Citi Premier

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Citi Premier is an Underrated Card

 

I’ve never thought I would ever get into the Citi ecosystem, but the all-time high signup bonus, strong daily spend multipliers, and niche redemptions have convinced me otherwise. With that said, I’m pleased to be able to put the Citi Premier to some serious work!

 

Citi Premier Approval

 

The Signup Bonus

As of the time of my approval, Citi offers 80,000 Citi ThankYou points for the Citi Premier after spending $4000 in the first 3 months, which is the historic high out of the past sign up bonuses. The redemption methods are similar to American Express and Chase with the options to cash out as statement credit or transfer to most airline partners at a 1:1 ratio.

 

Card Benefits

Citi Premier boasts a $95 annual fee. It’s a strong standalone card that gives attractive spending multipliers on categories you’d spend in your daily lives. It will definitely appeal towards those who want to simplify their credit card portfolio, and it’s likely to be the card you’d spend the most with in the Citi lineup that earns ThankYou points.

  • 3x on Dining
  • 3x on Gas
  • 3x on Supermarkets
  • 3x on Flights
  • 3x on Hotels
  • 1x on everything else

 

Spending Categories Explained

Gas itself is a category that Chase and American Express has not covered well in their personal card lineups. They require you to get a business card to get a unique gas multiplier like Chase Ink Cash and American Express Gold Business or wait until a certain quarter with the Chase Freedom Flex.

Dining category appears standard to some competitive travel cards and no annual fee cards like the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire lineups.

Supermarket category is a direct competitor to the American Express Gold Card, earning 4x Membership Rewards points. But, the Amex Gold boasts a $250 annual fee compared to Citi Premier’s $95 annual fee. The Citi Premier would offer a cheaper alternative of the Amex Gold to get lucrative transfrable points off grocery spend.

Travel categories directly competes with either the American Express Green Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The travel categories are not as general like its competitors and won’t provide increased earnings from ride shares, tolls, and car rentals. The travel categories applied to the Citi Premier are simply flights and hotels booked directly from the site or through the Citi travel portal.

 

No Travel Insurance

Beware that despite the strong travel multipliers, Citi Premier does not offer travel protections like trip cancellation, trip delay, baggage insurance, and car rental insurance. I would caution using the Citi Premier to book your flights unless you plan to buy an external travel insurance that would cover you on issues credit card insurances won’t cover.  Booking hotels would be good as it’s generally a lot easier to reserve hotel room with very generous cancellation policies.

 

$100 Hotel Credit

Speaking of hotels, the card would offset $100 off a $500 single hotel stay once a year when it’s booked through the ThankYou travel portal. You would not earn elite benefits from hotel chains with loyalty programs when booking through this way, but it can be useful if you’re traveling to a place with no hotel chains you’re loyal to. This benefit does force you to book hotels a certain way for better or worse, so be mindful of it!

Related read: When to Pay with Points or Cash on Your Travels: 3 Things to Consider

Japanese ryokan
A few nights at a independent Japanese ryokan is something you can book at a nice discount with the Citi Premier.

 

Citi Transfer Partners

Citi ThankYou offers unique transfer partners along with overlapping partners from other credit card issuers like American Express and Chase. For now, Citi doesn’t have any hotel partners. They are:

Shared Partners:

  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (Amex only)
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest (Amex only)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (Chase only)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Related read: How to Book ANA First Class with Virgin Atlantic Miles (Amazing Deal)!

Citi-Only Partners:

  • American Airlines (LIMITED TIME)
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • InterMiles
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

 

How I Plan to Redeem Citi ThankYou Points

Citi ThankYou points will allow me to redeem for one of the best business class seats in the market, the Qatar Airways QSuites!

Qatar QSuites
Qatar Airways QSuites

Qatar Airways has recently added flight routes from San Francisco and to Doha.

SFO to Doha

One easy way to know if your flight route has the QSuites is to look at Google Flights when you set the Qatar Airways flight to Business class. Individual suite suggests the QSuites where lie-flat seat is not.

Citi Thankyou points are also as good as cashback as 1 point equals to 1 cent when redeemed for statement credit. Cashback still provides a decent value, and the strong spending multipliers would easily offset the annual fee.

 

Using Qatar QMiles

Citi allows transferring points to Qatar Airways Privilege Club at a 1:1 ratio. Qatar Airways does not provide an award chart, but they provide a handy calculator called the QCalculator that you can use to calculate how many miles you need for a segment.

 

QCalculator
Qatar Airways QCalculator

 

A round-trip itinerary from San Francisco to Doha would cost 140,000 QMiles to fly on QSuites. It can also be booked one-way with 70,000 points, in which the Citi Premier’s signup bonus is more than enough to cover!

Until 11/13/2021, you can transfer ThankYou points to American Airlines, which is a part of the Oneworld alliance that Qatar Airways is also a part of. The mileage requirement is still the same as QMiles with 70,000 miles for a one-way flight to Doha. So, transferring to either American Airlines or Qatar Airways Privilege Club will work, at least for this itinerary flight from North America to Doha.

 

Conclusion

Citi Premier is an underrated and often overlooked card in the credit card space. It can serve as a way to diversify your points and open up to more transfer possibilities. Points redemption can take a bit of work. But, it can provide meaningful value, particularly for flights that are a part of the Oneworld alliance, in which an issuer like Chase lacks due to their focus on Star Alliance partners.

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