the cheapest means of maintaining the ability to exchange Citi double cash from cents to points.

  7. I see this as a negative change. Perhaps the card will be more well-rounded, as you say, but for those of us who have multiple cards, we’re not necessarily looking for well-rounded, but rather, something distinct. For me, 3x points on travel (broadly) was distinct. For example, it was my best option for my timeshare maintenance fees. At 3x points on dining and grocery, it loses out to the AmEx Gold on both counts. Now for me, the only things that justify the annual fee are (1) that it increases the value of the Citi Double Cash by enabling transfers to partners, and (2) 24 month extended warranty.

  8. The changes should work nicely for me. I have a fair bit of natural spending on dining and supermarkets, so that is a nice improvement. And I also have the citi double cash, so I can still earn 2x on all other spending.

  9. It’s better for someone who wants to hold fewer cards (general consumer), but for maximizers (us) not so much. I assume this is intentional, to encourage more swipes and for customers to use the Premier for most/all purchases instead of selectively maximizing them.

  10. Thank you points are worth 0 right now. Cash is king! Please help me in understanding what I would use the points for and when ?

  11. I think these changes are negative for me. I value the broad 3x bonus category on all travel, specifically for things like Uber/Lyft as well as tolls and parking. I won’t be using this card in restaurants or grocery stores (the Amex Gold is better for that). Still… a $95 annual fee in exchange for 3x on hotels is justifiable for me, so I won’t be cancelling like I did with the Prestige after that card was devalued.

  12. The loss of the 25% air travel bonus on ThankYou redemptions is a big negative for me. It increased the value of those points I earn in other ways from Citibank. So I’ll likely drop the card next year when the $95 annual fee hits in March.

    I have many other cards to use for a variety of reasons. Two of my cards have rotating bonus categories each quarter and often one of them is 5x points for groceries, so that beats the change on this card.

  13. What’s the definition of supermarket to Citi? Superstores are included or just groceries? And are the supermarkets limited to US or worldwide? Amy be an interesting card for foreigners.

  14. I continue to be confused by Citi’s strategy. Why do they keep changing the value proposition of their cards? They spend all of this money marketing certain features to attract customers, then change the features that appealed to all of those customers they just spent millions attracting. Then they have to spend more money marketing the new features to attract the people that are motivated by the new features, while losing the folks that feel baited and switched. Why not just launch new products with the new features and delivering what the value propositions on the old products that the customers came expecting?

  15. @Ryan – Oh I don’t know. I just booked a RT to SE Asia next year using TY points. Would have cost 5k each way otherwise. In general, cash back will not work out better than an airline tx. Cash back is the bare minimum one should be getting out of their points. Doing a miles to you will get back much much more than.

    But if someone doesn’t want to hassle with tx to different airlines, just get a cash back card.

  16. @Citi sayz, “However, for existing cardmembers, the bonus categories will only change as of April 10, 2021”

    Why not now? Or, August 2020? This is a very stupid decision that doesn’t make any sense as if they don’t want their members to spend!

  17. @Kalboz I think the answer to “Why not now? Or, August 2020?” is probably that they don’t want to make a change that applies in the term of any card year that has already started. People can get upset about that kind of thing. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d also guess that doing so might violate consumer protection laws. And I’m sure somebody would file a CFPB complaint.

    For my part, I’m grateful for the advance warning; I’ll pay my timeshare maintenance fees early next year.

  18. Agree with a lot of the comments – maybe good for folks who want one card, but not great for folks with a wallet full of Citi cards.

    Not excited about these changes. I’ll almost certainly be dropping this in April 2021 – overlaps too much with the Prestige now. The broad travel categories and entertainment bonus were the best thing about this card, and dropping the 25% redemption bonus is actually a big loss for me. The $100 credit would only be useful in some outlier scenarios.

    The supermarket rewards are the only positive and not significantly better than the free Rewards+ card, unless you’re spending a ton on groceries.

