Citi Premier Card Benefits & Review 2021
The Citi Premier Card lets you earn 3 ThankYou points per dollar on travel and daily purchases. It also has flexible award travel redemption options and a competitive $95 annual fee.
You can decide if the Citi Premier travel rewards match your travel style.
The Citi Premier Card is for travelers that desire to redeem their points for award flights. Earning triple rewards on travel, groceries, gas stations, and restaurants means you have more ways than most cards to maximize your purchases.
You can also benefit from the card if you spend at least $500 on a single hotel stay as you receive an annual $100 statement credit.
Another reason to consider this card is if you’re currently subject to the Chase 5/24 rule. The Citi Premier is one of the best alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and co-brand airline and hotel products Chase offers. Other travel credit cards are better if you want a redemption bonus when booking award travel, want different airline transfer partners, or other add-on travel benefits.
|Benefits at a Glance|
|Annual Fee: $95|
Current Bonus: 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on air travel, hotels, and gas stations
3x points at restaurants and supermarkets
1x points on remaining purchases
Flexible Redemption Options
15+ Airline Transfer Partners
$100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Secondary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
Free Cell Phone Protection (up to $1,000 per year)
APR: 15.99% to 23.99% variable on purchases
Good to Great Credit Score Required (700+)
Featured Citi Premier Card Benefits
These are the core travel rewards for the Citi Premier.
80,000 ThankYou Points Signup Bonus
The signup bonus of 80,000 ThankYou points is worth as much as $800 in award travel and gift cards. You can earn the bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
This bonus is competitive with similar credit cards.
Earn Up To 3x ThankYou Points
You will earn unlimited 3 Citi ThankYou points per dollar on these purchases:
- Air travel
- Gas stations
These rewards categories can make it easy to earn bonus points on the most expensive travel purchases and the most significant spending categories for your at-home budget.
Many tiered rewards travel credit cards only offer bonus points on travel and dining. The gas station and supermarket bonus categories are relatively uncommon for travel credit cards.
$100 Hotel Benefit
Each year, Citi reimburses $100 for a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees. The stay can be multiple nights but you must book it on thankyou.com.
This hotel benefit offsets the $95 annual fee so you don’t have to stress about earning enough points each year to justify keeping the card long-term.
If you tend to book a minimum $500 hotel reservation at least once a year, you only need to book it through Citi to get a travel discount.
15+ Airline Transfer Partners
There are more than 15 airline transfer partners with a 1:1 transfer ratio. This benefit can help you get a higher redemption value on your points instead of redeeming directly through Citi for 1 cent each.
However, most of the transfer partners are international airlines. Therefore, you will need to book an alliance partner flight to fly domestically. One exception is transferring directly to JetBlue.
Unfortunately, the Citi ThankYou loyalty program currently doesn’t offer hotel transfers.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
You don’t pay a foreign transaction fee on international purchases. As a result, the Citi Premier can be an excellent card for foreign travel and staying within the United States.
Other Citi Premier Benefits
These additional benefits can be helpful as well.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
Most US and international car rentals qualify for secondary auto rental collision and theft coverage. Your rental is eligible when you decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver (CDW).
Extended Warranty Protection
Purchases with an original manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years or less can get a free extended warranty for up to 24 months.
Other card issuers usually extend the warranty up to 12 months.
Damage and Theft Purchase Protection
Purchases are eligible for up to $10,000 in purchase protection within the first 90 days due to accidental damage or theft. The annual coverage maximum is $50,000.
World Elite Mastercard Perks
The Citi Premier Card is a World Elite Mastercard product. You can get exclusive benefits from Mastercard:
- $5 Lyft credit after your first 3 monthly rides
- 5% back on HelloFresh purchases for future orders
- Free delivery and reduced service fees with DoorDash
- Priceless Golf experiences
- Priceless Experiences in over 40 cities across the world
- 24/7 Mastercard travel concierge (service provider fees may apply)
- Free ShopRunner membership (2-day shipping and free return shipping)
Other partner benefits are available too, including Fandango and other travel brands.
Luxury Hotel On-Site Benefits
Another benefit for luxury travelers is getting up to $100 in amenity credits and complimentary breakfast for two at the Mastercard luxury hotel and resort portfolio.
These reservations won’t qualify for the $100 annual hotel credit as you book these stays through Mastercard.
Cell Phone Protection
You can receive up to $1,000 in annual cell phone protection. You can file up to 2 claims per year with $800 maximum coverage per claim. This is a Mastercard World Elite benefit. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ also has this perk.
The Citi Entertainment concierge can help you find exclusive tickets for sports, concerts, and dining events.
Free Additional Cards
While you pay a reasonable $95 per year for the primary card, each additional card is free.
How to Redeem Citi ThankYou Points
Award travel is the best way to redeem your purchase rewards but also you have some valuable non-travel redemption options.
Award Travel through the Citi Travel Center
The easiest way to redeem ThankYou points for travel can be through the Citi Travel Center. Each point is worth 1 cent each for flights, hotels, and car rentals.
1:1 Point Transfers
The second travel redemption option is by transferring your points directly to one of the 15+ airline partners. Again, the transfer ratio is 1:1 with a minimum 1,000 transfer requirement.
This redemption option is best when booking an international award flight as most partners are foreign airlines.
It so happens that overseas flights usually have higher redemption values than domestic award flights.
You can also book domestic flights with a transfer partner’s alliance airline.
