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Why upgrade from Citi Rewards+ to Citi Premier?

Nov. 13, 2021
5 min read
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The Citi Rewards+® Card is a popular starter credit card, as it earns cash-back rewards with no annual fee.

For many, the idea of paying an annual fee is intimidating, but it may be worth considering moving up to the next level. The Citi Premier® Card offers superior earning potential and access to Citi's airline transfer partners within the same family of cards, but with a $95 annual fee.

In this series, we'll help existing cardholders determine if they should upgrade their cards, even if that means paying an annual fee. Here are some reasons why Citi Rewards+ cardholders should consider upgrading to the Citi Premier.

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Better earning potential

For families, the spending cap on the Citi Rewards+ can be limiting. (Photo by d3sign/Getty Images)

The Citi Rewards+ offers 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations on the first $6,000 per year (then 1x) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Also, every purchase automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points.

That $6,000 cap may be limiting for those who spend a considerable amount on these everyday purchases. You'll essentially only earn 2x on the first $500 spent per month when you break this threshold down.

The Citi Premier offers significantly better earning potential with no limits. Cardholders will earn 3 points per dollar on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

The difference of earning 3x versus 2x can add up throughout the year, especially when you throw in the possibility of earning bonus points on even more categories.

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Your rewards are worth more — and there are more redemption options

Redeem your Virgin Atlantic miles for a Delta One suite to travel across the pond. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

Not only can you earn more points with the Citi Premier, but your rewards will also be worth more.

With the Citi Premier, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to 15 airline loyalty programs, with high-value options like Avianca LifeMiles, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

It can be challenging to understand the intricacies of points transfers at first. Still, the payoff is well worth it since you can score so many award transfer possibilities. At TPG, we have many guides to walk you through how to transfer your Citi ThankYou points for maximum value.

When leveraging transfer partners with the Citi Premier, TPG values ThankYou points at 1.8 cents each. Meanwhile, with the Citi Rewards+, your ThankYou points are worth just 1 cent each for gift cards.

Greater travel benefits

You'll receive a $100 annual hotel benefit with the Citi Premier. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

Even with the $95 annual fee, there are greater benefits on the Citi Premier that will help prospective applicants justify this cost every year.

On the Citi Premier, there's an annual $100 statement credit toward a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when booked through thankyou.com. That's a savings of up to 20% on a hotel stay every year.

You'll also want to avoid using the Citi Rewards+ when traveling internationally since you'll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee on every purchase. The Citi Premier waives foreign transaction fees.

Consider applying rather than upgrading

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Last but certainly not least, another reason why the Citi Premier is a much more valuable card is that it comes with a nice sign-up bonus. New applicants will earn 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,440 for travel.

However, if you decide to upgrade your Citi Rewards+ to the Citi Premier, you won't be eligible for this 80,000-point sign-up bonus. You may want to consider applying for the Citi Premier separately, rather than upgrading, to get the sign-up bonus.

Just note that Citi has a 24-month application restriction on all of its ThankYou cards. If you received a new cardmember bonus on the Citi Rewards+ or closed your account within the last 24 months, you'll likely be ineligible to earn the Citi Premier's sign-up bonus until you're out of this window.

Bottom line

The benefits and earning potential of the Citi Premier will most likely outweigh the cost of the annual fee and present better long-term value than the Citi Rewards+. In general, it's important to re-evaluate what's in your wallet to ensure that you're always getting the maximum value possible, which may mean an upgrade is in your future.

Official application link: Citi Rewards+.
Official application link: Citi Premier.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023