Should Citi Prestige Card Holders Also Sign Up for Citi Premier?
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The Citi Prestige is often overlooked when compared to other premium travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express. That’s partially because when the Prestige relaunched earlier this year, the various changes included devaluations and an increased annual fee. But some travelers can still find significant value in having and using the card. Indeed, the Citi Prestige is my go-to card for dining, as well as much of my general spending while traveling abroad.
If you’re like me and you find significant value in the Citi Prestige, with the 60,000-point sign-up bonus now back on the Citi Premier Card, you may be wondering: Is there value to be found in having both cards? We’ve compared the cards in the past, but today we’re considering a different question: What value can the Citi Premier provide if you already have the Citi Prestige?
The Citi Premier currently offers 60,000 points when you sign up for the card and spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. These points are worth $750 if you use them to book airfare through the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel center, but TPG’s valuations peg these 60,000 points at $1,020 due to the value that can be obtained through transferring them to airline partners.
Note that you won’t be eligible for the bonus points if you received a new cardmember bonus for the Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier or Citi Prestige in the past 24 months, or if you have closed any of these accounts in that timeframe. So, make sure you’re eligible for the bonus before you apply.
The Citi Premier’s sign-up bonus provides clear value in your first year — seven to ten times the annual fee depending on how you value Citi ThankYou points. But let’s also look at the ongoing benefits you can get from having and using both Citi cards.
|Category||Citi Prestige||Citi Premier|
|Air Travel||5x (8.5%)||3x (5.1%)|
|Restaurants||5x (8.5%)||2x (3.4%)|
|Hotels and Cruise Lines||3x (5.1%)||3x (5.1%)|
|Travel, including Gas||1x (1.7%)||3x (5.1%)|
|Entertainment||1x (1.7%)||2x (3.4%)|
|All Other Purchases||1x (1.7%)||1x (1.7%)|
So, by adding the Citi Premier, you can improve your earnings on general travel spending (besides air travel, hotels and cruise lines, which already earn 3x or more with the Prestige), (most) gas purchases, and entertainment purchases — assuming you don’t already have other cards that you use for these purchases.
Granted, there are better cards on the market for entertainment, gas and general travel spending if you consider these bonus categories independently. But the Citi Premier is the only card that’s considered a top choice for all three categories. Assuming you were previously earning 1x ThankYou points on gas purchases and general travel expenses such as car rentals, ride-hailing apps, tolls, parking, ferries and trains with the Citi Prestige, based on TPG’s valuations, you’d only need to spend $2,794 each year — just $233 per month — in these 3x categories combined on the Citi Premier to offset the card’s $95 annual fee.
If you already have another card that you use for some of these categories, then you need to consider what value (if any) you’d gain by switching your spending for that category or categories to the Citi Premier. For example, if you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll likely want to continue putting your general travel spending on the Sapphire Reserve instead of switching it to the Citi Premier where you’ll get a smaller return.
As you already know if you have the Citi Prestige, you have two main options for redeeming your Citi ThankYou points: transfer to partners or book through the ThankYou Rewards travel center. There are other options, such as statement credits and gift cards, but these options generally provide less value.
TPG’s valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each is derived from the value that can be obtained when you transfer your points to airline partners such as Etihad Guest and Avianca LifeMiles. To meet or exceed this valuation, you’ll want to utilize your miles only when you can get solid value from doing so and take advantage of sweet spots.
Although there are many valuable redemptions that can be made with Citi ThankYou transfer partners, many travelers prefer the ease of using their points to book travel though the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel center. Until September 2019, both Citi Prestige and Citi Premier cardholders will be able to redeem points at a flat 1.25 cents each toward airfare. However, starting in September, Prestige cardholders will no longer have access to this bonus.
As such, this is one area where the Citi Premier Card can provide significant value. This is because Citi Premier cardholders will continue to be able to redeem points at a flat 1.25 cents each toward airfare, and you can move ThankYou points between your Prestige and Premier accounts. So, if redeeming points toward airfare through the ThankYou Rewards travel center is how you prefer to redeem Citi ThankYou points, getting 25% more from your points will justify paying the Citi Premier’s annual fee if you redeem more than 40,000 Citi ThankYou points toward airfare each year — even ignoring the Premier’s earning potential and other benefits.
Frankly, the Citi Premier doesn’t offer any notable benefits when compared to the benefits offered by the Citi Prestige (besides the ongoing 25% more toward airfare redemptions described above). However, Citi’s purchase protection benefit has a coverage limit per year per account. So, you could increase your coverage limit by having an additional Citi card and putting purchases on both cards.
Let’s consider the shopping benefits provided by these cards:
|Shopping Protection||Citi Prestige||Citi Premier|
|Purchase Protection||Within 90 days, up to $10,000 per incident and up to $50,000 per calendar year per account||Within 90 days, up to $10,000 per incident and up to $50,000 per calendar year per account|
|Extended Warranty||Extends up to 24 months (no more than 7 years), up to $10,000 per item||Extends up to 24 months (no more than 7 years), up to $10,000 per item|
So, if you tend to reach the annual account maximum for purchase protection on your Citi Prestige, getting the Citi Premier and strategically charging different purchases to each card could increase your coverage limit.
- 60,000-point bonus for eligible applicants that are accepted and spend $4,000 in the first three months
- 25% bonus when you redeem points toward airfare through the Citi ThankYou Rewards Travel Center (this bonus is going away for the Citi Prestige as of September 1)
- Improving your earning rate in select categories (general travel, gas and entertainment)
- Increasing the annual maximum for purchase protection by splitting spending across two accounts
Each of these aspects can certainly provide additional value — in fact, as noted in this guide, each aspect could easily justify the Premier’s $95 annual fee for particular customers. Even if you don’t think most of these aspects will be particularly useful — perhaps because you transfer most of your Citi ThankYou points to airline partners, don’t hit the shopping protection coverage limits and already have other cards that earn bonus points in the Citi Premier’s bonus categories — the sign-up bonus alone provides enough points to justify paying the annual fee for multiple years.
Here’s the link to apply now for the Citi Premier Card with a 60,000-point bonus.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
WELCOME 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.
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