Citi Premier Vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: Which Is Better?

Citi Premier Vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: Which Is Better?

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Credit card benefits are constantly evolving, and it can be tough to keep track of which cards are best. In this post I wanted to compare two of the most popular mid-range credit cards, both of which can be really worthwhile (and for many people it could even make sense to have both).

Comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred & Citi Premier

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) and Citi Premier® Card (review) are two of my favorite cards with annual fees of under $100. In this post, I wanted to compare the two cards since I know many people try to figure out which of these two cards makes the most sense for them.

While the cards have a lot in common, there are also major differences between them. So let’s compare various aspects of the cards.

How do welcome bonuses compare?

Both cards offer solid welcome bonuses for new cardmembers:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months
  • The Citi Premier is offering 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within the first three months

Winner: I value Ultimate Rewards points and ThankYou points roughly equally, so it’s a win for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, as the bonus is 20,000 points bigger.

Redeem points earned on both cards for travel on JetBlue

How do eligibility & approval odds compare?

Credit card issuers have all kinds of rules when it comes to approving people for new cards, and both of these cards have their fair share of restrictions.

The welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t available to:

Meanwhile, the welcome bonus on the Citi Premier isn’t available to:

  • Those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige, in the past 24 months
  • Those who have closed the Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige, in the past 24 months

Winner: While the answer will vary based on your specific situation, generally speaking, the Citi Premier is easier to be approved for. That’s because Citi doesn’t have a 5/24 rule, and also because you’re prevented from getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you have the Sapphire Reserve. With Citi the key is just that you haven’t opened or closed one of four cards in the past 24 months (it’s fine to have one of those cards, you just can’t get a welcome bonus or close a card in that period).

How do annual fees compare?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier have $95 annual fees, which aren’t waived for the first year. On both cards, you can add authorized users at no extra cost.

Winner: This is a tie since both cards have the same annual fees.

How do bonus categories compare?

Both cards offer bonus categories for purchases that are popular with consumers, but the rewards structures are very different.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers the following rewards structure:

  • 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal
  • 3x points on dining purchases
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 2x points on travel purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • 10% anniversary bonus points based on how much you spend (so if you spend $10,000 in a year, you’d get 1,000 bonus points)

The Citi Premier offers the following rewards structure:

  • 3x points on dining purchases
  • 3x points on grocery store purchases
  • 3x points on gas station purchases
  • 3x points on airfare purchases
  • 3x points on hotel purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Winner: It depends on your spending patterns, but I think the Citi Premier’s bonus categories are more well-rounded. That being said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has improved significantly in this area, and is now much more competitive. In particular, both cards are excellent for dining purchases.

Both cards offer 3x points on dining

How does rental car & travel protection compare?

One potential perk of getting a travel rewards card is valuable travel protection:

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred wins by a long shot, because it offers excellent travel coverage, while the Citi Premier doesn’t.

The Sapphire Preferred offers useful car rental coverage

How do annual hotel credits compare?

Both cards now offer annual hotel credits, though the terms associated with them differ:

While these credits are nice perks, one thing to keep in mind is that often you’ll find lower prices through other booking sources. On top of that, if you’re staying at a hotel with a loyalty program, generally third party bookings (like those through Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou) won’t earn you points, elite benefits, etc.

Winner: This is a toughie, and I’d say it’s more or less a draw. The Citi Premier credit is bigger but also requires spending a lot more, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit doesn’t have a minimum. Would you rather get a $50 hotel credit with no minimum, or 20% off a $500 hotel stay?

Both cards offer an annual hotel credit

How does the value of points compare?

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou have transfer partners, and also let you redeem points as cash toward the cost of travel purchases.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned through the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aer Lingus AerClub
IHG Rewards
Air Canada Aeroplan
Marriott Bonvoy
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
World of Hyatt
British Airways Executive Club
Emirates Skywards
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Citi ThankYou points earned through the Citi Premier:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
Choice Hotels
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
Wyndham Rewards
Avianca LifeMiles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Emirates Skywards
Etihad Guest
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
JetBlue TrueBlue
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Citi ThankYou transfer partners

As far as transfer partners go, in the past I may have said that Ultimate Rewards points were worth a bit more than ThankYou points, but I no longer think that’s the case. Chase lost Korean Air SkyPass as a partner several years back, and Citi has added partners and also offered quite a few transfer bonuses.

