Citi Premier Card Review [2021]: Triple Your Travel Rewards

With a generous welcome offer and a great rewards rate, the Citi Premier Card can get you traveling faster.
Last updated Aug 17, 2021 | By Lindsay Frankel

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With so many travel rewards cards out there, it can be tough to choose the right one. As you narrow your options, consider the Citi Premier Card as a top contender. It has an excellent rewards rate for travel purchases and a comparatively low annual fee, meaning you can rack up points faster and get to a free vacation sooner than you would with some other credit cards.

Earn Valuable Travel Points Even Faster

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Intro Offer

80,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 3X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 80,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 3X points in several popular categories
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases

In this Citi Premier Card review:

Who should get Citi Premier Card?

The Citi Premier Card is a great choice for people who frequently travel and spend money on dining and entertainment. Cardmembers can earn up to 3X points on all kinds of travel, including gas stations, airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and more, and these points stretch 25% further toward travel. That means that while 10,000 points would be worth $100 if you redeemed them for cash, the same points would be worth $125 if you used them to book travel through the Citi ThankYou Center.

And since you can earn 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, hotels, essentially you stand to earn 3.75 cents per dollar on your travel purchases if you then also redeem your points for travel. Since that rewards rate is high, it’s easy to earn back what you spend on the annual fee.

To figure out if the fee on the Citi Premier Card is worth it for you, look at what 3.75% of your typical budget for travel each year would be. To do that, multiply your annual travel spending amount by 0.0375. If your answer exceeds the annual fee, then you won’t waste any money on the fee for the card. You can use the same calculations to discover if any credit card is worth it based on your typical spending habits.

In the case of this card, if you spend at least $2,534 on travel total within a year, you can offset the $95 annual fee with your rewards earnings. (2534 x 0.0375 = 95.025) And, of course, that doesn’t even take into account that you can earn 1X points on all other eligible purchases. Given all that, you can easily offset the fee with just one or two trips per year.

But if you don’t travel frequently and you don’t typically spend money eating out or going to events, it might make more sense for you to apply for a cashback credit card without an annual fee. Many cards allow you to earn great cashback rewards on everyday purchases that might be more valuable to you.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need excellent credit to get approved for the Citi Premier Card, so it’s not worth taking a hard inquiry to your credit report if your credit score still needs work.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer Citi
Credit card network Mastercard
Annual fee $95
Intro bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
Reward rate 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None
Learn how to apply

Citi Premier Card benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome bonus: With the Citi Premier Card, you’ll earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account.
  • Triple points on purchases: You’ll earn 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Points are worth 25% more toward travel: When you use your Citi ThankYou Points to book travel through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, each point has 25% more value. That means 20,000 points will be worth $250 toward travel, as opposed to the $200 they would be worth when redeemed for cash.
  • Transfer points to airline loyalty programs: You can also transfer your points from your Citi Premier Card to participating airline loyalty programs, such as TrueBlue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. There’s no fee and you only need a minimum of 1,000 points to request a transfer.
  • Annual hotel savings: This credit card offers a hotel savings perk for cardholders once per calendar year. You can get $100 off a single hotel stay that's $500 or more when you book through thankyou.com. 

Drawbacks to the Citi Premier Card

  • Lacking premium perks: If you're looking for premium perks like lounge access and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits, another travel rewards card like the Citi Prestige Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better option. 
  • Annual fee: As mentioned, the Citi Premier Card does come with an annual fee of $95. However, if you travel relatively often, it will likely be pretty easy to offset this cost.

Earning & redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your points can add up with the Citi Premier Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of one cent.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $1,494

Year two earnings: $694

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome offer, and the annual fee.

While the earnings you get from regular spending are already pretty generous, you'll get even more value from this card if you're able to take advantage of its annual $100 hotel savings benefit. If you account for this benefit, your earnings will increase to $1,394 in year one and $794 in year two. Not bad for a card with a modest annual fee. 

Best ways to earn

The best way to earn points with the Citi Premier Card is to use it for bonus category purchases. Since this card earns 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases, you would be better served using a cashback card with a higher reward rate for purchases outside of those bonus categories.

In fact, a really smart strategy would be to use the Citi Double Cash Card to earn up to 2% cash back on any purchase that falls outside the Premier card’s reward categories. That’s because if you have both the Citi Double Cash and Citi Premier cards, then you can transfer Double Cash points to your ThankYou account. There, they’ll be worth 25% more toward travel.

