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The Citi Premier℠ Card is a general travel rewards card, designed for travelers who tend to make a variety of purchases from different airlines and hotels.
It earns 3X ThankYou points per dollar for travel purchases, which includes gas and many other expenses, like parking garages. 2X points are earned for dining and entertainment.
Points can be redeemed for airfare at a 25% bonus, giving you 1.25 cents per point. Or they can be transferred to a partner loyalty program, where you may get a better value for them.
Cardholders have access to a selection of benefits from Citi and Mastercard. There are also quite a few shopping and travel protections to help out in case something goes wrong.
This card costs $95 per year, but you’ll pay no foreign transaction fees.
There are four cards in Citi’s ThankYou lineup.
|Card||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Rewards|
|Citi Rewards+℠ Card||$0||3%||
|Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card||$0||3%||
|Citi Premier℠ Card (This review)||$95||0%||
|Citi Prestige® Card (Review)||$495||None||
Should you use the Citi Premier card to help pay for your next trip? You could earn some nice rewards, but a different card may work out better for you. Read on to learn more and find out!
Our Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
We give the Citi Premier Card 4 out of 5 Stars, because it’s pretty rewarding with a decent signup bonus. But it doesn’t get 5 Stars, because it doesn’t really offer an outsized value for the fee you pay.
Why we like this card
- 3X points per dollar for many different types of travel purchases
- 2X points for dining and entertainment
- 60,000-point signup bonus for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
- No foreign transaction fees
Why this card could be better
- $95 annual fee (but that’s typical for cards in this range)
- Point transfer partners don’t include hotels
- Mostly basic benefits
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- For travel spending: You’ll earn 3X points for a wide variety of travel purchases, including gas, airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, parking garages, and more.
- At restaurants and for fun: Use the Premier to get 2X points at restaurants and for entertainment, like at movie theaters and concerts.
- Get the signup bonus: Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months to earn 60,000 bonus points, equal to $750 when redeemed for airfare.
- Redeem for airfare or transfer points: You’ll get the best redemption rates for airfare through the ThankYou program, or with point transfers to airlines.
- Utilize the benefits: Check out the benefits you get with this card, like the Concierge and Private Pass, and be ready to use them if necessary.
- Don’t pay extra outside the U.S.: You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees with this card, and Citi cards are Chip-and-PIN enabled, making it a good option for traveling abroad.
- Offset the annual fee: You’ll need to spend a minimum of $1,584 per year to offset the $95 annual fee, assuming you spend at the 3X rate and redeem for 2 cents per point.
The Premier can provide a cash back equivalent of 3.75%, when spending at the 3X rate and redeeming for airfare at 1.25 cents per point. But you may be able to get an even better deal with point transfers, like 2 cents per point for a 6% cash back equivalent.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
The Citi Premier earns ThankYou points, which can be redeemed in many different ways.
As shown below, you’ll be able to earn a 3.75% cash back equivalent on travel when redeeming for airfare, at 1.25 cents per point. That would give you 2.5% cash back for dining and entertainment, and 1.25% back for other purchases.
If you redeem with a point transfer and can get a value of 2 cents per point, you’ll be earning a 6% cash back equivalent on travel. You’d get 4% back for dining and entertainment and 2% back for other purchases.
Citi’s travel category is very broad compared to other issuers, including a wide variety of purchases. This makes the Citi Premier more versatile than some other travel cards, which may be limited to airlines and hotels.
The types of merchants in Citi’s travel, dining, and entertainment categories are given below, along with the excluded types.
|Airlines||Hotels||Gas Stations||Car Rental Agencies||Travel Agencies/Aggregators|
|Tour Operators||Commuter Transportation||Commuter Railways||Subways||Bus Lines|
|Taxis/Limousines/Car Services||Passenger Railways||Subways||Cruise Lines||Bridge and Road Tolls|
|Parking Lots/Garages||Campgrounds and Trailer Parks||Timeshares||Motor Home/RV Rentals||Boat Leases and Rentals|
Excluded from the travel category:
- Auto clubs
- Fuel used for non-automobile purposes
- Recreational camps
- Insurance companies
- Gas purchases at warehouse clubs, discount stores, department stores, and convenience stores
Excluded from the dining category:
- Certain restaurants/cafes inside department, grocery or warehouse stores
|Movie Theaters||Sporting Events||Concerts|
|On-demand Internet Streaming Media||Amusement Parks||Tourist Attractions|
|Live Entertainment||Theatrical Productions||Record/Video Rental Stores|
Excluded from the entertainment category:
- Sporting camps
- Sports complexes where you participate in the sport
- Public and private golf courses
- Country clubs
- Bowling alleys
- Musical instrument stores
- Video game stores/arcades
- Charitable organizations that provide live entertainment
There are many ways to redeem ThankYou points, including:
- Other travel expenses, like hotels and car rentals
- Point transfers to airlines
- ThankYou Select and Credit
- Statement credits
- Gift cards
- Shop with Points at select merchants like Amazon
The two most valuable redemption options are airfare and point transfers. Avoid the other methods, because they’ll provide less value per point.
