Citi ThankYou Premier Review [2020]

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Next to American Express and Chase, Citibank has the best strong contenders in the transferable points game. In this article, I’ll focus on one of the most popular Citibank cards: the Citi Premier. I’ll give you some insight on when you should think about applying and when you should definitely avoid applying for the Citi Premier. I’ll also go into detail about the bonus categories and additional perks with this card.

Citi Premier overview

  • Solid welcome bonus (usually)
  • 3X on air travel and hotels
  • 3X on dining
  • 3X on gas stations
  • 3X on supermarkets
  • 1x on other purchases
  • $100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • $95 annual fee
  • No Foreign transaction fees

Welcome bonus

Historically, the bonus for the Citi Premier has been all over the place.

We’ve seen it mostly range from 30,000 points to 60,000 points and for a time the welcome bonus even completely disappeared. So the Citi Premier can be a bit of a “wild card” when it comes to bonuses.

My advice would be to stay away from this card when there is no welcome bonus offered and wait for at least a bonus around 40,000 to 50,000 points. Personally, I would only go for this card when there is at least a 50,000 point bonus.

Using a WalletFlo valuation of 1.62, 50,000 points comes out to $810 worth of value. That is very good for one of the best travel rewards credit cards.

To get the maximum amount of value, you will want to transfer your points to various travel partners. Citi has a lot of airline partners but the drawback is that a few of them are not very great programs and only have very limited value in certain circumstances.

The programs that I would focus on when transferring points include:

  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

At first glance, you may not recognize these airlines or realize the redemption potential but with a little bit of research and legwork they can actually be extremely useful. In fact, you could use these partners for domestic travel on the different legacy carriers.

Avianca and Singapore miles can be used to book flights on United; Cathay Pacific and Etihad miles can be used on American Airlines; Virgin Atlantic miles can be used on Delta, etc.

So even if you don’t plan on flying internationally with these foreign airlines, you can still get around the US pretty well by utilizing them.

For your reference, here is a full breakdown of all of the transfer partners along with the transfer ratios and transfer times.

Travel partnerRatioTransfer Time
AeroMexico ClubPremier1:1Instant
Air France KLM Flying Blue1:1Instant
Avianca LifeMiles1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:1Instant
Emirates Skywards1:1Instant
Etihad Guest1:1~7 Days
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands1:1~2 Days
Jet Airways JetPrivilege1:1Instant
JetBlue1:1Instant
Malaysia Enrich1:1~2 Days
Qantas Frequent Flyer1:1~2 Days
Qatar Privilege Club1:1~2 Days
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1:1~2 Days
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus1:1~7 Days
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1:1~2 Days
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1Instant
Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners

Eligibility

In order to receive the bonus, make sure that you are abiding by the eligibility rules which state:

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 accounts, in the past 24 months.

In addition to those, Citi has some other complicated application rules. If you want to automate your eligibility for credit cards like this then I would consider opening up a free account on WalletFlo. You’ll also be able to do things like manager credit cards, keep track of credits and annual fees, etc. 

Bonus earning

In addition to having a pretty solid welcome bonus, the bonus earning potential on the Citi Premier is really where this card stands out.

If you are looking for a really well-rounded travel rewards credit card, this could be the best option for you.

Starting August 23, 2020, The Citi Premier earns the following rates:

  • 3X on air travel and hotels
  • 3X on dining
  • 3X on gas stations
  • 3X on supermarkets
  • 1x on other purchases

3X on air travel and hotels

Earning triple the points on airfare and hotels is very solid.

The biggest drawback here is that you’re not earning 3X on a broad travel category any longer. Also, there are better alternatives for these categories. You could use the American Express Platinum Card to earn 5X on airfare or you could use a card like the Sapphire Reserve to earn 3X on travel but receive much better travel protections in the process.

It’s worth mentioning that the Citi Premier lost many of its key travel and purchase protections and so now it is not a great card to use when relying on protections like trip cancellation or baggage delay protection.

3X on dining

3X on dining makes this a pretty solid dining credit card. I like to put my dining purchases on the Gold Card since I earn 4X but the Citi Premier has a much lower annual fee ($250 vs $95) so that is something to consider.

3X on gas stations

The Citi Premier can be one of the best credit cards to use on gas stations since it earns 3X on all of your fuel purchases.

3X on supermarkets

3X on supermarkets is also very competitive although once again I’d like to put supermarket purchases on the Gold Card to earn 4X.

1x on other purchases

And finally, you can earn 1X on all other purchases which is a standard earning rate.

Overall, each individual bonus category is not necessarily the best that you can find but the overall package of bonus categories is pretty impressive for a card with an annual fee of only $95.

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Benefits

$100 Annual Hotel Savings 

Every calendar year, you can get $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding all taxes and fees. The catch is that you will have to book through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU (powered by cxLoyalty). This means that you could lose out on your elite benefits since this would be a prepaid booking.

If you choose to use the benefit, the $100 annual hotel savings will be applied at the time of booking.

There are a few restrictions to keep in mind with this benefit:

  • Reservations have to be made by the primary cardholder
  • Travel packages such as air and hotel do not qualify
  • Reservations made through any party or channel other than thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU are not eligible for the $100 annual hotel savings
  • This $100 savings benefit cannot be combined in the same transaction with the Citi Prestige Card Complimentary 4th Night Hotel Stay
  • This benefit also cannot be combined with any other promotions or discounts on thankyou.com

25% bonus?

The Citi Premier used to allow users to redeem points for travel with a 25% bonus but that benefit is going away as of April 10, 2021.

This is a major loss and it really hurts the value of this card but if you did not use your points through the travel portal, it’s not a meaningful loss

Citi Entertainment program

The Citi Entertainment program offers special access to purchase tickets to events, including presale tickets and exclusive experiences. These events include things like concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, and others.

Final word

The Citi Premier does not have a whole lot of benefits or perks but it is a great card for earning a lot of points via a great welcome bonus and well-rounded bonus categories. It’s definitely worth picking up in my opinion — just make sure you find a good welcome bonus and have a decent grasp on the different transfer partners.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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