The Citi Premier Card is often overlooked, but offers lucrative rewards
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- The popular Citi Premier Card is often overlooked, but still a useful and rewarding credit card.
- You can get 50,000 Citi ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 during your first three months with the card.
- You can redeem points for gift cards, airfare, or transfer them to one of Citi's partnering frequent flyer programs - potentially the most valuable way to use them.
Citi - a Business Insider partner - has one of the more rewarding credit cards you can get with an annual fee below $100, but it's often overlooked.However, the Citi Premier Card is a solid contender in the rewards space, and bypassing it would be a mistake.
The Citi Premier is an interesting card that competes with the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred. It earns 3x points per dollar spent on all travel, including gas stations, parking, tolls, taxis, subways, flights, hotels, and more - the Sapphire Preferred only offers 2x points on that category, and excludes gas stations. The Premier Card also earns 2x points on all dining and entertainment - dining includes everything from bars to restaurants, while entertainment includes concert and movie tickets, museum admission, and more - and 1x point on everything else.
When it comes time to redeem points, there are a few different options. Generally, the lowest value is redeeming them for merchandise, statement credits, or cash back, where you'll get less than 1¢ per point of value.
If you're set on using your points as cash, the better option is to redeem them for gift cards through Citi's "ThankYou Rewards Collection." You can choose from a handful of retailers and restaurants, and points will be worth 1¢ each - that means the sign-up bonus would be worth $600.
A better idea is to book flights through Citi's ThankYou Travel Center. You can book effectively any flight on any airline, and points will be valued 25% higher, or 1.25¢ each. If you redeem the 50,000 point sign-up bonus this way, it would be worth $625 - if your flight costs more and you don't have enough points, you can pay the difference with your card.However, the best way to redeem your ThankYou points is to transfer them to an airline frequent flyer partner.
That's because of the way that frequent flyer programs work. Booking frequent-flyer "award tickets" is different from buying reservations outright - you can read more about how it works here . In most cases, the cash price and the miles price of a ticket aren't linked, so it's possible to get exponentially increased value from your points by transferring them and booking an award ticket instead. That means potentially being able to fly long-haul in first or business class with points, among other things.
While Citi has 15 airline transfer partners, some of them - for example, Garuda Indonesia - may seem a little bit niche, or offer award charts that don't offer an especially good value. But across the 15 partners, each major airline alliance is represented, so you should theoretically be able to book on just about any airline if you do a little bit of research.
Ultimately, it's a bit easier to get a good value from a transfer partner with Chase than with Citi, thanks to the fact that Chase has fewer but - generally - more straightforward transfer partners. But the potential is definitely still there with Citi. Or, if you're looking for something simpler, you can just book your flights through the ThankYou Travel Center.
Plus, the ThankYou program represents a great option if you already bank with Citi and want to keep everything in-house, or if you're looking to try a new rewards program - for instance, if you've used up all your points in a different program and want to start somewhere new with a nice juicy sign-up bonus to kick it off.
Aside from the points, the Citi Premier is a useful credit card, with a $95 annual fee that's waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
The card also comes with a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which entitles you to free two-day shipping at more than 100 major online retailers. The card also features Citi's Private Pass program, which gets you special access to tickets for events like concerts and shows, including pre-sales, VIP packages, and special seats.
Citi hasn't announced an end date for the increased sign-up bonus, so if you're interested, it's worth applying on the sooner side - it could drop back down at any time.
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