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Update: Some offers mentioned below have changed. View the current offers here – Citi ThankYou Premier

The sign-up offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been increased from 40,000 to 50,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first three months. You can earn an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months as well.

With credit card issuers competing fiercely for your business, sign-up and other bonuses have never been stronger. Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele compares three of the most popular rewards cards from Amex, Chase, and Citi to see which one presents the best value to cardholders.

I have always been a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Premier Rewards Gold cards, as they combine valuable points that can be transferred to travel partners, along with crucial travel benefits and competitive annual fees.

But recently, there has been a shakeup in this market segment, as the Citi ThankYou Premier card has started offering new bonus categories and an increasing number of point transfer options, while Chase and American Express have tinkered a bit with the terms of its cards. So today, I want to take a closer look at how these three cards compare to each other.



Sapphire Preferred. 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. Plus an additional 5,000 points when you add an additional user and made a purchase within the first three months.

Premier Rewards Gold. 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 within three months of account opening.

ThankYou Premier. 50,000 ThankYou points when you spend $3,000 within three months of account opening.

Winner: ThankYou Premier


Sapphire Preferred. Earn double points on all restaurant and travel purchases, including expenses like tolls, parking and subways. You also get 3x points on dining on the first Friday of each month through 2015.

Premier Rewards Gold. Earn 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets. You will also earn 2x points at restaurants starting on June 1, 2015.

ThankYou Premier. Earn 3x points on travel and gas, and 2x points at restaurants and on entertainment purchases

Winner: ThankYou Premier


Sapphire Preferred. $95, waived the first year.

Premier Rewards Gold. $0 annual fee for the first year, then $175. ($195 after June 1, 2015)

ThankYou Premier. $95, waived the first year.

Winner: Tie between Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou Premier, although it is essentially a three-way tie if you factor in the Amex Premier Rewards Gold $100 annual airline fee credit.

60,000 Ultimate Rewards points is enough for two nights at top-tier Hyatt properties like the Park Hyatt Sydney.
Hyatt is a transfer partner of Chase meaning you could redeem 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night for the Park Hyatt Sydney.


What I love about these cards is that you earn points that you can transfer to airlines and hotels. The Premier Rewards Gold earns American Express Membership Rewards points, the Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and the Citi Premier offers ThankYou points that you can now transfer.

It’s hard to directly compare these programs, because each will serve some people better than others, depending on which programs they are a part of and which destinations they have in mind. For more info on transferable points programs, check out this post.

Sapphire Preferred: With this card, you earn Ultimate Rewards which transfer at a 1:1 ratio to six airlines and four hotel chains. Here are the transfer partners:

  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards
  • Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton

The great thing about Chase’s selection of partners is that all three major airline alliances are represented, as well as Southwest. It also has a strong selection of hotels.

For more information on maximizing Ultimate Rewards points, check out these posts.

Premier Rewards Gold: The Membership Rewards program features 17 airlines and four hotel programs that you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to. In addition, Amex frequently offers point transfer bonuses:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Aeromexico
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia
  • ANA
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • El Al
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue (2:1)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America (2:1)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Best Western Rewards (1:1)
  • Choice Privileges (1:1)
  • Hilton (1:1.5)
  • Starwood (3:1)

Check out these two posts for more information.

Citi ThankYou Premier: Citi offers an eclectic mix of airline transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio, but none are US-based. In addition, it also offers transfers to Hilton Hotels at a 1:1.5 ratio.

  • Cathay Pacific
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue (Air France, KLM, and others)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai
  • Virgin Atlantic
With the Amex Premier Rewards Gold, you could redeem your Amex points for gift cards and with partners such as Uber.


Chase Sapphire Preferred: Among the travel features of this cards are no foreign transaction fees, primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation/interruption coverage of up to $10,000 and other Visa Signature benefits. Unfortunately, Chase has discontinued its 7% annual points bonus for this card, will eliminate bonuses on travel purchases through its Ultimate Rewards portal, and will get rid of its buy points option (which wasn’t that great of a deal anyways). However, Chase does let you book travel reservations, including rental cars, cruises and activities, at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Finally, you can cash out your points at a rate of one cent each toward statement credits or even a deposit in a bank account. And, not that it matters much, but this card is made out of metal and has a special feel to it when you hand it over to a cashier.

Premier Rewards Gold: In just two weeks (starting on June 1, 2015) American Express will be adding some new features and benefits to this card. Thankfully, it will be eliminating the 2.7% foreign transaction fee, and will add a new annual $100 airline benefit, much like the Platinum card’s $200 annual benefit.

You can also redeem your Amex points for gift cards and with partners like Uber and Airbnb at rates that generally run around 1 cent apiece. As for car rental insurance, I especially like Amex’s premium primary car rental insurance program for $24.95 per rental ($17.95 for CA residents), which is a better deal the longer you rent.

Unfortunately, the annual fee is going up to $195, and American Express has discontinued the 15,000-point bonus you used to get for spending $30,000 on the card in a year, but I think the new category bonuses make up for that.

Citi ThankYou Premier: Citi has made this card competitive by eliminating foreign transaction fees and offering transfers to travel partners. As with the Sapphire Preferred card, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward travel reservations, or for about one cent each toward merchandise, gift cards or even loan repayments. Citi also offers plenty of travel insurance and purchase protection policies, including worldwide rental car insurance that actually covers you in any country (no exclusions of Italy, Israel, Jamaica, etc).

Winner: Sapphire Preferred, due to its primary rental car insurance and travel redemption options.

Which credit card
Which credit card offers your favorite benefits and bonuses? The Sapphire Preferred has a slight edge in my book.


I’ve been carrying these cards for years, and the industry seems to have finally realized that this is a sweet spot for most people looking for travel rewards. To that end, American Express and Citi are really stepping up their games to compete with the success of the Sapphire Preferred.

For the moment, the Sapphire Preferred still has a slight edge in my book for giving me double points on all travel and dining purchases (and 3x on first Fridays!), and by offering instant transfers to great travel partners. Nevertheless, that could change if Citi keeps adding more valuable transfer partners to its ThankYou rewards program, or when American Express features another great airline transfer bonus. Until then, I’ll look forward to using this pretty piece of metal all over the world.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
Regular APR
16.24%-23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.