The Citi Premier Card is not one of our top-rated travel credit cards. You can review our list of the best travel credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of Citi Premier Credit Card
Extra points on travel, gas, restaurant, and supermarket purchases
No foreign transaction fee
$95 annual fee
Citi discontinuing popular benefits
No introductory APR for balance transfers
- Generous bonus: New cardholders can receive 80,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. This is a fairly generous offer worth $976 when redeemed through the ThankYou Travel Center for airfare. However, even if you redeem gift cards on ThankYou.com, it’s still worth $800.
- Extra points on travel, gas, restaurant, and supermarket purchases: Earn 3x points on travel purchases, which includes standalone gas stations as well as restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and airline purchases. If you travel frequently or fill up each week at the gas station, this can be a worthwhile reward. The 1x points earned on other purchases include purchases made at aquariums, zoos, museums, live sporting events, and amusement parks, in addition to movie theaters and online streaming. If you frequently spend on these types of activities, this card provides ample opportunities to earn more points.
- No foreign transaction fee: There is no foreign transaction fee on this card, making it an acceptable option when traveling overseas.
- $95 annual fee: Unlike some other credit cards that waive their $95 annual fee in the first year, the Citi Premier credit card immediately charges you an annual fee. To justify the annual fee cost, you need to earn at least 7,787 points if you redeem for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center or for gift cards at ThankYou.com. You can reach the threshold faster by focusing your spending on travel (especially your regular gas purchases) and purchases at restaurants and supermarkets.
- Citi discontinuing popular benefits: Many Citi credit cards, including the Premier card, were known for their generous benefits, including Price Rewind, Return Protection, Trip Delay Protection, and Lost Baggage Protection. As of Sept. 22, 2019, many of the side benefits, particularly in terms of travel, were discontinued, making the Premier card a little less valuable in terms of benefits.
- No introductory APR: The Citi Premier credit card doesn't have an introductory APR offer for balance transfers and purchases. This is different from some cards like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred or Capital One VentureOne that include a 0% intro APR offer on purchases in addition to a bonus. Additionally, the Citi Premier card charges a somewhat hefty 5% balance transfer fee. This is in line with some other cards.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
The Citi Premier credit card is best suited to people who frequently spend on travel, restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.
Even commuters can benefit from this card since gas station purchases receive the 3X points assigned to the travel category. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household in the U.S. spends about $2,094 annually on gas. That’s enough to earn 6,282 points in a year.
However, you can earn more points when you spend on airlines, hotels, and rental cars. If you travel frequently, it’s fairly easy to earn points quickly. You can also earn 1x points for entertainment activities like visiting museums and going to the movies.
If you live this type of lifestyle, and if you're willing to redeem your points for air travel through Citi's portal, your points are more valuable. And, because you don’t have restrictions on airlines and hotels through the ThankYou Travel Center, this card works well for people more interested in getting discounts and deals and less interested in loyalty to a particular airline or hotel program.
Citi Premier Credit Card Bonus
The generous one-time offer for this card includes 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. This requirement is on par with other rewards cards, some of which offer 50,000 bonus miles or points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
This bonus has a value of $732 according to Investopedia's average valuation of 1.22 cents each for ThankYou points when you redeem your rewards for travel through the ThankYou Rewards Travel Center or $600 for gift cards at ThankYou.com.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers 3x points on travel purchases, which include gas stations, restaurants, and supermarket purchases in addition to airfare and hotel stays. But note that gas pumped at warehouse clubs or discount stores doesn’t qualify for the extra points. Additionally, cardholders receive 1x points on all other purchases.
Rewards Redemption Details
You can redeem your points by browsing the options at ThankYou.com or by calling 800-842-6596. When you log in, you can see your options and the cost of the item in points. In general, redeeming for travel through the ThankYou Rewards portal or for items like gift cards yields a value of 1 cent per point. So if you want a $50 gift card, it will cost you 5,000 points.
You can also use the Pay with Points program to redeem your rewards. Citi lets you identify eligible purchases on your account and then use Pay with Points to receive a statement credit to offset the cost. To use this method, you need to log into your account and select the Pay with Points option to see all of your eligible purchases. It’s also possible to receive alerts when you make an eligible purchase.
Finally, you can connect your Citi account to Amazon and use the Shop with Points option when you check out. This allows you to apply ThankYou points to Amazon.com purchases directly.
