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

Filed Under: Chase, Citi
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Credit card benefits are constantly evolving, and it can be tough to keep track of which cards are best. This is especially true in recent months, where we’ve seen some card issuers adjust perks and add new temporary bonuses.

In light of that, I wanted to provide a comparison of two of the most popular mid-range credit cards out there.

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, in no particular order:

How do welcome bonuses compare?

Both cards are offering excellent welcome bonuses at the moment for new cardmembers, with one card having recently introduced a new best-ever offer:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months, plus a one-time automatic statement credit of up to $50 on grocery store purchases, within the first 12 months
  • The Citi Premier is offering 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months

Winner: I value Ultimate Rewards points and ThankYou points roughly equally, so the Sapphire Preferred is the winner here with the bonus that’s 20,000 points larger, and also comes with a grocery credit.

80,000 Ultimate Rewards points is enough for $1,000 worth of airfare

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:

  • Those who currently have the card, or who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 48 months
  • Those who currently have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (review), or who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 48 months
  • Those who exceed Chase’s 5/24 limit, which would be those who have opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months

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 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 it open, you just can’t have opened or closed it in that period).

How do annual fees compare?

Both 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:

  • 2x points on dining purchases
  • 2x points on travel purchases
  • 2x points on grocery store purchases, up to $1,000 per month in spending (this is limited time, through April 30, 2021)
  • 1x points on all other purchases

The Citi Premier offers:

  • 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: The Citi Premier wins by a long-shot here, as the card not only has more bonus categories, but also offers 3x points rather than 2x points in those categories.

Both cards offer bonus points on dining

How does car rental & travel protection compare?

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

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary car rental collision damage waiver coverage both in the US and abroad, and excellent flight delay, trip cancelation, and lost baggage coverage
  • The Citi Premier doesn’t offer car rental and other travel protection benefits, so the card isn’t particularly competitive in that regard

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

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 towards the cost of travel purchases.

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, and through April 30, 2021, can be redeemed at the same rate towards everyday expenses, including purchases at grocery stores, dining, and home improvement stores
  • If you instead have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards the same purchases
  • Can be transferred to the below airline and hotel partners
Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld of Hyatt
Emirates Skywards
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Citi ThankYou points earned through the Citi Premier:

  • Can be redeemed towards the cost of airfare at the rate of 1.25 cents per point through April 9, 2021 (after that points can only be redeemed for one cent each towards the cost of airfare)
  • Can be transferred to the below airline partners
Aeroméxico Club PremierN/A
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Avianca Lifemiles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Emirates Skywards
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
Etihad Guest
JetBlue TrueBlue
Malaysia Airlines Enrich
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Turkish Airways Miles & Smiles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

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 a few years back, and Citi has added partners and also offered quite a few transfer bonuses.

Personally, 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 do think Chase has the edge here in the coronavirus era. Points can be redeemed at a better cash rate towards both travel and everyday expenses, which isn’t the case with Citi ThankYou.

Both points can be transferred to Singapore KrisFlyer

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:

  • The Chase Freedom FlexSM (review) offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter, plus 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, plus 3x points on dining and drugstores
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) offers 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, plus 3x points on dining and drugstores, plus 1.5x points on everyday spending
  • The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review) 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 Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review) offers 1.5x points on everyday spending

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 two 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, and in conjunction with the Citi Premier, rewards can be transferred to ThankYou points at a rate of one cent per point, which is a great deal; 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

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 isn’t too far behind with the stacking potential of the Citi Premier, Citi Double Cash, and Citi Rewards+.

Citi ThankYou card options have become decent as well

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 bonus categories, it might be easier to get approved for, and the points give you a lot of flexibility. Complement it with a 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. On top of that, the card is especially valuable if you value travel and car rental coverage. At the moment the card is also offering an exceptional bonus, which is all the more reason to pick up this card now.

You can’t really go wrong with either, though, and you could always get both and then decide which card works better for you.

Do you prefer the Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier?

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  1. Citi Premier is the better card to have long term and I love their transfer partners, but Chase’s sign up bonus and travel protections probably put it over the top currently. The problem with Chase is that it’s really running out of sweet spots for transfer partners. There are only a few left.

  2. @Ben

    Unrelated but watch Seaspiracy (released 2 days ago) on Netflix – WOW! It is amazing and if you think pigs are too intelligent to be killed hence why you don’t eat pork then seafood should be a no no.

  3. Premier destroys CSP as individual cards, and paired with their no-AF rewards cards I think Citi is still better with rewards+ and double cash.

    I think UR ecosystem really only pulls ahead if you have CSR, not CSP. Even then with Citi Prestige in the mix it’s still a close one. I’m rambling. Premier > CSP

  4. @Ben

    Unrelated, but you should seriously watch Seaspiracy (released 2 days ago) on Netflix – WOW! It is amazing and if you think pigs are too intelligent to be eaten hence why you don’t eat pork then seafood should be a no no.

  5. Big benefit of the Citi card is the 2 years of extended warranty on purchases (Think Chase gives 1 year). Literally rescued me recently on a nearly $900 repair estimate that I had on a Dell laptop (Motherboard and screen replacement issues) that was close to the end of the third year where the card’s warrantly reimbursed the whole amount by statement credit.

