Editorial Review

Citi Premier Review: Potentially Lucrative for Travelers

Earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel — including gas — as well as 2 points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar.

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Our Take

2.9

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: This card offers rich ongoing rewards on travel (including gas station purchases) and several redemption options, including airline transfer partners.

Citibank ThankYou Premier Credit Card

Citi Premier Card

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

18.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$95
Annual Fee
$95
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No foreign transaction fee

  • High rewards on travel, including gas

Cons
  • Has annual fee

  • Needs excellent credit

Alternate Pick: No annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card

Solid rewards with no cost to carry

Get 1.5 points per dollar on all spending for an unbeatable $0 annual fee. There's a pretty good sign-up offer, too: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Citibank ThankYou Premier Credit Card

Citi Premier Card

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

18.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.49% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Citi Premier℠ Card lives up to its aspirational name. For an annual fee of $95, you get generous rewards on travel (including gas), dining and entertainment, a handsome sign-up bonus and strong redemption options. You can get a value of 1.25 cents per point when you redeem rewards for airfare booked through Citi — and you could squeeze out even more value by transferring your points to one of Citi's partner airlines (although those are mostly foreign carriers).

Citi Premier℠ Card: Basics

  • Card type: Travel.

  • Annual fee: $95.

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. (This offer is no longer valid on our site).

  • Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 18.24% - 26.24% Variable APR.

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

  • 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.

  • Redemption options:

    • Redeem for airfare booked through Citi. You get 1.25 cents a point.

    • Redeem for cash back, gift card purchases, bill payments and more. For many redemptions, points are worth 1 cent each. Redeeming for cash back, though, will net you only 0.5 cent per point.

    • Transfer to one of Citi's partner airlines. Through strategic redemptions, you can potentially get more value out of your points this way. If you don't plan on traveling internationally, though, this option is somewhat limited. JetBlue is the only domestic carrier.

Here are the transfer partners:

  • AeroMexico.

  • AirFrance/KLM.

  • Avianca.

  • Cathay Pacific.

  • Etihad.

  • EVA Air.

  • Jet Airways.

  • JetBlue.

  • Malaysia Airlines.

  • Qantas.

  • Qatar Airways.

  • Singapore Airlines.

  • Thai Airways.

  • Turkish Airlines.

  • Virgin Atlantic.

Among the cards that earn ThankYou points, the Citi Premier℠ Card is the mid-tier option. The Citi Prestige® Card comes with more premium benefits — and an annual fee of $450 — while the Citi Rewards+℠ Card comes with an annual fee of $0 and lower ongoing rewards.

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. Citi's definition of "travel" is broad and includes categories less commonly included like tolls, gas station purchases, and boat rentals, as well as more traditional travel expenditures like airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.

Valuable redemption options. You can get a good value out of your hard-earned ThankYou points by redeeming for airfare through the ThankYou portal, where they'll take on 25% more value. Redeem 100,000 points this way, and you'll get $1,250 worth of airfare. Or, use one of Citi's transfer partners to take advantage of valuable redemptions through certain airline loyalty programs. For example, you could transfer 280,000 ThankYou points into Singapore’s KrisFlyer program to cover a round-trip flight from New York to Frankfurt, Germany, in one of Singapore Airlines' luxury cabin suites. That same ultra-swank experience would cost $10,000 if you paid cash.

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 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. (This offer is no longer valid on our site). That's worth $750 in airfare when booked through Citi.

Points from other ThankYou accounts can be combined. Sure, the Citi Premier℠ Card offers above-average rewards on travel, dining, and entertainment, but what about all the other expenses in life? If you use this card strategically with another card that also earns ThankYou rewards, you can combine the earnings to make the most of this card's 25% airfare redemption bonus. For example, say you also carry the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which pays a total of 2% cash back: 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill. That makes your earnings rate 2% back on every $1 you spend on the card. But transfer those points to the Citi Premier℠ Card to use for airfare, and you'll get an effective 2.5% redemption rate.

Citi Premier℠ Card: Drawbacks and alternatives

Limited choice of transfer partners. Transferring credit card points to an airline's frequent-flyer program can be quite lucrative, depending on how you redeem. But almost all of Citi's transfer partners are foreign carriers, making them less useful for those who don't plan to travel internationally. JetBlue is the only domestic carrier among the transfer partners.

Good redemptions can also be hard to find with some of Citi's transfer partners. In some cases, transferring your rewards to an airline partner at a 1:1 ratio might result in less value than booking them through the Citi portal where they're worth 25% more.

If you're searching for different transfer partners, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be a better fit. It features a mix of foreign and domestic carriers, including United Airlines and Singapore Airlines, as well as hotel chains such as Marriott 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 a similar annual fee of $95 and also offers a great sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 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, 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 Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card, which charges an annual fee of $0 yet offers solid rewards.

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. Points are generally worth 1 cent. The sign-up bonus is pretty good for a no-fee card: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

You can also visit NerdWallet's roundup of other great 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 strong 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, or you can take advantage of this card's transfer partners, it merits a look.