  19. A couple of thoughts…

    1) Has Citi actually published literature on these changes? I have seen conflicting reports of when existing cardholders are impacted by these changes
    2) The loss of 3x on other travel (rideshare, Amtrak, etc) is a big loss. I makes the card less competitive relative to the CSR and Amex Green
    3) The loss of 1.25 cents per mile for airfare is indeed a loss
    4) Addition of supermarkets is great – thought Amex Gold continues to dominate there

    I’m overall ambivalent to these changes. For those with premium dining and airfare cards, the main reason to hold cards like Citi Prestige, CSR and Amex Green is the 3x on other travel, which really means rideshare. Companies getting rid of that category is a bad trend.

    The changes to the card reinforce the great value of the AMEX DUO – Charles Schwab Platinum + Amex Gold, 5x on airfare, 4x on dining and supermarkets, MR transfers and 1.25 cent transfers to brokerage

  20. @ Carlos — While I haven’t seen Citi’s definition yet, generally speaking the grocery/supermarket bonus category specifically excludes warehouse stores and superstores. I believe this is a worldwide perk, though.

  21. @ Ryan — You would hopefully be able to use points once it’s responsible to travel again. This is a long-term game, not a short-term game.

  22. @ Anthony — Nothing published that I’ve seen, just communication to media. What are you seeing other than the suggestion of this kicking in for existing cardmembers as of April 2021?

  23. Ben – The way I read the changes as described by Gary at VFTW, existing cardholders get 3x supermarkets and dining as of August 2020 AND keep 3x on broad “travel” and 2x on entertainment until April 2021 (in addition to keeping the 1.25 cent redemption option until April 2021). If that is the case, from August 2020 through April 2021, the Citi Premier would a very strong card for existing cardholders. It gets weaker after April 2021.

  24. Will the x3 on hotels be applicable towards spending on OTA like Orbitz or Expedia also?
    I preferred the broad category travel myself, since I used it for train tickets, tolls, etc. also.

  25. I’ll add that getting in touch with Citi re: TY points issues and refunds is essentially impossible at this time. Online functionality is limited, the phone number just terminates the call, and chat takes hours to connect. This is a negative for me and given these changes I will consider cancelling this card.

  26. I think these updates are probably good for those with only a couple cards, or who stay within one transferable points system.

    I am guessing that most of us writing in the comments section, though, have a stack of different cards. After these changes go into affect, I am not sure what categories it will be the best in, or even tied for best. Similar to many people here, I get 5x on airfare with Amex Plat, 4x supermarkets & dining with Gold, and if I pay for hotels, it is usually at Hilton or Hyatt, and I use my cobranded cards there. I guess it is best for gas (when Freedom does not have it as a bonus category), but 90% of the time I buy my gas at Costco, so this does not help. After the annual fee increase on the CSR, I was thinking of downgrading to the CSP, and keeping the Premier for non-airfare/hotel travel expenses, along with entertainment (especially abroad, where the Double Cash has a foreign transaction fee). But that is out now.

    I probably will still keep the card, if the DC is my go to everyday card. But overall, I feel similar to this as I did to the revamped Amex Green–well rounded for those who are casually into cards, but not exciting for those really into them.

  27. NK3 – I kind of agree… For now until next April, this is a good card, especially with the 1.25 cent redemption. However, the CSR is making a comeback for those with a lot of spend on non hotel/airfare travel. You earn 10x on Lyft, 3x on Uber/taxi/train, and have the ability to redeem CSR points at 1.5 cents in the travel portal. That can be pretty compelling for a lot of people even with a $250 net fee. The fact that CFU and CF also exist make it even more useful.

    However, if you don’t already have a grocery card, Citi Premier can be a very attractive option.

  28. Losing the 3x travel stinks – I used this card for booking cruises, tours, etc. along with paying timeshare fees.

  29. I just downgraded my Premier to Double Cash in February as I am now getting 2 TYP per $ now on my mortgages and office rent in Plastiq instead of 1 TYP with the Prestige.
    So that is an extra 50 thousand or more points annually. Mastercard is the only card Plastiq accepts for many categories so Double Cash was great.

    May get Premier again later when able to get the bonus.

