|Rewards Rating:||4.3 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||3.0|
|Issuer Customer Experience||3.0|
In a Nutshell:
The Citi Premier card offers a generous travel rewards program, but its meager airline transfer options limit its appeal.
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Citi Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, free concierge service, Annual Hotel Savings Benefit, extended warranty, EMV chip,
You don’t have to venture far to reap the benefits of this travel rewards card. The Citi Premier card offers triple the rewards points per dollar spent on a wide variety of expenses, including not only air travel and hotels, but also gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets. This makes the card a smart choice for frequent travelers who want to use a single rewards card for the bulk of their everyday spending.
Lucrative bonus categories
The Citi Premier card offers three points for every dollar spent on air travel, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets, as well as one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. This combination of bonus rewards on travel spending and practical everyday spending should make the Citi Premier a flexible and lucrative choice for many cardholders.
Indeed, based on the average consumer’s spending, we estimate that the Citi Premier card carries an average rewards rate of 2.16 points per dollar – one of the higher average rates available on a travel rewards card.
Unfortunately, the card no longer offers bonus points on as wide a variety of travel purchases: Where the Citi Premier once got you three points per dollar spent on purchases like bus, train and subway fares, as well as parking and tolls, it now only includes air travel and hotels. The card’s entertainment bonus category has also been removed. However, these purchases make up a relatively small amount of most people’s spending, especially compared to the added bonus category of supermarket purchases.
The Citi Premier card is currently offering its largest sign-up bonus to date: 80,000 ThankYou points if you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months. That’s a 33% boost to the card’s previous bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. While the Premier’s 80,000-point bonus is not the highest welcome bonus currently available on a travel rewards card (that honor goes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which is currently offering a whopping 100,000-point bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, worth $1,250 in travel with Chase), it is still very valuable.
We estimate Citi ThankYou points are worth around 1.19 cents apiece, which would make the current Citi Premier bonus is worth a little over $950 in airfare when booked through Citi’s ThankYou Travel Center. Meanwhile, gift card redemptions typically get you 1 cent per point in value, making the bonus worth $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.
Since this is the highest welcome bonus the card has ever offered, now is a great time to apply. Keep in mind, though, that if you’ve received a cardmember bonus for other Citi ThankYou rewards cards, or closed a Citi ThankYou card account in the past 24 months, you aren’t eligible for the bonus.
Citi gives you a ton of options for redeeming your rewards, so you won’t have trouble finding something to do with all the points you’re racking up. The ThankYou points program allows you to redeem your points on everything from Amazon.com purchases to credit card statement credits. But you’ll get more bang for your buck if you redeem points for gift cards, which offer a higher redemption value.
Limited transfer options
Another major downside to the card is its paltry transfer options for cardholders who do most of their traveling stateside. You can transfer points to partnering travel rewards programs. But most of Citi’s 15 airline transfer partners – including Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, Air France and Qatar Airways – are based overseas, so cardholders who do most of their traveling on domestic carriers won’t benefit.
Pairs well with Citi cash back cards
To fill your earning gap and maximize your rewards on spending outside of airfare, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, consider pairing the Citi Premier card with one of Citi’s no annual fee cash back cards, like the Citi® Double Cash Card or the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. The Double Cash offers up to 2% cash back on all purchases (you earn 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay off your purchases), while the Custom Cash gives you 5% back in whichever eligible category (including dining, grocery stores, gas and more) you spend the most in each billing cycle (on your first $500 in spending, then 1% back).
With these cards, you’re not limited to receiving your rewards as cash back. You can convert cash back to ThankYou points at a rate of $1 cash back to 100 ThankYou Points, which is effectively a 1:1 rate. This means that the Double Cash card could be used to earn up to 2 ThankYou points per dollar on general purchases, while the Custom Cash earns 5 ThankYou points on the first $500 you spend in one of its eligible categories each billing cycle. Combining one or both of these cards with the Citi Premier card could really help you maximize rewards across categories.
Rich side benefits
Citi’s Premier card also offers a number of premium credit card perks that are usually reserved for higher-fee cards. For example, cardholders get access to VIP entertainment and concert ticket pre-sales as well as round-the-clock concierge services to help book hotel and restaurant reservations.
Why get the Citi Premier card?
- You spend a lot of time on the road and want to be rewarded for both gas and air travel purchases.
- You are looking for a card that covers both travel spending and everyday purchases at supermarkets, restaurants and more.
- You eat a lot of takeout or frequently visit fast food restaurants or coffee shops as well as traditional dining establishments.
- You travel frequently abroad.
How to use the Citi Premier card:
- Don’t bother redeeming your points for cash or merchandise. You’ll get more value from your spending if you stick to travel purchases, such as airfare or hotel reservations, or gift cards.
- Book your rewards-funded travel through Citi’s travel center.
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