Citi Premier credit card review: 80,000 bonus points with valuable earning rates
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Citi Premier® Card overview
The Citi Premier® Card is an under-the-radar gem with a phenomenal range of bonus categories. While the card isn’t as strong on the redemption side as similar offerings from Chase or Amex, the ability to earn 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout) for just $95 a year is still a pretty great deal. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
* Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
The Citi Premier® Card is currently offering a bonus of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. However, in addition to this fantastic intro bonus, there are plenty of reasons this card deserves a place in your wallet.
First, the card is one of the best earners on everyday spending you can find. It accrues 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets. Not bad for a card with a $95 annual fee.
Not only that, but the points you earn with the Citi Premier are also among the most versatile rewards currencies out there, and worth 1.8 cents each by TPG valuations. That’s because Citi has improved the ThankYou Rewards program substantially over the years to compete with the likes of American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. So the 80,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $1,440 by our estimates.
The Citi ThankYou program now boasts a total of 14 airline transfer partners, including standouts like Avianca LifeMiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. The program also recently added two new hotel partners, Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges — and with Qatar Airways’ recent shift to Avios as its loyalty currency, that effectively means you can now transfer your ThankYou points to British Airways.
Here’s what else folks should know about this card — and why you might want to apply now.
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Who is this card for?
The Citi Premier accrues bonus points on gas stations, dining at restaurants, supermarkets, air travel and hotel purchases — one of the most prolific set of bonus categories we’ve seen offered on any card.
Thanks to various airline transfer partners (plus the recent additions of Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards), Citi ThankYou Rewards can be useful for consumers who value flexibility when it comes time to redeem their points for all kinds of different travel needs. In short, this is a solid mid-level travel credit card and a good option for folks who want to avoid premium cards with hefty annual fees but still earn valuable transferable points.
The Citi Premier is also an excellent choice for people looking to diversify their points-earning strategy away from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. In fact, this card gets much more compelling for people who’ve already maxed out their 5/24 slots with Chase, mainly thanks to its solid sign-up bonus.
You could also consider pairing the Premier with the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, a no-annual-fee cash-back card that earns rewards through the Citi ThankYou points program. You can leverage the Custom Cash’s rewards rate of up to 5% back on your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (on up to the first $500 spent each billing cycle), then 1% unlimited cash back on everything else. Combine it with the Citi Premier’s excellent rewards rate for everyday and travel purchases, and you’ve got a powerful card duo that can help you accumulate a large stash of ThankYou points in no time.
Related: The best Citi credit cards of 2021
Sign-up bonus and annual fee
The Citi Premier is currently offering 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Citi uses a rather interesting rule to determine bonus eligibility, though.
You won’t be able to earn the bonus on the Citi Premier if you’ve opened or closed the Citi Rewards+® Card, Citi ThankYou® Preferred*, Citi Premier or Citi Prestige® Card* in the last 24 months. Most issuers count that time solely based on when you opened a card or received a bonus, but with Citi, your clock also resets if you close a card, so it’s all in the timing.
*The Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi Prestige are no longer available for new applicants. The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
There’s a $95 annual fee on the Citi Premier.
Much of the Citi Premier’s value proposition comes from the fact that it offers the ability to earn bonus points in a slew of categories without charging a hefty annual fee. As such, you shouldn’t expect an overwhelming number of perks, but there are several benefits of this card that can help you recoup your annual fee:
- $100 annual hotel credit: You’ll enjoy a $100 credit once per calendar year for single-stay hotel bookings of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) made through thankyou.com.
- Extended warranty protection: Adds an additional 24 months to a manufacturer’s warranty.
- Damage and theft protection: Repairs or replaces an item that’s damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase (up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year).
- World Elite Mastercard benefits: As a World Elite Mastercard, the Citi Premier confers several travel-related perks that consumers might not know about. These include a $5 monthly Lyft credit after taking three rides in a calendar month and access to the Mastercard luxury hotels and resorts portfolio for on-property perks like complimentary breakfast and room upgrades upon availability. Through the World Elite Mastercard program, you’ll also enjoy perks such as cellphone protection and Global Emergency Services.
- Citi® Entertainment: This program gets cardholders special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events — ranging from concerts and sporting events to unique dining experiences and movie screenings — before the general public can buy them.
- No foreign transaction fees: Like any good travel card, the Citi Premier allows you to travel freely without incurring a fee on international spending.
The Citi Premier’s earning structure is one aspect where the card really shines. Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar on purchases in the following categories, with no caps or annual limits:
The card earns 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
These earning rates are among the most impressive of any travel rewards card, especially considering the Citi Premier’s affordable annual fee.
- Aeromexico Club Premier.
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue.
- Avianca LifeMiles.
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
- Choice Privileges.
- Emirates Skywards.
- Etihad Guest.
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands.
- JetBlue TrueBlue.
- Qantas Frequent Flyer.
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus.
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles.
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
- Wyndham Rewards.
While you’ll notice that many of the frequent-flyer programs are those of international airlines, there are still some high-value (and easily redeemable) awards to be booked through them.
For instance, you can score some cheap Delta awards by booking through Virgin Atlantic, leverage Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles for decent business-class award availability on those airlines and their SkyTeam partners, get some phenomenal deals on Star Alliance awards using Avianca LifeMiles, offset paid fares with JetBlue TrueBlue or even book inexpensive American Airlines business-class tickets using Etihad Guest miles.
You can also redeem your ThankYou Points for travel directly through the Citi portal at a rate of 1 cent each, but that’s well below TPG’s valuation of ThankYou points at 1.8 cents each, a number derived in part from Citi’s extensive list of transfer partners.
Which cards compete with the Citi Premier?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, with an annual fee of $95, competes directly with the Citi Premier. While Chase’s transfer partners (including United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards) might be more beneficial for many travelers, there are some overlaps, including Singapore KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Though not the best we’ve seen, TPG values this sign-up bonus at $1,200 — which is worth less than the Citi Premier’s current sign-up bonus.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus.
Another direct competitor is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. It, too, charges a $95 annual fee, but this card comes with a less lucrative (but much simpler) earning rate of 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Instead of an annual hotel credit, you’ll get up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application credit once every four years with the Venture. You’ll even get two annual lounge visits per year to Capital One’s nascent network of airport lounges — or use those passes at over 100 Plaza Premium lounge locations.
The Venture’s sign-up bonus is also worth considering, offering the chance to earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. TPG values this sign-up bonus at $1,388 (not provided by the issuer).
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card with 75,000 bonus miles.
Finally, one of the Citi Premier’s closest competitors over at American Express is the American Express® Gold Card, which earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants, 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1 per dollar), 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel and 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases. These rewards can be transferred to Membership Rewards’ 18 airline and three hotel partners.
The Amex Gold Card also comes with up to $10 in monthly dining credits at select restaurants (up to $120 in annual statement credits) and up to $10 in monthly U.S. Uber Cash (up to $120 annually), offsetting the majority of the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Enrollment is required for select benefits.
In addition, there’s currently a public link to earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your card in your first six months of card membership.
Thanks to its long list of bonus categories and sign-up bonus, the Citi Premier is one of the most lucrative points-earning cards in its price range. The solid and growing roster of ThankYou Rewards transfer partners also makes these points that much more compelling, especially for travelers who desire the flexibility to redeem points with various loyalty programs.
Official application link: Citi Premier® Card with 80,000 bonus ThankYou points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months of account opening.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Stella Shon, Eric Rosen and Christina Ly.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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