Citi Premier® Card review
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Best card for travel rewards on everyday purchases
- 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: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within first three months
- Annual fee: $95
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable
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 card if you’re looking to gain travel rewards 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.
Current sign-up bonus
New cardholders can earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in their first three 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 $600 toward gift cards or cash back. 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 in regard to 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 Thank You 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.
Until Apr. 10, 2021, one of the best ways to redeem your points is for travel through the Citi Travel Center for a 25 percent value boost. The travel center allows you to book flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and trip packages with your points.
Otherwise, taking advantage of Citi’s list of airline transfer partners could also 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
Until Nov. 7, 2020, Citi is also allowing you to use points toward your credit card’s minimum payment.
How much are points 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. Similarly, using your Citi Premier’s points on non-travel rewards like gift cards will also redeem at a “basic” 1 cent value.
For now, airfare is the most valuable use of your points. Citi Premiere points are currently worth 1.25 cents through the Citi Travel Center for eligible travel purchases.
After the Travel Center boost ends on Apr. 10, 2021, you’ll have to hope the right transfer partner will make your points worth up to TPG’s 1.7 cent market value.
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. The card cut most of its shopping and travel protections last year.
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
- $10 Lyft credit after fives rides, once per month
- 5 percent cash rewards on Boxed 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 the Citi Travel Center will be removing.
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||60,000 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 $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months|
|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.
If you make a lot of small purchases at supermarkets and gas stations, then the Citi Rewards+ card will 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 has stripped back many of its previous benefits and reward-earning opportunities geared toward travel, 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.
Although there is a decent list of airline transfer partners to pick from, the 25 percent travel redemption boost will expire next year, and there are hardly any remaining travel benefits to shore up the loss.
All of these factors add up to make the Citi Premier a great choice for travel reward collecting, but you’ll have to put in a little more elbow grease to capture your points’ maximum value when it comes time to book a flight.
- Broad reward coverage with common travel and day-to-day bonus categories
- Robust redemption options and travel partners, including a 25 percent boost through the Citi Travel Center
- $95 annual fee
- Next to no shopping or travel protections through Citi
- Point value will largely drop to 1 cent outside transfer partner opportunities after the Citi Travel Center redemption boost ends on Apr. 10, 2021