Citi Premier® Card review
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The Citi Premier® Card recently shed quite a few benefits and bonus reward categories, but the two 3X ThankYou points per dollar on supermarket and gas station categories it gained along the way make it a much more attractive option if you’re looking for a travel rewards card to earn points on everyday purchases.
Although the redemption and benefit offerings are a bit weaker than other rewards cards with a $95 annual fee — like those from American Express, Chase and Capital One — the Citi Premier brings a lot more to love than before for most cardholders.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3X points per dollar on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases; 1X points per dollar on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Annual fee: $95
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable
New cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Depending on how you redeem your points, this could be one of the best sign-up bonuses at this card level, or it could be a low-value bonus for the spending requirement. ThankYou points can be redeemed at a 1:1 value for non-travel options, making your bonus worth $800 toward gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com . However, finding the right Citi airline transfer partner could bump your bonus up to $1,020, according to The Points Guy’s 1.7 cent point valuation.
Either way, you shouldn’t have a problem qualifying since you can earn points on all sorts of everyday and travel purchases.
Citi announced a big shake-up earlier this year regarding the way the Citi Premier card earns and redeems rewards. These are changes for the better for many cardholders, making it a good bit easier to earn travel rewards on everyday spending. Unfortunately, the changes also narrow down which travel purchases earn points.
Previously, cardholders earned 3X points on a wider range of travel purchases (including transit) and 2X points on entertainment purchases. You’ll now earn 3 Citi ThankYou points per dollar on gas station, air travel, hotel, restaurant and supermarket purchases, along with 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
This is a fantastic rate on such a wide variety of bonus categories. You won’t have any trouble finding opportunities to earn rewards toward either cash back, airfare or road trips if your idea of travel has changed.
Nowadays, taking advantage of Citi’s list of 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.
In case your upcoming travel is limited, Citi provides a bounty of other things to use your points on, such as:
- Cash back and statement credits
- Payment credits, including mortgages, student loans or online bill pay
- Gift cards
- Shop with points at popular retailer websites, including Amazon and PayPal
- Transfer points to another account or charity
How much are the rewards worth?
As one of Citi’s premium credit cards, the Citi Premier’s points are most lucrative when used toward travel.
Our partners at TPG 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.
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 TPG’s 1.7 cent market value.
Other cardholder perks
Outside the point transfer system and the new $100 annual hotel savings credit, Citi doesn’t offer many benefits apart from the standard Citi Entertainment service. Fortunately, the Citi Premier still carries a few Mastercard benefits as a World Elite Mastercard.
$100 annual hotel savings benefit
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.
World Elite Mastercard perks
Although not every World Elite Mastercard will come with the entire portfolio of benefits, all offer these features, including standouts such as the following:
- World Elite discount and access programs for hotel stays and other travel packages
- $5 Lyft credit after three rides, once per month
- 5 percent cash rewards on HelloFresh orders, usable on future purchases
- Complimentary ShopRunner membership, offering free two-day shipping and free returns with 100+ online retailers
- World Elite Concierge for 24/7 service personal assistance
Rates and Fees
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.
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, so you’ll have to avoid carrying a balance to keep the 15.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR at bay.
How the Citi Premier card compares to other rewards cards
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 your spending — or extra travel and shopping protections.
For $95, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can earn rewards on a broader range of travel categories and offer better travel redemption options, including a 25 percent travel redemption boost (through Chase Ultimate Rewards) similar to that of the canceled Citi Travel Center redemption bonus.
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 on top of its other stellar bonus categories.
If your most frequent spending falls outside traditional categories, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a flat-rate rewards option that racks up travel miles on all purchases.
See how these cards compare to the Citi Premier if you’re still on the fence:
|Card||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Welcome bonus|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||
||$95||100,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||
||$95 (waived first year)||Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months; Also earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases within the first 6 months, up to $200 back|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||
||$95||60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel|
Best cards to pair with the Citi Premier card
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 brand-new 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 most costly 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. For example, a $3 sandwich would earn you 10 points instead of three. Plus, you can get 10 percent of the first 100,000 points you redeem each year.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Citi Premier card worth it?
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’re looking to reap travel rewards from day-to-day spending. Combined with the Citi Premier’s World Elite Mastercard 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.