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INSIDER SECRET: When you have a Citi Premier Card, you can redeem ThankYou points for 1.25 cents each toward travel (flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, etc.) booked through the Citi travel portal.
Before joining the Million Mile Secrets team, I worked in event marketing, which meant spending 5+ months of the year living out of hotels. It’s not for everyone, but I worked out a sweet deal with my employer so I could get reimbursed for all those travel expenses, instead of just putting them on the company’s credit card.
For several years, I put $20,000+ in hotel spending a year on my Citi Premier Card to take advantage of the card’s 3x bonus on travel purchases and collect 60,000+ Citi ThankYou points a year. Sure, there are other cards that have a similar or better bonus for travel categories, but the Citi Premier was a perfect fit for me. I’ll explain why.
Best Card for Earning Citi ThankYou Points on Hotel Stays
At the time, I was saving my miles and points for a dream trip to New Zealand. I had my eye on a Singapore Airlines first-class award from Auckland to Singapore as part of the trip. Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner with all of the major transferable points programs, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.
I transferred a combination of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points to book our award seats. For me, Citi ThankYou points aren’t as useful as Chase points (especially for hotel stays), so it was nice to be able to use my ThankYou points toward such a high-value redemption and save Chase points at the same time.
At the time, I consider getting The Platinum Card® from American Express because it earns 5x Membership Rewards points for prepaid hotels booked on the Amex travel site. But although you can earn more points for hotel stays booked through the Amex travel site with this card, it also comes with a much bigger annual fee ($550) that isn’t waived the first year (See Rates & Fees). Plus, the biggest drawback for me with the Amex Platinum card was that hotel stays booked through third-party sites, like the Amex travel portal, don’t earn elite status or hotel points. When you’re traveling 5+ months a year, those perks are very valuable.
So, the Citi Premier made the most sense for my travel purchases. Not only does it have a smaller annual fee ($95), but every year so far I’ve been able to get a retention offer from Citi that has been more valuable than the annual fee. This past year my offer was for a $95 statement credit after spending $95 on the card.
On top of that, I didn’t need a specific hotel chain’s credit card because I was able to earn elite status on company-paid stays. And I was earning so many hotel points that I wanted to use my credit card spending to earn flexible rewards to put toward flights.
If you’re in the market to earn Citi ThankYou points, the Citi Premier card currently comes with a 60,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That matches the highest offer I’ve ever seen on the card, even slightly bigger than the bonus I originally received.
However, if you’re OK with paying a higher ($495) annual fee to get more perks, the Citi Prestige® card has been revamped since my road warrior days and now earns 3x ThankYou points on hotels. Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® ($450 annual fee) earns 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel (including hotels).
Paying a bigger annual fee can make sense because both cards come with generous credits, lounge access and top-tier travel insurance. But if you’re staying in hotels frequently and not doing a lot of flying, I think you’re better off saving on the annual fee and sticking with the Citi Premier card.
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For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.