We recommend usually redeeming for airfare, because you’ll get a 25% point bonus. That makes your ThankYou points worth 1.25 cents each. In this case you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 3.75% for travel, and 2.5% back for dining and entertainment.
To redeem for airfare and get the bonus, use the ThankYou Rewards travel center to book flights.
With the other good option, point transfers, the value you get per point will depend on how, when, and where you transfer.
Since you can get 1.25 cents per point for airfare through the ThankYou travel center, you should only transfer points if you’ll get a better value than that.
If you can end up getting a value of 1.5 cents per point, you’ll be earning a 4.5% cash back equivalent on travel, with 3% back for dining and entertainment. If you manage to get 2 cents per point, you’ll be getting a 6% cash back equivalent in the first case, and 4% back in the second.
Citibank is partnered with a number of airline loyalty programs, plus one retail program. In most cases the transfer rate is 1:1, but there are some exceptions. Transfers to airline partners require a minimum of 1,000 ThankYou points.
In order to transfer points, the first and last names on your ThankYou rewards account must match the account to which you’re transferring.
|Airline Partner||Redemption Rate||You Give||You Get|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Flying Blue Air France KLM||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Retail Partner||Redemption Rate||You Give||You Get|
|Shop Your Way||1:12||1||12|
How to Offset the Annual Fee
The Citi Premier card has a $95 annual fee, and you should aim to earn enough points to offset that fee every year.
So how many points would you need, and how much would you need to spend?
The answer depends on what you buy (the earn rate), and how you’ll redeem your points. If you redeem for 1 cent per point, for example, it will take more spending than if you redeem for 2 cents per point.
Regular ThankYou redemptions are for 1 cent per point. Redeeming for airfare provides a 25% bonus, which comes to 1.25 cents per point. And point transfers may provide upwards of 2 cents per point, depending on the deal you get.
|Earn Rate||1 CPP||1.25 CPP||2 CPP|
The minimum spending necessary to offset the annual fee is $1,584 — that requires spending at the 3X rate and redeeming for 2 cents per point, with a point transfer. If you spend at different rates or redeem for less value per point, it will take more spending.
These calculations don’t take into account any of the benefits the Citi Premier comes with, like the ShopRunner membership. These benefits can also help offset the annual fee, but the actual value you’ll get from them depends on if and how you can use them.
Contact your concierge by calling the number on the back of your card, or by using the number or email above.
You can request assistance for all sorts of non-emergency tasks, including:
- Restaurant reservations and recommendations
- Travel arrangements and advice, like looking for hotels with available rooms
- Finding special gifts
- Searching for good ticket prices
- Help finding lost items, like baggage at the airport
- Event planning and meeting room reservations
Credit card concierges can come be pretty useful in certain situations. If you’re wandering around in a new city, looking for somewhere to stay or eat, for example. Or if you’ve been looking for a particular, hard-to-find gift or service, they might be able to help. You might not use this service often, but it’s nice to know that you can call on a personal assistant whenever you’d like.
There are quite a few credit card offers in this price range that provide a concierge, so it’s not a very unique feature. Many of the Citi Premier’s top competitors include it, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
Citi Private Pass
The Citi Private Pass service provides presale and preferred access tickets to select events and experiences in big cities. There are four basic categories:
- Theater & More
Visit the Citi Private Pass website to see the current offers. Some recent offers are:
- Preferred tickets and VIP access for the Kevin Durant Fantasy Basketball Experience in Oakland, California
- VIP tickets to the Global Citizen Festival presented by Citi, on the Great Lawn in Central Park
- Preferred tickets to TimesTalks with Matthew McConaughey, in New York City
- Preferred tickets to the 2018 LA Film Festival
Many cards today offer a benefit like this, especially when it comes to travel credit cards. Some Chase cards come with the Preferred Experiences perk, for example, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review).
