Citi Premier Review: Potentially Lucrative for Travelers

Earn 3 points per dollar spent with airlines, hotels, gas stations and supermarkets. Other spending earns 1 point per dollar.

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This page includes information about one or more products not currently available on NerdWallet:

  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • Citi Premier℠ Card

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated offers.

Our Take

4.9

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: This card offers rich ongoing rewards 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

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 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

$250

Regular APR

18.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The Citi Premier℠ Card doesn't go as far as it once did to living up to its aspirational name, but it can be a solid fit for the right traveler. For an annual fee of $95, you get generous rewards on several travel categories (including gas), supermarkets and dining, a handsome sign-up bonus and a variety of redemption options.

Nerd tip: Citi made significant changes to the rewards and perks on the Citi Premier℠ Card that took effect in August 2020 and that reduced its value for many travelers. Read about those changes here.

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 air travel and hotels.

  • 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent at supermarkets.

  • 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent at gas stations

  • 3 ThankYou points per dollar on dining.

  • 1 ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases.

Redemption options:

  • Redeem for travel booked through Citi. You get 1 cent per 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 $495 — while the Citi Rewards+℠ Card comes with an annual fee of $0 and lower ongoing rewards.

Citi Premier℠ Card: Benefits

Triple points on airlines and hotels. By paying 3 points per dollar on two of the biggest travel categories, the Citi Premier℠ Card has an edge on competitors that offer only 2 points per dollar on flights and hotels. However, this card used to offer 3X points across a much broader definition of "travel," including categories less commonly included like tolls and boat rentals, as well as more traditional travel expenditures like airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.

Triple points at supermarkets and gas stations. Like many other travel credit cards, the Citi Premier℠ Card has added bonus rewards in non-travel categories, something that became more important as the global coronavirus pandemic brought leisure travel to a near standstill.

Potentially valuable redemption options. You can redeem points for travel through the ThankYou portal, where you can expect a value of 1 cent per point. 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 supermarkets, 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.

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 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 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 $95 and offers a nice bonus for new cardholders: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months..

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 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.

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