Citi Premier Card Review (2019)

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Card Reviews
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When talking about mid-range credit cards that earn transferrable points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is probably the first card that comes to mind for many. The card offers a big welcome bonus, bonus categories, and great protection.

However, there are a couple of cards that can compete with the Sapphire Preferred, and in this post I wanted to take a look at one of those cards, which I think for many people may just be a better option.

Citi Premier Card Basics

The Citi Premier℠ Card is an often overlooked card that offers a welcome bonus that could get you $750 worth of travel (or potentially even more), that offers up to 3x points in certain spending categories, and that earns points that can be transferred to over a dozen airline partners.

Is this card right for you, though? Let’s look at this card in a bit more detail.

60K Point Welcome Bonus ($750 Worth Of Airfare)

The Citi Premier has a welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months. This bonus was increased earlier this year, as previously the card offered a bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points.

At an absolute minimum, ThankYou points earned with this card can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards an airfare purchase, meaning that 60,000 ThankYou points will get you $750 worth of airfare.

As I’ll explain below, there are ways to get way more value out of the points than that.


Redeem your ThankYou points for a flight in Royal Air Maroc’s 787 business class

Card Bonus Eligibility

There are some restrictions to be aware of if you’re looking to earn the welcome bonus on the Citi Premier. You’re not eligible for the welcome bonus if you’ve:

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

In other words, it’s fine if you have one of those other cards, but you just can’t have opened or closed it in that time period. So if you’re a current Citi Prestige Card member, you can get the Citi Premier Card as long as you got the Prestige over 24 months ago.

Also be aware of Citi’s other general card approval rules:

  • You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
  • You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days

See this post for the details of most major credit card restrictions down by issuer.

Citi has some unique restrictions when it comes to card eligibility

Product Changing

Citi will often let you product change cards from one card to another, assuming you’ve had it for at least 12 months. So for example, one strategy could be to apply for the Citi Premier, and then later you could product change it to the Citi Prestige or Citi Rewards+.

You’ll have to call Citi to find out the options available on your account.

$95 Annual Fee

The Citi Premier Card has a reasonable $95 annual fee. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and any spending they put on their card will contribute towards the points you earn.

Earning Points With The Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier offers the best bonus categories of any mid-range credit card, in my opinion. When picking a credit card I recommend getting one that offers bonus points in categories that you’re likely to spend a lot.

Credit cards offer bonus points on categories like travel, dining, gas, supermarkets, etc., so just pick a card that offers points in categories useful to you.

3x Points On Travel & Gas

The Citi Premier offers an incredible 3x points on travel and gas purchases. There’s no limit to how many bonus points you can earn with this bonus category.

What Counts As Travel & Gas?

For the purposes of earning 3x points, here’s what’s included:

purchases at airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, gas stations, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, campgrounds and trailer parks, timeshares, bus lines, motor home/recreational vehicle rentals and boat leases and rentals

2x Points On Dining & Entertainment

Not only does the card offer 3x points on travel and gas, but it offers 2x points on dining and entertainment. Dining is a huge bonus category for many, and I’d note that entertainment is a unique bonus category that you don’t see on many cards.

What Counts As Dining & Entertainment?

For the purposes of earning 2x points, here’s what’s included:

purchases at restaurants (including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants), and on select entertainment, including live entertainment, live theatrical productions, concerts, live sporting events, movie theaters, amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals), tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries), record stores, video rental stores and on-demand internet streaming media;

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Citi Premier has no foreign transaction fees, so this is an excellent card to use for purchases globally, since you can earn valuable rewards while not being stuck with those fees, which are sometimes 3%.

Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

The Citi Premier℠ Card earns ThankYou points. This is one of the four major transferable points currencies, and it’s also a points currency that I’ve found has increased in value significantly over the past couple of years. So let’s take a closer look at how redemptions work.

Redeem Points For 1.25 Cents Towards Airfare

A lot of people are put off by the complexity of airline frequent flyer programs, in which case the ability to redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of airfare is a great option to have.

You just have to book your travel through the Citi ThankYou travel center, and you can choose if you want to pay for your ticket entirely or partly with points.

This lets you avoid the blackout dates and complicated pricing of airline frequent flyer programs, and you’ll typically even earn airline miles for the tickets purchased using this method.

Redeem points for 1.25 cents towards airfare

Transfer Points To Airline Programs

Citi ThankYou points can also be transferred to airline partners. The program has the following 15 partners:

Citi ThankYou Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
Air France KLM Flying Blue1000 : 1000
Avianca LifeMiles1000 : 1000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1000 : 1000
Etihad Guest1000 : 1000
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands1000 : 1000
Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles1000 : 1000
Jet Airways JetPrivilege1000 : 1000
JetBlue TrueBlue1000 : 1000
Malaysia Airlines Enrich1000 : 1000
Qantas Frequent Flyer1000 : 1000
Qatar Privilege Club1000 : 1000
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1000 : 1000
Thai Royal Orchid Plus1000 : 1000
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1000 : 1000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1000 : 1000

This can be a great value if you’re looking to redeem for first and business class travel. That’s because first and business class tickets are often super expensive if paying cash, while they’re often reasonably priced if paying in points.

My favorite partners are Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Etihad Guest, Singapore KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and more.

Redeem ThankYou points for travel in Etihad first class

Look Out For Transfer Bonuses

One way to get even more value out of your ThankYou points is to look out for airline transfer bonuses. Occasionally Citi offers additional bonuses when you transfer points, and these can often be in the range of 20-30%.

We’ve seen these to Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca LifeMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and more. These can be a great deal.

What About Redeeming For Gift Cards?

While you can redeem ThankYou points for gift cards, merchandise, and more, you absolutely shouldn’t consider this. That’s because you’ll consistently get less than a cent of value per point, which isn’t a good deal. Please redeem your ThankYou points for some sort of travel purchase, because you’ll get better value.

How Should You Redeem Citi ThankYou Points?

It all depends on what your travel goals are. Generally speaking:

  • If you’re just looking to redeem for economy travel, then redeeming points for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of airfare could be a good deal
  • If you want to redeem for travel in first and business class, there’s huge value in learning airline award charts, because you can get outsized value that way

Redeem your ThankYou points for travel in Delta business class

How To Combine Citi ThankYou Points

Note that if you have the Citi Premier, Citi Prestige, and or Citi Rewards+, then you can pool the points earned across all three cards. You can also transfer ThankYou points to other ThankYou members, though do note that these points then expire sooner.

Citi Premier Card Benefits

The Citi Premier Card used to be exceptional in this category, but unfortunately, that will be changing shortly. So let’s take a look at how the benefits of this card stack up to others when you factor in these changes.

World Elite Mastercard Benefits

The Citi Premier is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning that it comes with quite a few benefits you may not be familiar with. For example, Mastercard World Elite cardholders receive:

  • A $10 Lyft credit after every five rides taken in a calendar month
  • $5 off every Postmates order of $25 or more

Reduced Purchase, Travel, And Car Rental Coverage

Historically the Citi Premier offers excellent purchase protection, travel protection, and car rental coverage, though unfortunately this is being largely cut as of September 22, 2019. Unfortunately in that way the card is no longer very compelling.

Is The Citi Premier Card Worth It?

The Citi Premier℠ Card offers the most rewarding bonus categories of any mid-range credit card, in my opinion, and also has one of the best welcome bonuses. I also love Citi ThankYou points, and get huge value by transferring them to airline partners, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus.

However, it’s also a bummer that Citi is eliminating travel protection, car rental coverage, and more, as of September 2019.

So, how does this compare to some of the other cards out there?

Comparison: Citi Premier Vs. Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is the premium version of the Citi Premier, so how do the cards compare?

