Citi Premier℠ Card Review: Fantastic Value for a Reasonable Annual Fee

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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Travel credit cards usually aren't underappreciated, but the Citi Premier℠ Card may be the exception. It has a $95 annual fee, but it offers more bonus points than several cards that cost $250 or more. Despite those bonus rewards and its additional travel perks, this card has flown under the radar, compared to more high-profile options from Chase and American Express.

That's a shame, because based on its value and versatility, this is a top-tier travel card. Read our full Citi Premier℠ Card review to find out exactly what makes it so special.

Top perks

60,000 bonus points: To get this sign-up bonus, you need to make $4,000 in purchases within the first three months. You can get a value of up to $0.0125 per point on travel bookings made through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, so 60,000 points are worth at least $750 toward travel. It's also possible to get even more value from your points if you transfer them to Citi's travel partners.

Earn up to 3 points per $1: This card's rewards rate will change on Aug. 23, 2020. Here's how much it currently earns on each type of purchase through Aug. 22:

  • 3 points per $1 on travel, including gas stations
  • 2 points per $1 at restaurants and on entertainment
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases

Here's how much it will earn starting Aug. 23:

  • 3 points per $1 on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases

Both before and after this change, the Citi Premier℠ Card is one of the best travel rewards cards for earning a large number of points.

Annual $100 hotel savings: Starting Aug. 23, 2020, this card will offer an annual $100 savings on a single hotel stay that costs $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees.

Citi ThankYou Rewards program: Citi ThankYou points are among the most valuable types of travel rewards because of their redemption options. As mentioned above, you can get up to $0.0125 per point when you use those points on cash travel bookings through the Citi ThankYou travel portal. Citi also has well over a dozen different airline partners with which you can transfer points to book awards airfare. With the right booking, it's possible to get $0.03 per point or more.

No foreign transaction fee: It's important to get a travel card that you can use without paying extra, and the Citi Premier℠ Card qualifies. Another reason it's useful for international travel is that it's a Mastercard, one of the most widely accepted types of credit cards around the world.

Virtual account numbers: An underrated perk of Citi credit cards is that you can get a randomly generated virtual account number whenever you want to make purchases online. That means you don't need to use your real credit card number, which can help prevent credit card fraud. Citi is one of the few card issuers that offers this kind of feature.

What could be improved

Consumer and travel protections: Citi drastically scaled back the protections its cards offer in 2019, and the Citi Premier℠ Card now offers only purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. It lacks quite a few protections that you can get with other travel cards, such as rental car insurance, baggage protection, and trip cancellation or delay insurance.

Suggested credit score

You should have a FICO® Score of 720 or higher before applying for the Citi Premier℠ Card, because Citi is selective with the applicants it approves. Although the card issuer will base its decision on more than just your credit score, successful applicants usually report having excellent credit.

Is the annual fee worth it?

Considering the value that the Citi Premier℠ Card offers, its $95 annual fee is a bargain.

The card pays for itself with the $100 annual hotel savings that's available starting Aug. 23, 2020. Even if you don't use that benefit each year, you can easily earn enough rewards points to outweigh the cost of the annual fee thanks to this card's generous bonus categories.

Because you can redeem your rewards for at least $0.0125 per point, you need to earn only 7,600 points per year to cover the cost of this card's annual fee. That's $7,600 in annual spending, or approximately $2,533.33 spent annually in this card's bonus categories.

It's also worth mentioning that the 60,000-point sign-up bonus is worth at least $750, giving the Citi Premier℠ Card tremendous value for the first year that you have it.

Alternatives to consider

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another popular travel card with the same annual fee and sign-up bonus amounts as the Citi Premier℠ Card. Chase's Ultimate Rewards® program has a different set of travel partners than Citi ThankYou Rewards, so you may want to check out each program's partners to see which are better for you.

If you like what the Citi Premier℠ Card has to offer but you want even more perks, the Citi Prestige® Card is the next logical step up. It's not cheap, at $495 per year, but it offers a $250 annual credit toward travel purchases, up to 5 points per $1 in select bonus categories, up to two free nights on hotel stays of four nights or more per year, and many more money-saving travel perks. Both Citi travel cards are very impressive. Your choice would just depend on whether you prefer a cheaper annual fee or more features.

As of May. 21, 2020
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Citi Prestige® Card

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On Chase's Secure Website.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months -- worth $750 of travel redeemed through Chase Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months
Rewards Program: 3x points for groceries through June 30 2020, 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal. Rewards Program: 5x points for air travel and restaurants, 3x points for hotels and cruises, 1x point on all else
Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable Regular APR: 16.99% to 23.99%, variable
Annual Fee: $95 Annual Fee: $495

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

Highlights:

  • 5X ThankYou Points on air travel and restaurants
  • 3X ThankYou Points on hotels and cruise lines
  • 1X ThankYou points on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Complimentary 4th night on hotel stays booked through ThankYou.com., up to twice per year
  • Unlimited access to 400+ airport lounges
  • $100 global entry fee credit
  • Chip technology
  • 24/7 concierge
  • Lost baggage coverage

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On Chase's Secure Website.

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Citi Prestige® Card is unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.

This credit card is right for you if:

The Citi Premier℠ Card is a great choice if you want a travel card that offers transferable points, can earn lots of rewards with its bonus categories and sign-up bonus, and costs less than $100 per year. Here are a few signs that you should strongly consider applying:

  • You have high spending in its bonus categories. 3 points per $1 is hard to beat, especially on a card in this price range. It gives you the opportunity to get quite a bit of value from your regular spending.
  • You fly with Citi's airline partners regularly. Citi ThankYou points are much more valuable when you transfer them to its airline partners. If you take at least one flight per year with one of these airlines, you'll likely be able to maximize the value of your points.
  • You book at least one $500+ hotel stay per year. Whether you're booking a lengthy stay or a luxurious one, that $100 annual hotel savings will already be worth more than you spend on this card's annual fee.

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