Skip to content

Is the Citi Premier worth the annual fee?

Sept. 16, 2022
6 min read
Alila Seminyak Pool with tan loungers
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.

Editor's Note

Citi is a TPG advertising partner. 

The Citi Premier® Card definitely receives less attention than other travel rewards credit cards, especially when you compare it to premium credit cards. It also lost the majority of its consumer protections and insurance benefits back in 2019.

With that in mind, you might wonder whether the $95 annual fee on the Citi Premier card is worth it. Let's take a look.

Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.

Welcome bonus

In examining whether the card is worth it, let’s start with the introductory bonus offer.

With the Citi Premier, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 ThankYou® Points points after you use your new card to make $4,000 in purchases within the first three months from account opening. TPG values these points at 1.7 cents each, so the bonus is worth $1,020.

American Airlines Flagship First class on the A321T. JT GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Citi ThankYou Points have increased in value over the past two years thanks to its transfer partners. A good example is Etihad Guest, which you can often use to book American Airlines award flights cheaper than booking directly with American Airlines' own AAdvantage program. You can also use Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles to book lie-flat business class awards to Hawaii for just 12,500 miles per person each way.

On the hotel side, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to Wyndham Rewards and at a 1:2 ratio to Choice Privileges. These programs can both provide excellent value not just at budget properties but also when traveling near holidays, when cash rates are high but points rates aren't prone to fluctuation.

Related: 5 of the best Citi ThankYou Rewards redemption sweet spots

Solid points earning

While many other cards find their strengths in the perks and benefits they offer — think reimbursement for your Global Entry application fee or lounge access memberships — the Citi Premier doesn't offer those benefits. But it also doesn't have a $400-plus annual fee like credit cards that tend to offer those benefits.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Instead, if you ask people what they like about the Citi Premier card, the most common answer may be that it earns points in popular spending categories.

Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and at restaurants (including takeout). Since TPG values these points at 1.7 cents apiece, this represents a 5.4% return on spending. Plus, these bonus categories apply worldwide, as opposed to some cards that only offer these bonus points on purchases within the U.S.

Outside of these categories, you'll earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. That's a 1.8% return on spending.

Related: How to redeem Citi ThankYou points for maximum value

$100 annual hotel credit

While this benefit sounds promising and might be great when staying at boutique, independent properties, it may not lead to the $100 in savings you expect from the benefit's name.

When testing out the $100 hotel credit on the Citi Premier, TPG found that the benefit often was significantly less than $100. That's because Citi's travel portal doesn't always have the lowest rate — especially when you factor in members-only rates for your favorite hotel chain.

The $100 hotel credit can be used once per year on a hotel stay that costs $500 or more, and the stay must be booked through thankyou.com — Citi's travel portal.

Related: The Citi Travel portal is getting a complete makeover: Here’s what to expect

JOHN GRIBBEN FOR THE POINTS GUY

Cardmember protections

While the card has lost numerous protections over the past few years, it retained two that can be valuable: extended warranty protection and damage and theft protection.

The extended warranty protection on the Citi Premier adds an additional 24 months to a manufacturer's warranty. The damage and theft protection benefit can provide for the repair or replacement of an item that's damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase (up to $10,000 per item and a $50,000 annual limit).

World Elite Mastercard benefits

As a World Elite Mastercard, you can enjoy multiple benefits and perks. These include cellphone protection and Global Emergency Services, a $5 Lyft credit when you take at least three rides in a month and a ShopRunner membership that provides free two-day shipping for numerous online purchases. You'll also get rental car elite status and benefits with Avis, National and Sixt.

Entertainment perks

While not particular to the Citi Premier card, anyone with a Citi credit card can access Citi Entertainment. This can provide access to exclusive events, and priority access or advance ticket sales to concerts, shows and performances, film festivals and more.

JANE TYSKA/MEDIANEWS GROUP/THE MERCURY NEWS/GETTY IMAGES

Bottom line

While it might not be the best card for everyday spending, there’s plenty of value to be had with the Citi Premier card. Unlike other credit cards with luxurious benefits and automatic elite status, this card tends to provide its value through the points you earn when using the card in its bonus categories.

To be honest, you likely won't achieve enough value from the $100 hotel credit perk to offset the $95 annual fee. However, if you are able to save money with the cell phone coverage or cardmember protections, these alone can provide hundreds of dollars in savings.

If not, the question of whether or not the Citi Premier's annual fee is worth it will come down to the points you earn, how you value them and which other cards in your wallet earn points in the same categories.

Official application link: Citi Premier® Card with an 60,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening.

Featured image by TWO ROADS HOSPITALITY/ALILA SEMINYAK
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

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees