Editor’s note: Citi is an advertising partner of TPG.
That Citi Premier® card definitely less attention than other travel rewards credit cards, especially when compared to premium credit cards. It also lost most of its consumer protection and insurance benefits back in 2019.
With that in mind, you might be wondering if the $95 annual fee for the Citi Premier card is worth it. Let’s take a look.
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When considering whether the card is worth it, let’s start with the introductory bonus offer.
With Citi Premier, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 80,000 ThankYou® points after making $4,000 in purchases with your new card within the first three months of account opening. TPG values these points at 1.8 cents each, so the bonus is worth $1,440.
Citi ThankYou Points have increased in value over the past two years thanks to their transfer partners. A good example is Etihad Guest, which can often help you book American Airlines award flights for less than American Airlines’ AAdvantage program direct. You can also use Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles to book business class awards on flatbed flights to Hawaii for as little as 12,500 miles per person, each way.
On the hotel page, you can transfer your points 1:1 to Wyndham Rewards and 1:2 to Choice Privileges. These programs can offer excellent value not only at budget hotels, but also when traveling near holidays when cash rates are high but point rates are not prone to fluctuate.
Related: 5 of the Best Citi ThankYou Rewards Redemption Sweetspots
Collect solid points
While many other cards find their strengths in the perks and benefits they offer — think reimbursement of your Global Entry application fee or lounge access memberships — Citi Premier doesn’t offer these benefits. But it also doesn’t have an annual fee of over $400 like credit cards that offer these benefits.
Instead, if you ask people what they like about the Citi Premier Card, the most common answer might be that it earns points in popular spend categories.
Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout). Since TPG values these points at 1.8 cents each, that translates to a 5.4% yield. Also, these bonus tiers are worldwide, unlike some cards that only offer these bonus points for purchases within the US
Outside of these categories, all other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. That’s a yield of 1.8%.
Related: How to Redeem Citi Thank You Points for Maximum Value
$100 annual hotel credit
While this benefit sounds promising and can be great when staying at independent boutique hotels, it may not result in the $100 savings you’d expect based on the benefit’s name.
Testing the $100 hotel credit on the Citi Premier, TPG found that the benefit was often well under $100. That’s because Citi’s travel portal doesn’t always have the lowest price — especially when you consider member-only rates at your favorite hotel chain.
The $100 hotel credit can be used once per year on a hotel stay of $500 or more and the stay must be booked through thankyou.com – Citi’s travel portal.
Related: The Citi travel portal is getting a complete overhaul: here’s what to expect
Protection for cardholders
While the card has lost numerous protections in recent years, it has gained two that can be valuable: extended warranty protection and damage and theft protection.
The extended warranty protection on the Citi Premier extends the manufacturer’s guarantee by a further 24 months. Damage and Theft Protection may provide repair or replacement of an item that is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase (up to $10,000 per item and a $50,000 annual limit).
Benefits of the World Elite Mastercard
As a World Elite Mastercard, you enjoy numerous benefits and perks. These include cell phone protection and Global Emergency Services, a $5 Lyft credit when you make at least three trips in a month, and a ShopRunner membership that offers two days of free shipping on many online purchases. Plus get elite status and car rental benefits with Avis, National and Sixt.
Although not the Citi Premier Card, anyone with a Citi credit card can access Citi Entertainment. This can provide access to exclusive events and priority access or pre-sale tickets to concerts, shows and performances, film festivals and more.
While it may not be the best card for everyday use, there’s a lot of value with it Citi Premier card. Unlike other credit cards with luxurious benefits and automatic elite status, this card offers its value typically through the points you earn for using the card in its bonus categories.
To be honest, you probably won’t get enough value out of the $100 hotel credit to offset the $95 annual fee. However, if you’re able to save money with cell phone coverage or cardholder protection, those alone can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.
If not, whether Citi Premier’s annual fee is worth it depends on the points you earn, how you rate them, and what other cards in your wallet earn points in the same categories.
Official application link: Citi Premier® card with an 80,000 point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening.