These are two of my favorite cards with annual fees of under $100, so 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.
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 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.
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: Tie, since both cards offer 60K points with the same spending requirement, and I value both ThankYou and Ultimate Rewards points roughly equally.
60,000 ThankYou points is enough for $750 worth of airfare
Comparing annual fees
Winner: Tie, since both card have the same annual fees.
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 48 months
- Those who currently have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 48 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 received a new cardmember bonus on the Citi Rewards+, Citi Thank You Preferred, Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige, in the past 24 months
- Those who have closed the Citi Rewards+, Citi Thank You 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).
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 airline and hotel partners:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Bonvoy|
|British Airways Executive Club||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|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 airline partners:
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||N/A|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege|
|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 goes, 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, 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: I’m also going to call this one a tie, since the value is so highly subjective. Chase points have the slight edge when redeeming towards the cost of a travel purchase, while I’d say Citi points have the slight edge when it comes to transfer partners, particularly because of the frequent transfer bonuses we see from them.
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 aren’t many other cards with which you can pool points to really maximize them — there’s not a ThankYou small business credit card, and while Citi has a no annual fee card, it’s only mildly useful.
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 Unlimited℠ 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.
I love being able to create a portfolio of Chase cards
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.
As you can see, there are a lot of areas where the cards tie — welcome bonuses, annual fees, and value of points.
So 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.
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.
Do you prefer the Sapphire Preferred or ThankYou Premier?