Complimentary ShopRunner Membership
Cardholders can register with ShopRunner at no cost, to get free two-day shipping and returns at select online retailers.
You can check the list of participating retailers, which has been growing larger over the years.
|ShopRunner Retailers (Partial List)|
|Ann Taylor||Bebe||Express||Hugo Boss||Juicy Couture|
|Kate Spade||Lord & Taylor||Newegg||Peets Coffee||Tommy Hilfiger|
Free FICO Credit Score
You can check your FICO Bankcard Score 8 for free, based on your Equifax credit report. The key factors affecting your score will be shown as well, giving you some advice on how to improve your credit.
You can also see how your score has changed over time:
Credit monitoring services are pretty common today — scratch a card issuer, and you’re likely to find some form of credit monitoring. Some provide a FICO score, while others provide a VantageScore.
Capital One, Chase, and Discover all have credit monitoring tools that are free and open to anyone. You don’t need to use one of their cards to access their services, giving you plenty of options no matter what cards you actually have.
- Damage & Theft Purchase Protection: Eligible purchases are covered for 90 days against damage and theft.
- Extended Warranty: Get an extra 24 months added to eligible manufacturer’s warranties.
- Return Protection: Reimbursement if a merchant refuses to take back your eligible purchase within 90 days.
- Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $500,000 in coverage for death or serious injury when traveling by common carrier.
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance: Non-refundable expenses can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip.
- Worldwide Car Rental Insurance: Rented vehicles are covered against accidental damage and theft, when you decline the rental company’s own insurance.
- $0 Liability for Unauthorized Charges: You won’t be held liable for fraudulent charges (contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud).
- Virtual Account Numbers: Get a virtual credit card number to use for safer online shopping.
- Account Alerts: Get notified of account details, like statement availability and payment reminders.
- Fraud Early Warning: Proactive fraud monitoring to detect unauthorized activity as soon as possible.
- Quick Lock: Instantly block new purchases and cash advances, while letting other activity continue.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|18.24% - 26.24% Variable||18.24% - 26.24% Variable||27.49% (Variable)|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$95||0%||3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.||5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to 29.99% Variable||None||Up to $39|
The terms of the Citi Premier are basic, and easy to understand.
You’ll pay an annual fee of $95. And there are no fees on foreign transactions, making this a good choice for traveling outside the country or making purchases in foreign currency. That’s especially true because Citi cards are equipped with Chip-and-PIN functionality in addition to the basic Chip-and-Signature, making them more useful for shopping outside the country.
Purchases will be charged interest at the rate above, unless you pay your statement balance in full each month. We recommend always paying the full statement balance, as this will let you completely avoid interest charges on purchases.
What is the Credit Limit of the Citi Premier Card?
The minimum credit limit of the Citi Premier is $2,000.
You can request a credit limit increase from Citibank at any time, although we recommend requesting an increase about once every six or 12 months if you want higher limits.
|Apply for a Credit Card||
Citi’s customer support is a bit hit-or-miss, but this is basically true for all the credit card companies. When we’ve called with questions, in most cases we’ve been able to speak with friendly, helpful reps. But occasionally we’ve been confused with the answers they gave, and we had to call back to try again with someone else.
Customer service by Citi has been improving over the years, at least according to some metrics. J.D Power, a company that publishes reports on a variety of financial topics, produces an annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. Each year they rank the major credit card issuers, and customer support plays a key role in those rankings.
This year, in 2018, Citi came in 6th out of 11 card issuers. In 2017, Citi came in 8th. And in 2016, it came in 9th out of 10. So, even if it can’t boast top-notch customer support, Citi does seem to be making efforts to improve.
|Twitter Customer Support||@AskCiti|
You can speak with Citi’s customer support reps via the live web chat. This will appear on the right side of your screen after logging in to your account. You may be asked to call in some situations, depending on the nature of your questions.
If you’re not a cardholder (or even if you are), you can send a message to Citi’s customer support Twitter account, @AskCiti. Be sure to never reveal personal or account information on Twitter or any other social network.
The Bottom Line
The Citi Premier℠ Card has some features that travelers will enjoy, but you should check out some other options before settling on it.
It earns 3X points for travel, including gas stations, with 2X points for dining and entertainment. You can redeem your points in a variety of ways, including point transfers. That gives you a chance to earn more than the 1.25 cents per point you’ll get with airfare redemptions.
If you can redeem for close to 2 cents per point you’ll be getting a very competitive cash back equivalent. But as mentioned above, Citi’s transfer partners may not be too valuable for many users.
