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:

  • 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
  • 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
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 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.

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 think in terms of simplicity and transfer partner robustness, Amex Green and Blue Business Plus (if you’re okay getting a business card) is a very solid combination for $150. You get 3X dining, 3X all travel (not just flights, hotels, and OTAs like with Citi after the refresh), and 2X all the rest. Amex Offers will surely help reduce the fee and boost earn (and if you would otherwise buy Clear, all the better). Amex also offers frequent transfer bonuses. And as opposed to the Premier or Chase Preferred, the Amex Green $100 Loungebuddy credit can help you squeeze in a few lounge visits without needing a premium card with Priority Pass if you don’t fly all that much.

  2. Citi Premier allows you to redeem points for cash on a 1:1 ratio to pay your mortgage. May not be the best redemption “value” out there but , fulfilling the necessities is the real gauge of “value”

  3. I’ve worked the Amex system for a few years, getting every card and the sign up bonus. Next, I worked the Chase system and all of the sign up bonuses. I have a few keepers, however I dump the fee cards and move on. Now I’m getting into the Citi system. I will work these cards for a few years and then dump them too. Next? B of A and Barclays? We’ll see. Then I’ll start the whole process all over again.

  4. I’m so over Chase with all the devalues and losing partners. Amex is the way to go, but Citi is better than Chase if you value transfer partners and air travel.

    @Alan
    Normally the ideal order is Chase then BoA then Citi then Amex based on their card issuing rules.

  5. I’m with the other Andrew – I have Amex Green and Citi Premier + DC, nothing with Chase. Chase and United mutually eroded the UR value by inertia (not innovating cards adequately) and deflation, respectively.

    I also gave up all my “luxe” cards, because there’s simply no reason to pay a premium for lounges I don’t use in 2020-2021. Maybe that will be a thing in the future; I can pay for it then.

  6. Tomj – Chase lets you redeem points 1:1 for cash, which is the same as Citi letting you redeem 1:1 to pay your mortgage. Chase also lets you redeem for 1.25 for travel or pay yourself back.

    IMO, UR are worth more than TYP solely due to Hyatt transfers (and maybe United). Those are unique to Chase and useful. I don’t believe Citi has any *unique* transfer partners. A simple $95 combination of Freedom Unlimted, Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Preferred provides a lot of value. I also have Citi Premier + Double Cash. In all honesty having both of these setups make sense given the low fees.

  7. Anthony – I prefer the WoH card to UR cards for Hyatt earn. Hard to beat 4-5 miles per dollar on a $95 card.

    I don’t count United at all. They went dynamic awards and promptly raised reward costs during the pandemic. If that’s not a sign of bad faith, I don’t know what is.

  8. I think there is another comparison to have: financial (as opposed to point) ecosystem between Chase and Citi.

    Myself, I am rather happy with Chase (I have very bad experience with B of A, and a meh experience with Wells Fargo). Essentially, vast majority of my finance is with Chase, from mortgage to checking to saving to investment. They have treated me rather decently.

    I am not sure about Citi, though. Amex is… interesting. Amex cards are very decent (they have a good arsenal of cards for various purposes), but their personal finance side is meh at best. Also, there is a real gap in between the 2. For example, I have been to Chase bank and asked the Chase banker to call their credit card department for me. I don’t think I can do the same thing with Amex (I have the saving account with Amex, and you can feel the wall of separation). That said, Amex has some partnership with Morgan Stanley (yo, free Platinum card is nice!), so you can use that.

    The reason I bring this up is two-fold. First, a person has more financial needs than just credit cards (I hope?), and having fewer points of contact is nice. Second, occasionally that side helps. For example, I got a sweet deal to close mortgage with Chase (super fast too), some 60K points free (they matched the better rates I found). For most people, having a good bank with a decent reward credit card is better than having an excellent reward credit card with mediocre banking.

  9. @Anthony

    Amex has the best partners, but Citi has Avianca, Turkish, and Cathay Pacific which are all very solid (for different reasons). I just booked New Zealand to Doha to DFW in Qsuites for 90k Cathay Pacific Asia miles transferred from Citi. That’s 30 hours in Qsuites and it directly flies into my home airport. I couldn’t find anything decent using Chase points. I will agree that Hyatt is solid. Virgin Atlantic is still useful with ANA and flights to Europe on Delta, but I feel another devalue coming for them. Avios Miles and Emirates are okay, but the United devalue just ruined Chase for me.

