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How to maximize your rewards earning with the Citi Premier

Oct. 11, 2021
8 min read
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The Citi Premier® Card is a hot commodity in 2021. Thanks to an improved welcome bonus that's here to stay (worth $1,360, per TPG valuations) and some stellar airline transfer partners shared by few other points programs, the Citi Premier is clawing its way toward the likes of the beloved Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Citi Premier offers 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That's enough to go just about anywhere on the planet if you know how to maximize Citi ThankYou points.

Let's take a look at how to maximize your earnings with this card.

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Overview of the Citi Premier benefits

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Here are the notable benefits of the Citi Premier:

The card comes with a $95 annual fee. After you've secured the sizable welcome bonus, will it be worth paying that fee year after year? It's easy to justify; let's take a look.

Related: Redeeming Citi ThankYou points for maximum value

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Strategies for maximizing earning with the Citi Premier

There are a few key ways to maximize the rewards you can earn with the Citi Premier.

Use your Citi Premier to pay for groceries

Earning an uncapped 3 points per dollar on groceries is simply excellent. Other cards offer competitive returns, but they've all got an Achilles' heel. For example:

Groceries can amount to one of the most significant expenses for a household, so earning unlimited 3x points is a boon.

The information for the Capital One Savor has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Use your Citi Premier to pay for restaurants

Among this card's other bonus categories is restaurants, including takeout and many delivery services, on which it earns 3 points per dollar. That said the three competitor cards listed above all offer bonus earning of their own in this same category, so it's not as imperative that you focus your dining spend with the Citi Premier. It can't hurt, though.

Use your Citi Premier to pay for gas

Gas stations sell more than just gas. (Photo by Everyonephoto Studio/

This is a nice bonus for everyone who cringes at the startling fuel prices of late. But the Citi Premier should be an absolute favorite among road-trippers, RVers, truckers, amphibious vehicle operators and any road warriors that put a significant amount of gas station spending on their card.

It's also worth noting that you can purchase much more than just gasoline at the gas station — including food, beverages and third-party gift cards.

Use your Citi Premier to pay for your hotels via the Citi Travel Center

Each calendar year, the Citi Premier comes with a $100 credit off a hotel costing $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book via the Citi Travel Center. Not only will you get 3 points per dollar on your stay, but this $100 credit is good enough to offset the card's $95 annual fee completely. If you wouldn't usually book a $500 hotel stay each year, you may not find this perk to be all that useful.

When not to use the Citi Premier

Don't use your Citi Premier to pay for air travel

The Citi Premier lacks significant ongoing travel benefits. It offers no coverage for trip delays, baggage delays and trip interruption, or other perks that nowadays come standard with many of the best travel cards.

Because of this, you should not pay for airfare with your card — even though it earns 3 points per dollar — if you have another travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or World of Hyatt Credit Card. For peace of mind, you're likely better off earning potentially fewer points and receiving these valuable travel insurances (from other cards) for your trip.

Don't use your Citi Premier to pay for non-bonus purchases

The Citi Premier earns 1 point per dollar on all purchases that don't fall into a bonus category. That's nothing special. Citi has a few no-annual-fee cards that blow this return out of the water. For example:

Either of these cards (or both) would complement your Citi Premier in a powerful way. While both cards are advertised as cash-back cards, they actually earn Citi ThankYou points. As long as you've got the Citi Premier, you can convert those rewards into points and transfer them to valuable travel partners.

Bottom line

The Citi Premier Card is one of the best cards on the market for racking up points on everyday purchases. Its 3x bonus categories are so broad that you can easily funnel the majority of your spending through them. Add to that the above-average 80,000-point sign-up bonus and you've got yourself a truly compelling product.

Maximize your spending with the Citi Premier by using it for:

  • Groceries
  • Restaurants
  • Gasoline
  • Hotels via the Citi Travel Center (at least to utilize the annual $100 credit).
Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
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.

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