2019 Citi Premier Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: Whether it’s truly a premier option is a matter for debate, but the Citi Premier℠ Card certainly represents a solid way to subsidize your travel expenses, assuming you have excellent credit.
The $95 annual fee doesn’t kick in until year two and your earnings will always be worth 25% more when redeemed for airfare.
That’s important to remember as you consider the 3 points per $1 spent on travel (including gas) that you’ll earn, in addition to 2 points per $1 on dining and entertainment, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. In other words, the card’s regular earning rates range from the points equivalent of 1% cash back up to 3.75% cash back, depending on where you make purchases and how you approach redemption. However you decide to use this card, carrying a balance from month to month should definitely be avoided. Citi Premier does not offer 0% introductory rates.
So, to recap, this card is best for frequent travelers with excellent credit who always pay their monthly bills in full and are fine with booking all of their accommodations through the ThankYou Rewards website. To learn more, just keep reading below.
Up To 3 Points Per $1 Spent: Citi Premier’s regular rewards are as simple as 1, 2, 3. It gives you 1 point per $1 spent on most purchases, except for those categorized as dining out and entertainment (which earn 2 points per $1) or travel (3 points per $1). If you’re wondering, here’s how Citi defines “travel” and “entertainment,” in addition to its other exclusions:
- Airfare & Hotels
- Car Rental Agencies
- Gas Stations
- Taxis & Tolls
- Parking Garages
- Public Transportation
- Travel Agencies
- Movie Theaters
- Amusement Parks
- Tourist Attractions & Museums
- Theatrical & Sports Promoters
- Record Stores
- Video Rental Stores
- Music Downloads
- Live Performances
- Sporting Events
- No Foreign-Transaction Fees: You never want to see a travel rewards credit card that charges foreign-transaction fees. Fortunately, you don’t need to shield your eyes when gazing upon Citi Premier, as it does not charge any such pesky fees, which can drive up the cost of both international travel and purchases made through merchants based abroad. That enables you to take full advantage of Visa’s and Mastercard’s low exchange rates, which in turn will allow you to save up to 9% on currency conversion relative to exchanging hard currency at a local bank or airport kiosk.
- $95 Annual Fee After Year One: The fee-free first year fostered by Citi Premier certainly represents a benefit to users. However, those initial savings appear impressive largely because of the high costs that follow. Each year following the first is accompanied by a $95 membership charge, which must be paid promptly to avoid interest charges and, ultimately, to keep your account in good standing. Whether it’s wise to foot this bill depends on how much you spend each year — the rewards you earn need to outweigh the cost — as well as the availability of more cost-effective options.
- Above-Average Regular APR: You should try to avoid carrying a balance from month to month with the Citi Premier℠ Card, as its regular APR promises to be quite pricey. It’s advertised as 16.74% - 25.74% (V), depending on your creditworthiness. That means it ranges from above average for someone with excellent credit to above average for someone with fair credit, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report. Considering that you need excellent credit to get approved for this card, neither extreme is very user-friendly.
- No 0% Intro Rates: Many of the best credit cards on the market, even those ostensibly designed for rewards, offer interest-free financing for a period of months after account opening. Some offer 0% on new purchases or 0% on balance transfers, whereas others offer both. The Citi Premier℠ Card is not a member of any of those three groups, however, as it won’t give you any sort of reduced introductory interest rate. Rather, its unfavorable regular APR will be in effect from the very beginning.
Other Things To Consider
- Initial Bonus: Spending at least $4,000 within three months of account opening will score you 50,000 bonus points. That bonus is worth $500 in cash back or $625 in airfare booked through Citi. That’s one of the biggest initial bonuses on the market. Need we say more?
- Earnings Are Unlimited & Points Don’t Expire: Earning limits and expiration dates for rewards are among the sneaky credit card-company tricks that have been significantly diminished in the wake of the Great Recession. However, some cards still bury such caveats in their fine print, so it’s important to point out that Citi Premier is not among them. This serves to simplify things and reduces the pressure to redeem strategically.
- Numerous Redemption & Transfer Opportunities: You already know that you can redeem your Premier rewards for gift cards and get even more value by opting for travel booked through Citi. But those aren’t your only options. You can also “Shop with Points” on Amazon.com, swap your earnings for merchandise, make a mortgage or student-loan payment to any lender or transfer your rewards balance to one of Citi’s 13 hospitality partners (none of which is a domestic airline, by the way). You can find more information in our review of the Citi ThankYou Rewards program.
- Citi Cardmember Benefits: Having any Citicard in your pocket provides a number of semi-exclusive benefits, such as ticket opportunities through Citi Private Pass and access to a concierge service.
Compared To The Competition
Citi Premier℠ Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
|Annual Fee||None 1st yr, $95 after||$95||$0 for 1st yr, $95 after||$0 for 1st yr, $89 after|
|Rewards Bonus||50,000 points||60,000 points||50,000 miles||70,000 miles|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 3 points / $1||1 - 2 points / $1||2 miles / $1||2 miles / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 12 billing cycles*|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Regular APR||16.74% - 25.74% (V)||18.24% - 25.24% (V)||17.99% - 25.24% (V)||18.24% - 25.24% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.6 / 5||4.5 / 5||5.0 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
Rates & Fees
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