So, by using a two-card strategy, you can earn a lot of rewards from Citi. Just make sure you don’t apply for both cards at the same time. Follow Citibank’s credit card application rules and wait at least eight days in between applications.

Categories Rewards rate
Restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, hotels 3X
All other eligible purchases 1X

Maximizing your redemptions

You have the option to redeem your ThankYou points in several ways, including travel, gift cards, cash, or Amazon.com purchases. The ThankYou points you earn with your Citi Premier Card are worth 25% more when you redeem them through the Travel Center than they are if you redeem them for cash back, so it may make sense to choose this redemption option over others.

You might also decide to transfer your points to an airline loyalty program. ThankYou points from your Citi Premier generally transfer to all of Citi’s airline partners at a 1:1 ratio. What’s more, Citi sometimes has special bonus offers for transferring your points. For example, your points could stretch further when you transfer them to certain loyalty programs. So, it’s a good idea to always be on the lookout for new offers from Citi.

Citi transfer partners

Citi has 15 airline transfer partners, and your ThankYou rewards points will generally transfer to those partners at a 1:1 ratio. You can also choose to transfer your ThankYou points to the Sears Shop Your Way rewards program, and one ThankYou point is equal to 10 Shop Your Way points. Here's a quick look at Citi's airline travel partners:

Airline Airline alliance Min. transfer Transfer ratio
Aeromexico SkyTeam 1,000 1:1
Air France/KLM SkyTeam 1,000 1:1
Avianca Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Cathay Pacific Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Etihad None 1,000 1:1
Eva Air Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
JetBlue None 1,000 1:1 for Citi Prestige and Premier Cards

1:0.8 for Citi Rewards+ and Double Cash cards

Malaysia Airlines Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Qantas Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Qatar Airways Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Singapore Airlines Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Thai Airways Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Turkish Airlines Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Virgin Atlantic None 1,000 1:1

Citi Premier Card FAQs

Is the Citi Premier Card worth it?

If you travel at least a couple times a year, this credit card will probably be worth it to you. That’s because you can offset the annual fee if you spend at least $2,534 on travel each year, and that includes purchases at gas stations. Check your past spending habits and look at your upcoming travel plans to decide if this card will be worth the annual fee.

Is the Citi Premier Card a Mastercard?

Yes. That means your Citi Premier Card will be accepted at 37 million merchant locations across more than 210 countries and territories.

What are Citi ThankYou Points?

Citi ThankYou Points are rewards points you earn for spending with select Citi cards, including the Citi Premier Card. You can redeem your points for all kinds of options, like cash and gift cards, but your points will be worth 25% more when you use them to book travel through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.

Do Citi ThankYou Points expire?

When you earn ThankYou Points with your Citi Premier Card, your points will never expire.

Does the Citi Premier Card have a foreign transaction fee?

No, there is no foreign transaction fee on purchases made with the Citi Premier Card.

Can I have more than one Citi credit card?

Absolutely! In fact, pairing the Citi Premier Card with a no annual fee card like the Citi Double Cash Card is an excellent strategy. Just make sure you follow Citibank’s credit card application rules.


Other cards to consider

While the Citi Premier Card is an excellent travel rewards credit card, it might not be the best choice for everyone. One downside is that Citi does not have hotel partners, so you can’t transfer your ThankYou points to hotel loyalty programs. If that concerns you or you are otherwise still undecided, you might consider one of these cards instead:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has many similarities to the Citi Premier Card. There’s a welcome offer of 60,000 points, a $95 annual fee, and its points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The main difference is that you only earn 2X points on travel (not booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards) with this card. However, you can transfer your points to Chase’s hotel partners. By comparing the Citi Premier vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred cards side-by-side, you can see which better fits your needs.

While the American Express® Gold Card has a $250 (See rates and fees) annual fee, it has many more perks than the Citi Premier Card, including a $120 dining credit toward certain restaurants and delivery apps, including Grubhub and Seamless. (Enrollment required for select benefits.) You’ll also earn 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. So despite the annual fee, this card might be a better choice for you if you tend to spend a lot at restaurants.

Earn Valuable Travel Points Even Faster

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Special Offer

Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

Author Details

Lindsay Frankel Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.