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Citi Premier® Card review: Boosted travel rewards for everyday spending

For the occasional traveler who wants to enjoy travel benefits without travel spending

 /  16 min
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Snapshot

4.7

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Citi Premier Card is the issuer’s flagship rewards card, and — although its travel perks and rewards aren’t the strongest — its everyday bonus categories, annual hotel savings and excellent pairing opportunities make it a valuable option for many travelers.

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Best for travel rewards on everyday purchases

Citi Premier® Card

Apply now Lock
on Citi's secure site
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
    5 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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Recommended Credit
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Intro offer

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$960

Offer valuation

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1X - 3X

Rewards rate

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Annual fee

Regular APR

Citi is an advertising partner

Citi Premier® Card Overview

Although the Citi Premier® Card's travel rewards rates may not be on par with similar travel rewards cards, the Citi Premier makes up the difference with the card’s wide coverage of popular everyday expenses. In fact, it has the potential to outperform other travel rewards cards depending on your spending habits. It also offers an attractive annual hotel perk: a $100 credit for stays that are $500 or more.

However, you’ll have to use Citi’s transfer travel partners to possibly get more than a 1 cent point value from your hard-earned rewards. The Premier card also 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, but you may get more for your buck with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you travel often.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 3X points on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases
    • 1X points on all other purchases
    • For a limited time offer, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi TravelSM portal through June 30, 2024.

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • 60,000 bonus ThankYou® points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • Annual fee: $95
    • Regular APR: 21.24 percent to 29.24 percent (variable)

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • $100 annual hotel savings credit when you spend $500 or more on a single hotel stay, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU
    • Citi Concierge 
    • Citi Entertainment

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Cardholders can easily benefit from its broad everyday bonus categories.

  • Checkmark

    It offers a great sign-up bonus, especially if redeemed through Citi's transfer travel partners.

  • Checkmark

    The annual hotel savings perk alone could easily make up for the annual fee.

  • Checkmark

    You can pair the card with other Citi rewards cards for even more savings.

Cons

  • The card carries a $95 annual fee (but 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.

  • Citi’s transfer partners don’t include major U.S. airlines or hotels besides JetBlue, Wyndham and Choice Privileges®.

Why you might want the Citi Premier

The Citi Premier card packs in a lot for a modest annual fee. You won't have trouble earning points with its range of bonus categories, and its annual hotel benefit coupled with its welcome offer make it worth carrying even for the occasional traveler.

Rewards: Easy to rack up points with everyday bonus categories

The Citi Premier card steers away from travel categories and perks toward higher-value bonus categories for everyday expenses. The card’s variety of 3X-point categories on gas, air travel, hotel, restaurant and supermarket purchases can be a treasure trove of Citi ThankYou points. You’ll also earn 1X points on all other purchases. 

Few reward cards offer both solid everyday bonus categories and a solid bonus rewards rate. You won’t have much trouble earning rewards even if your spending habits change. You might even earn more points staying at home than with travel. Plus, for a limited time, you can earn extra ThankYou® Points on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on Citi's travel portal through June 30, 2024.

Welcome offer: Good value for high spenders

Though the spending requirement might be a bit high for some, new cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months. This bonus is worth up to $600 toward gift cards, cash back or travel through Citi’s ThankYou portal.

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 1.6 cents per point).

While Citi Premier offers an attractive sign-up bonus, more competitive offers are available. For example, the bonus offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is worth up to $750 when you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (or potentially $1,200 with the right transfer partner based on Bankrate's valuations) — all for the same annual fee and the same spending requirement.

Fees: Offset moderate annual fee with yearly hotel credit

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. The annual fee could also be covered through the card's annual hotel credit, so users don't have to worry about spending enough each year to offset that cost. 

While there are no introductory APR offers (typical for cards of this type), the Citi Premier is a pretty low-maintenance card. There are no foreign transaction fees to keep up with either.

Why you might want a different Citi Premier card

The Citi Premier card provides cardholders with much flexibility in bonus categories and some benefits, but if you want to enjoy luxury perks then you might consider another travel rewards card.

Perks: Missing standard travel benefits

One of this card's most appealing features is Citi's annual hotel savings credit. 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.

However, this perk stacks up to similar cards. For instance, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card provides up to $100 of yearly statement credits toward airline incidental expenses. 

The Citi Premier does carry a few Mastercard benefits as a World Elite Mastercard. While you can enjoy World Elite features like a complimentary ShopRunner membership, 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 its only exclusive features. 

It’s not a bad feature roster, but it omits common perks 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.

Redemption: Lower value outside of Citi's transfer partners

Booking travel through Citi will always yield a redemption value of 1 cent per point. Similarly, using your Citi Premier’s points on non-travel rewards like gift cards will also provide a 1-cent value. While this can be helpful if you’re an infrequent traveler, you'll find 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. According to Bankrate's valuations, the points value can be worth around 1.6 cents apiece with the right partner. 

There isn’t a fee for transferring, but the minimum transfer amount is 1,000 points. Unfortunately, Citi's U.S. transfer partners are limited (JetBlue is the only domestic airline in its flight partner lineup, for instance).

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:

  • Airfare
  • Hotel stays
  • Rental cars
  • Cruises
  • Vacation packages and other activities

In case your upcoming travel is limited, Citi provides several ways to use your points on, such as:

  • Cash back in the form of eligible savings and checking account direct deposits, statement credits and personal checks ($5 minimum for checks)
  • Pay With Points to cover purchases (when eligible)
  • Gift cards to a variety of retailers
  • Shop with Points at popular retailer websites, including Amazon and PayPal, and in-person with partner merchants (although this may incur a fee), including Best Buy, CVS and select gas stations
  • Transfer points to another account or charity

For now, transferring your ThankYou points for travel partner airfare is typically the most valuable use of your points. However, keep in mind that you can get even higher point values with some cards from other issuers, including Chase, American Express and Bilt. 

First-year vs. ongoing value

The Citi Premier certainly doesn’t run out of steam after its first year. We calculate the typical cardholder will earn around $353 per year if you redeem at Citi’s standard 1-cent-per-point value. 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 a 1-cent-per-point redemption 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)
Yearly rewards* +$353 +$353
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)
  • $100 (Annual Hotel Savings discount on hotel stays of $500 or more)
  • $60 ($5 Lyft credit after three rides, once per month)
  • $100 (Annual Hotel Savings discount on hotel stays of $500 or more)
  • $60 ($5 Lyft credit after three rides, once per month)
Annual fee -$95 -$95
Total value $1,018 $418

*Based on our formula used to calculate each card’s average rewards rates and average ongoing rewards value, using Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 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).

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

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

How the Citi Premier card compares to other rewards cards

The Citi Premier is a great “jack of all trades” card, but you might want to look at other rewards credit cards if your spending is more specialized or if you are looking for more travel-focused features.

Image of Citi Premier® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Citi's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

60,000 points
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Rewards rate

1X - 3X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
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Rewards rate

1x - 5x
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Intro offer

Earn $250
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Rewards rate

1% - 6%
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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Best cards to pair with the Citi Premier

Since the Citi Premier features a lot of bonus categories, you probably won't maximize earnings much with a card from a different issuer. Instead, other Citi credit cards with no annual fee are usually the best match for the Citi Premier so you can pool points for greater value.

Who is the Citi Premier right for?

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Citi Premier card worth it?

If you want to reap travel rewards from day-to-day spending, the Citi Premier card is the one to get. It may have fewer benefits and reward-earning travel categories than some competing cards, but the supermarket and gas station rewards should be much more appealing. 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.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently asked questions

* 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.