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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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.
Waived first year
- Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
Pros & Cons
- No foreign transaction fee
- Has annual fee
- Needs excellent credit
Alternate Pick: No annual fee
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
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
Card type: Travel.
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.
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.
Citi ThankYou points are worth about 1 cent each on average depending on how you redeem them, according to NerdWallet valuations. You can redeem for things like gift cards and statement credits (for eligible purchases in select categories). You can also use points to shop online at eligible merchants, via the “Shop With Points” option.
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).
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 $95 and 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 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 Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, which charges an annual fee of $0 yet offers solid rewards.
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards 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 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.
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