Citi Premier vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

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When it comes to points-earning credit cards, there is no absolute uncontested winner for the best overall credit card. But depending on your travel or rewards goals, one (or more!) cards might stand above the rest.

In this post, we’ll look at two cards that likely provide the most value and outsized return for the average credit card user. Whether you prefer to maximize your welcome bonus or your ongoing spend, the Citi Premier® Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card may be the card for you!

Citi Premier vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Year after year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier card continue to be two of the absolute best options for folks looking for an all-in credit card. These mid-tier cards offer premium value at economy prices–and you can’t go wrong with either. 

CardSign-up bonusEarning rates
Citi Premier60,000 Thank You points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening3x Thank You points on at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare, and hotels

1x Thank You points on all other purchases
Chase Sapphire Preferred60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening2x Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel

1x Ultimate Rewards on all other purchases

Earning rate (Winner: Citi Premier)

In almost every category the Citi Premier outearns the Chase Sapphire Preferred in a direct comparison. That’s because the Citi Premier earns 3x ThankYou points for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare, and hotels. And all other purchases earn 1 ThankYou point per dollar spent.

On the other hand, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining purchases. These are the only bonus categories, giving the Citi Premier the edge based on bonus percentage (3x vs the Sapphire Preferred 2x) and the number of bonused categories.

Redemption value (Winner: It depends)

That said, you should also consider each card’s points values — as ThankYou points and Ultimate Rewards have different values and transfer partners.

I personally value Ultimate Rewards slightly higher than ThankYou points (because of features like Pay Yourself Back and the ability to always redeem for cash at 1 cent per point). But both of these flexible rewards programs have fantastic travel partners and can be leveraged for significant value if you understand each program’s strengths.

The card that “wins” this category will depend on your personal travel goals and which airlines you fly with and hotel brands you stay with most frequently. You can find a rundown of Chase’s travel partners here. And a complete guide to Citi’s travel partners here.

Welcome bonus (Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred)

Comparing welcome bonuses can be tough because they are constantly changing. Typically, both cards will offer introductory bonuses ranging from 40,000 – 80,000 points after a certain threshold of initial spending. This means that you should always check on the current offers before deciding which card might be best for you.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months after account opening. When redeeming for travel (with no blackout dates) through the Chase travel portal, that’s worth $750 in travel. This fantastic welcome bonus makes the Sapphire Preferred a great option for folks wanting a new card.

The Citi Premier’s current welcome bonus offers some nice value, too — 60,000 Thank You points after spending the same $4,000 within three months of account opening. Your points are worth cents each towards airfare, hotels, rental cars and cruises booked through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, making the welcome bonus worth at least $600 (with no blackout dates. Or, transfer them to travel partners to wildly increase the value.

Both cards offer solid bonuses for now, but we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred edges out the Citi Premier in this category based simply on the value you can get from its bonus without having to transfer points to partners.

Both of these cards can help make your travel dreams a reality. (Photo by Cocos.Bounty/Shutterstock)

Which card should you get?

Both the Citi Premier and Chase Sapphire Preferred have distinct advantages — such as welcome bonus vs ongoing spending. For some folks, the simplicity and value of Ultimate Rewards will be impossible to beat. 

For most folks, I recommend you consider these cards as part of an overall spending strategy. Do you prefer the simplicity of flexible points-earning programs (such as Ultimate Rewards or Thank You points)? If so, it probably makes sense to build your card portfolio around a single bank and a single points currency.

For more advanced enthusiasts, I recommend you apply for and hold both cards for their unique strengths and value. For example, you might use the Citi Premier at grocery stores and gas stations to earn 3x ThankYou points, while putting airfare and restaurant purchases on your Sapphire Preferred because you get more value from Chase’s travel partners. This is a perfectly valid, dual strategy used by many of us here on the MMS team.

Are you under the Chase “5/24” rule?

Before you consider either card, keep in mind that Chase credit card applications are more restricted due to the Chase “5/24” rule. This means that Chase will not approve you if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last two years (24 months). Read more about the Chase 5/24 rule to understand if you may be restricted from new Chase cards.

This rule excludes many people, but thankfully Citi has no such restrictions!

Best standalone card

For folks looking for a single card that offers the most value, I would recommend the Citi Premier card. That’s because the Citi Premier offers increased earnings for purchases in more categories — including dining, travel, groceries, and gas stations.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, is most compelling when paired with other cards in the Chase ecosystem. For more information on how to strategically pair Chase cards to maximize their value, read our post on the Chase Trifecta.

Bottom line

The Citi Premier and the Chase Sapphire Preferred remain two of the best credit cards available — with generous welcome bonuses and valuable rewards for your ongoing spending. Some considerations such as your preferred travel partners or overall card strategy may make one card more valuable for your personal needs.

Or, consider signing up for both cards for different expense types (and of course, the welcome bonuses!). Both the Citi Premier and Chase Sapphire Preferred offer enough value to consider keeping for the long term.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Ethan Steinberg is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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