Credit Card Review: Citi Premier and a Partner Prediction

Shortly after I wrote about my 3 cards and 130k point bonuses, I decided to open 2 Citi Premier credit cards (one for me and my wife) for another 100k in points. Citi has been aggressive in increasing the value of their Thank You points, adding transfer partners and increasing their sign up bonus. The Citi Premier is a great way to start building your Thank You points, with their bonus categories and no fee for the first year. It is quite easy to build up a nice bank of them through normal spending.

Credit Score Needed:
I would advise against playing this game if you have a credit score less than 700. There are cards to help you improve your credit score, if you are below 700.

Credit Karma does not have scores listed, but when I look at creditboards.com (people post their credit scores and if they were approved or not), most have scores greater than 700 and only a handful of people were approved less than 700. The lowest approved score I saw was 615 (they did report an annual income of $80,000, which might have helped with a lower credit score)

Card Design:
I know this isn’t a real reason for getting the card, but have you seen it? The magnetic strip is on the front of the card! The EMV Chip and card numbers are on the back. It’s a little different, but I think it’s pretty cool.

Annual Fee:
The Citi Premier does carry an annual fee of $95, but is waived for the first year. Citi is typically great when it comes to retention offers, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to have the fee waived for year 2 as well. You could possibly have a retention offer that off-sets the annual fee or possibly both

Big bonus!
Big bonus!

Sign Up Bonus:
Currently the sign up bonus is 50,000 Thank You points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.

Earning Rate:
Recently, Citi has made adjustments to their bonus categories, and I think they did a great job! This earning rate is solid and could be a card you could put your everyday spending on.

Very solid bonus categories for daily spending
Very solid bonus categories for daily spending

The Citi Premier earns 3 Thank You points for every dollar spent on travel including gas. I really like earning 3 Thank You points on gas purchases. We spend quite a bit in gas a month, so this could earn a lot of points for us.

The Premier earns 2 Thank You points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment. If you dine out frequently this could be a really good card for you. I have read Netflix is categorized as entertainment and earning 2 Thank You points per dollar as well.

All other purchases earn 1 Thank You point per dollar spent

Redemption:
If redeeming for cash back or credit statement, I would advise not to do this. You will redeem at a rate around 0.7 cents per point. If you were looking for cash back options, go for the gift cards.

If you redeem for gift cards, you will receive 1 cent per point, making the bonus is worth $500. These include gift cards to Hyatt (could be a good way to use with cash and points, if you have Hyatt points) or Carnival Cruise line.

When redeeming for travel, through Citi Travel, you will receive an extra 25%, making the bonus worth $625! This could be really good option for booking hotel rooms since you will redeem at 1.25 cents per point. You should price around, because I have found hotels through Citi can be much more than other hotel sites.

Transfer partners
Transfer partners

If you utilize transfer partners, this could be worth more than $625. Citi Thank You points transfer at a 1:1 ratio for all their partners EXCEPT Hilton, where they transfer at 1:1.5 ratio. Hilton’s points are quite inflated so unless you are looking to top off your account or there is a solid redemption for those points, I wouldn’t transfer to Hilton.

Currently, Citi does not restrict sharing points with friends/family, but once you share your points, they have a 90 day expiration. Make sure there is a plan to use them! You don’t want your lose your points.

Other Perks:

  • EMV Chip Technology
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Citi Rewind
  • Citi Private Pass
  • Free Credit Score
  • Warrantee Protection
  • Extended Warrantee- Adds up to 1 year if your warranty is 5 years or less, up to $10,000 per year
  • Personal Concierge Service
  • Lost Baggage Protection- up to $3,000 per person/ per trip
  • Worldwide Car Rental Insurance- up to $100,000
  • Trip Cancelation/Interruption Protection- up to $5,000 per year
  • Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance- If injured, you could receive up to $500,000

I think Citi has really done a great job increasing the value of their rewards program. I think they have moved ahead of American Express and are closing the gap on Chase for the top program. Chase has strong transfer partners, but Citi is making progress. One thing Citi really needs is a direct domestic airline transfer partner (American Airlines would be the best case because Citi already has their co-branded credit cards), which they currently lack.

This now leads me to a prediction:
Chase’s contract with Southwest is getting closer to it’s end date, unless they renew it. Citi has already “stolen” Costco away from American Express. I think Citi will keep up the aggressiveness and take Southwest Airlines away from Chase. Also, I think American Airlines will finally become a transfer partner for your Citi Thank You points.

Do you think Citi will take Southwest away from Chase? Have you considered adding this card to your wallet?

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