Citi Prestige Card vs. Citi Premier℠ Card: Which is best for you?

The answer depends on whether you are a luxury or budget traveler

Citi Premier vs. Citi Prestige

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If you love to pack your days off with travel or fun-filled events – such as evening concerts, sporting events or afternoons at an art gallery or zoo – Citi’s line of travel and entertainment-friendly rewards cards could be a great match for your evening and weekend spending.

The Citi Premier℠ Card, is one of the only cards around that offers bonus points on a wide variety of entertainment purchases, including concerts and sporting events, live theater, movie tickets, amusement parks, tourist attractions, video rentals and more. It also offers a solid rewards bonus on travel purchases.

Meanwhile, the newly revamped Citi Prestige card has earned a loyal following thanks to its unique fourth night free hotel benefit, ample travel credit and other high-value perks. The redesigned card no longer offers an entertainment bonus; however, it does offer one of the highest rewards rates you can get on travel and restaurant purchases, making it an ideal pick for heavy travelers and people who love to dine out.

Which Citi card should you choose? It depends on how much money you typically spend on travel, dining and entertainment and how much cash you’re willing to invest in a high-end travel card.

Here’s what else to consider when comparing the two cards:

Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier

  Citi Prestige
Citi Prestige Card
Citi Premier Card
Citi Premier Card
Rewards rate
  • 5 points per dollar on dining and air travel
  • 3 points per dollar on cruises and hotels
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on travel purchases, including airfare, gas, hotel reservations, public transportation, car rentals, taxis and more
  • 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • To be announced when the card launches later in January
  • 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Annual fee
$450 ($495 starting Sept. 1) $95, $0 first year
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend) TBD $413
  • Substantial points bonus on air travel and restaurant spending
  • $250 travel credit
  • 4th night free when you book four consecutive nights at a hotel through the Citi Prestige (limited to twice per year starting in September)
  • Complimentary Priority Pass lounge access
  • $100 Global Entry Application fee
  • More affordable annual fee that's waived the first year
  • Substantial points bonus on a wide variety of travel purchases, including gas station purchases, car rentals, public transportation, taxis, cruises and more
  • Solid bonus for dining and entertainment purchases
  • 25% higher redemption value on travel when redeemed through the ThankYou Travel Center
  • Extremely high annual fee
  • No luxury travel benefits, such as lounge access or Global Entry
  • Few additional benefits
  • Pricey annual fee for what you get
Who should get this card?
  • Heavy travelers
  • Vacationers
  • Frequent restaurant-goers
  • Someone on a budget
  • Someone who wants to earn a lot for weekend entertainment spending
  • Road trippers and weekend travelers
  • Someone who wants to earn points for their daily commute

Best card for someone on a budget: The Citi Premier card

If you’re interested in a premium travel and entertainment card, but don’t want to pay a huge annual fee, then the Citi Premier card is, by far, your best option. The Citi Prestige card is exceptionally pricey, even when you factor in the card’s air travel credit and other perks. For example, if you subtract the Prestige card’s $250 travel credit from its upcoming $495 annual fee, you’ll still be left with a $245 annual commitment.

The Citi Premier card, on the other hand, only charges $95 – which should be fairly easy to make up if you regularly use the card for travel, gas, entertainment, dining and other purchases. Citi also waives the Premier card’s annual fee in the first year, so you can test it out before you use it. With the Prestige card, by contrast, you’ll have to commit right away since it charges a fee in the first year.

Best card for weekend spending: The Citi Premier card

The Citi Premier card is also a better pick for entertainment purchases. Unlike the Citi Prestige card, the Premier card offers 2 points for every dollar you spend on a wide range of entertainment purchases, including concerts and sporting events, movies, plays, museums, theme parks, music purchases, streaming subscriptions and more.

The Prestige card, by contrast, only offers 1 point per dollar spent on entertainment purchases. If you regularly spend hundreds of dollars a month on entertainment, you could easily recoup the cost of your annual fee with those purchases alone.

Points earned on $100 weekly entertainment spend

Citi Prestige card

Citi Premier card

1 point per dollar x $100 x 52 weeks = 5,200 points

2 points per dollar x $100 x 52 = 10,400 points

Best card for a heavy traveler: The Citi Prestige card

The Citi Prestige card does offer more generous travel benefits, though, so it’s worth a closer look if you spend a lot of time in the air.  For example, in addition to a $250 travel credit (which you can use for any type of travel purchase, including airfare and car rentals), the Prestige card offers a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry so you can zip through airport security lines.

In addition, the Prestige card offers free access to airport lounges through Priority Pass Select. Purchasing Priority Pass lounge access on your own, by contrast, can potentially cost you more than $99 to $399 a year, depending on how often you plan to use it. If you’re a heavy traveler, those perks alone could be worth the cost of admission – especially if you prefer waiting for your flights in quieter, more luxurious airport lounges, rather than at busy airport gates.

The Citi Prestige card also offers a unique hotel benefit that can be a huge money saver: Twice per year, you’ll be reimbursed for your fourth hotel night if you book four consecutive nights through Citi’s travel website. It doesn’t matter where you’re staying or how costly your hotel; even if you book a hotel that costs several hundred dollars a night, you’ll still get the fourth night free benefit.

The updated Prestige card also offers a huge rewards bonus on travel spending: You’ll get 5 points for every dollar you spend on airfare and 3 points for every dollar you spend on cruises. The Premier card, by contrast, only offers 3 points per dollar for travel purchases. 

Travel credits

Citi Prestige card

Citi Premier card

  • $250 travel credit
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Hotel reservation credit for one night when you book four consecutive nights (limited to 2 times per year starting in September 2019)


Best card for vacationers: The Citi Prestige card

You don’t necessarily need to travel regularly to benefit from the Citi Prestige card’s travel credits either. Just one or two vacations a year could make the Prestige card’s annual fee worth it. For example, consider how much you’d save if you spent $800 in airfare for a family vacation and charged four or more nights to a hotel that cost $150 a night.

If you used up your annual $250 travel credit and booked your hotel through Citi, you’d save at least $400 on airfare and hotel charges. If you booked another four-night stay later that year, you’d save even more money, canceling out your annual fee charges.  

Best card for restaurant-goers

The Citi Prestige card also offers an exceptionally high rewards rate for restaurant purchases. So if you spend a lot of money dining out every month, you could rack up a ton of points just for everyday restaurant spending. For example, the newly revamped Prestige card now offers 5 points for every dollar you spend at restaurants. The Premier card, by contrast, only offers 2 points for restaurant spending.

Points earned on $200 weekly restaurant spend

Citi Prestige card

Citi Premier card

5 points per dollar x $200 x 52 weeks = 52,000 points

2 points per dollar x $200 x 52 weeks = 20,800 points

Best card for road trippers and weekend travelers: Citi Premier Rewards card

If you don’t fly regularly enough to take advantage of the Citi Prestige card’s benefits, though, then it’s probably not worth the annual fee – even if you account for the restaurant benefit. Most of the Prestige card’s perks are reserved for air travel and lengthy trips. So if you typically drive to your vacation destinations – or if you rarely stay in a hotel for longer than three nights – then the Prestige card’s benefits won’t mean as much to you.

The Citi Premier card, on the other hand, offers a far more inclusive travel rewards program that rewards road trippers just as heavily as air travelers. Unlike the Citi Prestige card, for example, it offers triple points on a wide variety of travel purchases, including gas, cruises, car rentals, trains, public transportation, taxis, toll fees, parking and more. Airfare and hotel purchases also earn a triple-point bonus. As a result, charging a long weekend vacation to the Premier Rewards card could earn you significantly more points than if you used the Prestige card.  

Sample point earnings for a 3-day road trip

Citi Prestige card

Citi Premier card

(5 points per dollar x $200 dining) + (1 point per dollar x $800) = 1,800 points

(3 points per dollar x ($200 gas + $300 hotels)) +

(2 points per dollar x ($200 dining + $300 amusement park ticket)) =

2,500 points

Best card for someone who wants to earn points for their everyday commute: Citi Premier card

The Citi Premier card’s generous travel bonus also makes it a great choice for everyday transportation spending, no matter how you typically commute. For example, if you regularly drive to work, this is an excellent gas card. It’s rare to find a card that offers an unlimited 3 points for every dollar you spend at gas stations.

In addition, the Citi card offers triple points for toll fare, too, so you can beat the traffic and earn additional points. Meanwhile, if you typically take the bus or subway or ride a commuter train into work everyday, you’ll also earn a significant amount using this card. If you used the Citi Prestige card, by contrast, you would only earn 1 point for every dollar spent on your commute.  

Points earned on $400 ground transportation per month

Citi Prestige card

Citi Premier card

1 point per dollar x $400 ground transportation x 12 months = 4,800

3 points per dollar x $400 ground transportation x 12 months = 14,400

Bottom line

For many cardholders, the Citi Premier card offers more than enough value to make it worth a $95 annual fee – especially if you regularly use it for your daily commute, your weekends and evenings out, your restaurant purchases and other ongoing expenses. But if you’re a heavy traveler or plan to take at least one or two lengthy vacations, then the Citi Prestige card is worth a closer look. It may cost more upfront, but it could also save you hundreds of dollars a year – especially if you spend a lot of time in hotels.

See related: Changes coming to the Citi Prestige in 2019, Earning and using Citi ThankYou points

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Updated: 01-19-2019