Chase Sapphire Preferred Vs. Citi Premier: 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 are trying to decide which of the 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:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three 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 it is a toss-up with the same bonuses.


60,000 Ultimate Rewards points is enough for $750 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
  • Limited time, through April 30, 2021: 2x points on grocery store purchases, on up to $1,000 per month in spending
  • 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, unfortunately, cut most travel protection benefits last year, so the card is no longer useful for that

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
AirlinesHotels
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
AirlinesHotels
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 are 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 while 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 probably 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 3x points on dining and drugstores
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) offers 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

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. So 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 combination of the Citi Premier and Citi Double Cash.

I love being able to create a portfolio of Chase cards

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 want to travel and car rental coverage.

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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Comments
  1. I wonder how Citi and Chase compare as banks (as opposed to merely card issuers).

    My humble experience is that Chase is a rather nice bank to deal with. I mean, sure, their saving accounts are still nothing to brag about (but then, you do get free trade for your investment account…), but their bankers are rather nice. I have dealt with about 4 bankers with Chase, and all of them have been beyond accommodating. As an example, I once needed to wire some money (down payment), and my account didn’t offer free wiring; the banker who helped me waived the fee anyway, saying something along the line of “well, you’ve been with us for a while! no need to make pennies over this kind of things.” Their mortgage department have also been very pleasant to deal with.

    In contrast, US Bank and Wells Fargo felt much less personal (and US Bank credit cards are a hassle to deal with) and much more transactional. Bank of America, well, I refuse to deal with Bank of America anymore. American Express don’t seem to have a proper banking arm (they do have saving accounts, but that is separate and much less accessible than their credit card arms).

    To me, Chase is a nice bank with some excellent cards. How’s Citi?

  2. I think citi premier had overtaken chase sapphire preferred until the 80k sign up bonus and the Dashpass membership. The premier is a better card for earning points and transfer partners, but the perks and protections on the preferred put it over the top if this is going to be your only card.

  3. For most that are looking for a mid-tier card, the Premier/DC/Rewards+ trio is incredibly rewarding and, more importantly, simple to maximize on the earnings side. DC gets the everyday spend, Premier is used in the bonus categories and Rewards+ gets used over every 6 months for a pack of gum while you gain the 10% transfer reimbursement.

    UR are a bit easier on the redemption side, as the fixed 1.25 cpm transactions, along with domestic airlines in United and Southwest, plus the only viable hotel transfer partner in Hyatt make it very easy to get value from your UR.

    Overall, if you’re willing to put in a little extra work and redeem those TY points with LifeMiles, Flying Club, etc., Citi is the winner for me. For those looking for easily accessible redemptions from familiar programs, or who can maximize the business cards, Chase is probably the choice.

  4. magice – I’ve been both Citigold and a Chase Private Client. Hands down Chase is a better experience. Chase offers $0 trades through YouInvest (Citigold still charges like $2.95 for trades if you have anything less than $1M.) Citi’s web platform is total hell (it kept forgetting I had a brokerage account on the mobile app, and it wouldn’t load half of the time in a full browser.) And every significant change (like opening an account) requires a 6-8 week turnaround and DocuSign event initiated out of some horrible back-office in Texas. They would send me paper statements 6 months after signing up for e-delivery. It’s like the total opposite of what you would want out of a bank.

    I was only tempted to get CitiGold to save on the Citi Prestige card, but all that chaos wasn’t worth the $140 I would have saved.

    Lucky – Good article! I’m glad you finally recognize that Chase has lost their Ultimate Rewards advantage on transferrable partners.

  5. Even though they are both considered mid tier cards with the same annual fee, IMO these cards are for different audiences.

    Sapphire Preferred is a great card for someone who is casually into the points and miles hobby (probably not someone reading this blog on a daily basis). Chase transfer partners are great for the average American traveler–you can top off balances to programs you already belong to, like United, Southwest and Hyatt. You can also cash out the points for 1.25 cents. Many people get Freedom or Freedom Unlimited cards early in their adult life, and this cards bumps up the earning potential. And the travel insurance is nice.

    Citi Premier has much better earning potential for someone who knows a lot about points. Obviously the category earning rates are better. If you pair it with a Rewards+ card, redemptions get even better, and in the past Citi has had more transfer bonuses (not this year). But Citi’s transfer partners prevent it from being a great early points card for most people. Yeah, you can get really outsized value for tickets using Avianca, Turkish, Virgin, etc. But that requires knowing a lot about the unique sweet spots of each program, and having the patience to deal with each of these programs (which usually are more difficult to navigate for an inexperienced traveler).

    I love my Citi TYP suite of cards–Premier, Double Cash, Rewards+, and ATTA (which is never covered but has great retention offers and warranty protection). But when someone without much experience in points and miles asks me what card they should get, I never talk about Citi. Its a mid tier card for a points & miles pro.

  6. Another positive on Chase is the auto rental protection may have a hidden perk. I had one of the auto rental companies threaten me with a damage claim that was pretty shady. (A small chip that was underneath the wiper blade that I couldn’t even see until the person pointed it out). However, when I challenged the claim and they saw that I had Chase rental protection, I never heard from them again. My hunch is that they didn’t want to 1) mess with someone their own size and/or 2) mess up a relationship with a credit card vendor that could go south. Whatever the reason, it sure saved me a big hassle and confirmed that having rental protection is worth it.

  7. Personal view (as Citigold/Chase PC): with a base earning of 2 TYP/$, I could accept redeeming TYP at 1 cent/$ which is effectively 2 cents/$ spent, while as with Chase you could only earn 1 UR/$ and even with CSR it’s 1.5 c/$ spent. If we add the top tier card then Prestige has a few 5x categories while CSR tops at 3xm, with Prestige AF lowered as gold (effectively $100).

  8. I’ve been a Citibank customer for years and have always had a good experience with the bankers at my branch. I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card and a Citi Rewards+ card. I need to check if I pay an annual fee for the Citi card.

    I haven’t been accumulating many Thank You points because a few years back I redeemed them for a hotel stay and Citibank sent me a 1099. I had to declare the cash equivalent on my income taxes. Do you know if this is still the case?

  9. Many folks have tons of airline miles, fewer have tons of hotel points. I’m one, so Chase by a landslide.

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