Best Card for Good Credit
Citi Premier® Card
Recommended Credit Score
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
The Citi Premier Card is the issuer’s flagship rewards card, and — although its travel perks and rewards aren’t the strongest in its class — its everyday spending-oriented bonus categories, annual hotel savings benefit and excellent pairing opportunities make it a valuable option for a wide variety of travelers.
Recommended Credit Score
Although the travel rewards rates the Citi Premier® Card carries can be weaker than those offered by similar travel rewards cards, the Citi Premier may offer more to love for a wider variety of cardholders. Less-frequent travelers may find that the card’s broad coverage of popular everyday expenses provides the opportunity to reap more rewards than they would with categories catered toward travel expenses. In fact, it has the potential to outperform other travel rewards cards in its class based on your spending habits.
However, you’ll have to use Citi’s transfer travel partners to possibly milk more than a standard 1 cent point value from your hard-earned rewards. Plus, the Premier card doesn’t carry a rich portfolio of travel protections and features like some of its rivals.
The Citi Premier is easy to justify for a premium rewards card, even if you only travel occasionally. This is mainly thanks to its popular everyday categories, an annual $100 hotel credit (on a stay of $500 or more) and the rare option to redeem travel rewards for cash back at the same 1 cent value. On the other hand, you may get more for your buck with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you travel often.
Broad reward coverage with common travel and everyday bonus categories
Good sign-up bonus if used through transfer partner travel
The $100 annual hotel savings perk could easily make up for the annual fee without relying on your rewards spending
Pairs well with several other Citi rewards cards
$95 annual fee (which can be easy to offset)
Unlike other premium rewards cards, it doesn’t offer any notable shopping protections, travel insurance or extra perks beyond the annual hotel credit
Point value is only 1 cent, even for travel, outside transfer partner opportunities
Citi’s transfer partners don’t include major U.S. airlines or hotels (besides Wyndham)
New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. That's a 20,000-point drop from the card's previous limited-time offer of 80,000 points with the same spending requirement.
That said, the current offer is certainly worth pursuing since it’s one of the better sign-up bonuses available on a card at this price level. ThankYou points can be redeemed at up to 1 cent per point through Citi’s ThankYou portal, making your bonus worth $600 toward gift cards, cash back or travel. However, transferring your points to the right airline partner could increase the value of your bonus even further. Based on Bankrate’s point valuations, this bonus could be worth around $1,140 through a top transfer partner (assuming an average redemption value of 1.9 cents per point).
Several issuers redesigned their credit cards’ rewards categories to better suit day-to-day spending in the wake of the pandemic. However, the Citi Premier card’s July 2021 redesign went the extra mile — steering away from travel-rooted categories and perks toward higher-value bonus categories for everyday expenses.
The card’s variety of 3X-point categories can be a treasure trove of Citi ThankYou points, but other premium travel cards may offer more value for travel outside flights and hotels.
You’ll earn 3X Citi ThankYou points on gas station, air travel, hotel, restaurant and supermarket purchases, along with 1X points on all other purchases.
This is a fantastic rate on a variety of travel and everyday bonus categories, so you won’t have much trouble earning rewards even if your spending habits change. Few reward cards offer such a range of categories and such a solid rewards rate for each. Considering food and transportation are typically some of the biggest monthly expenses, you may even rack up more rewards when you’re home than when you’re traveling.
Taking advantage of Citi’s airline transfer partners is the best way to give your points a bit more mileage if you find a valuable transfer rate. There isn’t a fee for transferring, but the minimum transfer amount is 1,000 points. If you prefer convenience over optimum rewards value, you can book travel through the Citi Travel Center (entirely with points or a combination of points and cash), including:
In case your upcoming travel is limited, Citi provides a bounty of other things to use your points on, such as:
We found Citi’s no-annual-fee credit cards — like the Citi Rewards+® Card — earn “basic” ThankYou points, which can’t be transferred to travel partners and are valued at 1 cent apiece. Similarly, using your Citi Premier’s points on non-travel rewards like gift cards will also provide a 1-cent value. This is especially helpful if you’re an infrequent traveler considering not all travel rewards can be redeemed for cash back at an equal value.