  10. I’m with many others here — citi wins over chase easily. Chase is no longer competitive with their bonus categories or transfer partners. I can get past Korean leaving but the dagger was when UA devalued their program. Chase has Krisflyer and that’s about it. I’ve moved away from chase and fully utilizing Citi and Amex. 10x at grocery stores and gas stations for first 6 months with platinum on top of 100k sign up bonus. Insane

  11. I’m with many others here — citi wins over chase easily. Chase is no longer competitive with their bonus categories or transfer partners. I can get past Korean leaving but the dagger was when UA devalued their program. Chase has Krisflyer and that’s about it.

    –Tom

    Do people who complain about how UR points have become “useless” or “less competitive” because UA ‘devalued’ their miles (just like AA and DL, BTW) realize that they do not ever have to book award travel to fly with UA, but that instead they can use UR points to book award travel through MileaPlus to fly with any of the other 25 *A carriers. That’s what I have always done and it’s also always been my way of thinking of transferable points.

    — I can transfer AMEX MR points to my SQ account;
    — I can transfer UR points to my SQ or UA account;
    — to avoid “currency dilution”, I earn no other transferable points currencies.

    Therefore, I tend think of my SQ miles, UA miles, AMEX MR points and Chase UR points cumulatively as my *A miles , and simply add them as equivalent points currencies. As of now, I have over 1.2M *A miles , i.e., enough get around the world a few times on award tickets that would not include flying on UA metal.

  12. Magice – I agree that as a bank, Chase does win. I tried CitiGold and it was a slice of hell. They can’t link accounts together. The app forgets who you are. Forget about customer and technical support. They fail to sign you up for paperless. 50% of transactions require Docusign that get mailed to you as big bundles of paper (which you then must shred because who cares about this stuff but they put my information all over it.)

    But although I’m private client, chase is hella stingy. Zero benefits for any banking relationship. No discounts on AF, no improved approval rate. Nada.

    So I bank with chase and use Amex and Citi for 90% of my card needs.

  13. I currently give the edge to Chase because of Southwest and Hyatt.

    I have used my TY points for a Singapore business flight (I realize I could have used UR also) but none of us are flying too many International business flights these days.

    I had the Prestige and got the Premier last year and cancelled the Prestige once they gutted the benefits. I still have the Sapphire Reserve.

  14. DCS – not all *A miles are the same. United will devalue you when they feel like they need to reduce their obligations on their balance sheet and Singapore will terminate miles not used.

    And the point of dilution stands. You bring up competitors as an example, but the OneWorld value hasn’t dropped as precipitously as *A. For example, I booked an 80k JAL F award recently, and thanks to United devaluing *A partners, the same ANA F award would run 120k.

  15. @Andrew — Nothing in your statement proves that all miles are not created equal. It simply reflected your approach to “the game”. It is silly to expect the value of miles to remain the same forever when not even the value of the mighty dollar can be expected to remain the same forever. If United will devalue, so will DL or AA or SQ lest they be crushed under the weight unsustainable financial liability associated with too many points issued relative those being redeemed. The solution is simple: rather than hogging points currencies, one must make an effort to redeem them as frequently as possible. Rather than parking one points in the miles of a specific airline, one must park them in a transferable currency to maximize flexibility.

    In short, your statements simply reflected the way you play the game. they does not disclose any fundamental truths or practical wisdom about points currencies.

  16. Citi is a clear winner for me who uses points to fly in F or J to Asia. Citi has more transfer partners that fly to Asia without the hassles of looking for partner flights in another loyalty program.

  17. So, has anyone received a 1099 to report a redemption on your income tax return? It happened to me several years ago when I redeemed points for a hotel in Venice, Italy. It sort of soured me on this card. I recently had some points that were going to expire (I didn’t realize they expired) …. so, I got some Target gift cards and hope the value was low enough not to trigger a Form 1099.

  18. @DCS I do understand that you can book with other StarAlliance carriers via UA but that’s not my complaint. The value isn’t there is my complaint. It’s dynamic pricing. It used to be I could book BR nonstop from IAH-TPE for 70k. Now that’s changed drastically and for the worse. After a short search I cannot find the nonstop option for a specific date but if I add a connection from AUS to TPE then it shows — fine, right? Oh that’ll now be 88k one way lol. So if I wanted to book two people (my wife and I) that represents an extra 36k extra miles than what I used to pay more than a 50% increase. Again, I don’t care about the partners if it means I have to save an extra 36k and mind you that’s on a random Tuesday in October.

