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

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Update: These offers for the Citi Premier℠ Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

Recently a new best-ever increased welcome bonus was introduced on the Citi Premier℠ Card, which is an excellent credit card with a reasonable annual fee.

The thing is, to many people that card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card look mighty similar in terms of perks, return on spend, and annual fees. So in this post I wanted to do a comparison of the two cards, so that those who are trying to decide between the cards can decide which works better for them.

So let’s compare various aspects of the cards, in no particular order:

Comparing welcome bonuses

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.

Meanwhile the Citi Premier is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.

Winner: The Citi Premier has a slight advantage, given that the bonus is higher, and doesn’t require you to add an authorized user to unlock maximum value. However, some might find Ultimate Rewards points to be more valuable, so we’ll talk more about that below.

60,000 ThankYou points is enough for $750 worth of airfare

Comparing annual fees

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier have $95 annual fees, which are waived for the first 12 months.

Winner: Tie, since both card have the same annual fees, and they’re waived for the first 12 months.

Comparing bonus categories

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers:

  • 2x points on dining and travel
  • 1x points on all other purchases

The Citi Premier offers:

  • 3x points on travel and gas
  • 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Winner: The Citi Premier has better bonus categories. Both cards offer double points on dining, while the ThankYou Premier offers triple points on travel (rather than double points), triple points on gas (rather than one point), and double points on entertainment (rather than one point).

Both cards offer double points on dining

Comparing car rental coverage

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.

Winner: The Sapphire Preferred wins because it offers primary car rental coverage, while the Citi Premier offers secondary coverage within the US.

Comparing card eligibility & approval odds

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 24 months
  • Those who currently have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months
  • Those who exceed Chase’s 5/24 limit, meaning you typically can’t be approved if you’ve 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 opened or closed a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier, or Citi Prestige in the past 24 months; in other words, it’s fine if you have one of those other cards (including the Premier), but you just can’t have opened or closed it in that timeframe.

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 three cards in the past 24 months.

Comparing the 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 instead 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:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld Of Hyatt
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

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:

Air France/KLM Flying BlueN/A
Avianca Lifemiles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
Etihad Guest
Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
Jet Airways JetPrivilege
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

Until recently I valued Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each and Citi ThankYou points at 1.5 cents each, but my valuation of Citi ThankYou points has actually increased lately. I’d say that now I value ThankYou points roughly similarly to Ultimate Rewards points. Why?

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards almost never has transfer bonuses, while we’ve seen some lucrative transfer bonuses with ThankYou points, including to Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Etihad Guest, and more, which really adds to the value of points
  • Citi ThankYou has added some valuable and unique airline partners, like Avianca LifeMiles, so having an easy way to top off those miles is great
  • I’ve increasingly found some more niche redemptions available with ThankYou points that aren’t available with other programs; for example, I redeemed just 56,000 Qantas points (transferred from ThankYou) for an EL AL first class ticket from Tel Aviv to London

Winner: Nowadays I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points equally. Both currencies can be redeemed for 1.25 cents towards travel (ThankYou points can be redeemed towards airfare at that rate, while Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed towards most travel purchases). They both have transfer partners, and while I value Ultimate Rewards partners slightly more, the regular transfer bonuses we see from Citi ThankYou mean that I value the points comparably.

Both Ultimate Rewards and ThankYou are transfer partners with Singapore KrisFlyer

Comparing the ability to create a portfolio of cards

The Citi Premier has great bonus categories that exceed those offered by the Sapphire Preferred. The catch is that there’s not really another card with which you can pool points to really maximize them — there’s not a ThankYou small business credit card, and the ThankYou Premier has better bonus categories than the Prestige.

While the ThankYou Premier independently has better bonus categories than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, what makes Ultimate Rewards points so great is the portfolio of cards you can create to really maximize your points.

For example, you could complement the Sapphire Preferred with the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, which is a $95 annual fee plus 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 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 Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card offers 1.5x points on everyday spend
  • The Chase Freedom® Card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 1.5x points on everyday spend

Winner: Chase really shines when it comes to the ability to create a portfolio of cards earning Ultimate Rewards points. So rather than only using one card to maximize points, you can use several cards, and you can pool points across them.

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

For a beginner looking for a single card, I think the Citi Premier is a great option. The welcome bonus is slightly better, the card is potentially easier to get approved for, and the points are valuable.

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.

You can’t really go wrong with either, though, and you could always get both and then decide which card works better for you. You won’t even have to pay an annual fee on either card in the first 12 months.

Do you prefer the Sapphire Preferred or ThankYou Premier?

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  1. Valuing the two currencies equally is hard to defend if you’re not trying to promote sign-ups on the Citi card. Yes, the Citi transfer partners have some value, but for most people UR points would be far easier to use with more familiar and easier-to-use partners like UA and WN.

  2. @ Bgriff — Everyone values points currencies differently, and I don’t suggest everyone should have the same valuations I do. You’re right that the timing seems odd that I’m saying this around the same time as the increased bonus, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and frankly I probably haven’t been giving the ThankYou Premier a fair amount of coverage prior to this increased bonus.

    What I can tell you is that I have hundreds of thousands of Amex and Chase points, while I’m short on Citi points. They’re points I’ve been redeeming, and points I’ve found to be especially practical.

    Speaking of Ultimate Rewards redemptions, United doesn’t actually have such great redemption rates. In many cases LifeMiles has lower rates, and they don’t have close-in ticketing fees. Korean Air doesn’t have as much award space as they used to. I’d argue Southwest isn’t even a good use of Ultimate Rewards points, because if you have those points then you should instead be redeeming them as cash towards the cost of a ticket. You’re not going to get more than 1.5 cents of value per point with Rapid Rewards transfers, unless you have Companion Pass.

