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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi ThankYou Premier Card
TPG reader Ryan sent me a message on Facebook to ask for my opinion on some of the top travel rewards credit cards:
“Which do you think is best, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier?”
Chase Sapphire Preferred has been my go-to travel rewards card for some time now, but lately the competition has been catching up. While the Ultimate Rewards program has made several negative changes (like dropping Amtrak as a transfer partner) and Chase has ended some promotions (like the First Friday dining bonus), other cards and programs have made improvements, and Sapphire Preferred is no longer the clear favorite.
Earlier this year, Senior Points & Miles Contributor Jason Steele compared Sapphire Preferred with the Citi ThankYou Premier Card and the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and determined that Chase had the edge. However, there have been some notable changes since then.
For starters, Citi added Virgin America as a transfer partner (though the 2:1 transfer ratio is unappealing) and updated the ThankYou Premier card design to make it more user-friendly. Amex added a $100 airline fee credit to the Premier Rewards Gold card, eliminated foreign transaction fees and bumped the earning rate for dining purchases up to 2 points per dollar.
On the other hand, the Sapphire Preferred card is now offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (instead of 40,000) after spending $4,000 in the first three months. ThankYou Premier also offers 50,000 points (after spending $3,000 in three months), and there have been targeted 50,000-point offers for the Premier Rewards Gold card. However, I value Ultimate Rewards over both Citi ThankYou Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards in my latest monthly valuations, so the Sapphire Preferred bonus is the most lucrative.
Ultimately, I think Jason’s analysis still holds. Citi ThankYou Rewards has come a long way over the past 18 months, but until the program adds a major US carrier (ideally American Airlines) and perhaps another hotel option as transfer partners, Ultimate Rewards has the upper hand. As a result, Sapphire Preferred is still my card of choice.
That said, I applied for the ThankYou Premier card earlier this year and the 3x spending bonus on gas purchases has come in handy. If your spending or travel patterns align more closely with what Citi has to offer, that card may be a better fit for you. Fortunately, both cards waive the annual fee for the first year, so you could try them both out and see which one you like more.
For more info about the value you can get out of the Sapphire Preferred and ThankYou Premier cards, check out these posts:
- One Year of Earning and Burning with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Maximum Value
- One Year of Earning and Burning with the Citi ThankYou Premier Card
- Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points for Maximum Value
If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at email@example.com. 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.
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.