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In the crowded deck of travel rewards cards, the Citi Premier® Card can get lost in the shuffle. It provides solid benefits for frequent travelers but has lacked any standout features that make it a must-have.
Citi recently updated the card’s sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That's 20,000 points more than the previous sign-up bonus.
The bonus is worth $800 when used to book airfare through the ThankYou® Travel Center, making it one of the most attractive welcome bonuses among travel cards. Unfortunately, Citi is no longer waiving the Citi Premier® Card’s $95 annual fee for the first year.
» Learn more: Citi ThankYou points: How to earn and use them
Is this $95 annual fee worth it? Here’s a breakdown to help figure out if the Citi Premier® Card makes sense for you.
The annual fee is worth it if you:
Travel often (but not a ton). The Citi Premier® Card earns 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel and doesn’t incur foreign transaction fees, making it a solid choice for frequent travelers. That said, other high-end travel cards offer perks like lounge access and hotel status, which can be more appealing for true road warriors.
Spend a lot on gas. The 3x points earned on travel includes gas stations, unlike some similar programs. That works out to an effective 3.75% back at the pump (3 x 1.25 cents/point) if you then use those points to book airfare through the ThankYou portal.
Can meet the minimum spend for the sign-up bonus and pay it off right away. The sign-up bonus for the Citi Premier® Card is a huge part of its potential value. So you should only consider getting the card if you can expect to responsibly meet the spending requirements of the sign-up bonus. Remember: Bills like rent and mortgage payments don’t usually go on a card.
Prefer simple point redemptions. Since the Citi Premier® Card’s transfer partners are limited (see below), it’s a good choice for those who prefer the straightforward option of using points as cash to book flights. ThankYou Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when used this way — not bad at all. And you’ll earn miles on the airline flown when you book this way (unlike award tickets).
The annual fee is not worth it if you:
Want a range of transfer options. ThankYou Points can be transferred to a decent set of international partners, including Etihad and Singapore Airlines, but JetBlue is Citi’s only domestic airline partner, and Choice Hotels is its lone hotel partner. Other programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards offer a broader range of transfer options, especially stateside.
Aren’t using your current ThankYou Points. Again, the Citi Premier® Card’s sign-up bonus is the main value offset to its annual fee. So there’s no use adding to an existing trove of points if you’re not using the ones you have from another Citi card.
Don’t travel much. It is a travel card, after all. Consider a cash-back card or other all-purpose card.
Want to see if the Citi Premier® Card will fit your spending habits? Use our calculator below to see whether the points you’ll earn will make its annual fee worth it.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card