Credit Card Battle: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Citi Premier

For a while now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has been considered the top travel credit card by many, but Citi has made been making some great moves to increase their travel value. Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred still the top travel credit card? Citi has re-categorized the bonus categories on the Premier and even made it’s bonus better. Since the Premier is comparable in annual fee and has the ability to transfer to partners, I was wondering how the Citi Premier stacks up against the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Is the Citi Premier the card to overtake Chase Sapphire as the top travel card?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred: My Review

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Citi Premier: My Review

Chase Sapphire Preferred Citi Premier
Current Sign Up Bonus 40,000 Points + 5,000 points after adding Authorized user 50,000 points
Spending Requirement $4,000 $3,000
Bonus Categories 2x on travel and dining

1x on everything else

3x on travel including gas

2x on dining and entertainment

1x on everything else

Annual Fee $95, waived for 1st year $95, waived for 1st year
Foreign Transaction Fees None None
Reward Program Ultimate Rewards, has 11 transfer partners Thank You, has 12 transfer partners
Redemption Options Cash back, gift cards, credit statement, transfer to partners, Chase travel center Credit statement, gift cards, transfer to partner, Citi travel center

Credit Score Required:
According to Credit Karma, the Chase Sapphire Preferred user has an average score of 736, with a low of 656 (still avoid applying if your score is less than 700!). The Citi Premier doesn’t have scores listed on Credit Karma, but according to creditboards.com, most users were over 700 with only a handful below, lowest being 615. Again, I really do not suggest applying for any of these cards with credit scores less than 70.

Sign up bonus and spending requirement:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days. After adding an authorized user, you will earn an additional 5,000 Ultimate Reward points. I value Chase Ultimate Rewards at 1.8 cents each, so 49,000 points is worth about $882.

The Citi Premier offers 50,000 Thank You points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. I’ve had hard time putting a value on Citi Thank You points, but I feel they are worth almost at Chase, so I think a value of 1.7 cents is what I peg them at, so 53,000 points is worth about $901.

Winner: Citi Premier, for having a larger bonus with $1,000 less spending requirement.

Earning Rates:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2 Ultimate Reward Points for travel and dining. It also earns 1 Ultimate Reward Point for all other purchases. If you were grandfathered into the 7% dividends, this is your last year. Since that is the case, I did not include that into my calculations.

The Citi Premier earns 3 Thank You Points for travel, including gas purchases. It earns 2 Thank You Points on dining and entertainment and 1 Thank You Point on all other purchases.

Let’s look at the amount of points you could earn, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, on average American spending:

Category Yearly Spend Chase Sapphire Preferred Citi Premier
Gas $2,400 2,400 7,200
Entertainment $2,500 2,400 5,000
Groceries $4,000 4,000 4,000
Dining Out $2,600 5,200 5,200
Apparel $1,600 1,600 1,600
Transporation/Travel $6,600 13,200 19,800
Healthcare Expenses $3,600 3,600 3,600
All other expenditures $3,300 3,300 3,300
Total Points $26,600 35,700 (with bonus +authorized user 84,700)* 49,700 (with bonus 102,700)*

* I added in spending requirement as well, but used 1 point per dollar for those transactions.*

Winner: Citi Premier. Not only does Citi beat Chase in offering 3 points per dollar on travel, (I really like how Citi included gas) it earns the same on dining. You’d earn 14,000 more points with the Citi Premier than you would with the Chase Sapphire Preferred (18,000, if you include the bonus). At a minimum, that’s worth $140 in gift cards.

Annual Fee:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi Premier both have a $95 fee that is waived for the first year.

Winner: Tie

Foreign Transaction Fees:
Both of these cards have NO foreign transaction fees and have EMV Chips in them. Both are great options to use abroad.

Winner: Tie

Reward Programs:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Reward Points that has 11 transfer partners. Their transfer partners include:

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The Citi Premier earns Thank You points and has 12 transfer partners. Their transfer partners include:

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Winner: It depends on your redemption goals.

While Citi doesn’t have a direct transfer partner for domestic travel, you can use their transfer partners to book on partner airlines for domestic travel. Citi transfer partners are better for international travel. I think Hilton is a dud, even at a 1:1.5 transfer ratio. I think Citi will have a direct domestic transfer partner by the end of 2016. I predicted they will steal Southwest away from Chase and add American Airlines. There is a lot of value in Citi’s transfer partners and I’m learning more about them!

Also, Citi occasionally has transfer bonuses to one of their transfer partners, Chase currently does not do this (something I wish they’d change).

Chase has a much better hotel transfer partner in Hyatt and even IHG pointbreaks can be a good use as well. Southwest is still a solid option, even after their devaluation. United is another option for domestic or international travel (for the time being), but using Singapore Airline to book on United could cost you less miles! Let’s also not forget short haul flights using British Airway Avios. These transfer partners are extremely valuable as well and Ultimate Reward points are some of the best points around.

See, so it depends on how you would transfer your points.

Retention Offers:
Chase does not offer any bonus or annual fee waiver for keeping the Chase Sapphire Preferred, something I think they should change. They offer retention offers on their Ink Plus, which allows transfer to their partners. I think with increased competition, this could come back to bite Chase by not offering some sort of retention offer on the Sapphire Preferred.

Citi typically has some generous offers, whether it’s annual fee waivers, bonus points for spending a certain amount, or even a combination of both. Some people report getting these offers (on other Citi cards) for multiple years.

Winner: Citi Premier. I’m confident you should be able to get at least 2 years of at no fee or have a retention offer with bonus Thank You points that off sets the fee.

Redemption Options:
Chase allows you to redeem your points for cash back and gift cards at 1 cent per point. If you book travel through Chase Travel Center, you are able to redeem for 1.25 cents per point. Having the Sapphire Preferred allows you to transfer to their partners as well and you can get more value for your points.

Citi allows you to redeem for statement credit at 0.7 cents per point and gift cards for 1 cent per point. If you book through Citi Travel Center, you will redeem for 1.25 cents per point (just like Chase). Having the Premier also gives you access to their transfer partners, which can give you more value for your points as well.

**Something to consider if using Chase or Citi Travel Center….I have noticed they charge more per night than some other sites. While you might redeem 1.25 cents per point, you might actually pay more for your room. Make sure you shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal.**

WInner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. While they are very similar, Chase allows you to redeem your points for cash at 1 cent per point, which makes it slightly better for your choices in redemption.

Other considerations:
Both of these cards give similar benefits for traveling. One thing the Chase Sapphire Preferred has that Citi does not, is primary rental auto coverage. If you rent a car frequently, this is something to consider.

The benefits for purchase protection is similar as well. One feature of Citi I really like is the Citi Rewind. They do the work for you to see if there is a better price on the product you purchased. If there is, they refund you the difference.

I feel the difference between the extra benefits between the 2 cards are minor.

Do I think Citi Premier is a better card than the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
I think it’s a tough choice and really depends on your travel goals. Citi definitely our earns Chase and has some great transfer partners. While Citi may not have a direct domestic airline partner, you can book using partner airlines within the airlines alliances. One big downfall I see, is Citi’s lack of better hotel transfers.

That said, I do think the Citi Premier has become a better option than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Citi Premier has transfer partners that you can book travel within the US (using airline partners) and their international partners are better as well.

What do you think, do you think the Citi Premier has overtaken the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

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