  6. Citi has taken over Chase for quite some time now.
    Citi keeps improving the Premier card while Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card is standing still.

  7. A couple other points:

    Citi tends to have better retention offers, making it easy to keep long term (YMMV). The last two years when I call in they have given me a “spend $95, get $95 statement credit,” essentially making the card free. If you don’t get this, every other year you could upgrade to the Prestige. Since the $250 travel credit is per calendar year, you could double dip, which essentially covers the $495 fee. After you use up the second travel credit, downgrade back down to the Premier.

    Citi has historically had better transfer bonuses, which can up the value of the their points. Lately they have not been as good, but I think the pandemic has at least something to do with that.

    You don’t mention the AT&T Access (ATTA) card in the Citi TYP ecosystem. It is rarely mentioned but I have gotten a ton of value from it, for 2 reasons. I have gotten great retention offers year after year on this no AF card. It also still has great extended warranty protection (which was taken away from the Double Cash card), so when I purchase electronics (which is usually online), I’ll get 2x points + possible retention points + 2 extra years warranty.

  8. Citi is better. Your argument that Chase Sapphire Preferred has a better portfolio around it to earn more miles ONLY makes sense if you can utilize those miles for outsized value on partner redemptions which Citi has more of. But, this is not the argument originally posed either, which is better side by side, apples to apples…Citi. Better earning potential by far and more partners to transfer to with same annual fee. Really a no brainer.

  9. A lot of Citi promoters on the thread (I don’t disagree as I have Citi Premier + Double Cash too). However, Chase has some significant advantages that city doesn’t have

    1) A useful hotel partner (Hyatt) at a very favorable 1:1 transfer ratio
    2) The ability to redeem at 1.25 cents for travel, which can have some uses for domestic travel
    3) The ability to transfer to a legacy US air carrier (United) and a very large domestic carrier (Southwest; JetBlue doesn’t compare)

    Honestly no reason a serious miles/points person shouldn’t be in both of these ecosystems at $95 per ecosystem annually

  10. I disagree that Citi Premier has better reward structure.

    On its face, yes, Citi Premier has decent bonus categories. However, the greatest thing about Chase Sapphire (both cards) is how broad their categories are. “Travel” includes everything from toll to parking to car rental (if my memory serves). This makes them especially useful to play “catch-em-all” for a stronger flight-booking card (I am thinking of Amex Gold). Meanwhile, Citi Premier only rewards you for flights, gas, and hotels. Flights can be more rewarding elsewhere. Hotels can be more rewarding elsewhere. So except the case where you drive something really thirsty (and I don’t think you should…), Chase plays out better.

  11. Chase Sapphire Preferred had a good bonus when I got the card. I ran some tax payments and major purchases through the card. Primary coverage on rental cars is great. I used it for groceries today.

    But I do not like the on-again-off-again bonuses for various spending categories. I do not like trying to figure out whether this month I should buy groceries or something else with the card. And I’m sure not dining out yet… although I have had mandatory travel 6 times in the past 6 months.

    Most of my spending has turned to the Amex Platinum because the various vendor incentives and lounge access make the most sense to me. I don’t have to look at a chart to figure out what or where to spend.

  12. @magice

    The Doublecash also gets you 2x points on all those travel categories though.

    The Sapphire Preferred could be better if you have plenty of international transport expenses, like cabs, metro, trains or rental cars. But it’s also possible people overall still spend more on groceries and dining than in those travel expenses over the course of a year.

    Sapphire preferred is useful if you value Hyatt points, travel protection or simple 1.25 redemptions. Otherwise, the Citi trio is better.

  13. Well since I’ve been under Chase 24/5 for YEARS 😉 I’ve opened a Citi checking account and the 50,000 AA miles have posted, then got the premier with 60K TY points. Attempting to duplicate this with spouse. 🙂
    Premier + AmEx Everyday Preferred are used mostly. I have 30 monthly contributions to meet the .5 bonus for non Premier bonus categories. I have an Ink for those bonus categories
    But next up is self control on any more CC until under the 24/5 😉

  14. Not counting the signup bonus because it is only temporary overall I think the citi premier is a better card for point earning and more useful long term. For actual travel purchases itself I think the CSP wins out, so if you are booking flights or renting cars I would do it with the CSP but if you already have a card for those types of purchases then citi wins out.

  15. @Ben

    hi there, need some advice:
    I currently have the Citi Premier, but just got approved for the CSP with the 80K bonus offer.
    From April onwards, Citi is restricting its 3x points on travel to just air, gas and hotel, which is useless as nobody is traveling by air or staying in hotels now and my main mode of travel for work is train commute.

    1) I am thinking of downgrading the Citi Premier card to a no annual fee card, but can I transfer my TY points to the new card (for example Rewards +, which is also earns TY points) or will I lose my TY points when I switch the card? For that matter, do the no annual fee cards have the ability to transfer TY points to airline FFPs? or is it an inferior version of TY points?
    2) If I understand your article correctly, I could also sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and earn 5x UR points for my train commutes if attached to my CSP?

    Many thanks for your advice!

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