Editorial Review

Citi Premier Review: It’s Not the Premier Card Available

Earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel — including gas! — as well as dining and entertainment. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar.

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Our Take


NerdWallet rating

The Bottom Line: You can get good value from this card, but you have to be mindful of your redemption options, as some are much better than others.

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier<sup>&#8480;</sup> Card

on Citibank's secure application

Citi Premier Card

Annual Fee 

Waived first year

Regular APR
16.74% - 25.74% Variable APR
Intro APR

Quick Facts

Annual Fee 

Waived first year

Regular APR
16.74% - 25.74% Variable APR
Intro APR

Pros & Cons

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: NO annual fee

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Premier rewards without a premium price

Earn 3 points per dollar on travel, dining and gas and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Points are worth a penny apiece no matter how you redeem, so they're just as valuable as cash back as when used for travel. Plus, there's an awfully nice sign-up offer for a card with no annual fee.

Read our review

Full Review

The Citi Premier Card occupies the middle tier of Citi’s ThankYou credit cards structure. It offers richer rewards than the no-fee Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card but falls short of the premium benefits on the premium-priced Citi Prestige® Card.

With an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95, this card competes with some of the biggest names in travel credit cards. How does it stack up? Not as well as it could. Still, you might find that it’s a good match for your lifestyle

Citi Premier Card: Basics

  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 16.74% - 25.74% Variable APR.
  • Rewards:
    • 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on travel (including gas stations)
    • 2 ThankYou points per dollar on dining and entertainment.
    • 1 ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases.

The value of Citi ThankYou points varies according to how you redeem them, but in general they’re worth an average of 1 cent apiece. You get the most value — 1.25 cents per point — when you redeem for airfare booked through Citi. For charitable donations, loan payments and some gift cards, you’ll see a value of 1 cent per point. For all other redemption options, including cash back and statement credits, points will be worth less than 1 cent each.

Use our calculator to determine whether your spending with this card would make up for the annual fee:

Citi Premier Card: Benefits

Triple points on travel, including gas. By paying 3 points per dollar on travel, the Citi Premier Card has an edge on competitors that offer only 2 points per dollar in that category. Further, Citi’s definition of “travel” is broad and includes gas station purchases as well as such things as tolls, Airbnb stays and bikeshare rentals. More traditional travel expenditures like airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises are still included, of course.

Many ways to use points. The ThankYou program is known for providing a wide range of redemption options. These include cash back, gift card purchases, bill payments, travel and more. Cardholders can also transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs, but the list of partner airlines is heavy with foreign carriers. More on that below.

A big sign-up bonus. The bonus on the Citi Premier Card has fluctuated over time, and for a while it disappeared. The current offer: Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That’s worth $625 in airfare when booked through Citi.

No foreign transaction fees. Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees are more common than they used to be, but it’s still worth noting.

Citi-exclusive perks. Citi offers a suite of great services to its cardholders. They include:

  • Citi Private Pass: This allows cardholders to buy tickets to concerts, sporting events, comedy shows and more before they’re available to the general public. You may also be able to score a VIP package to the event of your choice.
  • Concierge service. Need help booking a flight or hotel room? Trying to arrange a night out to celebrate a birthday or anniversary? Can’t find the right gift for your spouse? The Citi Premier Card provides 24/7 concierge service, so the help you need is just a phone call away.
  • Citi Price Rewind. Register recent purchases made with the Citi Premier Card, and Citi will go to work trying to find you a better price. With Price Rewind, you’ll get a refund of the price difference if a better deal is found on your registered item within 60 days of your purchase (up to $300 per item, $1,200 per year).

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

Citi Premier Card: Drawbacks and alternatives

The Citi Premier Card has its strong points, but its shortfalls are just as noteworthy:

Poor choice of transfer partners. Transferring credit card points to an airline’s frequent-flyer program can be quite lucrative, as you can get a value of 2 cents or more per point, depending on how you redeem. But Citi’s roster of partners is fairly weak, at least domestically:

  • JetBlue is the only domestic carrier that is a direct transfer partner, and the transfer rate there is 2-to-1 — for every 2 ThankYou points you transfer, you get 1 JetBlue point.
  • Points can usually be transferred to international programs at a 1:1 rate. Those airlines include AirFrance/KLM, Avianca, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Jet AIrways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

By comparison, the transfer partners for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card include domestic carriers United and Southwest, as well as hotel chains such as Marriott, IHG/Holiday Inn and Hyatt. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel (not just airfare) through Chase and 1 cent apiece for other redemption options. The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95 and offers a great sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Complicated rewards structure. If you’re someone who prizes simplicity in a rewards program and doesn’t want to deal with point transfers or strategizing to get maximum value for for your rewards, consider a flat-rate travel card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles can be redeemed for credit on your statement against any purchase — just book your travel however you want, then pay for it with your rewards. The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95 and offers a nice bonus for new cardholders: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

Annual fee. Annual fees are not uncommon for travel credit cards, and $95 is in line with the fees on cards that compete with the Citi Premier Card. Still, some folks won’t pay a fee under any circumstances. They might want to check out the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, which charges an annual fee of $0 yet offers robust rewards.

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card earns 3 points per dollar on travel, restaurants and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Points are generally worth 1 cent. The sign-up bonus is terrific for a no-fee card: Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value.

You can also visit NerdWallet’s roundup of other good credit cards to see how these cards compare.

Is the Citi Premier Card right for you?

No single rewards card will be a perfect fit for everyone. If you’re looking for point transfers to domestic airlines or a penny-per-point cash-back redemption rate, the Citi Premier Card isn’t for you. But if you spend a lot on travel, gas, dining and entertainment and are looking for points you can redeem for airfare, it merits a look.