Citi Premier Card Review: Underrated 3x Points Card


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Link: Apply now for the Citi Premier® Card

When talking about mid-range credit cards that earn transferrable points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is probably the first card that comes to mind for many. The card offers lots of great benefits, bonus points on dining and travel, and valuable travel and purchase protection.

However, there are a couple of cards that can compete with the Sapphire Preferred, and in this post, I wanted to take a look at one of those cards, which I think for many people may be a better option. This is an incredibly underrated card, especially in conjunction with the Citi® Double Cash Card (as I’ll explain below).

Citi Premier Card Basics For May 2023

The Citi Premier® Card is a card that offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points, has five different categories where cardmembers can earn 3x points, and also provides lots of flexibility thanks to how many transfer partners there are. Is this card right for you, though? Let’s look at this card in a bit more detail.

Bonus Of 60,000 Citi ThankYou Points

The Citi Premier® Card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months. Not only can you transfer those points to airline partners (and get at least 60,000 airline miles), but you can also redeem them toward other purchases (and get at least $600 in value).

Furthermore, for a limited time, you can earn 10x ThankYou points on hotels, rental cars, and attractions, booked through the Citi Travel portal, through June 30, 2024.

Based on my valuation of Citi ThankYou points, the bonus of 60,000 points is worth $1,020. That doesn’t include the 10x points you can earn for select portal bookings, which I value at a 17% return.

Redeem ThankYou Points for travel in Royal Air Maroc business class

Citi Premier Card Bonus Eligibility

There are some restrictions to be aware of if you’re looking to earn the welcome bonus on the Citi Premier. You’re not eligible for the welcome bonus if you’ve earned a bonus on this exact card in the past 48 months. Eligibility for this bonus isn’t otherwise tied to whether you have any other Citi card.

Be aware of Citi’s other general card approval rules:

  • You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
  • You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days
Citi has unique restrictions when it comes to card eligibility

Product Changing

Citi will often let you product change from one card to another, assuming you’ve had it for at least 12 months. For example, one strategy could be to apply for the Citi Premier, and then later you could product change it to the Citi Prestige or Citi Rewards+.

You’ll have to call Citi to find out the options available on your account.

$95 Annual Fee

The Citi Premier Card has a reasonable $95 annual fee. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and any spending that authorized users put on their card will contribute toward the points you earn.

Earning Points With The Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier® Card offers the best bonus categories of any mid-range credit card, in my opinion. When picking a credit card I recommend getting one that offers bonus points in categories that you’re likely to spend a lot in.

Credit cards offer bonus points on categories like travel, dining, gas, supermarkets, etc., so just pick a card that offers points in categories useful to you. For context, I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each.

3x Points On Air Travel & Hotels

The Citi Premier offers 3x points on air travel and hotel purchases, with no limit on how many bonus points you can earn. This includes purchases made directly with airlines and hotels, as well as purchases through travel agencies. To me, that’s like a 5.1% return in these categories.

Earn 3x ThankYou points on flight purchases

3x Points On Gas

The Citi Premier offers 3x points on gas station purchases. Again, I value that at a ~5.1% return, and that makes this one of the best cards for gas station purchases.

3x Points On Dining 

The Citi Premier also offers 3x points on dining, which includes restaurants, cafes, takeout, and delivery. A 5.1% return in this category makes this one of the best cards for dining.

3x Points On Groceries

Lastly (but certainly not least), the Citi Premier offers 3x points on groceries. I would also consider this to be one of the best cards for supermarket purchases.

Earn 3x ThankYou points on groceries

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Citi Premier has no foreign transaction fees, so this is an excellent card to use for purchases globally since you can earn valuable rewards while not being stuck with those fees, which are sometimes as high as 3%.

Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

The Citi Premier® Card earns ThankYou points. This is one of the four major transferable points currencies, and it’s also a points currency that I’ve found has increased in value significantly over the past few years thanks to all the transfer partners that have been added. Let’s take a closer look at how redemptions work.

Redeem Citi ThankYou points for travel in JetBlue Mint

Transfer Points To Airline & Hotel Programs

Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners. The program has the below 16 partners, including 14 airlines and two hotel groups.

Transfer Partners

Transfer Ratio

Aeroméxico Club Premier

1000 : 1000

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

1000: 1000

Avianca LifeMiles

1000 : 1000

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

1000 : 1000

Emirates Skywards

1000 : 1000

Etihad Guest

1000 : 1000

EVA Air Infinity MileageLands

1000 : 1000

JetBlue TrueBlue

1000 : 1000

Qantas Frequent Flyer

1000 : 1000

Qatar Airways Privilege Club

1000 : 1000

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

1000 : 1000

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

1000 : 1000

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles

1000 : 1000

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

1000 : 1000

Choice Privileges

1000 : 2000

Wyndham Rewards

1000 : 1000

Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners and Ratios

Transferring points to partners can be a great value if you’re looking to redeem for first and business class travel. That’s because first and business class tickets are often super expensive if paying cash, while they’re often reasonably priced if paying in points.

My favorite Citi ThankYou partners are Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca LifeMiles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Singapore KrisFlyer, Turkish Miles&Smiles, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Redeem ThankYou points for travel in Etihad first class

Look Out For Transfer Bonuses

One way to get even more value out of your ThankYou points is to look out for transfer bonuses. Occasionally Citi offers additional bonuses when you transfer points, and these can often be in the range of 20-30%.

We’ve seen these to Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca LifeMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and more. These can be a great deal.

Redeem Points For One Cent Each Toward Airfare

Citi ThankYou points can be redeemed at the rate of one cent each toward airfare, so I wouldn’t recommend redeeming that way. You can get much better value by transferring to travel partners.

What About Redeeming For Gift Cards?

While you can redeem Citi ThankYou points for gift cards, merchandise, and more, I’d generally recommend against this. That’s because you’ll get at most one cent of value per point, which isn’t a particularly good deal. It could be a good deal in the context of the welcome bonus since 60,000 points could get you $600 in value, but otherwise, I’d advise against it.

How Should You Redeem Citi ThankYou Points?

It all depends on what your travel goals are. Generally speaking:

  • If you’re just looking to redeem for economy travel, redeeming points for one cent each toward the cost of airfare could be okay for you, and might be a better value than transferring to partners
  • If you want to redeem for travel in first and business class (which is what I recommend), there’s huge value in learning airline award charts, because you can get outsized value that way
Redeem ThankYou points for travel in Delta business class

You Can Combine Citi ThankYou Points

Note that if you have the Citi Premier, Citi Prestige, Citi Rewards+, Citi Double Cash, and/or Citi Custom Cash, then you can pool the points earned across all the cards. You can also transfer ThankYou points to other ThankYou members, though do note that these points then expire after 60 days (so I’d recommend transferring them to a partner program within that timeframe).

Citi Premier Card Benefits

I would plan on getting the Citi Premier® Card for the bonus and return on spending that it offers, rather than the perks. That being said, the card does have some benefits that people may find useful.

$100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit

With the Citi Premier, you can get $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when booking through Citi ThankYou. This benefit is available once per calendar year.

For some people, this will more or less be worth face value, while for others it will be worth very little. If you can get value out of this, it could more than make up for the annual fee on the card.

Get a $100 annual hotel credit with the Citi Premier

World Elite Mastercard Benefits

The Citi Premier is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning that it comes with quite a few benefits, including savings with Lyft, Boxed, ShopRunner, and more.

Is The Citi Premier Card Worth It?

The Citi Premier® Card offers the most rewarding bonus categories of any mid-range credit card, in my opinion, as the card offers 3x points in five different categories. I also love Citi ThankYou points, and get huge value by transferring them to airline partners, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus. This is also a great time to pick up the card, given the huge bonus.

So, how does this compare to some of the other cards out there, and how do you truly maximize value?

Tip: Complement With Citi Double Cash

One major reason to consider getting the Citi Premier is because of the value of complementing it with the Citi® Double Cash Card (review). The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, and offers 1x ThankYou points when you make a purchase, and 1x ThankYou points when you pay for that purchase.

The Citi Double Cash is one of my go-to cards for everyday spending, and I consider this to be an unbeatable combination. You can earn 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, and more, and 2x points on all of your other purchases.

Comparison: Citi Premier Vs. Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is the premium version of the Citi Premier, so how do the cards compare?

  • Welcome bonus: Citi Premier offers 60,000 points, the Citi Prestige is not currently available for new applicants
  • Annual fee: Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee
  • Points earning:
    • Citi Premier offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, hotels, and gas
    • Citi Prestige offers 5x points on dining air travel, and 3x points on hotels and cruise lines
  • Other perks: The Prestige has the benefit of offering a $250 travel credit every year and a Priority Pass membership

In general, my recommendation is to start with the Citi Premier, see how you like it, and then after a year you can always product change to the Citi Prestige (assuming it continues to be available, since it’s not currently open to new cardmembers). That way you can take advantage of the much better bonus and lower annual fee on the Citi Premier as you get used to the Citi ThankYou program.

Personally, I think the Citi Premier is a more well-rounded credit card nowadays. But there’s not even a decision to be made here, since the Citi Prestige isn’t open to new applicants.

If you value a Priority Pass membership, the Citi Prestige is a good option

Alternatives To The Citi Premier

If you want to consider another mid-range card in place of the Citi Premier, there are two cards I’d look at.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Vs. Citi Premier

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) is probably the biggest competitor to the Citi Premier.

The card also has a $95 annual fee, so the biggest differences are the following:

  • The Sapphire Preferred has a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within 3 months
  • The Citi Premier has better bonus categories, as the card offers triple points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, and hotels, while the Sapphire Preferred offers triple points on dining, online groceries, and select streaming services, and double points on travel
  • The Sapphire Preferred offers significantly better travel, car rental, and purchase protection, and also offers a $50 annual hotel credit; everyone has to decide how much they value that
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers a hotel credit

Amex Gold Card Vs. Citi Premier

The American Express® Gold Card (review) offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points. As far as the return on spending goes, the card offers:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points for dining at restaurants
  • 4x points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spend per year)
  • 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines.

The card has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees), though offers an up to a $120 annual dining credit and Uber Cash & Uber Eats benefits. These credits help offset the annual fee significantly.

As you can see, the Amex Gold is better for dining and U.S. supermarkets, though it doesn’t offer bonus points on gas or hotels.

Earn 4x points on dining with the Amex Gold

Bottom Line

The Citi Premier® Card is an underrated card that earns valuable transferrable points. The card has a reasonable annual fee, a great welcome bonus, and excellent 3x points categories. I don’t think there’s another card in the market with bonus categories as well-rounded as this card.

When you complement it with the ability to earn 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent with the Citi® Double Cash Card, that’s a great duo.

In general, for mid-range cards, I really think it’s between the Citi Premier and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, as both are excellent cards. You can always pick up both cards and then long term decide which makes the most sense for you.

Apply Now for the Citi Premier Card Card with 60,000 bonus points!

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees).

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