Maximizing the Citi Premier Card
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Citi ThankYou points are often the overlooked currency of the points and miles world, frequently taking a back seat to American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. However, Citi points can be extremely valuable, particularly if you know the tricks for accumulating and redeeming them, and the Citi Premier Card is one of your best options on the earning side. Here’s an insider’s guide to getting the most out of your Citi Premier.
Grab The 60,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus While It Lasts
Recently, Citibank increased the sign-up bonus on the Citi Premier from 50,000 to 60,000 points. The bonus has been going up and down over the past year, and the last time it hit 60,000 it lasted barely longer than one month. If you’re interested in the card, now is the time to jump on the bonus for maximum value. The points will credit to your account after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
The current bonus is worth $1,020 according to TPG’s most recent valuations. As we’ll see in a moment, there are quite a few strategic transfer partners to use those points with. If you choose not to transfer them directly to an airline, you can redeem them at the Citi ThankYou Travel Center at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. This gives you a value of $750 which can be used for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. You’ll earn frequent flyer miles by booking flights this way, and availability is usually greater than what you’ll find when redeeming through an airline. In addition, you can use points at online merchants such as Amazon, Expedia, Live Nation and Best Buy.
Remember that you can only earn the bonus if you haven’t opened or closed an account for the same card product within the past 24 months (in this case, the Citi Premier and Prestige count as the same card type).
Make Use of the Strong Earning Rates
The Citi Premier Card has an exceptional earning structure: 3x points on travel (including gas), 2x points on restaurants and entertainment and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. If you have regular expenditures on flights, hotels, car rentals and meals, this enables you to accumulate points quickly toward a dream vacation. Only a few cards give triple points for travel, and fewer still include gas purchases in the travel category.
Redeem Your Points With 15 Airline Partners
Citi ThankYou points can be transferred directly to 15 airlines. Transfers are at a 1:1 rate (except for JetBlue, which is 1000:500), and most are processed quickly. 11 of the airlines are spread across the three major alliances:
- Star Alliance (Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Eva Air MileageLands, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Turkish Airline Miles & Smiles, Avianca LifeMiles)
- SkyTeam (Flying Blue, Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles)
- Oneworld (Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Qatar Airlines Privilege Club, Qantas Frequent Flyer)
Unaffiliated airline programs include Ethiad Airways Guest, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, JetBlue TrueBlue and Jet Airways Jet Privilege. As you may have noticed, the Citi Premier Card is particularly strong on transfer partners to Asia. By using the airlines listed, you can fly virtually anywhere in the Pacific Rim or Oceania.
Your points can yield some spectacular travel experiences. Using only Singapore KrisFlyer miles, for example, you can fly in Suites class on the A380; fly between the continental US and Hawaii; travel to the Middle East, South Africa or the South Pacific; or use points for flights to Hong Kong or Japan. Other premium cabins such as Virgin Atlantic Upper Class are also relatively easy to book.
Take Advantage Of Travel Benefits
The Citi Premier Card provides an array of benefits that can ease your life on the road:
Baggage Insurance: Your lost, stolen or damaged bags (both checked and carry-on) are covered up to $3,000 per traveler, per trip ($2,000 for residents of New York), up to a total of $10,000 for all covered travelers.
Baggage Delay: If your bags don’t get to your destination within six hours of your arrival, you’re eligible for up to $100 in compensation per covered traveler.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption: You’re covered up to $5,000 or the amount of your fare (whichever is less), provided you paid for the trip with your card. In addition to severe weather, terrorist incidents, sickness or injury to self or family member, the covered reasons include jury duty, involuntary termination of employment, or death or sickness of a pet. Documentation is required.
Trip Delay: You’re eligible to receive up to $500 per traveler, per trip if you’re delayed for more than 12 hours because of weather, a natural disaster, an unannounced strike or a quarantine or hijacking.
Car Rental Insurance: You receive secondary coverage against theft or damage to your rental car when you pay for the rental with your card and decline collision damage waiver at the counter.
Travel Accident Insurance: This benefit covers you up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment on a common carrier, provided you paid for the fare with your card.
Consumer And Purchase Protections
The Citi Premier Card has a strong set of consumer safeguards (please note that in all cases, the purchase must be made with your card or through the redemption of points):
Damage and Theft Protection: If an item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase, you’ll receive repairs or a refund.
90-Day Return Protection: If a merchant won’t take back a defective item within 90 days of purchase, you’re covered up to $300 per item and $1,000 per year.
Extended Warranty: This extends the manufacturer’s warranty for 24 additional months.
Citi Price Rewind: This interesting benefit searches hundreds of online merchants for lower prices on items you’ve purchased with your card. You’re eligible to receive the difference between the price found and the price you paid within 60 days of purchase, up to $200 per item and $1,000 per year.
The Citi Mobile App allows you to control your account through your smart phone or tablet. If you lose your card, you can freeze new charges using the app while allowing recurring ones to continue. You’ll have free access to your FICO score, fraud protection, zero liability for unauthorized charges and help with identity theft and billing disputes.
The Citi Premier Card is both cost-effective and versatile. The current sign-up bonus of 60,000 points can yield between $750 and $1,020 in value toward travel. Points can be transferred to 15 different airline partners for a variety of unforgettable experiences. In addition, there’s a strong set of travel benefits and consumer protections.
Feature photo by mediaphotos/Getty Images.