It’s also possible to transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to different airline loyalty programs. You must transfer a minimum of 1,000 points. So, if you belong to JetBlue's True Blue program, for example, and are a couple of thousand points short, you can transfer some of your ThankYou points to your JetBlue account and then redeem those points for airfare.
Unfortunately, these points don't transfer to major programs like Delta SkyMiles or United Plus. However, there are several international programs, like Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, and Etihad Guest, among other programs.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The best way to maximize your rewards from this card is to redeem them for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center. So focus on using this card for travel purchases, including gas, restaurants, and supermarket spending, and then redeem your rewards on travel or gift cards.
Let's say you spend the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics average of $2,094 on gas each year, plus you spend $3,526 at restaurants and $4,643 on supermarket purchases. With just these numbers, you’ll end up with 30,789 points (3X) for your gas, restaurants, and supermarkets.
As long as you redeem your total 30,789 points for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center or for gift cards at ThankYou.com, you'll end up with around $375 worth of airfare or hotel stays, or roughly $307 in gift cards.
That example doesn't include other spending you might do on the card for 1 point per dollar, nor does it include spending on travel besides gas. A family could make a bigger dent by using the Citi Premier credit card on other travel purchases, such as paying for hotels and airfare on their vacations. After getting 3X points on those purchases, including 3X points for restaurants and supermarkets, they could see a much bigger benefit.
For example, the average household spends a little more than $63,000 per year. If a family put most of its purchases (assuming mortgage or rent of $1,500 per month is not included, thus resulting in $45,000 of card spending) on the Citi Premier card, even without the bonuses on travel, gas, restaurants, and supermarkets (which might be challenging to avoid), redeeming for travel would yield $549. Gift cards would still potentially yield $450 worth of rewards.
Citi Premier Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- One-time offer of 80,000 bonus ThankYou points, worth $976 when redeemed for travel through the ThankYou Rewards Travel Portal or $800 for gift cards at ThankYou.com
- FICO Score access each month
- Citi Identity Theft Solutions
- EMV chip technology
- $0 fraud liability
- Account alerts
- 24/7 customer service
In general, Citi receives a "below average" grade across the factors used by J.D. Power to determine its credit card satisfaction rankings. With some of the valuable perks that Citi used to offer being discontinued, there's a good chance that Citi won’t go up in rankings anytime soon. The company tends to be right in the middle when compared with other credit card issuers.
However, there are some interesting tools available with the Citi card, including the ability to see your FICO Score once a month and access its Concierge service, which can help you with travel, shopping, and other needs.
Accessing customer service is as easy as logging into your account online and using the live chat or calling 800-950-5114 for 24/7 phone support.
Citi cardholders have access to several security features that can help them better manage their accounts. Not only can you receive automatic account alerts and early fraud warnings, but it’s also possible for you to instantly lock your card if it's been lost.
Using the Citi Quick Lock, you can prevent new purchases from being made on your card, while automatic recurring transactions will continue to go through. This is a useful feature if you misplace your card. If you find it later, you can unlock the card, and there’s no need to get a replacement card.
You can also use Citi's Identity Theft Solutions to help you recover when your identity is stolen. This program can help you put fraud alerts on your credit report as well as file law enforcement reports.
Citi also offers virtual credit card numbers designed to protect your account when you shop online.
Fees to Watch out For
This card doesn't come with a lot of fees. There is no foreign transaction fee, which is a nice feature. However, there is an annual fee, and it's important to run the numbers to ensure that you're getting enough value from the card to justify the annual fee.
Also, without a 0% APR introductory offer, paying a 5% balance transfer fee might not be worth the cost. Other cards offer 0% APR, and some even waive the balance transfer fee if you make the transfer within a certain period of time.
For people who travel frequently and expect to redeem most of their rewards on travel or gift cards, the Citi Premier credit card can make a lot of sense. It also provides strong rewards on gas, restaurants, and supermarket purchases.
However, if you tend to spend more on everyday purchases, a card like the American Express Preferred might make more sense since it offers its highest earning potential on groceries and streaming services.
Additionally, if you want to earn consistent travel rewards without paying an annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne card can be a good choice. Plus, it has a 0% APR offer on purchases.
In the end, if you know that you'll put a good amount of spending on this card and redeem your points for travel—especially if you’re not beholden to particular travel loyalty programs—the Citi Premier credit card can be a good choice.