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The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee: Is it worth it?

The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee but is it worth it? Select highlights the travel credit card.

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The Citi Premier® Card is a solid rewards credit card that comes with a variety of benefits aimed at travelers. It earns bonus points on a broad array of popular spending categories, has no foreign transaction fees, comes with a yearly hotel credit and more. But, the card does come with a $95 annual fee.

While you can offset the annual fee by using all of the perks, it's important to evaluate if the card is right for your needs and spending habits.

Below, Select breaks down the Citi Premier's rewards, benefits and fees to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Is the Citi Premier worth it?

Citi Premier® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • 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

    80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 23.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

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

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No special financing offers
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,265
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $3,129

Rewards totals incorporate the rewards earned from the welcome bonus

The Citi Premier is a great card for travelers who want to earn transferable points, but don't need luxury perks like airport lounge access or travel insurance. The card also has no foreign transaction fees making it useful when traveling outside the U.S.

In the first year of card membership, you can quickly earn over $900 in value from the welcome offer and annual hotel benefit alone.

The Citi Premier's welcome bonus is currently 80,000 Citi ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. And if you complete the minimum spending threshold, you'll have at least 84,000 points — worth a minimum of $840. You can get even more value from your points when you transfer the points to one of Citi's several travel partners.

And with the card earning 3X points for every dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel and hotels — you can earn lots of Citi ThankYou points quickly. These points are valuable because they can be redeemed either through the Citi ThankYou travel portal or with 15 different hotel and airline loyalty programs. But if you want a simple redemption option, you can easily redeem for gift cards at major brands, or use them to shop on Amazon or BestBuy.com.

Here's a list of the Citi Premier's benefits:

Citi Premier benefits

BenefitPotential valueDetails of the benefit
Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.$800 As you spend on the card, you will earn: Unlimited 3X miles per dollar spent on: restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel and hotels. All other eligible purchases earn 1X miles per dollar spent.
$100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit$100 Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com, once per calendar year.
Extended warranty protectionVariableThis benefit adds an additional 24 months to a manufacturer’s warranty.
Damage and theft protectionVariableRepairs or replaces an item that’s damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase (up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year).
Mastercard World Elite benefitsVariableThis includes benefits such as: $5 monthly Lyft credit when you take three or more rides per month, premium hotel benefits like complimentary breakfast at select portfolio hotels and cell phone protection.

By using these perks you can quickly make the card worthy of a spot in your wallet. However, after the first year, the $95 annual fee becomes harder to justify. But if you're spending in the bonus categories often, the amount of points you earn may be worth the fee.

Additionally, if you have the Citi® Double Cash Card, you can convert the 2% cash back (1% when you buy and 1% as you pay) you earn into Citi ThankYou points — essentially giving you 2X points for every dollar spent on all eligible purchases. This combo can make for a great credit card strategy.

The value of the hotel benefit can also quickly make up for the card's entire annual fee, plus $5. All you need to do is book a $500 or more hotel stay (before taxes and fees) through the Citi travel portal, and you'll receive $100 off. You can use this benefit once per calendar year.

However, there are alternatives listed below that could be a better fit for you.

What to know if you're considering the Citi Premier

Before applying for the Citi Premier® Card, there are a few things to consider.

First, be sure to map out your next few months of expenses in order to earn the welcome bonus of 80,000 Citi ThankYou points. It's never a good idea to overspend to earn credit card rewards, but by preplanning, you can avoid that.

Next, consider if Citi's transfer partners are valuable to you. When you earn Citi points, you can redeem them through the Citi travel portal, or you can transfer them to any of the following airline or hotel loyalty programs:

  • AeroMexico
  • Avianca
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Choice Hotels
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Air France/KLM
  • JetBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Wyndham Hotels

While the majority of these partners are international airlines, keep in mind that many of them are part of airline alliances — which means you can book airlines within the U.S. For example, you can transfer your points to AeroMexico and redeem them for flights on Delta Air Lines, or transfer to Singapore Airlines and book flights on United Airlines.

When you redeem rewards through the Citi travel portal or for cash back, ThankYou points are worth a flat one cent per point. However, when you transfer them to partners, the value of points can be much higher. For example, a one-way flight from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii that is $300 would cost 30,000 points in Citi's travel portal. However, if you transfer your points to Turkish Airlines (which is partners with United) you could book that same seat for as little as 7,500 points. So when booking a flight, it always pays to compare the credit card's travel portal to the airline loyalty program to see which one is more effective.

Alternatives to the Citi Premier

If the Citi Premier isn't the perfect fit for you, there are other travel credit cards with annual fees under $100 worth considering.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% 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

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Transfer points to leading frequent travel programs at a 1:1 rate, including: IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy™ and World of Hyatt®
  • Free DashPass subscription for a minimum of a year when you activate by December 31, 2021
  • 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
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,506
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,528

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is known as one of the best travel credit cards on the market. The card comes with a valuable 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® points bonus after cardholders spend $4,000 in the first three months. In addition, the card has travel insurance, partner benefits with DoorDash, Lyft and Peloton, rental car insurance, broad spending categories and several domestic transfer partners like United and Southwest. The card has a $95 annual fee, equal to the Citi Premier.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

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

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    17.24% to 24.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 5X miles 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
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,466
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,931

Rewards totals incorporate the miles earned from the welcome bonus

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also has a $95 annual fee, and a very simple offer to cardholders. When you spend on the card, you'll earn 2X miles for every dollar spent on all eligible purchases. Plus, you can earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. You will also receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee waiver, Capital One lounge access, the ability to use the Capital One Travel portal and transfer points to airline and hotel partners like Air Canada, British Airways and Emirates.

Bottom line

The Citi Premier® Card is a great credit card for someone who wants to earn points useful for both international and domestic travel. Additionally, if you regularly make purchases in the bonus spending categories of the card such as groceries, restaurants, gas stations, it may be a valuable card to keep in your wallet.

Overall, the Citi Premier is worth the annual fee if you can use the benefits. But if you're looking for a few more features to use during your travels you may want to consider one of the alternatives mentioned above.

But before you apply for the card, be sure you'll be able to earn the welcome bonus and also budget for the annual fee.

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.