    I still think Amex MR rewards best as get 1.5 cents with refund on Amex Biz Platinum when no availability to use miles

  30. I definitely will lose out a bit from this. Travel includes train fare and I’ve earned a lot of points from buying train tickets and reloading transit cards, especially the mobile suica in japan which can then be turned into purchases. What the card with the best earn for travel that includes train tickets?

  31. For me, this is a positive change.
    It allows me to pare down my premium cards.
    My new combination of cards will be this:
    Chase: Ink business preferred for the 3% travel category and transfer UR points, hotel cards: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Freedom for 5% categories
    Citi: Double cash for 2% (all my autopay, since some places don’t accept AMEX), Premier for 3% dining and groceries, Costco
    Amex: BBP for 2% back everything but limited to 50k and some places don’t accept Amex(Citi Double Cash is my backup), Hilton Aspire (for Hilton Diamond and premium benefits such as Priority Pass)

    Before, I couldn’t decide to keep Amex Gold vs Green, but now that the Premier has 3% restaurants and grocery stores, I’m getting rid of both. I had to keep this card anyway to transfer TYP from the double cash card anyways so it’s a no-brainer. As opposed to paying $400 for Green/Gold, now it’s only $95 which I was paying for anyway.

    What do you think?

  32. I never thought I would live to say this but I couldn’t give a rats A$$ about miles or points @ present.I’ve converted to mostly cash back going forward
    I’m a confessed long time point and mile hoarder but the game has ended for today at least
    Even before this horrific pandemic felt that for the most part the reasonable glory days of award redemption joys of travel were long over with some Int Partner exceptions.
    Hello Delta American and United and any other followers that wrecked their programs with massive devaluations or massive bloated scam fees hello BA

    I’m a big Citibank card holder with 5 different cards & some Chase cards now having dumped American Express for their predatory back stabbing ways and horrible overseas call centers
    I’m sitting on 20 years worth of miles and points in the many millions and will likely never travel again until there is widespread testing globally and easily accessible to all.
    To change my confidence a vaccine,cure or treatment and most important a medical world of hospitals with easily available beds respirators and adequate medical/ care fully equipped with protection and a calm safe environment to enter a facility needs to be in place.
    Would I fly off to Milan or Paris now?
    I see a lot of redemption now in toasters and gift cards sadly.The world has changed and our country was two months late getting on board to fight this pandemic whoever is to blame
    Though I can think of one in particular 😉

    For all those ready to proceed with travel and potentially take the risk of death and or kill their family, kids and grandparents by bringing it home with or without symptoms
    the choice of course is all yours to proceed
    I feel terrible for hotel companies and airlines especially front lines but we aren’t going to be normal anytime soon shy of a miracle. Scary world right now 🙁
    Praying for a miracle
    Citibank’s colossal failure was letting Expedia book their travel over Aspire my Prestige card will be canceled very soon and Premier is cheap enough so that I will likely keep it but none of these points and miles cards will be getting much usage at present though the changes are interesting but no game changer

  33. Losing 25% is a big deal. I use the points for one-off airlines. Although, Connexions covers less and less of them. I wish Citi would eliminate Connexions and just let customers book their own hotels and airfare and erase the charges. Eliminating Entertainment is also a big deal.

    Citi has become more and more annoying. It is impossible to reach anyone on the phone, and there is no message portal except for limited circumstances.

  34. Quick question team – is the loss of 1.25¢ per 1 point ONLY for redemptions towards AIRFARE or does this apply toward the 1.25 for hotel bookings as well??

    Airfare only or across all “travel” bookings?

    Thanks guys!!

    Omar

  35. I am using the Citi Premier + Double Cash combo a ton since they allowed converting Double Cash cashback to points. I also have mostly used the Premier points for the 1.25c per point airfare. I do spend a lot at restaurants and grocery stores and for now restaurants are Citi Premier and groceries are Double Cash (excepting the Chase Freedom 5x quarter).

    I am thinking the combo will still be strong and since I will be earning more Citi points from dining and grocery, I could more reliably transfer the points to partners and get great flights. So perhaps I will not miss the 1.25cpp redemption so much. We’ll see!