    Both programs partner with Singapore and Virgin.

    So where I see value in ThankYou points is the big transfer bonuses. We’ve seen transfer bonuses to Air France-KLM, Etihad, and Virgin Atlantic. Those are really useful programs.

  3. My suspicion is that a lot of people looking at the Preferred/Citi cards are not buying International Flights in J or F… instead they’re buying domestic flights, or international in Y.

    If that is the case: transferring their points to United might be a better fit for them (which makes Chase better)… unless you can just as easily redeem US domestic flights using one of Citi’s partners.

    Has anybody tried to redeem foreign-carrier based miles on a domestic US trip?

    especially if it’s NOT a hub-hub for their US partner?

    for instance: how easy is it to use Air France/KLM to book:
    -MSP to ATL (2 delta hubs)
    -Houston to Milwaukee (not hubs)

    how about using Singapore’s program to book Baltimore to Vegas?

    Long ago I tried using Life Miles to buy US domestic tickets, but found it difficult.

    seems easier for a newbie to transfer to United instead of these international programs (*unless they live at a US Partner Hub of the international program)

  4. One thing that’s not mentioned here is that you get more bonus points if you click on “shop through Chase” in the rewards section and get more points for purchases done online like Bloomingdales, macys, sephora .. some may even offer upto 10x points.. not sure if Citi has anything like that..

  5. 1) Lucky, has your view of UR declined lately? It seems you are frustrated with the ability to redeem UR points, at least based on reply.

    2) In terms of your comment regarding 1.5 cents in your reply, it really should be 1.25 cents as someone who is putting a lot of spend on a Preferred probably doesn’t have a Reserve

    3) The obvious glaring thing missing here is the ability to transfer the Citi points to AA, which would likely more clearly swing the value proposition to the Citi card. People like to be able to top off points earned via domestic flying. I fly United once or twice a year, and I appreciate the quick ability to top off United points with UR for a quick redemption. I imagine Southwest has the same usefulness. JetBlue doesn’t offer the same bang for Citi.

  6. @ Anthony — 1) It might be time to think about that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m frustrated with UR, but Korean Air doesn’t have as much award space as they used to, and unlike Amex and Citi, they don’t offer transfer bonuses. The way I view it, the potentially useful UR partners are Korean, United, Hyatt, and Singapore.

    2) The 1.5 cent reference was in regards to Rapid Rewards points typically not being redeemable for more than 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a ticket, rather than referring to the “pay with points” option through the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

    3) Totally agree.

  7. I actually favor ThankYou rewards over UR points. Transfer to Lifemiles is pretty awesome and with Lifemiles you can do points + cash for a very nice rate. The problem with ThankYou points is there is no way t keep the points alive for more than 3 mo if you cancel the card. UR points i find to be overrated. As lucky said, UA has terrible redemption rates. i have been sitting on a bunch of UA miles forever. For domestic travel i often use my AA, Alaska or Delta miles. I regret collecting that much UR points, as it is often my last go to. I am only 3/24 but i think i am done with chase UR cards. Amex points are my ultimate go to though.

  8. @tolikfox,

    Please elaborate? UR points have been the sweethearts of bloggers for many years so it’s surprising that they are not as useful anymore. Can you elaborate from personal experience how you use the points from each of the three programs?
    The best use of UR points is transfer to hyatt or Korean.

    MR doesn’t have good transfer options. Just use it as currency with the amex business platinum.

    Thank you points I don’t know much but used to me hated by bloggers.


  9. I’m tempted to get the citi premier to combine with my no annual sears MasterCard. I get 10x the points on food gas and grocery purchases up to a certain limit all the time. No one ever talks about that card though

  10. Just got denied the Citi card because of too many credit card applications. I have only had one other this year ugh….

  11. I love to rag on Lucky, but he’s right. Citi TYP are just as valuable as UR if not more so. And they’re easy to use on LifeMiles, Singapore, FlyingBlue…

  12. @Debit,

    I never considered redeeming points for Korean Air because i would always prefer Singapore/JAL over them and not to mention i cant do one way. As for redeeming UR for Hyatt, why not just get the Hyatt card.

  13. for anyone wanting to call out Ben for mentioning citi during a citi promo, where were you when every blogger under the sun was sucking chase’s teet during the sapphire extravaganza? I still don’t understand the love for UR. My TYP balance gets tapped far more than UR or MR. Don’t make silly assumptions like “I only fly domestic on UA and WN, everyone else must as well”. I frequently book UA via SQ, and occasionally AA via etihad, among other random sweet spots. I’ve been getting 3x on travel far before the CSR came out, and just got my second premier, while also holding the prestige for a 3rd year (despite citi killing so many benefits) because their retentions are still super generous, 4th night is still useful to me, they actually have other offers like transfer bonuses and the citi50 promo earlier this year that I made considerable use of. When does chase ever offer any bonuses or retentions? How many cards will you forego for 5/24? Why does anyone love chase? Not to say I love citi, because I hate them, but TYP is ripe for a picking.

  14. I am Noob , looking for entry level travel card. I have discover student with Fico 747. I am confused between citi ty premier and CSP . I generally have 1 international round trip to india per year , 1 domestic trip in us and spending around 1000$ p.m ( other than rent and stuff). The point of confusion is mainly UR vs TY points value , Visa vs mastercard. Can you suggest what will be best choice for me .

  15. @ rajxcc — Both are great cards, and both Visa and Mastercard have good global acceptance. Based on what you say I think the ThankYou Premier may be a better option since it offers more bonus points in more categories. So that’s what I’d go with in your shoes. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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