Full Review of Citi Premier Credit Card
Extra points on travel, dining, and entertainment purchases
Bonus points when redeeming travel through the ThankYou Travel Center
No foreign transaction fee
$95 annual fee, when some cards in this category have none
Some popular benefits (like Price Rewind) were discontinued as of Sept. 22, 2019
No introductory APR for balance transfers
- Generous Bonus: New cardholders can receive 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after they spend $4,000 in the first three months. This is a fairly generous offer that is worth $750 when redeemed through the ThankYou Travel Center for airfare. However, even if you redeem for gift cards on ThankYou.com, it’s still worth $600.
- Extra Points on Travel, Dining, and Entertainment Purchases: Earn 3X points on travel purchases, which includes standalone gas stations as well as hotel, airline, and rental car purchases. If you travel frequently—or even if you just fill up each week at the gas station—this can be a worthwhile reward. The 2X points earned on restaurants and entertainment 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.
- Bonus Points When Redeemed Through the ThankYou Travel Center: While you won't receive a bonus when you redeem points for merchandise and gift cards, Citi does offer a 25% bonus when you go through its ThankYou site to redeem for airfare. Rather than being worth 1 cent per point, travel redemptions are worth 1.25 cents.
- 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, such as the Capital One Venture, that waive their $95 annual fee in the first year, the Citi Premier credit card begins charging you an annual fee immediately. In order to justify the annual fee cost, you need to earn at least 9,500 points (or 7,600 if you redeem for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center). You can reach the threshold faster by focusing your spending on travel (especially your regular gas purchases) or by using the card for dining and entertainment.
- 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% APR offer in addition to a bonus. Additionally, the Citi Premier card charges a somewhat hefty 3% balance transfer fee. This is in line with some other cards, like the CapitalOne VentureOne, that also charge a 3% or $5 balance transfer fee.
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, entertainment, and dining.
Even commuters can benefit from this card since gas station purchases receive the 3X points assigned to the travel category. The average household in the U.S. spends about $1,072 annually on gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s enough to earn 3,216 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 2X points when you eat out and 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, you can get the 25% bonus, making your points 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 60,000 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.
According to Citi, this bonus is worth $750 when you redeem your rewards for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center. Without the 25% bonus for travel purchases, the bonus is worth about $600. However, this is not cash in your pocket. Instead, it can be redeemed for various rewards, some of which might not feel as valuable as actual cash.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers 3X points on travel purchases, which include gas station purchases. But note that gas pumped at warehouse clubs or discount stores doesn’t qualify for the extra points.
Additionally, cardholders receive 2X points on dining and entertainment purchases. While dining is limited to restaurants, the entertainment area is where you might be able to see some solid rewards. Entertainment includes museums, zoos, aquariums, movie theaters, amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and many other activities. On top of that, you can also get 2X points for on-demand online streaming purchases.
All other purchases qualify for 1 point per dollar spent.
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 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.
However, if you use the ThankYou Travel Center to redeem your points for air travel, each point is worth 1.25 cents. So, your points could potentially go further.
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. In order 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 directly apply ThankYou points to Amazon.com purchases.
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 a number of 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, as well as entertainment and dining, and then redeem your rewards on travel to get the 25% bonus.
Let's say you spend the average of $1,072 on gas each year, plus you spend $3,459 on food away from home and $3,226 on entertainment (also average, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics). With just these numbers, you’ll end up with 3,216 points (3X) for your gas and 13,370 points for your dining and entertainment (2X).
As long as you redeem your total 16,586 points for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center, you'll end up with $207.33 worth of airfare.
That example doesn't include other spending you might do on the card for 1 point per dollar, nor does it include any 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, plus 2X points for dining and entertainment, they could see a much bigger benefit.
For example, the average household spends a little more than $60,000 per year. If a family put most of its purchases (assuming mortgage or rent of $1,500 per month is not included, thus resulting $42,000 of card spending) on the Citi Premier card, even without the bonuses on travel, dining, and entertainment, redeeming for travel would result in $525 worth of rewards.
Citi Premier Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- 25% bonus on travel redemptions
- One-time offer of 60,000 bonus ThankYou points, worth $750 when redeemed for travel
- 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 an "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 to 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 3% balance transfer fee might not be worth the cost. There are other cards that 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, the Citi Premier credit card can make a lot of sense. It also provides reasonable rewards for dining and entertainment. The 25% bonus on travel redemptions can make this card especially valuable.
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 balance transfer offer.
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.