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One of the best ways to gauge the ongoing value of a card is not how popular it is for new applicants, but rather how often folks keep it after the first-year glow of a big welcome bonus and waived annual fee wears off.
The Citi Premier℠ Card is a keeper for many – in fact, several of us on the MMS team have kept it for years (I’ve had mine for 4 and use it frequently). It comes with a hefty welcome bonus of 50,000 Citi ThankYou points (worth at least $625 in travel) after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. But it’s the Citi Premier’s benefits and perks that make it so compelling as a long-term card.
It’s got excellent bonus categories like travel (including gas stations), entertainment, and dining. Plus, the Citi Premier offers top-notch travel coverage and purchase protections that can give you peace of mind and save you a ton of money.
So is the Citi Premier worth it? For the average traveler, absolutely. I’m certainly not getting rid of mine any time soon!
I’ll share why the Citi Premier has stayed in my wallet year after year, and why it’s the best Citi ThankYou points card for most travelers.
Is the Citi Premier Worth It?
Apply Here: Citi Premier℠ Card
Read our review of the Citi Premier Card
When you open the Citi Premier℠ Card, you’ll earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
The great thing about Citi ThankYou points earned from the Citi Premier is their flexibility. They’re worth 1.25 cents each towards airfare, hotels, rental cars, and cruises booked through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, so the welcome bonus alone is worth $625 in travel (with no blackout dates).
And you can potentially get much more value by transferring your points to Citi’s airline partners for award flights. For example, you could move Citi ThankYou points to partner Singapore Airlines and book award flights on any Star Alliance airline, including United Airlines, Lufthansa, and Air Canada.
The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first 12 months. So there’s no risk or cost involved if you want to try it out for a year and decide whether the perks and benefits are worth it for your travel and spending habits.
Note: In the past, the Citi Premier welcome bonus has gone as high as 60,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirements. I’m not sure if or when that’ll ever return.
Here are a few reasons why I’ve kept (and will continue to keep) the Citi Premier for so long.
Excellent Earning Rates for Common Expenses
With the Citi Premier, you’ll earn loads of extra points for everyday expenses, including fueling up your car and dining out:
- 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations (also including airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, parking, tolls, and much more)
- 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants and on select entertainment (like amusement parks, museums, sporting events, movies, and more)
- 1 Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases
This is my go-to card for gas stations (except when other cards have it as a rotating quarterly bonus category) and entertainment expenses. Entertainment covers a lot of things, including local museums, theme parks, zoos, concert tickets, and streaming digital media. And record stores, if that’s even still a thing! 😉
If you have kids like me, you know hauling them around to sports games and lessons, or keeping them busy with activities like movies and shows can be a big drain on the pocketbook. Having the Citi Premier takes a bit of the sting out of the spending, knowing I’m earning lots of bonus points for purchases I’d make anyway.
Check out Joseph’s post on how he saved $130 in a year just by using the Citi Premier for his gas expenses.
Flexibility (Especially If Awards Aren’t Available)
When you redeem points linked to your Citi Premier for travel through the Citi ThankYou portal, they’re worth 1.25 cents each (25% more than if you redeemed them for gift cards). While the card advertises you’ll get this bonus for airfare purchases through the portal, you can actually get the improved rate for hotels, rental cars, and cruises – in addition to flights.
That’s handy if your travel dates aren’t flexible or you can’t find an award flight or room on the dates you need. You can read about how I redeemed Citi ThankYou points for a stay at the luxury Conrad Tokyo when Hilton didn’t have standard award rooms available. And luckily, they recognized my Hilton elite status so my family got free (fancy) breakfast!
And you can always move your points to over a dozen airline transfer partners if you find an award flight:
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
- EVA Air
- Etihad Guest
- Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
- Garuda Indonesia
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
This is particularly valuable for Business and First Class tickets which would otherwise cost thousands of dollars.
Great Perks for Shoppers
Ok, I’m not an avid shopper, but it’s comforting to know that when I use my Citi Premier for big purchases, I’m covered with benefits like:
- Citi Price Rewind – Citi will track registered purchases for 60 days after you buy an item, and if they find it at a lower price, you may receive a credit for the price difference
- Extended Warranty – When you pay for an eligible item with your card, Citi will extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional 24 months (total coverage between both the manufacturer’s warranty and extended warranty cannot exceed 84 months)
- 90-Day Return Protection – If you try to return an item within 90 days of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, Citi may refund you up to $300 per item, up to $1,000 total per year
If something goes amiss with your travel plans, the Citi Premier has you covered, too. You’ll get coverage for:
- Trip Delay – Up to $500 per covered traveler to pay for things like meals, ground transportation, and hotels if your trip is delayed 12+ hours
- Lost Baggage / Baggage Delay – For baggage loss, up to $3,000 per trip (New York residents are covered for $2,000 per bag) and up to $10,000 in total for all covered travelers. For bag delay, up to $100 per covered traveler if your bags are delayed 6+ hours, up to
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption – Up to $5,000 per trip if the trip is cancelled or interrupted
- Rental Car Insurance – Secondary in the US, primary abroad or if you don’t have your own personal automobile insurance
What About Other Citi ThankYou Cards?
Before you jump on the Citi Premier, there’s another card you should consider if you’re a very frequent traveler.
The Citi Prestige Card is the much heftier big brother to the Citi Premier. It comes with the same welcome bonus – 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening – but that’s mostly where the similarities end.
Now, the Citi Prestige comes with bigger spending bonuses and a slew of additional travel perks like airport lounge access. But you’ll pay a price – the annual fee, not waived for the first year, is $495.
It’s worth considering if you’ll get more value from the card than the annual fee cost. Here’s how to decide if the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige is the better card for you.
You can’t get both close together, because Citi limits the sign-up bonuses you can receive within the same “family” of cards. Citi says:
Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+SM, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi PremierSM or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these cards, in the past 24 months
Is the Citi Premier worth it? I certainly think it is, especially if you want to diversify your miles and points arsenal and collect incredibly valuable (and flexible) Citi ThankYou points.
Aside from the 50,000 Citi ThankYou points (worth at least $625 in travel) you’ll earn after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, it comes with a slew of ongoing benefits and perks that make it worth keeping, like:
- Excellent earning rates on common expenses like travel (including gas stations), dining, and entertainment
- Flexibility to redeem your rewards through the Citi ThankYou portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point (airfare, hotels, rental cars, and cruises) or transfer them to over a dozen airline partners for award flights, including Singapore Airlines, JetBlue, and Flying Blue
- Protection for shoppers, like Citi Price Rewind and extended warranty
- Travel coverage for when things go awry, like trip interruption / cancellation, trip delay, or baggage loss/delay
One of the best things about the Citi Premier is the $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months. So it won’t cost you a penny to try it out for a year and see how you like it!
I’m keeping the Citi Premier for the long haul. If you have the card, let us know how you like it and your favorite ways to use it!