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While our pick for the best credit card for first-time travel rewards has long been the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, there is currently a strong runner-up to consider: the Citi Premier® Card.
Not only is the Citi Premier a solid competitor in its own right – especially now for reasons we’ll get into in a moment – but if you’re interested in travel rewards it should possibly be the first Citi card you get before you go Consider another Citi credit card. Yes, even our Benchmark Citi® Double Cash Card.
Why? Let’s dive into the Citi Premier and its associated rules of use so you can see firsthand why we think it should be at the top of your list when looking for a new Citi credit card.
Right now, new Citi Premier card holders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $ 4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account. Not only is this the highest bonus offer we’ve ever seen on this card, it’s also the highest bonus you can get right now any Citi credit card.
How much are these 80,000 points worth exactly? Well, the Citi Premier collects points known as Citi ThankYou Rewards that can be easily redeemed for gift cards or for any flight booked through Citi’s travel portal at the cost of 1 cent per point. That makes the card’s sign-up bonus worth at least $ 800, which is a big win for a card that only has an annual fee of $ 95.
Related: You can now collect 80,000 bonus points with the Citi Premier credit card.
However, with a little effort, you can get even more value for your points. That’s because Citi also lets you transfer your ThankYou points to one of 16 partner airline loyalty programs, including American Airlines’ temporary flyer program AAdvantage until November 13th.
You can transfer points from your Citi Premier card to American Airlines until November 13th.
While using your points this way requires some additional effort and flexibility, you can potentially get a lot more value for your rewards, especially if you redeem them on first or business class flights. For this reason, the frequent flyer website The Points Guy estimates Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each. At that price, the 80,000 bonus points on the Citi Premier are worth a whopping $ 1,360 for travel.
Granted, there are a few credit cards outside of Citi that offer 100,000 point bonus offers or more. Remember that not all points are created equal and 100,000 points on some cards are worth less than the 80,000 points on the Citi Premier.
Also, some cards require a ridiculous amount of spending to get the full sign-up bonus – up to $ 15,000 in some cases. But the $ 4,000 spend requirement for the Citi Premier drops to just $ 1,333 per month for each of the first three months that you have the card.
Click here to claim the 80,000 point sign-up bonus for the Citi Premier Card.
Similar to most major banks, Citi has rules for how many times a customer can be approved for a credit card. While Citi doesn’t limit the number of cards you can open, there are restrictions on the number of cards you can request in a given time.
In total, you can only apply for one Citi credit card every eight days and a maximum of two Citi cards every 65 days. This policy covers all of the issuer’s credit cards, including airlines, travel rewards, and cashback options.
Seems pretty simple and easy to understand, doesn’t it? Aside from the fact that Citi also has a 24 month “card family” rule. That is, when you have a card open or closed within certain families of Citi cards In the past 24 months, you cannot receive a sign-up bonus if you apply for a new card from the same family.
This rule is a little more complicated, so let’s look at it using the Citi Premier as an example. The Citi Premier earns Citi ThankYou points and is part of the family of Citi cards that also collect thank you points, including the Citi Rewards + ® Card and the no longer available Citi Prestige Card.
So when you open a Citi Rewards + card, you can only receive the Citi Premier card sign-up bonus after 24 months have elapsed. And since the Citi Premier offers a much higher sign-up bonus – four times the value of the Citi Rewards + card – and better rewards, you should apply for the Citi Premier card first.
It is important to understand the rules of use when it comes to getting Citi credit cards.
The good news is that our Benchmark Citi Double Cash Card does not belong to any Citi card family, nor does it have its own sign-up bonus. So you can safely apply for it after you’ve received the Citi Premier – just eight days later if you want it that fast. And these two cards actually go very well together because if you have both, you can convert the cashback earned on your Citi Double Cash into points and combine these with the points you earn on the Citi Premier to create a large pot with receive travel rewards.
Check if you qualify for the Citi Premier credit card.