The benefits you get are pretty simple for a travel card, without any particularly useful cost-saving perks. But the concierge and various protections could come in very handy if you ever need them, so they’re good to have for backup.
The Citi Premier is decent, but it’s not terribly exciting compared to other travel cards. Check out some alternatives to this card below, which might suit you better.
How to Apply for the Citi Premier Card
Click the “Apply Now” button below to get started applying for the Citi Premier card. You’ll be taken to Citi’s website to apply, and it will check one (or more) of your credit reports from one of the major bureaus.
Citi will often provide an instant decision, but in some cases it may request more information to process the application.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number
- Total annual income, and source of income
- Monthly mortgage/rent payment
Alternatives to the Citi Premier Card
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (Review): No annual fee; 10X miles at Hotels.com/venture, 1.25X miles for other purchases; 20,000-mile welcome bonus
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card (Review): No annual fee; 3X points at the Bank of America Travel Center, 1.5X points for every other purchase; 25,000-point signup bonus
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review): $95 annual fee; 2X points for dining and travel; 60,000-point signup bonus
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (Review): $89 annual fee, waived the first year; 2X miles for every purchase; 70,000-mile signup bonus for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days
|Welcome Bonus Offer|
That 10X mile rate is one of the better spending rewards among travel cards right now. Although you’re limited to Hotels.com, the selection is quite expansive and includes big name brands like Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt, along with many others.
Capital One miles are always worth 1 cent each. So you’ll be earning a cash back equivalent of 10% at Hotels.com/venture (a great deal!) and 1.25% back for other purchases.
The VentureOne’s welcome bonus is worth less than the Citi Premier’s, when redeeming for airfare. But it also takes less spending to earn.
The VentureOne comes as either a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature. You’ll get a Visa Signature if your credit limit is $5,000 or above when approved, and a Visa Platinum otherwise.
Visa Signature cards come with enhanced perks compared to the Platinum level. The VentureOne’s Visa Signature benefits include:
- Luxury Hotel Collection: Perks at participating hotels, like a $25 food and beverage credit, room upgrades, and complimentary breakfast for two.
- Shopping Discounts: Deals at select retailers, such as Ting, Overstock.com, and Target.com.
- Fine Wine & Food: Savings at select restaurants, and benefits at over 50 wineries in Sonoma Wine County, California.
- Sports and Entertainment Offers: Discounts and offers at sports and entertainment venues in big cities.
- Visa Signature Concierge: Call for help from a personal assistant any time you’d like.
- Shopping and travel protections: Including Roadside Dispatch, Lost Luggage Reimbursement, and Purchase Security.
Terms & Fees
You’ll pay no annual fee for the VentureOne card, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
Not only that, you also get a 12-month 0% intro APR for purchases.
So, this card is less expensive than the Citi Premier, and it also has a nice intro rate. If you can plan to do all or most of your travel shopping through Hotels.com, the VentureOne would end up being a very rewarding card. But if you can’t shop through that website, you’ll be better off using a card with more inclusive bonus reward categories.
Read more in our Review of the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
|Signup Bonus Offer|
|Redemption Bonus Offer|
If you can plan for the bulk of your travel spending to go through the Bank of America Travel Center, this card will provide a decent reward rate. And that rate gets even better if you redeem those points into a Bank of America bank account, with a bonus depending on your account balance.
Most people won’t get the 75% bonus, which requires a very high balance. But the 10% bonus just requires a bank account, and the 25% bonus will be accessible for many people.
Your points will be worth a maximum of 1 cent each when redeemed. So this card provides a cash back equivalent of 3% at the BofA Travel Center, and 1.5% back for other purchases. If you get a redemption bonus your actual earn rate will be higher, of course.
This card has a good signup bonus, only requiring $1,000 in spending. But take note that the redemption bonus does not apply to the bonus points you earn from the signup offer. The redemption bonus only applies to the regular spending rewards.
There are no point transfer options.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card comes as a Visa Signature if your credit limit is $5,000 or above when approved. Otherwise it comes as a Visa Platinum Plus, which has reduced benefits.
Bank of America does not publish all of the specific benefits that come with each service level. But in general, you can probably expect to get the following:
- Free FICO Credit Score: Check your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report.
- Purchase Protection: Covers eligible purchases against damage and theft.
- Extended Warranty: Eligible manufacturer’s warranties of one year or less are doubled, up to an additional year.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against collision damage and theft for eligible rented vehicles, as long as you decline the rental company’s own insurance.