The current airline transfer partners include:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air France KLM FlyingBlue
- Avianca Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Airways
- EVA Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qantas Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
The loyalty program periodically offers point transfers to other airlines. For example, American Airlines is a limited-time transfer partner from July 18 to November 13, 2021.
It’s unfortunate that Citi ThankYou currently doesn’t have hotel transfer partners. But, usually, hotel points are worth less than 1 cent each when booking directly from the hotel.
Instead, two better alternatives are booking hotel rewards through the Citi Travel Center for 1 cent per point or paying cash and earning 3x ThankYou points.
Retail and restaurant gift cards can also have a high redemption value of 1 cent per point.
These gift cards are your best non-travel redemption option.
You can also redeem your points directly at Amazon or Best Buy for online purchases. While you avoid paying out-of-pocket for purchases, each point is only worth 0.8 cents.
Instead, pay cash and earn 1x points and redeem your purchase rewards for travel or gift cards.
You can also redeem your points for cash statement credits but each point is only worth 0.5 cents.
If you want the flexibility of redeeming your points at the same value of travel or cash, other cards are better.
Here are the standard Citi Premier fees:
- Annual Fee: $95
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
- Purchase APR: 15.99% to 23.99% variable APR
- Late Payment: Up to $40
Citi Premier Compared to Similar Cards
These cards also offer exciting travel rewards and flexible redemption options.
Chase Sapphire Preferred:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is probably the most similar Citi Premier alternative.
Some of the featured benefits include:
- Earn up to 5x points on travel
- Earn 3x points on dining
- Annual $50 hotel credit
- 25% award travel redemption bonus
- 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- 60,000 Ultimate Rewards signup bonus ($750 value)
The Sapphire Preferred has more valuable redemption options. For example, each point is worth 1.25 cents instead of 1 cent when booking award travel.
Also, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue. Hotel transfer partners are IHG, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt.
Each Ultimate Rewards is worth 1 cent for cash and gift cards as well.
Like the Citi Premier, the annual fee is $95 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
Capital One Venture:
The Capital One Venture earns unlimited 2x miles on all purchases (Capital One Travel purchases earn 5x points).
Each point is worth 1 cent as a travel statement credit or booking upcoming travel.
You can also transfer points to airline and hotel partners. Many Capital One loyalty partners overlap the Citi ThankYou transfer options but have a worse transfer ratio at 2:1.5.
One additional benefit is up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credits.
The annual fee is $95.
American Express Gold Card:
The American Express Gold Card can be a better fit if you prefer luxury travel but don’t want the $550+ annual fee that premium travel cards require.
Several similar purchase categories earn bonus points:
- 4x Membership Rewards on dining worldwide
- 4x at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 per year then 1x)
- 3x on flights you book directly from airlines
- 1x on remaining purchases
Each point is worth 1 cent for award flights and gift cards. You can also have more 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners.
This card has several statement credit options that can help you too:
- Up to $120 in Uber Cash per year
- Up to $120 in annual dining credits
- $100 on-site credits with The Hotel Collection by American Express bookings
The annual fee is $250 for the primary card and $0 for additional cards.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®:
The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 5% back on travel you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. All remaining travel purchases and non-bonus expenses earn 1.5% back (1.5x points per $1).
You can also earn 3% back at drugstores and restaurants.
This card can be a competitive option if you can book most of your travel through the credit card travel portal. Getting 1.5% back instead of 1% back on non-bonus purchases is also fruitful when most of your purchases don’t qualify for bonus rewards.
You can redeem each point at 1 cent each for award travel, cash, and gift cards. Unfortunately, this card doesn’t offer point transfers.
There is no annual fee but this card has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
The annual fee is $95 for the primary card and $0 for authorized users.
There is no foreign transaction fee.
Air travel, hotel, gas station, supermarket, and restaurant purchases earn unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1.
All remaining purchases earn 1 point per $1.
Yes, purchases outside the United States can earn unlimited bonus points if they are in the qualifying travel, dining, gas station, and grocery store bonus categories.
Each ThankYou point is worth 1 cent for award travel and gift cards. Online shopping and cash redemptions have a redemption value of 0.8 cents or less.
Redemption options include booking award travel on the Citi Travel Center, transferring to the 1:1 airline frequent flyer programs, gift cards, Amazon.com purchases, Best Buy online purchases, and cash statement credits.
No, ThankYou points do not expire as long as your Citi Premier remains active and in good standing.
Citi provides a $100 credit once a year when you book a hotel stay on ThankYou.com for at least $500 (excluding fees or taxes).
It’s best to apply for the Citi Premier with a minimum 700 credit score. In addition, this card requires good or excellent credit.
The current Citi Premier signup bonus is 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is worth $800 in travel or gift cards.
The signup bonus is available to applicants that have not closed or received a new cardmembers bonus for the Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier/Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige in the last 24 months.
The Citi Premier is currently a World Elite Mastercard.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
The Citi Premier makes it easy to earn bonus points when you travel and purchase life’s bare necessities. Netting 3x ThankYou points on purchases lets you earn more points than many travel credit cards with similar categories.
This card also has flexible redemption options but it’s best for award flights and gift cards. The 1:1 airline transfers are not the best lineup unless you travel overseas regularly.
Also, the Citi Premier can be worth it if you can redeem the annual $100 hotel benefit to offset the $95 annual fee. If not, another card with different travel benefits can be a better option.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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