For now, transferring your points for travel partner airfare is the most valuable use of your points. Booking travel through Citi will always yield a 1-cent, 1:1 value, but finding the right transfer partner may be able to boost your ThankYou points up to 1.9 cents (according to our most recent point valuations).
Outside the rewards system and $100 annual hotel savings credit, Citi Premier Card benefits don’t include many eye-catching perks. In fact, the issuer’s standard Citi Concierge and Citi Entertainment services are perhaps the only exclusive features if you want a Citi travel card. It’s not a bad feature roster, but it omits common features in its class, like a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application fee credit and travel insurance. A few competitors like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card offer more value in the travel perk department.
Fortunately, the Citi Premier still carries a few Mastercard benefits as a World Elite Mastercard.
You can receive an annual $100 discount on a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you use your card and book through ThankYou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU.
The $100 annual hotel credit is easily the Citi Premier’s best perk and can single-handedly recoup the annual fee. Not all of its rival cards offer an annual statement credit of this size, but it’s worth noting that several do. It stacks up to the Bank of America Premium Rewards card’s up to $100 of yearly statement credits toward airline incidental expenses and eclipses the Sapphire Preferred card’s up to $50 of annual hotel statement credits for stays through Chase.
Although not every World Elite Mastercard will come with the entire portfolio of benefits, the Citi Premier offers these World Elite features, including standouts, such as the following:
The Citi Premier card carries a $95 annual fee, but there is no annual fee for authorized users. This could be a big help when collecting rewards — especially since it only takes spending at least $267 per month across your 3X points categories to offset the fee (if you only redeem points through Citi). Apart from that, Citi Premier is a pretty low-maintenance card. There are no foreign transaction fees to keep up with either.
However, there aren’t any zero-interest introductory APR offers (which is normal for cards of its caliber), so you’ll have to avoid carrying a balance to keep the 20.49 percent to 28.49 percent variable APR at bay. It’s important to dodge interest on your rewards card to begin with, especially since the low end of the ongoing APR is on par with the currently-high average credit card interest rate.
The Citi Premier certainly doesn’t run out of steam after its first year — it has one of the best average yearly rewards values* among its rival cards. We calculate the typical cardholder will earn about $670 in rewards value each year if you transfer your points for the 1.9-cent Bankrate value (almost $353 per year if you redeem at Citi’s 1-cent point value). This tops the up to $655* value the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the $256* value the Bank of America Premium Rewards card earn on average per year with the same spend ($655 value with the right transfer partner; about $327 when redeemed through Capital One). Even with a higher point value, the Sapphire Rewards card is just shy of the Citi Premier’s average rewards potential with an up to $667* average yearly value via top transfer partners (but about $417 when redeemed toward travel through Chase).
Ultimately, the Citi Premier’s focus on everyday rewards categories adds up to a better rewards potential than several travel-oriented rewards rivals.
The average cardholder shouldn’t have a tough time making up for the annual fee either. You only need to spend about $264 each month across the card’s 3X categories to offset the $95 annual fee with rewards (assuming you redeem through Citi at a 1-cent-per-point value).
As far as first-year value goes, the Citi Premier card’s sign-up bonus also provides enough value to cover the annual fee more than six times over.
|Benefits and costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$600 value (60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months; redeemed through the issuer)||—|
|Perks (of monetary value)||
*Based on our formula used to calculate each card’s average rewards rates and average ongoing rewards value, using Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data and an assumed $15,900 yearly spend over three years ($1,325 per month). The “yearly rewards” value in the table is based on maximum value received when redeeming through the issuer (1 cent, this case).
Personal finance expert and Bankrate contributor Erin Gobler found plenty of value with the Citi Premier in her interview with Julia Menez, a point strategy coach and host of the Geobreeze Travel Podcast. The card’s generous sign-up bonus and diverse bonus categories are major selling points in Julia’s experience, but she finds Citi’s transfer partners are excellent for travel hacking and stretching your rewards value:
Citi points can help budget travelers and luxury travelers alike save on international and domestic travel.
[The] sign-up bonus alone is worth at least $600 when used through [Citi's] portal, and possibly much more when transferred to partners such as Singapore Airlines, Virgin or Etihad for business class flights, which more than justifies opening this card.
One of my favorite redemption options is with Singapore KrisFlyer, since you can combine the points you earn with the Citi Premier Card with points you've earned from other banks, like Chase and American Express, into your Singapore KrisFlyer account.
