The Citi Premier and Citi Prestige are Citi’s top two travel credit cards. Both earn Citi Thank You (TY) points at high rates within certain bonus categories. They also offer significant sign-up bonuses that could be useful towards your next international trip (save for COVID-19).
However, Citi’s top two travel credit cards are meant for different types of travelers. Each one has unique earning structures and perks that cater towards different travelers. As with everything in point and miles, your mileage may vary. Someone might find the Prestige better for them while their best friend might like the Premier better.
Argument for the Prestige
You Spend Within the Prestige’s Bonus Categories
The Citi Prestige earns 5x Thank You (TY) points on Dining and Airfare. Plus it earns 3x points on Hotel and Cruise expenses. All non-bonus spend earns one point per dollar. The Prestige’s bonus category multipliers are awesome if you travel via more traditional means such as airfare and hotels. Citi added these huge category multipliers to the Prestige Card assuming that many of their cardholders travel via these means.
Furthermore, both cards earn bonus points for airfare and hotel purchases. The Prestige earns 5x points for airfare while the Premier earns “just” 3x points. But both card earn 3x points per dollar for hotel purchases. This is an important point of indifference for hotel dwellers.
Access to the Fourth Night Free and a $250 Annual Travel Credit
Citi dropped several benefits from both cards in September 2019. As a result, the Prestige has more card-specific perks than the Premier does that can still make it worthwhile.
The Prestige’s signature perk is its Fourth Night Free. If you use your card to book a hotel stay of at least four nights, you will receive a statement credit for the cost of your fourth night. The catch is that Citi limits use of this perk to only twice per year.
Moreover, the Prestige also comes with a $250 General Travel Credit, a Pre-TSA / Global Entry fee credit, and access to Priority Pass airport lounges. If used in full, the travel credit effectively cuts the Prestige’s annual fee in half. But receiving positive expected value should not be an issue with the Prestige if you use most of its perks.
Argument for the Premier
You Have More Everyday Expenses Than Travel Expenses
In 2020, Citi announced some changes to the Premier’s earning strategy. Most cardholders will earn 3x points on Gas, Grocery, and Dining expenses starting on August 23, 2020. The Citi Prestige does not offer any extra points for the two former categories. This makes the Premier the better option as an “everyday expenses” card.
You Already Have Another Premium Card
The Citi Premier might be the better option if you already have another premium card. This is because the Prestige’s benefits are redundant to those that come with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Most premium credit cards come with Priority Pass airport lounge access and an annual Pre-TSA / Global Entry credit. Even if you fully use the Citi Prestige Card’s $250 travel credit, paying more for redundant benefits might not be worth the additional $245.
The Premier has a $95 annual fee whereas the Prestige has a $495 annual fee. Neither fee is waived the first year. However, some people argue that the “net” annual fee for the Prestige is $245. This argument assumes that you will use the $250 travel credit in full each year.
More Lucrative Sign-Up Bonus
The Prestige has a bonus worth 50,000 TY points that can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. However, the Premier has a bonus worth 60,000 TY points for the same minimum spend within the same time period. The Premier is the winner here because of the extra 10,000 points.
The Citi Premier and Citi Prestige are Citi’s top two travel credit cards. And they decent options for international travelers. The Premier is the better card for most travelers because of its $95 annual fee and its more universal (and lucrative) earning structure. It’s also the winner if you want to use Citi’s travel portal and/or don’t have conventional travel expenses.
Conversely, the Prestige has some perks that the Premier does not have. These include the $250 General Travel Credit and Fourth Night Free. It also has a $495 annual fee and a better earning structure to boot.
Consider your travel plans and where you spend your money before selecting one of Citi’s top two travel cards. And remember that your mileage may vary before picking any card.