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Why I love the Citi Premier Card

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If you’re looking for another rewards credit card to add to your collection, the Citi Premier® Card just might be the one for you. This card makes it simple to earn points through its easy-to-use rewards structure and sign-up bonus.

The Citi Premier is specifically tailored to travelers, and some of its popular travel perks include travel redemption options, no foreign transaction fees and an annual hotel credit.

To help you decide if the Citi Premier Card is the right travel credit card for you, we interviewed Julia Menez, a point strategy coach and the host of the Geobreeze Travel Podcast. She shared some of her favorite features of this card and why others might love it.

Generous sign-up bonus

A major selling point of the Citi Premier Card, according to Menez, is the 60,000-point sign-up bonus. You’ll earn this bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening the card. Those 60,000 points can get you $600 in gift cards, but you can also redeem them for travel with any of Citi’s travel partners.

“With a 60,000-point bonus, a family of four could travel round-trip to Hawaii from the continental U.S. and only need to pay taxes and fees on their flights,” Menez said. “Few other cards on the market have the ability to transfer points to Turkish Miles&Smiles—the only other points that will transfer are Bilt or Capital One.”

It’s worth noting that, up until recently, the Citi Premier offered an 80,000-point sign-up bonus. While that offer has expired, 60,000 points still makes it among the better bonus offers available (earned after spending $4,000 in your first three months).

Elevated rewards in popular spending categories

One of the most attractive perks of the Citi Premier Card is the elevated spending rewards in certain categories. This card allows you to earn 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, hotels and on air travel purchases.

Not only can you earn 3X points in some of the most popular spending categories, but according to Menez, with a bit of creativity, you can take advantage of those elevated points for other purchases.

“Let’s say you need to make a purchase at Lowe’s, but you would only earn 1X points there,” Menez said. “Instead, you could go to your grocery and buy Lowe’s gift cards with your Citi Premier to earn 3X points, then use those gift cards at Lowe’s.”

Worth the $95 annual fee

The Citi Premier Card has a $95 annual fee. And while that may put off some potential cardholders, Menez says that the important thing is making sure there are enough benefits to make the annual fee worth it.

First, Menez points out that this card offers a $100 annual hotel savings benefit available for a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) booked with your card through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU. While taking advantage of the credit obviously requires a hotel purchase, this benefit certainly makes up for the card’s annual fee.

“Additionally, 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,” Menez said.

Finally, don’t forget about the 3X points for spending at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, hotels and on air travel. If you spend $1,000 per month in those categories combined, you’ve earned 36,000 points—which is worth more than three times the annual fee.

Good point redemption options

The Citi Premier Card offers several different ways to redeem your points. First, you can shop with your points at participating retailers, which include Amazon and Best Buy. You can also trade in your points for gift cards. Your rewards are worth 1 cent apiece, meaning your 60,000-point sign-up bonus could get you $600 in gift cards.

As someone who specializes in travel hacking, it’s no surprise Menez prefers to redeem her points for travel with Citi’s transfer partners.

“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,” Menez said.

Menez shared that you can save thousands by using your Citi points for the business class option when traveling to Europe, and she and her husband are planning to fly that route this summer.

Many travel transfer partners

During our conversation, Menez repeatedly highlighted the different transfer options available with points earned with the Citi Premier.

“Citi points can help budget travelers and luxury travelers alike save on international and domestic travel,” Menez said.

Citi’s travel transfer partners include:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Choice Privileges
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • InterMiles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Wyndham Rewards

Redemption rates vary depending on which transfer partner you choose. For Citi Premier cardholders, redemption rates range from 1,000 to 2,000 partner points per 1,000 ThankYou points.

Pairs well with other travel credit cards

Both domestic and international travelers can use the Citi Premier Card alongside other travel cards in their wallets.

“If you intend to book a lot of domestic flights on Turkish Miles&Smiles, you can combine your Citi ThankYou points with points earned from Capital One and Bilt cards,” Menez said. “Additionally, these points complement the offerings from Chase and American Express… especially if you are looking to combine points for Etihad or Singapore bookings.”

The bottom line

Between the sign-up bonus, elevated spending rewards and travel redemption options, it’s easy to see why Menez and others love the Citi Premier Card. You can easily save hundreds of dollars on travel per year—and even more in the first year thanks to the card’s solid welcome bonus.

The Citi Premier won’t be right for everyone. It has an annual fee and is missing some of the standard perks you might find with other travel credit cards, such as trip cancellation insurance and rental car insurance. However, as Menez points out, it pairs well with other travel cards that may offer those perks you’re looking for.

Written by
Erin Gobler
Personal finance writer
Erin Gobler is a personal finance expert and journalist who seeks to make the financial services industry more accessible by breaking down complicated financial topics in simple terms.
Edited by
Editor, Product