— Julia Menez, Points strategy coach and host of the geobreeze travel podcast
The Citi Premier is a great “jack of all trades” card, but you might want to look at other rewards credit cards if you need more specialized rewards based on spending — or more travel-focused features.
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
As far as travel cards with a $95 annual fee go, it’s hard to beat the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card when it comes to ongoing value.
Not only does the Sapphire Preferred earn rewards from more travel categories and offer better travel redemption options — including a 25 percent travel redemption value boost through Chase Ultimate Rewards — but the Preferred card benefits are also more valuable. While the Sapphire Preferred card’s up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards falls short of the Premier card’s $100 discount on a hotel stay of $500 or more, the card stands out for its top-shelf travel insurance and an account anniversary bonus that matches 10 percent of your previous year’s rewards.
However, the Citi Premier’s 3X bonus categories can make a stronger case for everyday spenders. Although the Sapphire Preferred’s 3X points on select streaming services is useful, the Citi Premier’s 3X supermarket category isn’t tethered to online grocery shopping. Many cardholders will also probably find the 3X gas station category more valuable than the Chase card’s streaming service rewards.
With this in mind, the Sapphire Preferred is a much better option for frequent travelers, but the Citi Premier may be more lucrative for cardholders more focused on earning rewards on everyday spending.
If you prefer the Citi Premier card’s previous rewards on transit and entertainment, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express includes 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming services and 3 percent back on transit in addition to its other stellar bonus categories.
The Blue Cash Preferred may also be a more valuable pick if you aren’t planning to take advantage of transfer partners and tend to lean on grocery purchases. In fact, the Blue Cash Preferred’s 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) is perhaps the best rewards rate for groceries available.
The Blue Cash Preferred offers potentially more annual credits as well with up to $84 per year toward Disney Bundle streaming services ($7 per month on a $12.99 or more monthly payment) and another up to $120 per year toward an Equinox+ fitness subscription (up to $10 per month; enrollment required). However, these brand-specific credits may not be as practical as the Citi Premier card’s annual $100 hotel credit toward a stay of $500 or more.
Depending on your spending habits, the Citi Premier card’s broader category coverage may offset the Blue Cash Preferred card’s supermarket and streaming focus, especially if your dining and travel expenses outweigh your supermarket expenses or your grocery budget well exceeds $6,000 per year.
Other Citi credit cards are usually the best match for the Citi Premier. The most flexible option is probably the Citi® Double Cash Card since you can convert the up to 2 percent cash back (1 percent at purchase, then 1 percent upon payment) it earns on all purchases to ThankYou points. These are normally “basic” points, but they’re transformed into full-fledged ThankYou rewards when they’re redeemed with your Citi Premier card.
Citi’s rewards card, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, also happens to be one of the best partners for the Citi Premier. Its unique rewards program earns an incredible 5 percent cash back in your top spending category each billing cycle (up to $500, then 1 percent back). Since it only earns rewards in one of 10 categories, the Citi Premier covers some of the costliest categories — like dining, groceries, gas and travel — and allows you to earn stellar rewards in rarer categories like transit, select streaming services and live entertainment. Even better, because the Citi Custom Cash earns “basic” ThankYou points that can go toward cash back, you can pool your points with the Citi Premier instead and redeem them for a higher value with transfer partners.
If you make a lot of small purchases at supermarkets and gas stations, then the Citi Rewards+ card will also make a great no annual fee partner. It only earns 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 in purchases each year (then 1X points), but it rounds up all of your rewards to the nearest 10 points on each purchase. Plus, you can get a 10 percent bonus on the first 100,000 points you redeem each year.
The Citi Premier card may have fewer benefits and reward-earning opportunities geared toward travel than some competing cards at the moment, but the supermarket and gas station rewards should be much more appealing if you want to reap travel rewards from day-to-day spending. Combined with the Citi Premier’s World Elite Mastercard and annual hotel credit benefits, Citi’s quality roster of supporting rewards cards can also work to fill in a few of these travel-centric gaps.
All of these factors add up to make the Citi Premier a great choice for collecting travel rewards, but you’ll have to put in a little more elbow grease to capture your points’ maximum value through transfer partners when it comes time to book a flight.
* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.