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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 normally earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but new cardholders will earn 3% cash back on all purchases in their first year up to $20,000 spent. 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 6% return on the first $20,000 you spend on the Freedom Unlimited in your first year as a new cardholder. After that, you’ll still 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 $95 annual fee (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.
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:
- Credit Card Review: Citi Premier
- Citi Premier: Should This Be Your Next Card?
- Lesser-Known Benefits of the Citi Premier Card
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 Mario Gutiérrez / Getty Images.
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel