For years, Citi has sat in the shadows of bigger banks like Chase and American Express when it comes to travel rewards credit cards. It’s time for that to change.
This summer, Citi rolled out the biggest-ever welcome offer bonus on the Citi Premier® Card. You can earn 80,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
That’s up from the standard 60,000 point bonus with the same spending requirement. And combined with some of the lucrative and unique ways to use those 80,000 points, it should officially put the Premier card on your radar if you’re in the market for a new travel card.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi Premier Card.
Full Benefits of the Citi Premier Card
Welcome Bonus Offer
You’ll earn 80,000 Citi ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. That’s up from the standard bonus of 60,000 points for the same spending requirement.
Category Spending Bonuses
Citi Premier cardholders earn 3x points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and at hotels on an unlimited amount of spending.
You’ll earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
The Citi Premier card offers an annual $100 hotel credit every calendar year. The credit is valid on a single hotel stay of $500 or more that is booked through the Citi ThankYou portal.
If you are able to use this benefit, it should be enough to justify the card’s $95 annual fee.
The card charges an annual fee of $95 and it is not waived in the first year of card membership. It also does not charge foreign transaction fees.
Great Ways to Use Citi ThankYou Points
Like other transferrable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points can be redeemed for travel or on gift cards through the Citi Travel Portal. Each point will be worth one cent each. So the 80,000 point welcome bonus is worth $800 when used this way.
But you can do much better by transferring points to airlines. Citi has a stable of 18 different airline and hotel transfer partners. ThankYou points transfer to all of them on a 1:1 basis, so these 80,000 Citi points will net you 80,000 airline miles.
Here’s the full list of Citi transfer partners.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||Airline||1:1 (available through 11/23)||N/A|
|EVA Air||Airline||1:1||1-3 days|
|Garuda Indonesia||Airline||1:1||1-2 days|
|Malaysian Airlines||Airline||1:1||No data|
This is a mixed bag. We’ve traditionally considered ThankYou points the clear loser behind both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. There’s plenty of overlap between these programs with transfer partners like Emirates, Cathay Pacific’s AsiaMiles, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France/KLM Flying Blue. But then there are gaps.
Most importantly, you can’t transfer these points to one of the big three U.S. airlines … at least not normally. Amex has Delta and Chase has United but unfortunately, you cannot transfer Citi points to American Airlines – even though Citi offers many co-branded American credit cards.
But Citi has addressed that gap, at least temporarily. Through Nov. 23, you can transfer Citi points to American on a 1:1 basis. That means this transfer option will last just over another month, unless Citi decides to extend it. Citi has also filled another gap in its program with the recent addition of its first hotel transfer partner: Choice Privileges.
Above all else, there are some great niche uses for ThankYou Points you won’t find with other points programs. Qatar miles are a great way to book fantastic Qsuites business class if you can’t get your hands on enough American AAdvantage miles. Qatar charges a reasonable 70,000 miles and meagre fees for a one-way flight from the U.S. to the Middle East.
But perhaps the best option here is Turkish, as Citi is one of the few ways to earn these miles. Using Turkish miles, you can book roundtrip flights from the mainland out to Hawaii for just 12,500 miles roundtrip – or 25,000 miles in business class. Booking these flights is a convoluted process, as you’ll need to find the award availability and likely either call or email Turkish to book. But at that price, it’s worth the work.
Turkish also charges just 45,000 miles for one-way business class flights from the U.S. to Europe on Star Alliance carriers like United, Swiss, and (of course) Turkish itself. That’s tough to beat.
This is definitely a strong offer for the Citi Premier Card. This 80,000-point bonus could go a long way. That alone is reason enough to give this overlooked card consideration.
We’d still rank the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card higher if you’re in the market for a travel credit card and you haven’t already had it. The Sapphire Preferred currently offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the same $4,000 spending requirement in the first three months.
That falls short of Citi’s bonus here, and it’s a disappointment stacked next to the amazing 100,000-point bonus the Preferred Card had offered for many months this year. But we always suggest starting with Chase cards because of the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule. Once you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24-month period (from any bank, not just Chase), you’re no longer eligible to open a Chase credit card. Citi has its own restrictions, but nothing like that.
All that said, there’s still plenty of value here – and value you simply will not find with other travel credit cards. Adding the Citi Premier with this biggest-ever bonus to your wallet could make sense.
Citi is out with its biggest ever welcome bonus offer on the Citi Premier Card. You’ll earn 80,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Citi has not yet announced an end date for this offer, but don’t wait around if you are thinking about applying.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi Premier Card.