Should I Use Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou For Travel?

May 17, 2015

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Recently, TPG reader Jason tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy —”Which card would you recommend using for travel expenses: the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Citi Thank You Premier card?”

Which card is best for travel? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been one of the top travel credit cards for a while now, as you can earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants. (However, be aware that “travel” doesn’t include gas.) You can also get 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months with the $95 annual fee waived first year.

However, it’s good to know that the Citi Thank You Premier card has just changed in order to nip at Chase’s business, and now allows you to earn 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on travel — including gas. You can also get 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within first 3 months with the $95 annual fee waived first year, and you earn 2 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment. The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer any bonus points for the entertainment category.

However, not all miles and points are created equally, and that’s precisely why we do our monthly valuation series. Three ThankYou points are worth about 4.8 cents in value, while two Chase Ultimate Reward points would be 4.2 cents; right off the bat it would seem like a good deal to get the 3X bonus categories and earn more points by going with Citi.

However, Citi transfer partners are not nearly as diverse as Chase partners. Here’s what I mean:

Chase Partners

Airlines: British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
Hotels: Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott RewardsRitz-Carlton Rewards

Citi Partners

Airlines: Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, Flying Blue (Air France, KLM), Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways
Hotels: Hilton HHonors

I love that Ultimate Rewards transfers to Southwest, United and Hyatt. Citi ThankYou partners seem to be less useful, because they don’t have any US-based airline partners and Hilton is the only hotel partner. There’s definitely value there, but I think Chase Ultimate Rewards points are even more valuable.

What I’d recommend is using both cards and earning points in both programs. A nice balance would be to use the Citi Premier for gas purchases and entertainment purchases, and then use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for all other travel and dining —this is the mix I typically use to earn as many points as possible on each. If I absolutely had to pick one, I’d go with Chase Sapphire Preferred; whereas the Citi Premier offers a great sign-up bonus and category spend bonuses, I feel the Chase Sapphire Preferred still has the edge because I value their transfer partners more. It’s all about having options!

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.