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One of the most popular travel credit cards on the market is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With a modest $95 annual fee and a strong rewards program, it's hard to go wrong choosing the Sapphire Preferred as one of your primary credit cards.
However, another card worth considering for your wallet is the Citi Premier® Card, which also has a $95 annual fee. It also earns valuable rewards that can be redeemed in a myriad of ways. So which one is the better of the two?
Select walks you through the benefits of both cards so you can choose the one that best aligns with your spending habits.
3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on hotels and air travel, 1X points on all other purchases
80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
18.99% - 26.99% variable
Balance transfer fee
5% of each balance transfer, $5 minimum
Foreign transaction fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering new cardholders the chance to earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 within the first three months from account opening.
New cardholders opening the Citi Premier Card can earn a welcome offer of 80,000 points with the same spending requirement and timeframe as the Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Ultimate Rewards are extremely valuable because they hold a value of 1.25 cents per point. The 60,000-point bonus is worth $750, when redeemed through the Chase travel portal or through the Pay Yourself Back feature. The Pay Yourself Back tool allows you to wipe out eligible purchases through the travel portal.
ThankYou® Points are only worth 1 cent per point when redeemed through Citi's travel portal or for gift cards. So 80,000 points would be worth $800 toward gift cards or travel. Sometimes, you can get 1 cent per point when redeeming for a statement credit, but it's not guaranteed.
Winner: Citi Premier. The Preferred arguably offers better airline and hotel transfer partners, but the Citi Premier simply offers more points to work with.
Both of these travel credit cards have a $95 annual fee. This is a modest annual fee, considering The Platinum Card® from American Express recently raised its annual fee to $695 (see rates and fees) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a fee of $550.
Both cards offer excellent rewards programs.
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases. You'll also earn 3X points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
With Citi Premier, you can earn 3X points for every dollar spent on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels. All other eligible purchases earn 1X point for every dollar spent.
For those who spend regularly in the travel category and want to book through an OTA like Chase's travel portal, the Sapphire Preferred is the best choice since you can earn 5X points per dollar, rather than 3X points per dollar with the Citi Premier.
Keep in mind that rewards have different values, and when you compare the value of Citi ThankYou Points against Chase Ultimate Rewards, the latter presents a more approachable value proposition. Chase offers more domestic travel partners and hotels, whereas Citi offers a longer list of international airlines and less valuable hotel rewards programs.
Winner: Tie. While you'll earn more points for travel when booking through the Chase Travel Portal, the Citi Premier offers bonus points on a wider number of popular spending categories, like groceries and gas.
Once you earn rewards, it's now time to redeem them. However, to get the best value for your points, you must be strategic.
There are ample opportunities to redeem your points for less than the best value. Redemptions such as statement credit and gift cards are heavily advertised by credit card companies as the value is much less than if you were to redeem them for travel.
You can redeem Citi points in a number of different ways. For example, you can transfer them to airline programs such as the Turkish Airlines' loyalty program, Miles and Smiles, and redeem them for United Airlines flights through their airline alliance. This method often provides better redemptions rates than booking through United itself. Whereas with Chase, you have the ability to transfer your points to more domestic loyalty programs, including both hotels and airlines.
Between these two cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is likely the better option if you want to redeem your points for travel. You have access to more domestic transfer partners like Southwest, United and Hyatt Hotels. Citi only has international airline partners, except for JetBlue. It also offers the ability to transfer to hotel partners Wyndham and Choice.
Additionally, when you book through the Chase Travel Portal, where your points are worth 1.25 cents per point, and you can book any type of travel including flights, hotels, rental cars and more. And if you pair the Preferred with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, those points become worth 1.5 cents per point.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers more redemption options through the Pay Yourself Back tool, and a 25% bonus for booking with points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Consumers with either card can benefit from:
- No foreign transaction fees
- A variety of airline and hotel partners to transfer rewards
- Both cards are widely accepted with Visa and Mastercard as the servicers
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders enjoy these benefits:
- A $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, zero liability protection
- Baggage and trip delay insurance
- Purchase protection
Citi Premier cardholders enjoy these benefits:
- $100 hotel credit on single stay over $500 when booked through Citi travel portal
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred, by a mile.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Citi Premier is a great card in many respects, but in a head-to-head battle, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the clear winner. With the Sapphire Preferred you'll have an easier time redeeming points for good value and will enjoy more travel protections and perks.
It trumps the Citi Premier in most categories, but the one caveat is that it can be difficult to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Keep in mind before applying, you're only eligible to sign up and receive a welcome bonus if:
- You don't currently have another Chase Sapphire card, and
- You haven't received a welcome bonus from a Chase Sapphire card in the last 48 months, and
- You are under the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule, which means you have less than five new credit cards opened in the last 24 months.
If you meet the above criteria and are able to earn the 60,000-point welcome bonus without overstretching your budget, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be a great fit. And if you're looking to snag some ThankYou Points, now is a great time to apply for the Citi Premier Card given its generous 80,000-point bonus.
But when comparing two travel credit cards, be sure to reverse engineer your spending habits. By analyzing your own financial needs first, you will find the card that is best suited for you.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
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