The Citi Premier® Card is a travel card first and foremost, but it holds its own as an everyday rewards card too. Its bonus categories extend beyond travel spending to regular purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and more, making it a well-rounded option for the on- and the off-season alike.
If you can get past the annual fee and limited set of travel benefits, this could be a good addition to your wallet. Learn everything there is to know about this credit card including its top pros and cons, how it competes with similar products, and if it’s right for you here.
Intro APR, Purchases
Intro APR, Balance Transfers
21.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
- Best for – Frequent travelers who want to earn rewards on both travel and everyday spending
- Intro offer/sign-up bonus – Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. These points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards at thankyou.com. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou(R) Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel(SM) portal through June 30, 2024.
- Cash back – 3x points on every dollar spent on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotels, and 1x points on all other purchases
- Intro APR – N/A
- Unique features – annual hotel bonus, no foreign transaction fees, 1:1 points transfer to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs
Pros & cons
- No foreign transaction fee — This perk can save you money whether you travel often or hardly ever.
- Points transfer — Get better value for your rewards when you transfer Citi ThankYou points to a hotel or airline transfer partner.
- Annual fee — Although the annual fee is average for this type of card, it’s still a drawback that can eat into your rewards earnings.
- Points value — You have to be strategic about how you redeem ThankYou points to get the most value because they’re not worth much if you just redeem them for cash and statement credits.
- Few travel benefits — Compared to other credit cards in this price range, the Citi Premier® Card is quite a bit lighter in complimentary travel protections and perks.
Citi Premier® Card benefits
The Citi Premier® Card offers a competitive rewards rate with a unique earning structure, a few travel benefits to help frequent travelers save money, and a welcome bonus that’s hard to beat. Let’s dig into the main benefits of this card including the rewards, travel benefits, and welcome bonus.
The Citi Premier® Card is a rewards card that straddles the line between a travel rewards card and a general card. It earns anywhere from one to three Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent on select categories. Here’s the breakdown:
- 3 points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels
- 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
- 1 point per $1 spent on everything else
All rewards are uncapped across bonus categories, so you’ll earn the same rewards rate no matter how much you’ve spent. Travel does not need to be booked through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center in order to earn 3x points.
The rewards structure sets the Citi Premier® Card apart from other travel cards. Many cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, earn a higher bonus rate on travel purchases and a lower bonus rate on all other purchases. For the Citi Premier® Card, there is a clear benefit to using your points toward travel or to redeem travel (which we’ll go over) but no reason to only use the card when buying travel.
All Citi cards allow you to redeem ThankYou points in any of the following ways:
- Get a statement credit, direct deposit, or check
- Shop With Points (online or in-store with participating merchants including Amazon, Walmart, and PayPal)
- Purchase travel through the Citi ThankYou travel portal
- Buy gift cards through Citi
- Transfer points to a travel partner
The value of a point depends on how you redeem it. For example, each ThankYou point is worth less than a cent if you redeem it as a statement credit but can be worth as much as two cents if you transfer it to an airline partner and redeem them through that program. And when you use points to purchase gift cards, they’re usually worth around one cent a piece.
$0 foreign transaction fee is a benefit that speaks for itself. If you take this card with you when traveling, you won’t have to worry about any extra charges coming out of your travel budget. While there are many cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee, this is always a perk to be grateful for.
Then there’s the $100 annual hotel savings benefit. To redeem this, you need to book a hotel stay through Citi’s rewards and travel portal, the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, and spend at least $500. This credit resets every year so you can use it to offset your annual fee.
Note that the Citi Premier® Card does not come with free general travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage insurance, or similar protections that are relatively common in this space.
Citi has 17 airline and hotel partners in total that allow you to transfer points to different loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio (with only one notable exception). If you decide to go this route and transfer your ThankYou points, you’ll need to transfer a minimum of 1,000 at a time.
Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to many popular airline loyalty programs including, but not limited to:
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
For all airline partners, ThankYou points can be redeemed at a 1:1 ratio.
There are also two hotel transfer partners in the Citi transfer program. These are:
- Choice Privileges® (1:2 rate)
- Wyndham Rewards®
When you redeem ThankYou points for Choice Privileges® points, they’re worth twice as much. So if you transfer 1,000 ThankYou points, you’ll end up with 2,000 Choice Privileges® points. There’s no fee to transfer points.
See a comprehensive list of all Citi transfer partners here.
Right now, new cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. These points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards at thankyou.com.
Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou(R) Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel(SM) portal through June 30, 2024.
You don’t have to put these bonus points toward gift cards or travel, but you’ll have to do the math yourself to figure out what they’re worth if you use another redemption option.
Fees and Interest
Now onto the parts of this card that are less fun but we have to talk about anyway: fees and interest.
