Debating a Citi ThankYou Premier card? If you spend a lot on travel and dining expenses (think $500 or more a month), consider it, otherwise options like the Citi Double Cash (with no annual fee and double cash on everything you purchase) are a better deal.
Read on for details on the pros and cons of the Citi Premier.
A big intro bonus. Citibank is willing to give you a lot of value to get the card and start using it.
3x points on travel. Few cards can match the earning power of the ThankYou Premier on travel spending, even including purchases at gas stations. Travel spending includes plane tickets, hotels, car rentals, Air BnB rentals, train tickets, and more.
2x on dining and entertainment. Getting double points on dining isn’t unusual, but adding entertainment is a nice bonus, for things like movie tickets, theater tickets, or trips to amusement parks.
OK value for your points. With a Premier card your points are worth 1.25 cents each when you use them for travel, so 10,000 points is worth $125 off of travel you book via the Citibank travel website. Through the website you can book flights with most airlines, which makes your points work like cash, so you don’t have to worry about finding ‘award’ seats or other restrictions.
Flight delay coverage. If a flight you book with the card is delayed for 12 hours or more, you can get up to $500 reimbursed for things like hotel nights, cab fare, or meals. Most delays are caused by weather, and when that’s the cause, airlines don’t have to help you with a hotel room or meals at all, leaving you high and dry. With this benefit, you’ll be covered.
No U.S. airline transfer partners. The biggest weakness of the card is that there are no opportunities to transfer your points to real airline miles with U.S. based airlines like American, Delta, United, or Southwest. This would be a no brainer card for a lot more people if Citi and American Airlines came to agreement to allow point transfers from the Citi ThankYou points program.
A $95 annual fee. For a card with big dining and travel bonuses, an annual fee is par for the course, but without a good set of U.S. airline transfer partners it’s harder to justify keeping the card after the bonus.
You don’t always get the lowest fare. When you use your points for travel, you need to book via Citibank’s online travel portal at ThankYou.com. Unfortunately that site doesn’t always show the lowest fares for flights, so you may end up getting less value from your points than you expect.
Car rental coverage isn’t primary. With the Citi Premier, if you rent a car and end up with damage, you can get covered for up to $100,000, but there’s a catch. You need file a claim with your own insurance first if you have a policy of your own. And if your own policy applies, you’ll have to take that hit before the coverage from Citi kicks in. That’s not different than most cards, but a few cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and United Explorer Card, give you ‘primary’ car rental collision coverage when you rent. That means if you have a damage claim you don’t have to file one with your own insurance company at all.
Alternatives to the Citi ThankYou Premier
The best way to see whether the ThankYou Premier is right for you is to use our CardFinder tool, which lets you input your spending habits, and will give you a custom recommendation of which cards will earn you the most points.
If you’re thinking about the ThankYou Premier you’re probably also considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which also earns bonuses for travel and dining spending with a $95 annual fee.
While the Sapphire Preferred earns fewer points for travel spending (just 2x points versus 3x for the Citi Premier), it has a big advantage with its point transfer options.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer the points you earn into real airline miles with United and Southwest Airlines, plus several other foreign airline programs. That gives your points extra value, letting you get more from them than simply using them to buy plane tickets using the Chase travel portal.
For example, 10,000 points transferred to Southwest could get you $140 in flight value, versus just $125 in value if you booked via the Chase portal without transferring your points. Or, even better, 10,000 points transferred to United could get you closer to a $1,500 roundtrip to Europe when you combine it with the miles you already have.
With the Citi ThankYou Premier, there are transfer options, but they are only to foreign airlines like Air France, Qantas, Singapore, and Qatar Airways. They can be useful if you’re an advanced miles and points user, but for most of us they’re just not that useful.
And if you’re just after dead simple rewards that don’t involve airline miles, you’re probably better off with the Citi Double Cash card. It has no annual fee and it earns you double cash on everything you buy: one point when you make a purchase, and another point when you pay your card bill for the purchase.
There are no categories or other catches to think about, making it a great way to rack up rewards fast that you can use anywhere, because they come in the form of real cash.
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card - no annual fee.