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Why I chose the Citi Premier as my 23rd credit card

July 19 2022
8 min read
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Yes, you read that headline correctly -- 23rd card. Let me explain.

I love points and miles, and as travel has roared back to life for me and many others in 2022, the desire to get my hands on more points shows no signs of stopping.

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I know people that have millions of points and miles stashed away, but I operate on the principle of points being a depreciating asset. As in, you better use them before they lose value.

Plus, life is short, and the future is never guaranteed, so you might as well use your points to have those amazing experiences you may not be able to afford with cash.

Because I travel every month or two and try and live by my own advice, only one of my frequent flyer programs currently has a balance of over 50,000 miles. So, I decided to pull the trigger on applying for the Citi Premier® Card earlier this month.

It was good timing as right now, the card is offering a bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening — which is more generous than normal with this card.

So while there were 80,000 good reasons right off the bat, here's why this became the 23rd card I added to my wallet.

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What I was looking for in my next card

As you can tell from this post's headline, I already have a lot of credit cards. Before applying for the Citi Premier, I had 22 cards in my wallet — well, more accurately, most sit in my drawer.

I only use four of my cards on the regular. Those are:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express for flights thanks to its 5 points per dollar on that purchase and built-in travel protections. (Flights purchased directly with the airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 in purchases will earn the 5 points per dollar).
  • American Express® Gold Card for its 4 points per dollar earnings at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in U.S. supermarket purchases, then 1 point per dollar).
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for its 2 points per dollar on travel (except flights, which I use the Amex Platinum for) and 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card for its 2 miles per dollar on everything else.
I only use four of my 23 cards in my everyday life. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

My main priority in choosing my next card was getting a large welcome bonus. I considered anything over 60,000 points to be worth a look. I also wanted the points to be flexible (or transferable) points rather than ones linked to a specific loyalty program, like American Airlines AAdvantage or World of Hyatt.

Next, I wanted a low annual fee (of under $100). The Amex Platinum alone costs me $695 per year (see rates and fees), so I wanted to keep my costs down on other cards as much as possible.

Finally, I had to make sure I was eligible for the welcome bonus. I am way over Chase's 5/24 rule, so that ruled out applying for any Chase cards.

Related: How to maximize using Citi ThankYou points

Why I chose the Citi Premier

The bonus eligibility on the Premier states that "you won’t be able to earn the bonus on the Citi Premier if you’ve opened or closed the Citi Rewards+® Card, Citi ThankYou® Preferred*, Citi Premier or Citi Prestige® Card* in the last 24 months."

*The Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi Prestige are no longer available for new applicants. The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

I applied for and opened a Citi Prestige card three years ago and then downgraded it to the no-annual-fee Citi Rewards+ Card two years ago, so I was eligible for the bonus on the Premier card.

Here at TPG, we value the Premier's 80,000-point welcome bonus at $1,440, which vastly outweighs the card's reasonable $95 annual fee. I plan to get more than $1,440 value out of the welcome bonus.

Specifically, I have my eye on a one-way, business-class redemption to Europe next summer and can transfer my Citi ThankYou points to one of its partner loyalty programs.

In June next year, I will be in Chicago for a flag football tournament and have found business-class award availability on Finnair from there to Helsinki, which I've had on my bucket list for a while. I can book this flight using 61,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and ~$120 in taxes.

Right now, that flight is priced at over $5,000, meaning that I'd be getting at least 8 cents per point in value, which is incredible. Usually, anything over 2 cents per point in value is a good redemption.

I'm eager to try out Finnair's new business-class product. (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

If that award availability is still there by the time I reach my welcome bonus spending requirement and I snag that ticket (no promises), I'll still have 19,000 Citi ThankYou points to play with.

I'm also visiting my family in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of this year and could book a one-way Virgin Australia business-class flight between the two cities for only 13,800 Etihad Guest miles, as it is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou.

In terms of ongoing spend, the Premier offers a solid 3 points per dollar spent in the following categories:

  • Air travel.
  • Hotels.
  • Gas stations.
  • Supermarkets.
  • Restaurants (including takeout).

However, the only category in which I'll put ongoing spending on this card will be gas stations, where I will earn 3 points per dollar spent. (For the other categories, other cards I already have in my wallet earn more points.)

Related: Best rewards credit cards for each bonus category

An interesting application process

I find Chase and American Express cards to be much easier to be approved for than Citi cards.

It's usually all processed automatically online; sometimes I need to call the reconsideration line to move some credit from other cards onto the card I've just applied for. (I can see why these two banks wouldn't want to extend me more credit given I already have 12 and 5 cards with them, respectively.)

However, with Citi, I've found the application process to be lengthier and more old-school in nature. The same response happened when I applied for my first Citi card (the Prestige) three years ago and now the Premier. After submitting my application, it showed that it was under review. I called the reconsideration line to ask if the company needed to see any proof of income or other documentation.

Instead, both times a representative needed to send me a verification code through the mail. As in, snail mail, for security purposes. I waited eight days for the code to arrive in my mailbox, and, after following the instructions to input the verification code online, I was (those eight days later) instantly approved for the card.

So, just be aware that Citi's application process may take a couple of weeks. If you're on vacation or away from home for an extended period of time, you'll want to wait until you're at your permanent address to receive this code. This may happen to you even if you are an existing Citi customer, like me.

Bottom line

The Citi Premier Card is worth considering both for those just getting into the points and miles game as well as travelers like me who already have a substantial card portfolio. You can use its points at a fixed value for travel booked through Citi or you can transfer the points to its travel partners.

The card offers almost $1,500 value in its sign-up bonus for a very modest $95 annual fee. It also earns a respectable 3 points per dollar spent across a number of common categories such as flights, restaurants and hotels.

Finally, just make sure you are eligible for the welcome bonus and be aware that your address may need to be verified with a code sent in the mail, taking 1-2 weeks after submitting your application.

Official application link: Citi Premier® Card with 80,000 bonus ThankYou points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months of account opening.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.

Featured photo by (Photo by Ben Smithson/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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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
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  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees