Comparing Chase Sapphire Preferred & Citi Premier

Filed Under: Chase, Citi
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At the moment both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) and Citi Premier℠ Card (review) are offering 60K point welcome bonuses, which are among the best bonuses we’ve ever seen on these cards.

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

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier have $95 annual fees, which aren’t waived for the first year.

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:

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

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:

AirlinesHotels
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

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:

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

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.

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?

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Comments
  1. They can both be redeemed for 1.25 and Premier has better bonus categories and better partners. There are regular transfer bonuses. I find it to be significantly superior while the Sapphire has regressed compared to the competition. When thinking of portfolios, you didn’t cover the Citi TY cards – I’ll just leave it at that… Of course, in the end it all depends on travel patterns and personal usage.

  2. The Sapphire Preferred is better, when paired with the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited, as far as only paying one low annual fee. I do think the Citi Premier, Prestige, and Rewards Plus cards have the potential to earn a lot more points, when combined, but the nearly $600 in annual fees is tough for some to digest, in spite of the many benefits.

  3. Can points from Citi and Chase be transferred to, say, Singapore Airlines to redeem an award flight? Depending on one’s card portfolio, they may not be able to sign up for any more Chase cards due to its 5/24 rule so it makes sense to apply for Citi’s cards if a large number of points are needed in a short timeframe. Also, Chase cards with UR bonuses, both retail and business, are limited although Chase does put out new products now and then, and Chase is seemingly getting more stringent in handing out approvals or makes it inconvenient for customers to get approval. Further, I’ve read comments where Chase has closed customers’ banking relationship (for those that have come under scrutiny for whatever reason). I’ve never had a Citi card other than the AAdvantage product so I’m not certain of the ease of transferring points to a partner airline. Thanks for your article.

  4. UR probably wins as it has a domestic mainline partner (United) and hotel partners. Plus the Freedom Unlimited as a companion card at zero fee.

  5. There is a business thank you card. You just have to apply in branch only. It’s not advertised on Citi’s website, but Google for it and you’ll find it.

  6. Lucky, please address the following issues relative to this comparison.

    The value of Thank You rewards points is not transparent on the Citi website. Worse, it would appear that this information is hidden and buried unless one already has the Premier card. Many redemptions yield a point value less than $0.01/point which reduces the net yield significantly for the Citi Premier credit card. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth $0.01/point for a cash redemption. Chase is unique in the cash redemption of Ultimate Rewards points compared to AMEX and Citi.

    How does the customer service experience compare between Chase and Citibank? I have a difficult time understanding Citibank overseas customer service representatives which are evidently supported by corporate scripts for my Citi Double Cash card and the calls rarely result in issue resolution. Worse, the automated phone routing system is draconian in preventing contact with an actual representative. The Citi Double Cash card is potentially one of the industry’s best consumer options but my card was delivered late upon renewal causing all automated charges to be moved to another credit union rewards card which now receives most monthly spend. Customer service calls on my Chase Sapphire Reserve do not go through an irritating phone routing system, are answered by understandable domestic representatives, and typically result in relatively quick issue resolution.

    Your insights on these issues and reader comments would be most insightful.

  7. In addition to JimT’s excellent questions above, here’s another area that deserves attention as part of comparisons like this: Do either of these cards issue 1099 tax documents for the assumed value of their rewards? Do either subtract their annual fees from the assumed value on said 1099s? Inquiring Minds want to know. 🙂

  8. Great comparison. I have both cards. A few more points (so to speak) to be aware of:

    1. One big hassle you didn’t mention with Citi points is that if you close a card you (or even a person you transfer points to) have to use those points within something like 60 or 90 days. Otherwise, you lose them.