Compared to all other Citi credit cards, the Citi Premier has the most robust bonus categories. Earn 3 points for every dollar spent on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants (including take-out), and 1 point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Also, there is no limit to the number of points you can earn.
This also leads to a second reason why the Citi Premier can be combined well with the Citi Double Cash Card. Because the Citi Double Cash earns 2% cashback on everything you buy – 1% when you purchase and an additional 1% when you pay – and you can convert your cash into thank you points if you also have the Citi Premier Having both cards effectively maximizes the rewards you earn on all of your purchases.
As? Well, if you had both cards in your wallet or wallet, you would pull out the Citi Premier every time you make a purchase in any of the bonus categories to earn 3 points per dollar, and then you’d pull out the Citi Double Cash Card for everything else in order Earn 2% cashback, which is effectively 2 points per dollar, when you convert the cashback to Thank You Points. That way, you’ll always earn at least double the base point of 1 point per dollar for everything you buy.
Related: The best cashback credit card: Citi Double Cash with no annual fee.
The Citi Premier is also the only Citi card currently available that allows you to transfer points to any of Citi’s 16 partner airlines, potentially adding to the value of your points. All other Citi cards receive cashback or “simple” thank you points that can only be redeemed for gift cards or used via the Citi travel portal at a price of 1 cent each.
Citi ThankYou points are transferred to all partners on a 1-for-1 basis, which means that the 80,000 points from the Citi Premier enrollment offer are equivalent to 80,000 points or miles in one of these 16 airline programs:
In addition, Citi sometimes offers promotions for transfer bonuses of 10 to 30% when you transfer your points to certain partners at certain times, which means you get even more bang for your buck. The only rule when transferring points is that they must be transferred in blocks of 1,000 and no more than 50,000 points can be transferred at a time.
Citi also makes it incredibly easy to transfer points from one person’s thank you account to another. This is a great feature when you want to combine points among friends or family members. However, you need to make sure that you can use your ThankYou points before combining them with someone else, as points shared with another person expire 90 days after they are received and you can transfer a maximum of 100,000 ThankYou points in one Calendar year.
Get the Citi Premier and combine your cashback from other Citi credit cards.
Both the Citi Premier and Chase Sapphire Preferred have an annual fee of $ 95 so they are comparable in cost. With the Sapphire Preferred you collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are transferred to partners other than Citi ThankYou points. In addition to 11 airline partners, Chase offers three hotel partners, while Citi only offers airline partnerships.
Chase also offers more options for domestic partners like United Airlines and Hyatt Hotels, while Citi focuses on international airlines. But Citi works with a lot of airlines that don’t work with anyone else, and is currently the only one of the major banks that has a transfer partnership with American Airlines. This partnership is expected to end on November 13th, but could be extended.
Chase Ultimate Rewards has transfer partners like United, while Citi’s transfer partners focus more on international airlines.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers many purchase and travel protection benefits. For example, if your flight is delayed overnight and you have to depart the next morning, the Sapphire Preferred will reimburse you for any unexpected expenses – such as a night in a hotel, food and taxis – up to $ 500 per passenger.
While the Citi Premier no longer offers these nice perks, it has more bonus categories and in some cases a higher price. For example, the Citi Premier earns 3 points per dollar on travel purchases while the Chase Sapphire Preferred only earns 2 points per dollar unless you book through Ultimate Rewards.
At the end of the day, both of these are great credit cards to consider if it’s your first time earning travel rewards. While the Chase Sapphire Preferred remains our preferred first travel credit card, the Citi Premier is an underrated contender and should definitely be the first Citi card on your list. You can even apply for both and diversify your points – the ultimate way to ensure you have the right points for your next much-needed vacation.
Find out more and apply for the Citi Premier card now.
Find out which cards CNN Underscored has selected as ours The best travel credit cards 2021.
Get the latest in personal finance offers, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.
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