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The Citi Premier is on the middle tier of the cards available through Citi: it offers more benefits then some, but less than the premium benefits of the Citi Prestige. The card does compete with the best of the best travel cards with its annual fee waived for the first year. No foreign transaction fees and great travel benefits from both the points earned and the number of rewards it can be redeemed for combine to make it a great option for travel.
The card offers more per dollar spent on travel items, including flights, hotels, taxis, car rentals and gas. Chase Sapphire only offers 2X on purchases related to travel and restaurants. However, the two sign-up bonuses are the same with 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening an account.
Make sure to never carry a balance on the card; there are balance transfer fees and no introductory rates despite the excellent credit needed to open the account. The card may be a great match for your lifestyle if you find yourself constantly traveling and don’t need to ever carry a balance. It has removed some of its travel perks like the Admirals Club, but it still has a lot to offer.
Annual Fee: $95 annual fee waived for the first year.
Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 sign-up bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Introductory APR: Rate is a variable 16.74 to 25.74 percent.
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
The value of Citi redemption points vary based on where you redeem them. The value of Citi ThankYou points varies according to how you redeem them, but in general, they’re worth an average of one cent apiece. You’ll see a value of 1% per dollar spent for charitable donations, loan payments, and some gift cards. For all other redemption options, including cash back, statement credits and merchandise, points will be worth less than 1%.
You can receive 25% higher redemption value on travel when redeemed through the ThankYou® Travel Center. The best redemption options are through Citi’s flight partners like Avianca LifeMiles, the loyalty program for the South American airline. They offer many routes and Citi began to offer transfer bonuses in 2017. That means you can book flights on Star Alliance partner United for international flights without a fuel surcharge.
The second way to maximize your points is with Singapore KrisFlyer. Singapore Suites and Singapore first class continue to be some of the top ways to fly, and they’re easily accessible via Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. Prices are reasonable and if the route you want isn’t listed at your time of booking, you can add yourself to the waitlist for a better reward.
While Citi Premier has a lot of great reward options, it does have some drawbacks like:
Above average APR
Most credit cards offer a 0% interest rate for a given period of time after signing. Instead, the rate is a variable 16.74 to 25.74 percent. Regular APR is also quite pricey at its percentage, so avoid carrying a balance on the account.
Complicated rewards structure
If you’re someone who prizes simplicity in rewards structures, this isn’t the plan for you. For a comparable card with flat-rate travel, consider a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. If you like strategizing point deals and finding point transfers that make extra sense, then you’ll enjoy this rewards plan.
Redemption only high for travel
If you don’t travel a lot, or aren’t going to be redeeming much for travel, then it doesn’t offer many high rewards in other categories. Most other spending categories will only earn you 1% on every dollar spent.
While a $95 annual fee isn’t out of line with other travel cards, some people still won’t pay any annual fee on a credit card. The fee amount puts it in a similar category for its competitors. If you’re one of the people who’s not interested in paying an annual fee ever, then you might want to check out the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card which offers similar benefits with a $0 annual fee.
Limited transfer options
Another major downside to the card is its limited transfer options for cardholders who do most of their traveling domestically. All of Citi’s major transfer partners are based overseas so those looking for travel within the United States won’t benefit. The only domestic carrier that is a direct transfer partner for Citi Premier is JetBlue. The transfer rate there is two-to-one — for every two ThankYou points you transfer, you get one JetBlue point. However, U.S. travelers can still earn additional free hotel stays by transferring points to the Hilton HHonors program.
For more domestic transfer options, especially within air travel, you may want to look into the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
This card is great for families, RV rentals, and road trips – it has point rewards for gas and can be redeemed at a variety of flight partners if the great open road isn’t for you. It has great shopping protections if you like to shop while you travel, both abroad and domestically. It also has a great signing bonus if you can take advantage of it. It’s for people who need some more flexibility with their travel options and comes equipped with travel protections that any frequent traveler would expect.
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