  36. I don’t care about the 1 pt. loss on Entertainment, the 2 pt. loss on any other travel, and the lost of 1.25 on ticket purchases. 3x on the most significant things in life is awesome!!! This is a welcomed change for me. This is truly a well-rounded card. It means everything else goes on the DoubleCash and that’s a freakin’ 2x….and to make things really sweet, they are MasterCards which are accepted by Plastiq with very few restrictions unlike Visa and AMEX. What else would you want? For Travel perks I have my AMEX Plat…Ink Unltd/Plus for 5x on Cell Phone/Internet/Cable and Office Supply stores. So I have everything pretty much covered. Talk about 1st World Problems huh?

  37. @dwondermeant: WOW! What a rant. If you’re telling the truth and are “sitting 20 years worth of miles and points in the many millions” I have pretty much no sympathy for you. Apart from that, a little optimism wouldn’t hurt either.

    @DD: I agree. I already dropped my Gold and I think Citi is attacking that combo with a single card. If someone doesn’t value Amex points much more than Citi TY I see no reason in choosing Amex now. Especially considering the countless times in the past 6 months when some restaurant in Europe did not accept my Amex but happily took my Citi MasterCard.

    I understand why losing the 1.25cpp sucks, but personally I have never used it so I can live without it. Also, the transfer partners are more similar to Amex than Chase imo, so I think that Citi is attacking them and their customers more with this move. The only thing I have trouble understanding is, now the Premier and Prestige have quite the overlap in bonus categories and there isn’t really a reason for anyone to have both of them?

  38. @Lucky or anyone who knows this

    If I product change from Premier -> Double Cash, how long will I have to wait until I am eligible for a welcome bonus for the Prestige?

  39. @dwondermeant: “Praying for a miracle”

    @HChris “I have pretty much no sympathy for you. Apart from that, a little optimism wouldn’t hurt either.”

    Lol

  40. Problem is, 3x on airfare is meaningless without travel insurance (trip delay, etc.) Which both Chase and Amex provide. *face palm emoji*

  41. Considering they killed all travel protections a while, was anyone using this card mainly for air/travel? By adding 3x on grocery, increase to 3x on dining and along with already 3x on gas, this is more of a everyday household card. So if you stopped using this card due to all protections being cut, this might give a reason to use this card again, depending on what else you carry in your wallet.

  42. The entertainment category was a joke anyway. It excludes things like golf/tennis clubs so basically it was for event tickets only. Groceries and dining are far broader and usable.

    I’d call it a modest net positive personally but still unsure what my/wife’s wallet will look like post-COVID-19. I expect some serious AF relief for my premium cards given most benefits are virtually worthless for now — looking at you CSR and AMEX Platinum…

  43. Quick update that I was wrong on one part of this — existing cardmembers get the best of both worlds in the short term, and will also get the new bonus categories as of August 23. I updated the post to reflect that.

  44. The win here is 3x uncapped groceries. Unfortunately I have no way to cash out VGC anymore so it’s lost on me.

    See ya, Premier card.

  45. @Ben – can you please clarify if we need a second TYP card (IE: Premier) to be able to convert points from our Double Cash card into the TYP program?

    For me, this card is losing what’s unique and valuable about it: 2x on Entertainment. Big ticket items (Concerts, NBA season tickets, theater subscriptions, etc.) will no longer go on this card, after April (Amex Blue Business will probably get those charges) and it’ll likely gather dust in my drawer.

  46. Does Citi code meal delivery kits as grocery? I spend a lot on purple carrot, blue apron etc. Have been using double cash but would switch premier to the default payment

  47. what about xfr to partner (Virgin Atlantic) then book with Vir Atl and pay fees with Chase or AMEX for travel (trip delays, etc) Still in place. My main travel is to/from Japan on ANA. Just wait for xfr bonus (30%) to do this. May not keep after next AF.

  48. @Tom, I don’t see what the big deal is about the Premier losing 2x on entertainment. If you transfer cash back to TY points, the Double Cash offers 2x TY points on ALL non-bonus spend. That is why the Premier and Double Cash combo is so awesome. Use your Double Cash to your heart’s content to buy those sport’s tickets.

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