Citi Premier Credit Card Review

Jul 27, 2019

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Here’s the link to apply now for the Citi Premier℠ Card with a 60,000-point bonus worth at least $725 in travel.

Citi has dramatically improved the ThankYou Rewards program in recent years as well as the cards that earn those points, especially the Citi Premier Card. To compete with American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi has struck agreements with many airline transfer partners like Avianca LifeMiles and JetBlue TrueBlue. It has also offered periodic transfer bonuses to several of those partners.

Folks looking to diversify their loyalty portfolio with a transferable points program should consider ThankYou Rewards, and the Citi Premier specifically. Let’s take a look at how the card stacks up. The information for the Citi Premier has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Citibank Corporate Office & Headquarters are viewed in midtown Manhattan July 14, 2014. Citigroup on Monday agreed to pay $7 billion to settle allegations it misled investors on mortgage-linked securities ahead of the financial crisis in the latest US crackdown on a financial giant. US Attorney General Eric Holder, calling Citi
(Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Who is This Card For?

The Citi Premier is Citi’s mid-tier ThankYou Rewards-earning card, sitting squarely between the Citi Rewards+ Card and the Citi Prestige in terms of annual fee and benefits. As a cardholder, you’ll have access to various World Elite Mastercard benefits.

Its earning structure is fairly lucrative, with bonus opportunities on travel, gas, dining and entertainment purchases. Thanks to the number of airline and hotel transfer partners, ThankYou Rewards points can be very useful for consumers who need flexibility when it comes time to redeem their points for air travel.

In short, this is a solid mid-level travel credit card, and a good option for folks who might not want to pay the Citi Prestige’s higher annual fee.

Sign-Up Bonus and Annual Fee

The Citi Premier card is currently offering 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 valuations, 60,000 ThankYou points are worth approximately $1,020 thanks to factors like ease of use, transfer partners and more. The one downside is that the card’s $95 annual fee is not waived for the first 12 months.

Earning

The Citi Premier’s earning structure is one aspect where the card really shines. Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel, including (most) gas stations. They earn 2x points on dining out and entertainment, including things like concerts, plays, museums and amusement parks. They earn 1 point per dollar on everything else.

The average American household spends more than $3,000 per year at restaurants. Image courtesy of Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury via Getty Images.
Cardholders earn 2x points per dollar on dining. Photo by Getty Images.

That makes this card a higher earner than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, with which it directly competes in terms of annual fee, and its earning power on travel purchases is on par with the more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve. Not to mention the fact that the Citi Premier earns that 3x bonus on a wider array of travel purchases than Citi’s own higher-priced Prestige card (with which 3x is limited to just air travel and hotels).

Redeeming

This is another strength of the Citi Premier thanks to its participation in the ThankYou Rewards program, which currently has 15 travel transfer partners:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia Miles
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

While you’ll notice that many of these are non-US frequent-flyer programs, there are still some high-value (and easily redeemed) 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 award availability on those airlines and their partners, get some phenomenal deals on Star Alliance awards using Avianca LifeMiles, offset ticket costs with JetBlue TrueBlue, or even go all out with a First Apartment award using Etihad Guest miles. In short, there are plenty of ways to maximize those transfer partners.

Some seats are right on the aisle.
You can book the Etihad First Apartment using Citi ThankYou Points.

You can also redeem ThankYou points you earn with the Citi Premier directly for airfare on thankyou.com at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents per point, giving cardholders yet another option for putting their points to use.

Perks

Those are the major points-related benefits of the card, but the Citi Premier also comes with a slew of travel and purchase protections that might earn it a place in your wallet. However, note that some of these protections will be discontinued as of September 22, 2019.

World Elite Mastercard Benefits: As a World Elite Mastercard, the Citi Premier confers several travel-related perks that consumers might not know about. Those include a $10 discount on every five Lyft rides taken within a calendar month, access to the Luxury Hotels & Resorts portfolio that provides on-property perks like free daily breakfast; discounts on certain airfares with carriers like Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways; shipboard credits with various cruise lines and more.

Free FICO Score: Citi offers cardholders free FICO score updates, which can be useful to help you track if your score changes over time.

Citi Private Pass: This program gets cardholders special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events ranging from concerts and sporting events to special dining experiences and movie screenings before the general public can buy them. TPG‘s Jessica Puckett was able to take advantage of a Private Pass VIP package to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z on their On The Run II tour.

Personal Concierge Service: Citi offers concierge service including helping with shopping, dining and entertainment arrangements.

Which Cards Compete With the Citi Premier?

With a $95 annual fee, the Citi Premier competes directly with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. While Chase’s transfer partners might be more useful to many travelers, there are some overlaps like Singapore KrisFlyer and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, though Chase has hotel partners while, with the elimination of Hilton, Citi now has none.

On the other hand, the Citi Premier’s earning structure is much more lucrative than the Sapphire Preferred’s thanks to that 3x travel and gas category, and 2x on not only dining like with the Sapphire Preferred, but also on a range of entertainment purchases.

The Citi Premier’s closest competitor over at American Express is the American Express® Gold Card, which earns 4x points on dining, 4x points at US supermarkets on the first $25,000 in purchases per year (then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines and 1 point per dollar on everything else; and whose points you can redeem with Membership Rewards’ airline and hotel transfer partners. The Amex Gold Card also comes with a $10 monthly dining credit at select restaurants, offsetting a portion of its $250 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Bottom Line

The Citi Premier Card is one of the most lucrative points-earning cards thanks to its broad bonus purchase categories. The solid roster of ThankYou Rewards points transfer partners also makes these points that much more compelling, especially for travelers who desire the flexibility to transfer points to various loyalty programs.

If you are thinking of applying for the card, now’s a good time to go for it, since it’s currently offering a 60,000-point sign-up bonus. If you’re in the earlier stages of deciding, evaluate this card’s strengths and see if they align with your travel needs.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.

Photo by Wutthichai Luemuang / EyeEm / Getty Images.

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.