How to maximize your rewards earning with the Citi Premier
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The Citi Premier® Card is a hot commodity in 2021. Thanks to an improved welcome bonus that’s here to stay (worth $1,360, per TPG valuations) and some stellar airline transfer partners shared by few other points programs, the Citi Premier is clawing its way toward the likes of the beloved Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Citi Premier offers 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That’s enough to go just about anywhere on the planet if you know how to maximize Citi ThankYou points.
Let’s take a look at how to maximize your earnings with this card.
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Overview of the Citi Premier benefits
Here are the notable benefits of the Citi Premier:
- Earn 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout).
- Earn 1 point per dollar on all other qualifying purchases.
- A $100 annual hotel credit: You’ll enjoy a $100 credit once per calendar year for single-stay hotel bookings of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) made through thankyou.com.
- Extended warranty protection: Adds 24 months to the end of a manufacturer’s warranty.
- Damage and theft protection: Repairs/replaces damaged or stolen items within 90 days of purchase (up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year).
- World Elite Mastercard benefits: Various perks including cellphone protection, Global Emergency Services, a $5 monthly Lyft credit after taking three rides in a calendar month, access to the Mastercard luxury hotels and resorts portfolio for on-property perks like free breakfast and room upgrades upon availability, and more.
- Citi® Entertainment: Cardholders get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events such as concerts, sporting events, unique dining experiences, movie screenings, etc.
The card comes with a $95 annual fee. After you’ve secured the sizable welcome bonus, will it be worth paying that fee year after year? It’s easy to justify; let’s take a look.
Strategies for maximizing earning with the Citi Premier
There are a few key ways to maximize the rewards you can earn with the Citi Premier.
Use your Citi Premier to pay for groceries
Earning an uncapped 3 points per dollar on groceries is simply excellent. Other cards offer competitive returns, but they’ve all got an Achilles’ heel. For example:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 3 points per dollar for groceries, but they have to be ordered online (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
- American Express® Gold Card: 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, but only on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar (it probably won’t affect most folks, but it affects those of us who spend strategically).
- Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: 3% back at grocery stores, but you need a Capital One miles-earning card to transfer rewards to travel partners.
Groceries can amount to one of the most significant expenses for a household, so earning unlimited 3x points is a boon.
The information for the Capital One Savor has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Use your Citi Premier to pay for restaurants
Among this card’s other bonus categories is restaurants, including takeout and many delivery services, on which it earns 3 points per dollar. That said the three competitor cards listed above all offer bonus earning of their own in this same category, so it’s not as imperative that you focus your dining spend with the Citi Premier. It can’t hurt, though.
Use your Citi Premier to pay for gas
This is a nice bonus for everyone who cringes at the startling fuel prices of late. But the Citi Premier should be an absolute favorite among road-trippers, RVers, truckers, amphibious vehicle operators and any road warriors that put a significant amount of gas station spending on their card.
It’s also worth noting that you can purchase much more than just gasoline at the gas station — including food, beverages and third-party gift cards.
Use your Citi Premier to pay for your hotels via the Citi Travel Center
Each calendar year, the Citi Premier comes with a $100 credit off a hotel costing $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book via the Citi Travel Center. Not only will you get 3 points per dollar on your stay, but this $100 credit is good enough to offset the card’s $95 annual fee completely. If you wouldn’t usually book a $500 hotel stay each year, you may not find this perk to be all that useful.
When not to use the Citi Premier
Don’t use your Citi Premier to pay for air travel
The Citi Premier lacks significant ongoing travel benefits. It offers no coverage for trip delays, baggage delays and trip interruption, or other perks that nowadays come standard with many of the best travel cards.
Because of this, you should not pay for airfare with your card — even though it earns 3 points per dollar — if you have another travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or World of Hyatt Credit Card. For peace of mind, you’re likely better off earning potentially fewer points and receiving these valuable travel insurances (from other cards) for your trip.
Don’t use your Citi Premier to pay for non-bonus purchases
The Citi Premier earns 1 point per dollar on all purchases that don’t fall into a bonus category. That’s nothing special. Citi has a few no-annual-fee cards that blow this return out of the water. For example:
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Earn 1% back when you make a purchase and 1% back when you pay your bill (effectively a 2% return on all purchases).
- Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: Each billing cycle, earn 5% cash back on the first $500 of purchases in your top spending category from the following list; then 1% (and 1% back on all other eligible purchases):
Either of these cards (or both) would complement your Citi Premier in a powerful way. While both cards are advertised as cash-back cards, they actually earn Citi ThankYou points. As long as you’ve got the Citi Premier, you can convert those rewards into points and transfer them to valuable travel partners.
The Citi Premier Card is one of the best cards on the market for racking up points on everyday purchases. Its 3x bonus categories are so broad that you can easily funnel the majority of your spending through them. Add to that the above-average 80,000-point sign-up bonus and you’ve got yourself a truly compelling product.
Maximize your spending with the Citi Premier by using it for:
- Hotels via the Citi Travel Center (at least to utilize the annual $100 credit).
Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy.
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