Update: This offer for the Citi Premier℠ Card has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
Yesterday a new 50,000 point sign-up bonus was introduced on the Citi Premier℠ Card, which is an excellent credit card with a reasonable annual fee. One of the other best mid-range credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, so in this post I wanted to look at how the two cards compare. There’s not a single correct answer as to which card is better, so I wanted to compare some aspects of it, and then everyone can decide for themselves which card makes more sense for them.
Comparing sign-up bonus
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.
Meanwhile the Citi Premier is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.
Comparing annual fees
Comparing return on spend
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining and travel.
Meanwhile the Citi Premier offers 3x points on travel and gas, plus 2x points on dining and entertainment.
Winner: The Citi Premier has the advantage here, as it offers an additional two points per dollar spent on gas, plus an additional point per dollar spent on travel and entertainment, compared to the Sapphire Preferred. While I value ThankYou points slightly less than Ultimate Rewards points, that doesn’t make up for the Premier’s superior bonus categories.
When it comes car rental collision damage waiver coverage, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary coverage both in the US and abroad, while the Citi Premier offers primary coverage abroad, and secondary coverage within the US.
As far as other travel protection goes, there’s a lot to this, so the best card depends on exactly what kind of coverage you’re looking for. However, both cards offer trip delay reimbursement of up to $500 when you’re delayed by at least 12 hours.
Winner: The Sapphire Preferred offers better car rental coverage, while the travel protection offered by the two cards is roughly comparable.
Card eligibility & approval odds
The sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t available to current cardmembers of this card, or previous cardmembers who have received a new cardmember bonus for the card within the past 24 months. Furthermore, those who have opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months generally aren’t going to be approved for this card.
Meanwhile the sign-up bonus on the Citi Premier isn’t available to those with a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier, or Citi Prestige card opened or closed 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.
Winner: Generally speaking the Citi Premier is easier to be approved for, since the Sapphire Preferred isn’t available to those who have opened more than five cards in the past 24 months. However, for some the Premier may be more difficult, since you can’t be approved for it if you’ve opened or closed the Citi Prestige in the past 24 months.
Value of points
Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou have transfer partners, and also let you redeem points as cash towards the cost of an airline ticket.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned through the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase (if you also have the Sapphire Reserve, they can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each). On top of that, these points can be transferred to the following partners (along with the ratios and how long they usually take):
|Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Air France KLM FlyingBlue||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|British Airways Executive Club||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Iberia Plus||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1000 : 1000||~ 12 to 24 hours|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|United MileagePlus||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|IHG Rewards Club||1000 : 1000||~ 1 to 2 days|
|Marriott Rewards||1000 : 1000||~ 1 to 2 days|
|Ritz-Carlton Rewards||1000 : 1000||~ 1 to 2 days|
|World Of Hyatt||1000 : 1000||Instant|
Meanwhile Citi ThankYou points earned through the Citi Premier can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of airfare. On top of that, these points can be transferred to the following partners (along with the ratios and how long they usually take):
|Citi ThankYou Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air France KLM FlyingBlue||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Etihad Guest||1000 : 1000||~ 3-6 days|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1000 : 500||Instant|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Qatar Privilege Club||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Thai Royal Orchid Plus||1000 : 1000||~ 3-6 days|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1000 : 1000||~ 1-2 days|
Winner: I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, while I value Citi ThankYou points at ~1.5 cents each, so on a per point basis I think Ultimate Rewards points are more valuable. This is because Chase has superior transfer partners. Furthermore, you can potentially get 1.5 cents per point of value by having the Reserve Card, or at a minimum, can redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards several types of travel purchases, rather than just airfare.
Ability to maximize value of points
The Citi Premier is the all around best Citi card when it comes to maximizing your points earning potential. So there’s not another card you can supplement it with that will greatly increase the number of ThankYou points you can earn.
Meanwhile there are several no annual fee cards that can help you increase the number of points you can earn in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can have the following three no annual fee cards that earn points that can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio in conjunction with the Sapphire Preferred:
- The Chase Freedom® Card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter; the card has no annual fee
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 1.5x points on everyday spend; the card has no annual fee
- The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each anniversary year on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services, plus 2x points on the first $25,000 spend in combined purchases each anniversary year on gas stations and restaurants; the card has no annual fee
Winner: While the Citi Premier as such offers better bonus categories, there are more opportunities to maximize Ultimate Rewards points thanks to the great no annual fee cards that help you maximize your return on spend.
Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier are among the best cards with annual fees of under $100. Which card is better really depends on your specific spend patterns. and what you’re looking for out of a card. Both cards have fantastic sign-up bonuses an the first year’s annual fee waived. The Premier offers a slightly better return on spend, while the Preferred offers slightly more valuable points, and more opportunities to earn points with other cards as well.
Of course you can also get both cards, given the great sign-up bonuses and potential to maximize points with both issuers.
Which do you prefer — the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier?