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 points on dining and travel, and valuable travel and purchase 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. This is an incredibly underrated card, especially in conjunction with the Citi® Double Cash Card (as I’ll explain below).
Citi Premier Card Basics For March 2021
The Citi Premier® Card is an often overlooked card that offers a welcome bonus of 60K points, five different categories where the card earns 3x points, and also offers lots of flexibility thanks to how many transfer partners there are.
Is this card right for you, though? Let’s look at this card in a bit more detail.
Welcome Bonus Of 60,000 Citi ThankYou Points
The Citi Premier® Card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months. Not only can you transfer those points to airline partners, but you can also redeem them towards other purchases.
Through April 2021, points earned on this card can also be redeemed towards airfare at the rate of 1.25 cents per point, though after that time points can be redeemed for just one cent each towards airfare.
Redeem your ThankYou points for 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.
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
Citi has some unique restrictions when it comes to card eligibility
Citi will often let you product change from one card to another, assuming you’ve had it for at least 12 months. 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 that authorized users put on their card will contribute towards the points you earn.
Earning Points With The Citi Premier Card
The Citi Premier® Card 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 in.
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 Air Travel & Hotels
The Citi Premier offers 3x points on air travel and hotel purchases, with no limit on how many bonus points you can earn. This includes purchases made directly with airlines and hotels, as well as purchases through travel agencies.
I value ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, that’s like a 5.1% return in these categories.
Earn 3x ThankYou points on flight purchases
3x Points On Gas
The Citi Premier offers 3x points on gas station purchases. Again, I value that at a ~5.1% return, and that makes this one of the best cards for gas station purchases.
3x Points On Dining
The Citi Premier also offers 3x points on dining, which includes restaurants, cafes, takeout, and delivery. A 5.1% return (by my valuation) in this category makes this one of the best cards for dining.
3x Points On Groceries
Lastly (but certainly not least), the Citi Premier offers 3x points on groceries. I would also consider this to be one of the best cards for supermarket purchases.
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 as high as 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 few years thanks to all the transfer partners that have been added. Let’s take a closer look at how redemptions work.
Redeem Citi ThankYou points for flights in JetBlue Mint
Transfer Points To Airline Programs
Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to airline partners. The program has the following 15 partners:
|Citi ThankYou Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio|
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||1000 : 1000|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||1000 : 1000|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1000 : 1000|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1000 : 1000|
|Emirates Skywards||1000 : 1000|
|Etihad Guest||1000 : 1000|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1000 : 1000|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1000 : 1000|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1000 : 1000|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1000 : 1000|
|Qatar Privilege Club||1000 : 1000|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1000 : 1000|
|Thai Royal Orchid Plus||1000 : 1000|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||1000 : 1000|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1000 : 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, Avianca LifeMiles, Etihad Guest, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, 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.
Redeem Points For 1.25 Cents Towards Airfare
Through April 9, 2021, points earned on the Citi Premier can be redeemed towards airfare at the rate of 1.25 cents per point. Some might consider this to be a worthwhile ratio, though personally I still prefer transferring points to airlines.
As of April 10, 2021, points can only be redeemed at the rate of one cent each towards airfare, so I wouldn’t recommend redeeming that way starting next April.
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 travel (whether now or in the future), 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 (through April 2021)
- 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 an outsized value that way
I understand many people aren’t traveling now (for good reason), but there’s a lot of value in racking up points now so that you can redeem them for experiences when you’re ready to travel.
Redeem your ThankYou Points for travel in Delta business class
You Can Combine Citi ThankYou Points
Note that if you have the Citi Premier, Citi Prestige, Citi Rewards+, and/or Citi Double Cash, then you can pool the points earned across all the cards. You can also transfer ThankYou points to other ThankYou members, though do note that these points then expire sooner.
Citi Premier Card Benefits
I would plan on getting the Citi Premier® Card for the bonus and return on spending that it offers, rather than the perks. That being said, the card does have some benefits that people may find useful.
$100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
With the Citi Premier, you can get $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when booking through Citi ThankYou. This benefit is available once per calendar year.
For some people, this will more or less be worth face value, while for others it will be worth very little. If you can get value out of this, it could more than make up for the annual fee on the card.
Get a $100 annual hotel credit with the Citi Premier
World Elite Mastercard Benefits
The Citi Premier is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning that it comes with quite a few benefits, including savings with Lyft, Boxed, ShopRunner, and more.
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, as the card offers 3x points in five different categories. I also love Citi ThankYou points, and get huge value by transferring them to airline partners, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus.
So, how does this compare to some of the other cards out there?
Tip: Complement With Citi Double Cash
- Has no annual fee
- Offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase
- However, those rewards can be converted into ThankYou points in conjunction with the Citi Premier, at the rate of one cent per ThankYou point
The Citi Double Cash is my go-to card for everyday spending, and I consider this to be an unbeatable combination. You can earn 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, and more, and 2x points on all of your other purchases.
- Each purchase on the card is rounded up to the 10 nearest ThankYou points, so this is a great card for small purchases
- Having the Citi Rewards+ gets you 10% back for the first 100,000 ThankYou points redeemed per calendar year, so having this card will make your points go further
Comparison: Citi Premier Vs. Citi Prestige
- Welcome bonus: Citi Premier offers 60,000 points, Citi Prestige offers 50,000 points
- Annual fee: Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee
- Points earning:
- Citi Premier offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, hotels, and gas
- Citi Prestige offers 5x points on dining air travel, and 3x points on hotels and cruise lines
- Other perks: The Prestige has the benefit of offering a $250 travel credit every year and a Priority Pass membership
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.
Personally, I think the Citi Premier is a more well-rounded credit card nowadays.
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 Vs. Citi Premier
The card also has a $95 annual fee, so the biggest differences are the following:
- The Sapphire Preferred has the same welcome bonus, of 60K points
- The Citi Premier has better bonus categories, as the card offers triple points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, and hotels, while the Sapphire Preferred “only” offers double points on dining and travel
- The Sapphire Preferred offers significantly better travel, car rental, and purchase protection, so everyone has to decide how much they value that
Amex Gold Card Vs. Citi Premier
- 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)
- 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines.
As you can see, the Amex Gold is better for dining and U.S. supermarkets, though it doesn’t offer bonus points on gas or hotels.
Citi Premier Card Summary
The Citi Premier® Card is an underrated card that earns valuable transferrable points. The card has a reasonable annual fee, a huge welcome bonus, and excellent 3x points categories. I don’t think there’s a single other card in the market with bonus categories as well-rounded as this card.
When you complement it with the ability to earn 2x ThankYou points per dollar with the Citi® Double Cash Card, that’s a great duo.
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.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees).