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Why upgrade from Citi Rewards+ to Citi Premier?

Nov. 13, 2021
5 min read
Citi Premier Citi Rewards+_2021_CCSL
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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 1 one point per dollar) 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 3 points per dollar versus 2 points per dollar 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 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 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,020 for travel.

However, if you decide to upgrade your Citi Rewards+ to the Citi Premier, you won't be eligible for this 60,000-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.