  19. @Tom — You confused me: you are booking BR awards, which are not dynamically priced and blaming the lack of value on UA’s dynamic pricing? UA dynamically prices their own awards and not partners’. Therefore, I completely fail to see what one has to do with the other. BR makes their awards available to partners. When you search on UA, what you see is what BR made available to UA. The fact that initially invisible BR awards may show after you add a segment or connection is also due to BR and not UA, which has little control over BR awards.

    All my other points remain. You do not need to book UA awards. I never do. I just use their search engine, one of the better ones out there, to book *A awards with either UA miles or UR points. I have not searched for awards in more than a year so I could not speak to how hard it’s gotten to find ‘cheap’ ones, but UA is not the only airline that has “devalued” their program. In fact, complaints about lack of cheap awards were around long before there was dynamic award pricing, which, BTW, can go either way (can be cheaper or more expensive) depending on supply vs. demand during your travel window. To get great award values often requires patience, persistence and/or pure good ol’ luck.

  20. @DCS …but they are dynamically priced. Directly from a UA spokesman regarding the removal of their award chart for their S* partners from TPG “We announced in April of last year that all award pricing will be dynamic beginning November 2019. This change is consistent with other major carriers and allows us to align information regarding all MileagePlus award flights, whether it is for travel on United or one of our partner airlines.” — so yes, BR is dynamically priced which is in fact reflected on UA’s site.

    You’re making points which aren’t relevant to my argument that UR points are simply less valuable after UA’s devaluation. Example, I do understand I don’t NEED to book on UA but this would offer MORE options if they were priced like they used to be which was my point. I don’t get why you’re in favor (or defending) of UA devaluing their award chart then attempting to make an argument that it hasn’t hurt chase cards/UR points lol I mean that just doesn’t make much sense but I’ll leave it there as I will not be convinced collecting UR points even remained unchanged (they didn’t, they became less valuable which is just basic logic of playing the miles game) and nor will you. Cheers

    Have a good day

  21. @DCS …but they are dynamically priced. Directly from a UA spokesman regarding the removal of their award chart for their S* partners from TPG “We announced in April of last year that all award pricing will be dynamic beginning November 2019. This change is consistent with other major carriers and allows us to align information regarding all MileagePlus award flights, whether it is for travel on United or one of our partner airlines.

    Tom

    The bolded part is not true because not all *A partners have adopted dynamic award pricing, which that statement implies.

    The whole concept of UA dynamically pricing another program’s awards if that program does not practice dynamic award pricing seems like nonsense to me. The charts may have disappeared but the award availability and costs are still dictated by *A partners. So, if UA prices BR awards dynamically, it must mean that BR prices dynamically to start with. What I seem to recall is that after the demise of the *A award chart the cost of all *A awards on UA increased by about 10% across the board. I remember because I did check to see what my 2020 Year-end Asian Escapade(TM) awards would have cost under the new chart-less booking scheme.

    You keep insisting on blaming on UA devaluations that have nothing to do with UA, while also being seemingly bat-blind to the fact that UA is not the only airline that has devalued its awards.

    The bottom line remains this: you do not have to purchase UA awards with you UR points. You can purchase partner awards through UA and they will usually be cheaper than UA’s by about 50%.

    I will do some ‘research’ to verify your claim…

    G’day

  22. I was going to leave it alone but “seemingly bat-blind to the fact that UA is not the only airline that has devalued its awards.” I will not stoop to personal insults as you have but rather just reply with, again, this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with “oh but other airlines have done it” guess what? That’s what my toddler argues when he tries to make an argue “oh but the other boy does it” and? That’s not relevant here. I can’t transfer UR points directly to AA or DL from UR. I don’t give a damn about other airlines. I am focusing on the relationship between UR and UA in which UA applies dynamic pricing to their partners and how that has devalued UR points. Just like other cards who transfer directly to other programs who have moved to dynamic pricing. I would make the same argument. Jesus Christ mate start with reading comprehension then move to the points game. Done.

  23. @Tom — Should’ve left it alone considering that you still failed to address gaping holes and inconsistencies in your claims about UA’s purported devaluation of UR points based on dynamic pricing of partner awards even when a partner does not practice dynamic pricing.
    FYI: absence of award chart and dynamic pricing are not the same thing, as that seems to be the source of your confused claim.

    G’day.

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