Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.
Although it has a hefty $495 annual fee, power users can find good rewards.
Because of the high annual fee, if you won’t take advantage of the 4th night free benefit, the Citi Premier card is likely a better card for you if your goal is to earn Citi ThankYou points.
This card is no longer available to new applicants. There is not currently a replacement but one is rumored.
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou(R) Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou(R) Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel(SM) portal through June 30, 2024.
Thanks to its long list of bonus categories and a generous sign-up bonus, the Citi Premier is one of the most lucrative points-earning cards at the $95 price point.
You can earn ThankYou® points through a variety of means, but one of the best aspects of the Premier is the broad array of bonus categories. You’ll get 3X points on five categories including air travel and hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.
On the redemption side, the airline and hotel travel partners can unlock some incredible opportunities. One such sweet spot is redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for partners such as Delta or ANA (although that latter redemption isn’t as good as it once was).
Two of the Citi Premier card’s main competitors include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Those cards also offer transferable points — Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Miles — as well as the same $95 annual fee.
However, one significant downside to the Citi Premier is the lack of travel protections, including trip insurance, baggage coverage, and more — perks that other cards in its category offer.
The single biggest “weak spot” with the Citi Premier Credit Card is that certain non-bonus categories only earn one point per dollar spent. The best credit cards give you two points per dollar spent in any category. Citi recently responded to the complaints by allowing customers to transfer points from the Citi® Double Cash Card to their ThankYou® Point balances.
The Citi Double Cash Card is possibly the most user-friendly credit card out there. The Double Cash earns two ThankYou® points per dollar spent on every purchase, one cent when you make a purchase and another when you pay for the purchase.
There is no annual fee and no sign-up bonus for the Double Cash. It was created to be simple.
These points can be easily setup to be in the same ThankYou® account as your Premier card.
The “double up” is easy. All you need is a Citi Double Cash Card and a Citi Premier card. Since the Double Cash has no annual fee, there’s no downside to having it.
Remember, the Citi Premier Card pays 3X in certain categories (Air/Hotel, Gas, Restaurants and Supermarkets) and 1X in everything else. The Citi Double Cash card pays 2X on everything.
If your purchase is in a Citi Premier card bonus category, go ahead and make the purchase with your Citi Premier card.
If it’s in any other category, make the purchase with your Double Cash card. That way, you’ll get one percent when you make the purchase and another percent when you pay it.
If you want to take full advantage of the Citicards family, add in a no-annual fee Citi Rewards+ card. While the 15,000 ThankYou® Points that you’ll receive when you sign up (and spend $1,000 in the first three months) are nice, the real bonus comes from the redemption discount.
Every calendar year, Citi will rebate 10% of the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points that you spend. It’s a 10,000 annual TYP bonus! Best of all, you don’t ever need to spend on the card. Just having it in your profile and linked to the same ThankYou® account will ensure that you get the rebate.
Add a Citi Custom Cash card, which earns 5% on your top bonus category each month, up to $500 in spend, and features some unique bonus categories like Home Improvement Stores, Drugstores, and Live Entertainment (Concerts and Shows). It also comes with a 20,000 point signup bonus worth at least $200.
Citi will not approve more than two cards in a 60-day period, although we recommend 65 days, just to be safe. So if you want a Citi Premier, Double Cash and Rewards+ card, you’ll have to pick one to wait and apply for on Day 66. We’d recommend waiting on the Rewards+, since the benefits are back-ended.
Each of these cards are limited to one signup bonus per 48 months.
There are several ways to redeem your Citi ThankYou® Points and, not surprisingly, some are better than others. Here are the most popular options.
Best: Transfer Points to an Airline Partner
The best use of ThankYou® Points is to transfer them to one of Citi’s airline or hotel partners.
|Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners
|Approximate Transfer Time *
|Air France Flying Blue
|Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
|Jet Airways InterMiles
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich
|Instant to 1 day
|Qatar Privilege Club
|Thai Orchid Plus
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
|Instant to 2 days
|1:2 (Citi Prestige / Premier / Chairman cards)
1:1.5 (No fee Citi ThankYou cards)
|1:1 (Citi Prestige / Premier / Chairman cards)
1:0.8 (No fee Citi ThankYou cards)
|Accor Live Limitless
All points transfer at a rate of 1:1 from ThankYou® Points into the partner miles. ThankYou® Points are particularly useful for international travel, since many of the partners are non-US airlines. You can, of course, use international airline miles to fly on domestic partners.
Some examples include: transfering to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program to fly their famous Singapore Suites, transferring to Turkish Miles&Smiles to get the absolute best award pricing for Star Alliance flights (hello, 12,500 mile one way flights from the mainland to Hawaii!), transferring to Virgin Atlantic for deals on flights from the US to Europe on Delta-metal and flights within North America on Delta as well as great rates on ANA flights to Japan and beyond.
Prefer spending points for hotels?
Citi transfers to Choice Hotels where some amazing bargains lie, especially at premium hotels.
You can use this to book Choice Hotels properties, which include Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn, Ascend, and Cambria, among others. And there is solid value on the discount side of its hotel offerings.
But if you like a bit more upscale…. that is where the Choice Hotels partnership with Preferred Hotels and Resorts comes into play.
You can search the above link to see all of the options, but here’s one example.
The Excelsior Palace Hotel on the Portofino Coast in Italy can easily exceed 400 Euros per night. Or it can be booked for 55,000 Choice Privileges points equal to is just 27,500 Citi ThankYou points. That’s ~ 2 cents per point in value.
Use for Travel or Gift Cards
It’s not our preferred way to use ThankYou® points, but if you don’t want to transfer your points to miles, you have the option to use them for gift cards. Citi offers gift card rewards from more than 100 partners, so you’re not going to be at a loss for options.
You can also book travel through Citi’s dedicated Travel℠ portal. There’s no real advantage in doing it this way other than that you can use your points to do so.
The downside to these options is that the per point value is not particularly good. You’ll receive a penny per point, which is generally less than the value of a mile in the “best use” scenario above.