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If you’re a frequent traveler looking for a new 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, plus a generous welcome bonus for new cardholders.
Citi Premier is specifically tailored to travelers and also offers heightened rewards on everyday purchases. Plus, cardholders can enjoy an annual hotel savings benefit, World Elite Mastercard perks and no foreign transaction fees.
To help you decide if the Citi Premier Card is the right travel credit card for you, we interviewed Julia Menez, a points 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 welcome bonus
A major selling point of the Citi Premier Card, according to Menez, is the 60,000-point welcome bonus. You’ll earn this bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening the card. Those 60,000 ThankYou 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 says. “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.”
Elevated rewards in popular spending categories
Another 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 — plus 1X points on everything else.
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 says. “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. 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 an annual $100 hotel credit 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 fully makes up for the card’s annual fee.
“Additionally, the [welcome] 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 says.
Money tip: 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 for the year — 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 welcome 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 says.
Menez says 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.
Variety of travel transfer partners
Menez highlights 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,” she says.
From Air France/KLM Flying Blue and JetBlue TrueBlue to Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards, there are more than a few options to choose from. Just be sure Citi’s list of ThankYou Rewards transfer partners aligns with the traveling you typically do if you plan to transfer points often.
Redemption rates vary depending on which transfer partner you choose. According to Bankrate’s recent points and miles valuations, ThankYou points earned with the Citi Premier are worth up to 1.6 cents apiece toward high-value transfer partner travel. That means your 60,000-point welcome bonus (earned after spending $4,000 in three months) could be worth an average of $960, rather than $600.
Pairs well with other travel credit cards
Both domestic and international travelers can use the Citi Premier Card alongside other travel credit cards in their wallets.
“If you intend to book a lot of flights on Turkish [Airlines], you can combine your Citi ThankYou points with points earned from Capital One and Bilt cards,” Menez says. “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 welcome 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 offer.
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, rental car insurance and credits toward travel perks like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. However, as Menez points out, it pairs well with other travel cards that may offer those perks you’re looking for.