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Citi Premier Card: Is it worth it?

With a strong sign-up bonus, the card seems tempting – but make sure you know how to use those points

Summary

While the current sign-up bonus for the Citi Premier Card puts it on par with several major competitors, the transfer options are meager for those who travel stateside.

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Dear Cashing In,

I’m thinking about getting the Citi Premier card. There is currently a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, which I’ve read is good. They’ve got a bunch of airline transfer partners.

Would you recommend this card? I’d probably save the points for a future international trip. – Sean

Dear Sean,

In the last few years, Citi has really beefed up its ThankYou points rewards program. There used to be a time when the main value of your points came from applying them to buy a plane ticket on Citi’s travel portal.

You can still do that, but in recent years, another option has emerged from Citi: transferring points to airline frequent flyer programs.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Ask Tony a question.

See related: The Citi Premier card ups its bonus to 60,000 points

Citi transfer partners

Although the list of participating airlines is less robust than those of other credit card programs (such as Chase and American Express), there are several you might consider – especially if you are interested in international travel.

These airlines include:

  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

While the only U.S. airline on the list is JetBlue, you might be able to find ways to use those miles on U.S. carriers through airline partnerships.

Limited options

The Citi Premier Card has an annual fee of $95 and inclusive bonus categories. And while the elevated sign-up bonus of 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) is tempting, the number of limited transfer options is definitely a downside.

Usually, you are able to receive a solid value from transferring credit card points to airline frequent flyer programs. That’s true with ThankYou points, too, but you have to be aware that airline options are limited.

Saving the points for future international travel sounds smart, but if that’s your main reason for applying for the card, it’s best to do some research first. Be aware of the frequent flyer programs of the airlines mentioned above – and whether or not they represent a good deal.

Do your research

I’d recommend doing a little bit of an investigation in terms of award-seat availability, the number of miles you need and the routes of potential flights. You might find that 60,000 points can get you a great deal on a foreign carrier or one of its partners. Or you might find that the perks just aren’t enough to justify the cost.

If for some reason you can’t find an acceptable way to transfer the points to an airline, you have other options for using the points.

The 60,000 points are worth $750 in airfare when booked through Citi’s ThankYou Travel Center or $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.

You’re right to examine the Citi Premier card – especially since its 60,000-point sign-up bonus is so compelling. But as usual, before jumping at a large number of points and applying for a new card, do a little bit of extra work to see if you can use those points in a way that makes sense.

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Published: July 9, 2019

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