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Citi Premier vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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If you’re looking for a travel credit card with a low annual fee, both the Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could fit the bill.

But, as you do your research, you may find that one of them will meet your needs a bit better than the other. While these two rewards cards share some similarities, the Citi Premier can help you rack up points fast on everyday purchases. However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a more impressive suite of cardholder benefits, especially when it comes to travel coverage and purchase protection.

We’ve compared both options head-to-head. Read on to see which rewards credit card aligns best with your spending pattern and financial goals.

Main details

Cards Citi Premier Chase Sapphire Preferred
Welcome bonus 80,000 points when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening 80,000 points when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening
Rewards rate 3X points on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases; 1X points on all other purchases 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on Lyft Rides (through March 2022); 2X points on general travel; 1X points on all other purchases
Variable APR 17.49% to 25.49% 16.24% to 22.24%
Annual fee $95 $95

Citi Premier vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Both cards offer a generous welcome bonuses when you spend $4,000 within three months of opening your account. However, Chase’s welcome bonus is worth more when redeemed for travel.

The Premier’s bonus is worth $800, with each Citi ThankYou point valued at 1 cent. According to The Points Guy, if you transfer your points to the right Citi travel partner, that value can boost up to 1.7 cents.

Chase’s bonus is worth $800. However, when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, it’s worth $1,000. This is thanks to a 25 percent value-boost to points redeemed for travel via Ultimate Rewards, making the Preferred’s points worth 1.25 cents apiece.

Plus, if you transfer to the right Chase travel partner at the right time, your points could be worth up to 2 cents apiece (according to The Points Guy).

Rewards rate winner: Citi Premier for everyday purchases; Chase Sapphire Preferred for travel-related purchases

Depending on how you use it, you could accumulate a lot of points with either of these travel cards.

The Citi Premier gets you 3X points when you use the card to pay for everyday purchases like dining at restaurants, groceries and gas. Plus, you’ll earn that same rate when booking air travel and hotel stays. You’ll earn 1X points on all other purchases.

On the other hand, the Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards you the most when you use the card to pay for travel. When you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you’ll earn 5X points. And when it comes to everyday spending, Chase matches Citi’s rate on dining but doesn’t offer rewards on gas or in-store grocery purchases. It does, though, offer 3X points on select streaming services and 2X points on general travel, whereas the Premier only rewards you for spending on air travel and hotels, in particular.

Annual Fee winner: Tie

Both cards charge an annual fee of $95, which is considered low in the world of travel credit cards. And while you may hesitate to sign up for a card with this yearly charge, you’ll see a substantial return on your investment during your first year if you spend enough to earn either card’s welcome bonus (providing you pay off your card in full each month to avoid paying interest).

Plus, if you use either card often and take full advantage of the other benefits offered, the fee will likely still be worth it in subsequent years. For example, if you spend at least $61 per week on gas, groceries or dining out with your Citi Premier Card, you’ll earn enough points to make up for the annual fee. The same is also true if you spend $1,900 annually on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal using your Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

Neither card charges foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the United States. That means you can travel abroad with either option without worrying about incurring additional costs.

Which card earns the most?

The card that earns you the most depends on what you purchase. So, let’s take a look at a possible spending scenario.

Citi Premier vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred spending example

Using your Citi Premier Card, say you spend $200 on gas, $800 on groceries (in-store), $100 dining out and $1,000 on a plane ticket and hotel accommodations (without going through a transfer partner) in a given month. Since each spending category earns 3X points, you’ll receive 6,300 points for your purchases. Assuming points are worth 1 cent each, these points are worth $63.

Now, let’s say you make the same purchases using your Chase Sapphire Preferred (with the exception of online grocery purchases rather than in-store). You’ll receive 4,900 points total, worth $49 (at a 1-cent-per-point value). If you instead book your travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you’ll bank 5,000 points (rather than 2,000). When you later redeem those points through the same portal, they’ll be worth 1.25 cents each. That means your trip alone will earn you $62.50 in rewards, which is nearly as much as you’d get from the Citi credit card for all of your spending combined.

However, if you factor out the airfare and lodging, you’ll earn $33 in rewards with the Premier and $29 in rewards with the Sapphire Preferred. So, if you plan to use your card primarily to cover general living costs, the Citi Premier Card will net you a slightly larger payout (without considering Preferred’s rewards on streaming services). But, if you plan to use your card more so for travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card might be the better fit.

Why should you get the Citi Premier?

Additional benefits

The Citi Premier offers a few additional benefits beyond its rewards program—most notably its $100 annual hotel savings benefit on a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees). Note, in order to utilize this benefit, you must book with your card through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU.

You can also enjoy Citi Entertainment, which gives you access to VIP packages and presale tickets for in-demand concerts, shows and sporting events. Finally, you’ll benefit from World Elite Mastercard perks such as a complimentary ShopRunner membership, Lyft credits and travel discounts.

Redemption options

You can maximize the value of your points by transferring them to one of Citi’s airline and hotel partners. However, your other redemption options include:

  • Standard travel
  • Cash back
  • Statement credits
  • Other bill payments
  • Online retailer purchases
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable giving

Recommended credit score

You’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for the Citi Premier. That means your credit score should be between 670 and 850 when you apply.

Why should you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Additional benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits are more robust than those you get with the Citi Premier.

While the card doesn’t offer sought-after travel perks like priority boarding, free checked luggage or lounge access, it does provide a lot of support for your future expeditions. For example, you’ll get trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay coverage, rental car coverage, trip delay reimbursement and 24/7 emergency assistance.

Plus, Chase offers a $50 credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards after each cardmember anniversary, as well as a generous anniversary bonus. Each year on your anniversary, you’ll get 10 percent of the points you earned last year added to your rewards bank.

In addition, you’ll get a free year’s subscription to DoorDash DashPass, which means you won’t pay delivery fees or the full service fee when you order food through the app.

Redemption options

While your most lucrative option is to transfer your points to a Chase airline or hotel partner, you can also redeem for:

  • Standard travel
  • Cash back
  • Statement credits
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise
  • Chase Experience events

You can also use your points to buy goods from PayPal or Amazon.com. However, they’ll only be worth 0.8 cents each in this scenario.

Recommended credit score

Like the Citi Premier, the Chase Sapphire Preferred requires a solid credit profile to qualify. Be sure your score is in the good-to-excellent range before submitting your application.

The bottom line

If you want a card to cover your everyday expenses that just so happens to also reward you for travel, the Citi Premier could be a great addition to your wallet. But, if you’re more interested in a card that rewards and supports users the most when they travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is likely a better fit.

Remember, though—there’s no rule that says you can’t have both. With both cards in your spending arsenal, you can get handsomely rewarded for just about any purchase.

Written by
Laura Gariepy
Laura Gariepy is the owner of Every Day by the Lake, LLC, a written content creation company that helps brands stay top of mind with their target market. She specializes in writing about personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.
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