Now That the Citi Prestige Offers 5x, Which Card Should You Use for Dining?
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The travel rewards card market has seen dining emerge as a major bonus category over the last few years. Chase led the pack by offering an industry-leading 3x points on dining when it launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve in 2016. Then, in 2018, American Express topped that by introducing 4x at restaurants with the American Express® Gold Card. And now, Citi is the latest issuer to make a splash in the market by adding 5x points at restaurants to the Citi Prestige Card, which recently reopened to new applicants.
With TPG’s valuations in mind, let’s take a look at how these three cards’ earning rates currently compare to each other.
|Card||Dining Category Bonus||RETURN ON SPENDING (BASED ON TPG VALUATIONS)|
|Citi Prestige||5x points||8.5%|
|Amex Gold||4x points at restaurants||8%|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x points||6%|
The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
It probably goes without saying that the Citi Prestige leads the way when it comes to return on spending based on our valuations. However, deciding which card is best for dining isn’t as simple as comparing just their earning rates. After all, each of these cards earns points that can be transferred to a different set of travel partners.
So, today we’re going to take a deeper dive into each of these cards to help you determine which card you should use for your dining purchases.
Citi Prestige Card
Return: 5 Citi ThankYou points per dollar on all dining and air travel. Points are worth 1.7 cents apiece, so you’re getting a return of 8.5% when dining worldwide.
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 within 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee: $495
The Citi Prestige’s 5x points at restaurants is the highest return out of any other rewards card for dining, and it’s available globally. It also offers 5x points on air travel, as well as 3x points on hotels and cruises. While the card’s annual fee is increasing soon, benefits such as a $250 travel credit and the 4th Night Free benefit help trim it.
You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to 15 airline partners (there are no current hotel partners) including Avianca LifeMiles, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Citi ThankYou points generally get less love than Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, as the transfer partners aren’t the most useful and many of the transfer times are sluggish, but if your primary goal is to book award flights on international carriers, there are still quite a few values to be had.
Here’s a sampling of what you can do with Citi ThankYou points:
- Transfer 47,500 points to Virgin Atlantic for a one-way Upper Class ticket to London (LHR) from the East Coast, or just 17,500 for one-way in premium economy. Just note that both redemptions come with taxes, fees and surcharges, equaling roughly $325 on the one-way premium economy award and over $500 for Upper Class.
- Transfer 87,000 points to Avianca for a one-way Lufthansa first-class ticket from the US to Europe with no fuel surcharges.
- Transfer 35,000 points to Singapore Airlines for a round-trip ticket from North America to Hawaii in coach on United.
Amex Gold Card
Return: 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar on dining at restaurants.
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within 6 months from account opening. Check CardMatch to see if you’re targeted for a 60,000-point or 75,000-point welcome bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months) (offer subject to change at anytime).
Annual fee: $250 (See Rates & Fees)
With 4x points on dining and 4x points on the first $25,000 spent per calendar year at US supermarkets (then 1x), the Amex Gold is a strong pick for eating out (or in). The card also offers 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines and throughup to $120 in dining credits each calendar year when you pay with the Gold card at participating partners (up to $10 in statement credits each month). Enrollment required for select benefits.
Here’s a sampling of what you can do with Amex Membership Rewards points:
- Transfer 25,000 points to Etihad for a one-way Flagship First flight on American Airlines’ three-cabin premium transcontinental Airbus A321T.
- Transfer 10,000 points to Delta for a round-trip domestic economy award booked during one of the airline’s frequent flash sales.
- Transfer 34,000 points to Iberia for a round-trip economy-class ticket or one-way business-class ticket from the East Coast to Madrid (MAD).
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Return: 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining. Points are worth 2 cents apiece so you’re getting a return of 6% when you dine both in the US and abroad.
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
Annual fee: $550
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve might no longer lead the pack for dining purchases, it remains a top pick for dining globally due to the value of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
Points can be transferred to over a dozen airline and hotel partners, including Hyatt, Singapore Airlines and United. All transfers are at a 1:1 ratio — 1 point for 1 point — and in the majority of cases, they are instant. A large portion of the card’s annual fee is offset by its $300 annual travel credit.
Here’s a sampling of what you can do with Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
- Transfer 60,000 points to United for a one-way flight to Europe in Polaris business class.
- Transfer 15,000 points to British Airways for a one-way American Airlines domestic first-class flight that’s up to 1,151 miles.
- Transfer 30,000 points to Hyatt for an award night at a top-tier Category 7 hotel like the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Park Hyatt New York, Park Hyatt Sydney and Park Hyatt Tokyo.
At the end of the day, picking the best card for your dining purchases isn’t as simple as just looking at the earning rates. There are other factors that come into play, such as transfer partners and restrictions on where you can earn bonus points for dining.
So, while the Citi Prestige has the highest earning rate for dining purchases based on our valuations, if your goal is to book a business-class award flight to Europe for example, you might be better off using the Amex Gold because Iberia is a transfer partner and offers very attractive pricing for flights there. Likewise, if you’re making a lot of dining purchases abroad or you’d the ability to redeem your points for hotel stays, you’ll want to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
Featured image by Jay Wennington / Unsplash.
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