Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Citi Premier: Preferred Gets the Edge

The battle of these credit cards was hard-fought, but the Preferred emerges the victor even though it’s less rewarding for everyday spending.

Erin HurdNovember 24, 2020
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The Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card have more similarities than differences. Both charge a moderate $95 annual fee — not exactly cheap, but still a ways off from premium card prices which can go up to $550 or more. Both earn generous bonus offers, and earn extra rewards on popular purchases like travel and dining.

In other words, these two cards are very closely matched.

If you’re stuck on trying to decide which of these two travel credit cards to get, here’s a look at how they stack up and what you should consider.

How they compare at a glance

Citi Premier® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Sign-up bonus

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.

Annual fee

$95

$95

Ongoing rewards

  • 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.

  • 1x points on all other purchases.

  • 5x points on Lyft (through March 2022 only).

  • 2x points on travel and dining worldwide, including delivery and takeout.

  • 1x points on all other purchases.

Other perks

  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit.

  • Travel partner transfers.

  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 1 year free of DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service.

  • Travel partner transfers.

Foreign transaction fee

None

None

APR

The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Where the Citi Premier® Card shines

Citibank ThankYou Premier Credit Card
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Rich ongoing rewards for everyday spending

For many popular everyday spending categories, the Citi Premier® Card is a points-earning powerhouse. When you use your Citi Premier® Card, you’ll earn:

  • 3x points per dollar at restaurants.

  • 3x points per dollar at supermarkets.

  • 3x points per dollar at gas stations.

  • 3x points per dollar at hotels.

  • 3x points per dollar on air travel.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends more than $8,000 each year on food eaten at home and out. The Citi Premier® Card earns 3x points per dollar at supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout and delivery). That means an average of $8,000 spent on food would earn 24,000 ThankYou points each year.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2x points per dollar on restaurants and 1x point per dollar at supermarkets. That same $8,000 spent on food wouldn’t earn you nearly as many Ultimate Rewards ®, even if you mostly ate at restaurants.

Plus, the Citi Premier® Card earns superior rewards when you spend on air travel and at gas stations and hotels.

$100 annual hotel savings

This benefit, good once per calendar year, gives you $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more when you book through the ThankYou portal and pre-pay for your stay.

You usually won’t earn hotel points or elite night credits when you don’t book directly with the hotel, but the $100 credit is a nice 20% savings off a $500 stay. If using this credit fits with your travel plans, you can more than make up for the $95 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card shines

Points are worth more for travel

The Ultimate Rewards® points you earn on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth more when you redeem them for travel. Instead of being worth 1 cent each like the points from the Citi Premier® Card, they’re worth 1.25 cents a piece.

That 25% boost in value can really add up. That means that instead of 60,000 points being worth $600 in travel, they’re worth $750 in travel. That extra $150 can mean an extra night at a hotel or upgraded seats on your flight.

Nerd tip: In mid-2020, when many card holders weren’t doing much travel, Chase introduced a temporary feature called Pay Yourself Back. Through April 30, 2021, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card holders can redeem points for 1.25 cents each toward purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, home improvement stores and select charitable organizations.

More popular domestic transfer options

Both the Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer the option to transfer your points to a handful of travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re willing to put in a little more work to find award availability, transferring your points to an airline or a hotel can often yield much higher value for your points.

For example, NerdWallet values Chase transfer partner Hyatt points at 2 cents each. That means if you transferred your points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card to Hyatt, you have a good chance of redeeming them for 2 cents a piece instead of 1.25 cents through the Chase portal.

When it comes to transfer partner choices, Chase’s options will be more appealing to many. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers the ability to transfer points to popular airlines like United, Southwest and JetBlue, and hotel giants like Marriott, Hyatt and IHG.

If you’re really looking to optimize your points and travel hack your way to an amazing trip, foreign partner programs like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards and Iberia Plus can give you outsized value for your points. But for those who like to keep it simple, Chase offers better partners.

Citi also offers a healthy list of travel transfer partners, but JetBlue is the only domestic option.

Travel insurance and purchase protection

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers the following insurance and protections:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for non-refundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness or severe weather.

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: Gives primary coverage and provides reimbursement for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.

  • Baggage delay insurance: If your luggage is delayed more than 6 hours, you’ll be reimbursed up to $100 a day for 5 days for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries.

  • Trip delay reimbursement: You’ll receive up to $500 per ticket to use toward lodging and meals if your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.

  • Purchase protection: New purchases on the card are covered against damage and theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

  • Extended warranty protection: When you make a purchase on your card, the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty will be extended by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.

Travel and purchase protections on the Citi Premier® Card? Nada. Nothing. Not a cent.

Citi used to offer similar protections on many of its credit cards, but in fall 2019, they were all but completely eliminated.

Nerd tip: The Citi Premier® Card got a makeover in August 2020, and some of the changes weren’t good news for cardholders. Previously, cardholders could redeem ThankYou Points for travel through the Citi portal for a rate of 1.25 cents each. Now, points are worth 1 cent a piece.

Which card is better for me?

Both the Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are rewarding, mid-level travel credit cards that earn points that can be used toward travel, transferred to partners, or even redeemed for statement credits or gift cards (though you won’t get the best value that way).

When you factor in the 25% lift in value you’ll get when you redeem your points for travel, the robust list of popular transfer partners and the added travel and purchase protections, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card narrowly eeks out the win when compared with the Citi Premier® Card.

But when looking at earnings alone, the Citi Premier® Card comes out on top.

Want to earn more Ultimate Rewards® points than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns? Consider pairing it with a $0 annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You’ll earn 5x points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points per dollar at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 3x points per dollar at drugstores and 1.5x points per dollar on all other purchases.

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