The Citi Premier® Card comes with an annual fee of $95, which is average for a mid-tier travel rewards credit card. But unlike other cards like it, this fee is not waived for the first year. Probably not a dealbreaker, but lame nonetheless.
You’ll want to avoid missing payments with this card or using it for balance transfers and cash advances, when possible.
Late fee: up to $41
Balance transfer fee: whichever is greater between 5% and $5
Cash advance fee: whichever is greater between 5% and $10
And again, there’s no foreign transaction fee.
This card carries an APR of 21.24% - 29.24% (Variable) for purchases and balance transfers. There is no introductory APR (such as 0% for the first 18 months).
Who is it for?
The Citi Premier® Card requires at least good credit to qualify. This is defined as a FICO credit score of 670 or higher, but you’ll probably need at least a 700 score to be eligible.
People who frequently make travel purchases, including air travel and hotels, are likely to get the most out of this card. If you use the yearly hotel credit, you’ll automatically make back the $95 annual fee, then all the ThankYou points you earn are extra. And the more you travel, the more you’ll save by not paying foreign transaction fees.
A lot of Citi Premier cardholders find this card to be most rewarding when they transfer their ThankYou points. So if you see a program you’re already a member of on the list of transfer partners, this could be a good reason to sign up.
But while it’s mostly a travel card, this is also a decent option for everyday spending because there are five different bonus categories that earn three points per dollar.
People with good credit who know they’ll be able to use the travel benefits — but might also be looking for an everyday card for their biggest spending categories — could be good candidates for this card.
Who is it not ideal for?
If you don’t travel often, you should probably look into other options. You may have a hard time justifying the card’s annual fee if you don’t pay foreign transaction fees anyway or plan to spend $500 on a hotel. Also, you may not be happy paying $95 a year without getting free services and travel insurance in return, which you can find with other cards.
Another dealbreaker could be redemption. Citi ThankYou points don’t have very much value when you stay within the Citi portal but tend to be worth more when you transfer them. If you want to redeem your points for statement credits or just don’t want the hassle of transferring, keep it moving.
You also want to be careful about how you use this card. Because it has a high interest rate and does not offer an introductory APR, it’s not a good choice for people who plan to carry or transfer a balance.
This card also has a credit score requirement of at least 700, so it isn’t for people who are still building their credit or are brand new to credit cards. If your credit score is in the fair or good range, check out some other options. There are plenty of cards out there that come with great benefits but are within reach for more than just great-credit borrowers.
Citi Premier® Card vs. competitors
If you like the idea of a well-rounded travel credit card but the Citi Premier® Card just doesn’t seem quite right, here are a couple of alternatives that might better fit your needs.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is often compared to the Citi Premier® Card, and it’s easy to see why. These cards have a lot in common but have very different reward structures.
While the Citi Premier® Card earns 3x points on air travel, hotels, grocery stores, and more, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® earns 5x points on all travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. After that, it’s 3x points on dining and online grocery purchases, 2x points on other travel, and 1x points on everything else.
Both cards have the same annual fee of and do not charge foreign transaction fees. But while they each offer an annual hotel credit too, the value with Citi is worth $100 per year while the Chase hotel credit is only $50. As for other differences in benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card includes a variety of travel perks including travel insurance and emergency services and free memberships with partners like DoorDash and Instacart (terms apply).
For points transfers, Chase works with different travel partners including United MileagePlus, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and IHG Rewards Club.
If you wouldn’t mind booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and definitely wouldn’t mind more travel coverage, you may prefer the Preferred.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This one is a lot different from the other two. Instead of points, The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns miles. Specifically, 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 2x miles on all other purchases. There are no other bonus categories. Depending on how you spend, these rates could prove to be better or worse.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has an edge over the Citi Premier® Card when it comes to built-in benefits. On top of a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Credit (comparable to Citi’s hotel credit), cardholders receive 24/7 travel assistance services, many types of travel insurance, and two complimentary lounge visits per year.
This card also charges no foreign transaction fees and has a $95 annual fee. Capital One and Citi partner with many of the same airlines, so opportunities to transfer points are similar between the two. See Rates & Fees.
For air travel specifically, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is probably the better card for most because its benefits skew toward flying.
The Citi Premier® Card is a solid card for both everyday and travel purchases. With many ways to earn rewards and redeem Citi ThankYou points, the reasonable annual fee is pretty easy to justify for those with the credit to qualify. But this card does lack some of the free travel protections found with competitors and makes you work a little harder to find the best ways to redeem points.
If you can see yourself using the annual hotel credit and would consider transferring your points to travel partners to maximize their value, this card might be a good fit.
If you have poor credit, expect to carry or transfer a balance, or are just looking for a juicier list of benefits, the Citi Premier® Card might not be the card for you.