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

Citi Strata 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 Strata Premier

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) and Citi Strata 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 many similarities, they also have major differences. So, let’s compare various aspects of the cards.

How do welcome bonuses compare?

Both cards offer great welcome bonuses for new cardmembers:

Winner: I value Ultimate Rewards points and ThankYou points roughly equally, so the Strata Premier is the winner with the 10,000 additional points.

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 Strata Premier isn’t available to:

Winner: While the answer will vary based on your specific situation, generally speaking, the Citi Strata 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 earned the bonus on the Citi Premier or Citi Strata Premier in the past 48 months.

How do annual fees compare?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee and Citi Strata Premier has a $95 annual fee, neither of which are 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 Strata Premier offers the following rewards structure:

  • 10x points on hotels, rental cars, and attractions booked through the Citi Travel Portal
  • 3x points on dining purchases
  • 3x points at supermarkets
  • 3x points on gas station and EV charging purchases
  • 3x points on airfare purchases
  • 3x points on other hotel purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Winner: It depends on your spending patterns, but I think the Citi Strata 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 do 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.

The Sapphire Preferred offers excellent 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 Travel 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 Strata 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
IHG One Rewards
United MileagePlus
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Citi ThankYou points earned through the Citi Strata Premier:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
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 Strata 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 Strata Premier, rewards can be transferred 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 Strata 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 Strata 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 Strata 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.

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 Strata Premier?

Conversations (3)
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  1. Jimmy Guest

    I favor the Citi cards ecosystems more, if only for the fact that Chase has multiple overlapping bonus categories across its many cards, as well as only 1.5% back for otherwise unbonused spending. Citi on the other hand has 2% on unbonused spending with the Double Cash and 3% on multiple categories on the Premier. I think the 5% back with the Custom Cash is easier than rotating categories, and 10% rebate on redeemed points with the Rewards+ is a nice bonus.

  2. tipsyinmadras Diamond

    That Citi stripped away so many features like rental car coverage, or trip delay protection makes their cards complete non-starters.

  3. Ella Guest

    While I like the rewards structure of the Premier, and like the Double Cash, the transfer partners leave me shrugging. Sure, it would be great to have a heap of Qantas points, but I have nothing to merge with this card to get them. I was excited to get the card last year with the hope that AA would remain a transfer partner, but just haven’t been using it since that single transfer.

    When...

    While I like the rewards structure of the Premier, and like the Double Cash, the transfer partners leave me shrugging. Sure, it would be great to have a heap of Qantas points, but I have nothing to merge with this card to get them. I was excited to get the card last year with the hope that AA would remain a transfer partner, but just haven’t been using it since that single transfer.

    When the Premier had a great sign-up bonus last year, many people had a hard time getting the card, and the CL was coming in quite low. They raised mine to a whopping 6.1K, but that’s still not enough to use as a serious travel card. Any reports on approval rates and CLs with the increased sub this year?

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.

Jimmy Guest

I favor the Citi cards ecosystems more, if only for the fact that Chase has multiple overlapping bonus categories across its many cards, as well as only 1.5% back for otherwise unbonused spending. Citi on the other hand has 2% on unbonused spending with the Double Cash and 3% on multiple categories on the Premier. I think the 5% back with the Custom Cash is easier than rotating categories, and 10% rebate on redeemed points with the Rewards+ is a nice bonus.

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tipsyinmadras Diamond

That Citi stripped away so many features like rental car coverage, or trip delay protection makes their cards complete non-starters.

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Ella Guest

While I like the rewards structure of the Premier, and like the Double Cash, the transfer partners leave me shrugging. Sure, it would be great to have a heap of Qantas points, but I have nothing to merge with this card to get them. I was excited to get the card last year with the hope that AA would remain a transfer partner, but just haven’t been using it since that single transfer. When the Premier had a great sign-up bonus last year, many people had a hard time getting the card, and the CL was coming in quite low. They raised mine to a whopping 6.1K, but that’s still not enough to use as a serious travel card. Any reports on approval rates and CLs with the increased sub this year?

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