- Travel Assistance Services: Call for help when traveling, including roadside assistance along with medical and legal referrals.
Terms & Fees
This is an inexpensive travel card, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
You’ll get 12 months at 0% interest for purchases. (These terms are just like the VentureOne card above.)
So this card costs less than the Citi Premier, but it also provides less in rewards in most cases. If you can transfer ThankYou points for a good value, like 2 cents per point, the Citi Premier would probably be more valuable overall. But you’ll have to figure out which card would be best for your specific spending habits, accounting for the Premier’s $95 annual fee.
Read more in our Review of the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) is one of the most well-known travel rewards cards. It’s popular thanks to Chase’s many airline and hotel partners, to which you can transfer points at a 1:1 rate.
|Signup Bonus Offer|
The Ultimate Rewards (UR) points you earn are normally worth 1 cent each. But if you redeem for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get 1.25 cents per point.
UR points can also be transferred to a wide selection of airline and hotel partners. These partners include many popular U.S. airline and hotel brands, unlike Citi’s transfer partners above. You can transfer UR points to United, JetBlue, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, and many more.
Point transfers may provide 2 cents per point in some cases, or even more. At that rate you’d be earning a 4% cash back equivalent for dining and travel, and 2% back for other purchases.
The Sapphire Preferred has an excellent signup bonus, although it requires some hefty spending to get. Depending on how you redeem those 60,000 points, you may be able to get $1,200 or more out of them. This signup offer is a touch bigger than the Citi Premier’s, and you’ll have more point transfer opportunities with the Sapphire Preferred.
As a Sapphire Preferred cardholder you’ll have access to a selection of benefits, some of which might be very valuable, depending on your travel habits. In general, they’ll probably be more useful than the Citi Premier’s benefits above.
- 1:1 Point Transfer: Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 rate with popular airline and hotel loyalty partners.
- Visa Signature Concierge: 24/7 help with non-emergency tasks, like dining reservations or making travel plans.
- Direct Access to a Customer Support Specialist: You’ll be immediately connected with a real human when you call customer support.
- Shop Through Chase: A shopping portal where you’ll find offers to earn more points, from retailers like the Groupon, New Balance, and Sam’s Club (current offers at the time of publication).
- Chase Preferred Experiences: Invites to exclusive experiences from Chase, often for music or sports events.
- Invite friends for bonus points: Get 10,000 bonus points for every friend you successfully refer, up to 50,000 points per year.
- Shopping and travel protections: Including Trip Delay Reimbursement, Baggage Delay Insurance, and more.
Terms & Fees
When it comes to the costs, the Sapphire Preferred is a lot like the Citi Premier.
The Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95 per year. It has no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
|Signup Bonus Offer|
|Redemption Bonus Offer|
This is a pretty simple rewards program. Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel expenses, which is the normal redemption method.
When redeeming you’ll get 5% of your miles deposited back into your account. This means you’re effectively getting 2.1X miles for every purchase. Overall, that gives you a 2.1% cash back equivalent.
The signup bonus is fairly large, at a value of $700. But it also takes a relatively high amount of spending to reach, compared to most other travel cards at this fee level.
The Arrival Plus comes as a World Elite Mastercard, which has some perks that could be quite valuable for travelers.
- Luxury Hotels & Resorts Portfolio: Perks like room upgrades, complimentary breakfast for two, amenities, and more at participating locations.
- World Elite luxury travel benefits: Including access to a travel advisor, discounts and upgrades at airlines, elite status at car rentals, and more.
- Concierge Service: Call for help with travel planning, making reservations, finding local services, and more.
- FICO Credit Score access: Check your FICO Score 8 based on your TransUnion credit report for free, whenever you’d like.
- Shopping and travel protections: Like Price Protection, Extended Warranties, Travel Accident Insurance, and Baggage Delay Insurance.
Terms & Fees
The Arrival Plus has an $89 annual fee, waived the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Cardholders get a 12-month 0% intro APR for balance transfers. Take note that this intro rate applies to balance transfers only, not purchases.
The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, so you’re paying a bit less for the Arrival Plus overall (and way less in the first year).
The Citi Premier has more valuable redemption options. But you may prefer the Arrival Plus for the flexible spending rewards and extra perks, depending on your spending habits and travel plans.
Read more in our Review of the Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
How do you like the Citi Premier Card? Do you redeem for airfare, or do you transfer your points? Leave your own review of the Citi Premier Card, we’d love to hear from you!
For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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