Skip to content

Why the Citi Premier Is Great for Road Trips and RV Rentals

June 15, 2019
7 min read
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.

Citi is a TPG advertising partner.

Road trips can provide great memories with family or friends, and the US certainly has some excellent routes across the country. There are great tools to rent vehicles for cheap: AutoSlash is a game-changer for finding cheap car rentals and those with flexibility can jump on RV rentals for $1 a day. However, gas and other road trip expenses can add up quickly. So, if you're looking for a solid credit card companion for your road trip or RV rental, the Citi Premier® Card might be right for you. Here's why.

Card Basics

Although the Citi Premier® Card competes in the mid-tier card range ($95-100 annual fee), it packs benefits that rival some premium travel rewards credit cards. One area where it meets or beats these premium cards is a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Based on TPG’s latest valuations, this sign-up bonus is worth over $1,000 when utilized for award flights via Citi’s airline transfer partners. However, if you value simplicity, you could instead book $750 of paid airfare directly at the Citi ThankYou travel center. Note that if you’ve received a sign-up bonus for or closed a Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier/Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card in the last 24 months, then you aren’t eligible for the bonus.

Bonus Categories

Portugal, Lisbon, Humberto Delgado Airport, competing car rental counters, Avis, Budget, Europcar. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

Spending bonus categories are the main reason road trippers and RV renters should use the Citi Premier® Card as a primary credit card on their trips. The following wide-ranging travel categories earn 3x ThankYou points:

Airlines hotels car rental agencies travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators gas stations commuter transportation ferries commuter railways subways taxis/limousines/car services passenger railways cruise lines bridge and road tolls parking lots/garages campgrounds and trailer parks timeshares bus lines motor home/recreational vehicle rentals and boat leases and rentals

Based on TPG's valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents, this means you'll get a 5.1% return on spending in these 3x categories. Although this type of return isn't unheard of for travel categories on other cards, it's an exceptional return for gas purchases — a spending category which only earns a bonus on a few cards. Just remember that gas purchases at warehouse clubs, discount stores, department stores and convenience stores are excluded from the 3x bonus.

You’ll also earn 2x points on dining and entertainment purchases and 1x on all other purchases.

Car Rental Insurance

For rentals before September 22, 2019, the Citi Premier® Card offers insurance on car rentals worldwide as long as you pay with your card and/or Citi ThankYou points and decline the rental company’s collision loss/damage insurance. In the US, this coverage is secondary, but outside the US the coverage is primary even if you have another insurance policy. Citi will generally cover rentals of motor vehicle with four or more wheels that are designed to be driven on public roads as long as the rental period is 31 days or less.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

However, Citi is cutting this benefit as of September 22. So you'll want to use another credit card to pay for car rentals as of this date.

Related: The Best Credit Cards That Offer Primary Car Rental Coverage

Purchase Protections

Road trips and life on the road can be hard on your belongings. Luckily, the Citi Premier® Card includes the following purchase protections -- although some will be discontinued as of September 22, 2019:

  • Citi Price Rewind Protection to “rewind” your purchase price to any lower price you find within 60 days of your purchase. Note that rewinds are capped at $200 per item and $1,000 per year.
  • Extended Warranty Protection extends the manufacturer's warranty of items bought with the card by 24 months.
  • Damage and Theft Protection may cover repairs or provide a refund if an item you bought with the card is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Return Protection may refund the purchase price of an item that you try to return within 90 days of purchase if the merchant won't take it back.

Maximize Earning

Although the bonus categories are broadly defined for the Citi Premier, these bonus categories are limited to travel, dining and entertainment expenses. So, a solid general spending card and/or a card that provides a high bonus at grocery stores could be useful both at home and on road trips.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is an excellent general spending card with no annual fee. It earns 1.5% cash back on purchases. Plus, if you pair it with a premium Chase card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, then you can earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points instead of cash back. TPG's latest valuations value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, meaning you'd get a 3% return on all purchases. Check out the full card review for more details.

Want to earn more than the 1x provided by the Citi Premier on general spending, but don't want to pay the annual fee on a premium Chase card? Then the Citi Double Cash Card might be a good fit for you. It comes with no annual fee and earns a total of 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and an additional 1% when you pay for it on your statement. See the full card review for more details.

If you shop at US supermarkets frequently, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express might be a good fit. Although this card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (See Rates & Fees), and charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (See Rates & Fees), it provides 6% cash back on purchases at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 of spending each reward year (then 1%). These earnings accumulate as reward dollars and can be redeemed for statement credits when you have a rewards balance of at least $25. Check out the full card review for more details.

Bottom Line

If you road trip or travel by vehicle frequently, you'll benefit from a credit card that provides bonus earning for gas purchases. The Citi Premier® Card provides 3x ThankYou points on all travel purchases, including gas bought at most gas stations. Plus, the card provides 2x on dining and entertainment purchases.

You can learn more about the Citi Premier by checking out these stories:

Here's the link to apply now for the Citi Premier® Card with a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, please click here.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers