Citi Premier Review: Revamped spending categories and benefit changes coming soon

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Right now, you can earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points when you open the Citi Premier® Card and spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. If you spend a lot in the card’s bonus categories this is a good travel credit card to consider, because Citi ThankYou points can be quite valuable if you transfer them to the right airline partner.

Citi has announced changes that are coming to the Citi Premier card in August. There will be updated spending categories and a new yearly $100 hotel credit (when booking through Thankyou.com). With these changes, Citi is also ending the Premier card’s 25% bonus when you use ThankYou points to book travel through the Citi website. We’ve detailed these changes below in the benefits and perks section.

 

The Citi Premier’s 60,000-point bonus could get your whole family to Hawaii and back. (Photo by Francois Seuret/Shutterstock.)

Citi Premier Review

Current bonus

Earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from opening the account.

Benefits and perks

Earning Citi ThankYou points is easy with the Citi Premier card, but how you earn those points is changing. Through August 22, 2020, you’ll earn points at the following rates:

  • 3x points on travel including gas stations, airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, parking, tolls and much more
  • 2x points at restaurants and on select entertainment like amusement parks, museums, sporting events, movies and more
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

If you applied for or had a Citi Premier card before April 10, 2020, then these old spending categories will apply through April 10, 2021 – plus you will get any additional benefits of the new categories come August 23, 2020.

New cardholders who apply from April 10 will automatically switch over on Aug. 23 to the new categories. Those are:

  • 3x points on airfare, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else

The new categories don’t include entertainment, and the travel category is more narrow and won’t apply to purchases like parking, tolls or cruises.

Citi is also dropping the card’s 25% bonus when you use Citi points to book travel through the ThankYou site effective April 10, 2021. This is a big hit, since having this card made ThankYou points earned with other Citibank credit cards also worth 1.25 cents each toward travel (booked through Thankyou.com) when you pooled your ThankYou points.

The Citi Premier will continue to have no foreign transaction fee and will still have a $95 annual fee.

$100 hotel discount (available Aug. 23, 2020)

A new perk being added to this card is a $100 credit on any hotel booking of $500 or more that is made through Thankyou.com. You can use this benefit once per calendar year.

Extended warranty

By paying for an eligible item with the Citi Premier card, you can extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional 24 months (total coverage between both the manufacturer’s warranty and extended warranty cannot exceed seven years from the purchase date). This benefit applies after the original warranty ends and will cover repairs or replacement of the item up to the amount charged to your Citi card or $10,000, whichever is less.

You can check the complete Guide to Benefits to check exclusions and to learn how to file a claim.

Purchase protection

Eligible items purchased within the last 90 days are covered for damage or theft. Your purchase will be covered for up to $10,000 per incident and up to $50,000 per account per calendar year.

World Elite Mastercard benefits (some)

The Citi Premier is a World Elite Mastercard and comes with additional perks because of this designation. But not every World Elite Mastercard benefit is attached to the Citi Premier card. For example, even though it should come with cell phone insurance, there are many reports that this is not the case.

I can confirm that the Citi Premier does come with the World Elite Mastercard Lyft benefit. The way it works is simple: during any calendar month that you pay for five or more Lyft rides with your card you’ll get a $10 Lyft credit. The credit is valid for 30 days.

How to redeem points

There are lots of ways to use Citi ThankYou points, including redeeming for gift cards, statement credit, booking travel and payments (for example, toward a student loan or mortgage) — but these redemptions are rarely the best way to use Citi ThankYou points because you’ll be getting a value of .5-1 cent per point. The best way to increase your Citi ThankYou point’s value is by using the right airline transfer partner.

Currently, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to these airlines:

  • Avianca
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Citi ThankYou points transfer at a 1:1 ratio with all of the above partners, and all transfers must be in 1,000-point increments. To be able to transfer points to airlines you’ll need the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card, but if you have either card you can transfer over the ThankYou points you earned with other cards.

The exact value you’ll get will vary widely depending on the partner airline and the specific award, but here are a few options that you could take advantage of:

  • 15,000-point round-trip flights to Hawaii (from the mainland U.S.) on United Airlines by transferring to Turkish Airlines
  • 63,000 points for a one-way business-class flights from the U.S. to Europe with Star Alliance airlines by transferring to Avianca
  • 110,000-120,000 points for a round-trip first-class flight from the U.S. to Japan on ANA by transferring to Virgin Atlantic

Is the annual fee worth it?

The card has a $95 annual fee, but the welcome bonus is worth many times that much, so it’s definitely worth it. If you spend a lot in the bonus categories and like transferring your points to airlines, it’s worthwhile to hang on to this card long term. Read why team member Jasmin thinks the Citi Premier is worth it (she’s had the card for over four years).

However, if you want a card with meaningful travel protection and insurance perks, this card is lacking. You’d be much better off getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which  has the same annual fee and includes trip delay coverage, primary rental car insurance and baggage delay insurance (read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review to learn more).

Who is the Citi Premier for?

Remember, Citi will not let you earn the sign-up bonus from more than one personal card in the ThankYou card “family” within 24 months. So if it’s been less than 24 months since you closed or earned a welcome bonus with the Citi Prestige® Card, Citi Rewards+℠ Card or Citi Premier Card, you aren’t eligible to earn the bonus.

Otherwise, this is the biggest current bonus of any of the cards that earn ThankYou points and it’s an excellent card for earning on spending. Only the Citi Prestige has higher bonus rates for earning ThankYou points (5x on airfare and dining), but that card also has a much bigger annual fee ($495).

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Insider tip

If you pair the Citi Premier with the Citi Rewards+ card the Rewards+ card’s 10% points rebate (on up to 100,000 points per year) will apply to the points you redeem with your Premier card. This rebate also applies to points you transfer to airlines.

Alternatives to the Citi Premier

If you’re just starting out with miles and points or looking to open a rewards credit card that earns transferable points, I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. That’s because it earns bonus points in similar categories, including 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining.

Also, you can also transfer your points to Chase’s excellent airline and hotel transfer partners, like British Airways, Hyatt or United Airlines. And Chase points are worth 1.25 cents each when you book travel through the Chase travel portal with the Sapphire Preferred card. Both cards even have the same $95 annual fee.

If you want a super premium card with even more travel benefits, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It has a $550 annual fee, but the outstanding perks can more than offset it, especially if you love to travel. Check out our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

Bottom line

Citi tends to increase, decrease and eliminate sign-up bonuses from its cards at random times. If you’re interested in earning 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after meeting minimum spending requirements with the Citi Premier Card, I recommend applying sooner rather than later. Each point is worth 1.25 cents when you book travel through Citi (until April 10, 2021), so this offer is easily worth $750 toward travel. It’s potentially much more valuable when you transfer points to Citi’s travel partners, like Flying Blue or Singapore Airlines.

This card is undergoing some changes and the categories you earn bonus points in will be changing. On top of that, the card is losing its 25% bonus when you book travel through the ThankYou website. So if you’re looking for similar card with stronger travel coverages, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is the first credit card we recommend for beginners.

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Jason Stauffer 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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