I value both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each.

Winner: While I personally value the points currencies roughly equally, I think Chase probably has the slight edge, thanks to the higher “cash out” value of points toward travel purchases.

Redeem points earned on both cards for travel on Singapore Airlines

How do card ecosystems compare?

One of the great things about getting a card that belongs to one of the major transferable points currencies is that there are card ecosystems that can really help you maximize points. In other words, you can get multiple cards that complement one another to maximize your rewards.

Chase Ultimate Rewards arguably offers the most robust points ecosystem. For example, you could complement the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review), which is a $95 annual fee card that offers 3x points on the first $150,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

You could also complement the Sapphire Preferred with any of the following no annual fee cards to really maximize your points earning potential:

I love being able to create a portfolio of Chase cards

The Citi Premier does directly have great bonus categories that exceed those of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and then there are three no annual fee cards that can help you maximize your ThankYou points earning potential:

  • The Citi® Double Cash Card (review) offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and 1% cash back when you pay for a purchase (in the form of ThankYou points), and in conjunction with the Citi Premier, rewards can be transfered to airline and hotel partners, which is a great opportunity; this is a way to earn two ThankYou points per dollar spent on everyday purchases
  • The Citi Rewards+® Card (review) rounds up purchases to the nearest 10 points, and also gives you a 10% refund on redeemed points, for up to 100,000 redeemed points per year
  • The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (review) offers 5x points on your top eligible spending category every billing cycle (on up to $500 of spending), with categories including drugstores, fitness clubs, gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, live entertainment, restaurants, select streaming services, select transit, and select travel

Winner: Chase really shines when it comes to the ability to create a portfolio of cards earning Ultimate Rewards points. Rather than only using one card to maximize points, you can use several cards, and you can pool points across them. That being said, Citi is quickly catching up in terms of being able to create a portfolio of cards, thanks to the potential of maximizing the Citi Premier, Citi Double Cash, Citi Rewards+, and Citi Custom Cash.

Citi ThankYou card options have become quite good

Bottom line

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 spending patterns, and what you’re looking for out of a card.

As you can see, while the annual fees on the cards are the same, otherwise there are quite some differences between them, and each card shines in different areas.

I guess to simplify my advice as much as possible, for a beginner looking for a single card, I think the Citi Premier is a great option. The card has better and more well-rounded bonus categories, it might be easier to get approved for, and the points give you a lot of flexibility. Complement it with the no annual fee Citi Double Cash, and you’ll also be earning 2x points on everyday spending.

I think the area where the Chase Sapphire Preferred really shines is if you’re looking to build a portfolio of cards, given the number of other cards that can potentially earn you tons of Ultimate Rewards points. With a recent refresh to the card, the spending bonuses are also much better, and that nicely complements the great travel and car rental coverage. The card is also offering a better bonus.

You can’t really go wrong with either, though. Given the bonuses being offered by both cards at the moment, I think there’s big value in applying for both cards and seeing how they work out for you.

Do you prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier?

Conversations (5)
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  1. Churny McChurnface Guest

    First one, then the other.

  2. Andrew Gold

    Love that 2-3-2 business class photo. So luxe. :P

  3. Daniel B. Guest

    Have a question about the Citi TY points transfer:
    I understand that I could transfer TY points from my account to my wife's account, but then I would need to use these transferred points within 90 days (I believe).
    Does it mean that if after the transfer to my wife's account, if I transfer all the combined miles to an airline program like Flying Blue, then the transferred miles become safe - not subject to the 90 day "must be used up" rule?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Daniel B. -- That's correct. Once you transfer them to a partner program, the expiration policy of that program would apply.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Churny McChurnface Guest

First one, then the other.

0
Daniel B. Guest

Thank you Lucky!

0
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Daniel B. -- That's correct. Once you transfer them to a partner program, the expiration policy of that program would apply.

0
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