The Citi Premier is a great travel card for those who want to earn Citi Thank You (TY) points. It serves as Citi’s mid-tier card, positioned in between the Citi Prestige and Citi Rewards + in almost all aspects. Plus, international travelers will love this card because of Citi’s transfer partners.
Despite not having the same earning structure as the Prestige, the Premier will still earn you lots of points quickly. In fact, the Premier’s earning structure is better for those who have more everyday expenses than travel expenses. The Premier comes a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year).
Some major changes came to the Citi Premier on August 23, 2020. These include a new earning structure, the removal of a major redemption option, and the addition of a new perk.
The Citi Premier’s value truly lies in its earning potential. It earns 3x TY points on five categories: Airfare, Hotels, Gas, Groceries, and Dining. This five-category earning structure is one of the best among mid-tier travel cards. And this is especially true given how powerful many of the Citi Premier’s competitors are.
Plus, cardholders who applied for the Citi Premier before April 10, 2020 will continue to earn 3x on General Travel and 2x on Entertainment. Existing cardholders are fortunate to have two more bonus categories from the Premier’s old earning structure. These grandfathered categories will be available until April 10, 2021.
The card also has a sign-up bonus worth 60,000 TY points. This bonus can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This is Citi’s highest standard sign-up bonus, making the Premier a valuable option for those who want to collect TY points.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Citi has multiple options for redemption:
Transfer partners are by far Citi’s most valuable option. They are the reason why so many points and miles enthusiasts love Thank You points so much. Citi’s strength lies in international airlines and travel, making the Premier a great card if you want to travel outside of the United States.
Unfortunately, Citi does not have any hotel partners. Therefore, Citi Thank You earning cards might not be for you if you want to transfer points to hotels.
All TY points transfer to Citi’s airline partners at a 1:1 ratio:
- Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Etihad Guest
- Eva Air
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Jet Airways
- JetBlue (5 TY = 4 True Blue Points if you do not have a premium Citi card, otherwise 1:1)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).
Points can be redeemed via Citi’s Travel Center at a rate of 1 CPP. This is the best option if you cannot transfer your points for good value. The Travel Center can also be great for booking hotels, a glaring weakness in Citi’s lineup of transfer partners.
You can also use TY points to help pay down a mortgage or student loan. This is a unique option for a credit card redemption. This method lets you redeem points for 1 CPP, but it can help your finances in certain situations.
Gift Card values range from 2,500 to 10,000 points per card. Like airfare, each point redeemed is worth 1 cent.
Points are worth around 0.8 CPP when redeemed for merchandise and 0.5 CPP for cash back. If either option is more attractive than points, the Citi Double Cash is a better option.
The Citi Premier is not known for being a great benefits card, especially since the issuer discontinued several benefits from their card lineup. However, Citi doesn’t leave you hanging as they still offer a few perks to soften the blow.
Citi Private Pass
This perk gives you access to a multitude of pre-sale tickets and VIP experiences. If you’re a concert or sports lover, Citi Private Pass will help you get to events faster.
Cell Phone Insurance
You will be protected from theft or damage of your phone(s) if you pay your cell phone bill with your Citi Premier card. The Premier is a World Elite MasterCard, meaning that its common to all top cards within that network.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
This increasingly common benefit saves you 3% on all purchases made outside of the United States.
$100 Hotel Credit
You will also receive a $100 hotel credit towards hotel stays costing at least $500. This credit will be a nice way to justify the Premier’s $95 annual fee.
Rules & Regulations
Citi has several rules to consider before applying for one of their cards. While these rules are annoying, they serve as a reminder to be certain before applying. However, their main purpose is to dissuade “churners” from getting sign-up bonuses.
The 1/24 Rule states that you cannot receive a sign-up bonus if you opened or closed a card within the same family in 24 months. For the Citi Premier, you can’t receive a bonus if you opened a Citi Prestige, Thank You Preferred, or Rewards + within the last two years.
Also, the 6 Inquiries Rule states that those with more than 5 hard inquiries in 6 months will be automatically denied.
The 1/8 Rule states that only one card can be approved within a rolling 8-day period. Its corollary, the 2/65 Rule, states that only two cards can be approved within a rolling 65-day period.
What if the Citi Premier is not for you? Here are some alternatives that might be better:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and Travel purchases. It also has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year).
Chase has a more well-rounded set of travel partners than Citi. Domestic travelers and hotel lovers will benefit more given Chase’s partners. But international travelers might like the Citi card more.
This card has a sign-up bonus worth 80,000 UR points. It can be earned after spending $4,000 within the first three months. In other words, both cards have the same bonus in their respective currencies. The better card and sign-up bonus depend on what type of points you want to earn.
American Express Green Card
The American Express Green Card earns Membership Rewards (MR) points. You will earn 3x MR points on Travel and Dining and one point per dollar on non-bonus spend. Fortunately, American Express’ definition of “travel” has expanded for the Green Card. You can now earn 3x points on hotels, airfare, ride sharing, taxis, subways, tolls, and more.
Furthermore, the Green Card has a $150 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). It also has a sign-up bonus worth 30,000 MR points, which can be earned after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.
The Green Card also comes with a $100 credit for Lounge Buddy and a $100 credit for CLEAR every year. The former credit might be useful for those who do not have a premium card or membership to Priority Pass.
The Green Card has a higher annual fee and a different set of transfer partners. But the Citi Prestige has the higher sign-up bonus and access to Citi’s transfer partners. Both cards are great earners. But the Citi Premier is better because of its 2x categories and the inclusion of gas in its “Travel” category.
The Citi Premier is a nice card for international travel and those who want to collect Thank You points. While it doesn’t have the earning structure of the Citi Prestige, it’s “general travel” category could be lucrative for travelers with varied and unusual travel expenses. Furthermore, the Premier’s sign-up bonus is Citi’s best, beating the Prestige’s by 10,000 points for the same minimum spend requirement.
This card is also great if you don’t want to spend almost $500 in annual fees but still want to earn TY points. The Premier would be the first Thank You point-earning card I would consider from Citi because of its large sign-up bonus and universal earning structure.
Apply Today: Citi Premier