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Credit Cards

Citi Premier Card review: A low-fee card with a 60k welcome bonus to help you earn more points in the long run

You can earn 3X points in three major spending categories and get a hefty welcome bonus when you open a new Citi Premier Card.

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The Citi Premier® Card is no longer available for new applicants.

When it comes to travel credit cards, most people are looking for a card that offers a generous welcome bonus and a rewards program with good rates to redeem for travel. The Citi Premier® Card currently offers new cardholders a welcome bonus of 60,000 points.

When CNBC Select crunched the numbers and looked closer, we found that the Citi Premier® Card fared well against other popular travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

Below, we break down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Citi Premier Card to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Citi Premier® Card

  • Rewards

    3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on hotels and air travel, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

  • Terms apply.

The Citi Premier is discontinued and no longer available for new applicants.

Pros

  • Unlimited 3 points per $1 spent at gas stations
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No special financing offers

Citi Premier Card review

Citi Premier Card rewards

New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.

The redemption value of ThankYou® Points varies, but you can expect to get good value when redeeming for travel or gift cards.

For instance, if you choose to redeem the points for gift cards, 60,000 points you'll get $600 worth of gift cards at a variety of different stores such as Lowe's, Target, Macy's, Starbucks®, and even online services like Hotels.com®, Spotify and GRUBHUB.

If you're looking for other ways to redeem your points for 1 cent per point, you can also use your ThankYou® Points to pay off your mortgage and student loan payments (meaning 60,000 points would cover $600 worth of mortgage payment).

You can also redeem your ThankYou® Points as a statement credit, but be aware that it's possible you'll get a redemption value of less than 1 cent per point. Just make sure to check the redemption rate if you choose cash-back rewards. And if it the cash-back rate is less than one cent per point, it's then best to either redeem your points for travel, gift cards or paying off your mortgage or student loans.

When it comes to transferring your ThankYou® Points for airline travel, there are 17 airline and hotel transfer partners such as Etihad Guest, Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Despite the plethora of different transfer partners, most are international carriers with the exception of JetBlue TrueBlue. However, some of the international partners are useful for booking flights within the U.S.

The ThankYou program includes Turkish Airlines as a transfer partner, which is great for booking award flights on its partner United Airlines. One-way domestic United flights booked through Turkish only cost 7,500 miles in economy and 15,000 miles in business.

The Citi Premier® Card's closest competitor is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which also has a $95 annual fee and is currently offering new cardholders a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. (Read the full review on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Terms apply.

Pros

  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Travel℠
  • Transfer points to leading frequent travel programs at a 1:1 rate, including: IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy™ and World of Hyatt®
  • Travel protections include: auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance and trip delay reimbursement
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No introductory 0% APR

The rewards-earning rate for the Citi Premier Card is quite high for a travel card, providing 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets (this excludes drug stores), gas stations, hotels and air travel. You'll also get 1X point on all other purchases. The Sapphire Preferred is competitive, however, offering 5X on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3X on dining, 2X on all other travel purchases, and 1X on all other purchases.

For those with spending spread across more categories, you might consider the Capital One Venture Rewards card, a travel card that mimics a flat-rate cash-back card because it offers 2X miles on all purchases.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • Rewards

    5 Miles per dollar on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 at the Transfer APR, 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer to you

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Pros

  • 5 miles per dollar on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every 4 years

Cons

  • No introductory APR
  • There’s a $95 annual fee

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Citi Premier Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), and general purchases ($9,982). We broke out travel spending to just hotels ($621) and airlines ($546) when calculating the amount of rewards the Citi Premier would earn.

Here's a breakdown of how many ThankYou® Points you can earn in each category, annually:

  • Airlines: 1,638
  • Gas: 6,653
  • Dining: 11,024
  • Hotels/Lodging: 1,862
  • Groceries: 15,523
  • All other purchases: 9,982
  • Total: 46,592

Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated 106,592 ThankYou® Points in the first year of card membership, including the welcome bonus. If you redeem your rewards for 1 cent per 1 point, you'll earn $1,065. After five years of using the card you'll earn rewards worth $2,929.

Additional benefit

Entertainment

The Citi Premier comes with access to Citi® Entertainment, a service offering cardholders the opportunity to purchase tickets and pre-sale tickets to concerts, sporting events and theater events.

Travel

One new perk of the Citi Premier Card is the hotel benefit: Once a year, cardholders can get $100 off a hotel stay of $500 or more booked through thankyou.com.

Fees

This card has an annual fee of $95. However, if you utilize the $100 yearly hotel benefit, it'll cover the cost of the annual fee.

This card does not come with an introductory 0% APR period on balance transfers or purchases, so if you want some time before a high interest rate on your card kicks in, or you're looking for a way to pay off another credit card balance at 0% APR, this probably isn't the best choice for you.

This card has no foreign transaction fees, making it good for international travelers.

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Bottom line

The Citi Premier Card has a solid welcome bonus and cardholders can earn a lot of rewards for ongoing spend on popular bonus categories like groceries, gas, travel and dining out.

While it's light on additional perks for a travel credit card, the Premier is a solid card, and cardholders can feel confident that they can earn lots of points in the long run.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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