  • Welcome bonus: Citi Premier offers up to 60K points, Citi Prestige offers up to 50K points
  • Annual fee: Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, Citi Premier has a $495 annual fee
  • Points earning: Citi Premier offers 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment, Citi Prestige offers 5x points on air travel and dining and 3x points on hotels and cruise lines
  • Other perks: The Prestige has the benefit of offering a $250 travel credit every year, a Priority Pass membership, a fourth-night free benefit, and more.

In general, my recommendation is to start with the Citi Premier, see how you like it, and then after a year you can always product change to the Citi Prestige. That way you can take advantage of the better bonus and lower annual fee on the Citi Premier as you get used to the Citi ThankYou program.


If you value a Priority Pass membership, the Citi Prestige is a good option

Alternatives To The Citi Premier

If you want to consider another mid-range card in place of the Citi Premier, there are two cards I’d most consider:

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) is probably the biggest competitor to the Citi Premier.

The card also has a $95 annual fee, also has a 60K point welcome bonus, and also has points that can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards travel. I’d say the biggest differences are:

  • The Citi Premier has better bonus categories, as the card offers triple points on travel and gas and double points on dining and entertainment, while the Sapphire Preferred offers double points on dining and travel
  • The Sapphire Reserve offers significantly better travel, car rental, and purchase protection after September, so everyone has to decide how much they value that

Amex Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card (review) offers 4x Membership Rewards points for dining at restaurants globally, 4x points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spend per year), and 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines.

Those are some spectacular bonus categories, though the limitation on only being able to earn bonus points at supermarkets is significant, especially for those with large grocery bills.

The card has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees), though offers a $100 annual airline fee credit and up to $120 annual dining credit to offset it, though both of those benefits come with quite a few terms.

This card also doesn’t offer any real travel or car rental protection. So I think this is a great card for maximizing spend, though it’s not particularly well rounded, if you’re looking for a single card.

Citi Premier Card Summary

The Citi Premier℠ Card is an underrated card that earns valuable transferrable points. The card has a reasonable annual fee, huge welcome bonus, and huge bonus categories, especially for those who spend a lot on travel, gas, dining, and entertainment. I recently picked up this card myself, and think it’s a great card for others to consider as well.

In general for mid-range cards I really think it’s between the Citi Premier and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, as both are excellent cards. You can always pick up both cards and then long term decide which makes the most sense for you.

Apply Now for the Citi Premier Card Card with 60,000 bonus points!

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. This is my main card for all its 2x+ categories (travel, dining, entertainment). My first year renewal is coming up and I plan to renew it despite the travel protections being dropped. For me as a coach flyer it is really nice to have the fallback 1.25cpp option since it’s fairly often just as good of a deal for me as transferring to partners. Actually going to the Philippines from SFO is usually a better deal with the portal for me … the cash price for my flight next year is $615 (Nice Korean Air itinerary with just a couple hours stop in Seoul, not a goofy multi-stop routing), whereas with the best FF program it’s 60,000 miles (ANA and Alaska both I believe).

  2. For as much as people talk about the 1.25cpp option for Citi Premier and Chase Preferred, it is shocking that travel bloggers basically never mention that Membership Rewards Points can be redeemed for 1.25cpp cash through the Amex Schwab Platinum card.

  3. @Anthony – likely because Amex isn’t paying the bloggers to promote (plus, having a Schwab account is a limiting factor)

  4. Citi Premier has some offers recently, like 5x points for paying phone/internet/insurance bills for up to 2500 points, and $10 back for making 5 apple pay purchases, etc. I guess they got rid of the extra travel benefits to add offers like Amex offers.

  5. Ben, I hold the Citi Prestige card (for 3+ years), and my annual fee has just posted. Because the Prestige is no longer worth the $495 annual fee to me, I’m thinking that instead of a product change to the Premier, I’ll just apply for the Premier to get the sign-up bonus. If I cancel the Prestige AFTER receiving the Premier card, do you think that will disqualify me from the Premier sign-up bonus?

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