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Citi Premier Card Review – 3x Points on Travel

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At a Glance
Citi Premier Card
4.3 / 5
Rating

Citi Premier Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening
  • Rewards: 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel purchases (including airfare, hotels, car rentals, and local transportation); 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment purchases; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Benefits: Point transfer to select travel partners at favorable rates (including JetBlue TrueBlue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club)
  • Intro APR: None
  • Fees: No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Credit Needed: Excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The Citi PremierSM Card is a travel rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee and an expansive loyalty program that lets you redeem for general merchandise, gift cards, cash back, and travel, including airline tickets and hotel stays. Most redemptions occur through Citi’s ThankYou® portal, but you can also use your accumulated ThankYou points to make purchases with partner vendors such as Amazon.com and LiveNation.

Premier is comparable to a number of other cash back and travel rewards cards with annual fees, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee), Capital One Venture Rewards Card ($95 annual fee), and various airline- and hotel-branded cards, such as American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles ($95 annual fee).

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $4,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, you get 60,000 bonus points. That’s worth $600 when redeemed for travel through Citi’s ThankYou® portal.

Earning ThankYou® Points

This card earns an unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on all travel purchases, including airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, trains, taxis, tolls, and other forms of local and long-distance conveyance. The card earns an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment, including tourist attractions, music venues, and more. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.

Redeeming ThankYou Points

You can redeem your accumulated ThankYou points at the Citi ThankYou portal for a wide variety of merchandise, travel, experiences, and cash and cash equivalents, including gift cards, statement credits, and paper checks. You can also redeem for direct purchases at Amazon.com and with LiveNation. Point values vary based on how you redeem.

Travel booked through Citi’s travel portal offers the best bang for your buck – points are reliably worth $0.01 apiece with this option, meaning a 40,000-point haul translates to $400 in travel purchases. Plus, there are no blackout dates on Citi travel bookings – and, if you don’t have enough points to cover the full cost of a travel purchase, you can pay the difference with a credit or debit card.

Gift card redemptions are also worth a straight $0.01 per point. All other redemption options are worth between $0.005 and $0.01, with cash redemptions on the lower end of this range and Amazon.com redemptions on the higher end. Redemption minimums vary by redemption method as well – for instance, they start around 1,000 points for merchandise redemptions and 5,000 points for paper check redemptions.

Transferring Points to Travel Partners

If you don’t want to redeem for any of the options listed above, you can transfer your accumulated ThankYou points to about a dozen travel loyalty programs, often at a one-to-one ratio, and sometimes better. You typically need at least 1,000 ThankYou points to complete a transfer.

Most transfer partners are airlines that primarily operate overseas, such as Cathay Pacific, but JetBlue – a largely North American operation – also participates.

Important Fees

This card has a $95 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and late and returned payments both cost $35.

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit. Even minor dings can affect your application and reduce your chances of approval.

Advantages

  1. Rapid Point Earnings on Travel Purchases. Every local and long-distance travel purchase earns 3 points per $1 spent. If you’re planning to redeem exclusively for travel, that’s an effective 3.75% return on your spending, or a 3% return if you plan to redeem for gift cards. Many competing cards, such as Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select and American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles, earn just 2 points for each $1 spent on travel.
  2. Very Nice Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth 60,000 points – up to $600 in value when redeemed for travel at Citi’s ThankYou portal. That’s on par with top-rated travel rewards credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred.
  3. No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. That’s great news for frequent travelers who regularly set foot – and use their cards – outside U.S. borders. It’s also a distinct advantage relative to competitors such as the Expedia+ Card.
  4. Versatile Redemption Options. You can redeem accumulated ThankYou points for pretty much anything – not just travel and gift cards. You also don’t necessarily have to redeem through the ThankYou portal, as ThankYou points can be used on direct purchases with Amazon and LiveNation.

Disadvantages

  1. Has an Annual Fee. The Premier Card has a $95 annual fee. If you don’t use this card heavily enough to offset that recurring cost, you’re better off with a fee-free alternative, such as the Citi Rewards+ Card.
  2. Point Values Lower for Cash and Merchandise Redemptions. ThankYou points are worth less than $0.01 apiece, and sometimes as little as $0.005 apiece, when redeemed for anything other than gift cards and travel – including hard cash. This is a drawback relative to Chase’s rewards cards, which offer cash redemptions at a flat $0.01-per-point rate.
  3. Limited Point Transfer Options. While it’s nice that you can transfer ThankYou points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, the options aren’t exactly a “who’s who” of popular American travel brands. Most transfer opportunities involve international airlines that are liable to require huge quantities of points when it comes time to redeem. In most cases, you’re better off redeeming ThankYou points for Citi travel bookings.
  4. Charges Penalty Interest. This card charges penalty interest at a 29.99% APR. If you occasionally miss payment due dates, that can quickly add up. Some competing cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, never charge penalty interest.

Final Word

The Citi PremierSM Card isn’t a straight-up cash back card – after all, its cash redemption values are pretty low relative to its peers. It’s also not exclusively a travel rewards card. And, despite solid earnings on dining out, it’s not only a restaurant credit card either. It’s a mashup of all these things and more – making it a powerful ally for consumers who spend in its favored categories and enjoy being able to redeem rewards for pretty much anything they want.

Of course, the Premier Card has drawbacks, including a sizable annual fee and uneven redemption options that can eat into the value of your accumulated points. However, if you’re not sure which types of rewards you value or intend to use most, it could be the right card for you.

Verdict
Citi Premier Card
4.3 / 5
Rating

Citi Premier Card

The Citi PremierSM Card is a great card for frequent travelers who have excellent credit, are able to spend heavily enough – especially on travel and dining – to offset the annual fee, and don’t mind redeeming points for travel purchases and gift cards. It’s not ideal for light spenders, those who don’t travel frequently, and those who prefer to redeem for cash.

Premier’s awesome point earning and redemption rate on travel, a great sign-up bonus, its versatile non-travel redemption options, and the lack of a foreign transaction fee are nice fringe benefits which count in its favor.

However, the annual fee, poor point transfer options, low point values for cash and merchandise redemptions, and penalty interest charges count against it.

Overall, Premier is a very good rewards card for frequent, high-spending travelers.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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