    2. The Chase card’s supposed benefit of primary coverage on auto rental insurance is a bogus perk. I know, from my wife’s experience with this, the very similar experience of a friend and other reports I’ve read, that Chase makes very difficult to use if you actually have an accident. It does not handle the matter of an insurance claim itself, but instead refers you to it’s insurance company, which demands repeated and excessive documentation and imposes delays that last for many months. And even at the end of that process, there’s no guarantee of it honoring the coverage. It’s far more complicated than dealing with any decent car insurance company you might have for your own vehicle.

    3. For some airline transfers, Chase is instantaneous and Citi is not. (For some others, both are instantaneous and for yet some others neither is instantaneous.) That can make a difference in bagging an award flight.

    To sum up, Citi’s 3x for travel makes it the clear winner here in earning points. And my own judgement is that, despite its drawbacks, I accordingly use the Citi card more. But I can see folks making different choices.

  9. We’ve mostly used AA (from AA Barclay card transfers) and UA miles (from Chase transfers) for business class redemptions. Both programs are becoming harder to use for reasonable redemptions in terms of number of points needed, routing limitations, and availability of award flights. Do any of the transfer partners for the Citi card represent equivalent value, e.g., award flight availability, reasonable redemption rates, routing rules, ease of finding and booking award tickets?

  10. The comparison is incomplete in the ecosystem area.

    There is a Citi business card (as another poster mentioned).
    The Rewards+ card is barely mentioned – it’s got some decent point categories and other point generation/reward structures.
    The Citi AT&T Access card is still live and has $0 annual fee with other point categories.
    The TY Sears card can get some amazing spend offers such that it’s more lucrative than any other card…with no annual fee.
    While not point cards, Citi has the Dividend and Double Cash which can complement the ecosystem and should likely be mentioned.

    Lastly, there’s also not any discussion of other card benefits behind a brief overview of rental insurance. Far more people would likely benefit from price protection, extended warranties, and even trip delay stuff I’d imagine.

    @JimT – I have no trouble getting 1 cent per TY point into my bank account, there’s guides for this, so that point is moot.

  11. @Brandon – sorry, I have not read a guide that gets 1cent per TY point into a bank account. Gift cards and travel options seem the best redemption values. JimT

  12. To clarify my earlier post asking whether one can transfer points from Citi and Chase to, say, Singapore Airlines to redeem an award flight, what I meant was can I transfer Citi points and then Chase points to make up the difference to redeem an award flight? I presume I can, but just wanted confirmation.

    @Brandon, unless the rules have changed re: Citi’s TY points … there are different categories of TY points. I earn TY points on my Citi checking account. From what I was told more than a few years ago, these checking account TY points are not the same as TY points earned from credit card bonus and spending, that the former TY points are in a separate category and not combinable with the credit card TY points. Hence, the checking account TY points are not eligible for transfer to travel partners. The checking account TY points can be transferred to my checking account as cash or used to reduce bills paid with my checking account or to request gift cards. I’m not sure but I think the exchange rate is $0.01 a point.

    @Susan, I use both Barclays and Citi cards to earn AAdvantage points for flight redemptions. However, with the recent discontinuance of 10% rebate on points redeemed (max of 10k per year), I am not sure whether to keep the cards. Barclays also discontinued the 10k anniversary bonus. =(

  13. @Keyser Soze No 1099 as points earned from spend, including sign up bonuses, are considered rebates and are not taxable. If you earned points without speaking money, like Citi banking relationship points, then you’ll be taxed. These taxable points are also not transferable.

    @JimT I concur that Citi customer service is useless and so incredibly rude. I learned about this taxable point thing mentioned above when trying to transfer points to virgin to utilize the bonus and found that some of my points won’t transfer. I call and ask if there is anything they can do and she ended up almost yelling at me that they have to follow the law, they can’t just break the law. A fair point, but need not be delivered from the top of one’s lung.

  14. I still have the ATTMore card and it is slowly earning me points at 3x. Those points are then combinable with the Premier card. I think there are other Citi cards that earn thank you points that can be combined with the Premier card. And, I would guess for those of us that read these blogs, are probably past 5/24, then I think the Premier card wins out over Chase.

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