Keep The Citi Prestige And/Or Citi Premier After The First Year?

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Update: This offer for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is expired. Learn more about the current offer here.

Update: This offer is expired. You can find the current offer details here.

As most of you probably know, Citi has two especially lucrative sign-up bonuses right now, on their cards which accrue ThankYou Rewards points. I’ve applied for both of these cards over the past couple of months, and they’ve become my “primary” credit cards for the time being.

As a reminder, these include:

  • The Citi Prestige® Card, which is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening; $450 annual fee
  • The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which is offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening; the $95 annual fee is waived the first year

These cards really are all around winners, in terms of the sign-up bonuses, return on everyday spend, etc. Upon meeting the minimum spend on both cards I’ll have over $1,440 of credit towards airfare on American.

But I’ve received quite a few questions about what I plan on doing with the cards after the first year — will I keep both, keep one, or cancel both?

The Citi Prestige® Card is more than justifiable year after year

While this card does have a $450 annual fee, it’s hands down worth it to me well beyond the first year. That’s because the card offers:

In other words, after the first year I’m basically paying the equivalent of $200 out of pocket, since the annual fee is $450 and I get a $250 airline credit. So for those $200 I get Admirals Club access, a comprehensive Priority Pass membership, a potentially extremely valuable fourth night free hotel benefit, etc.

Westin
The Prestige offers a fourth night free hotel benefit

Can I also justify the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card after the first year?

This is the trickier question for me. Since the Citi Prestige® Card absolutely makes sense to me even after the first year, can I justify the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card as well? The card “only” has a $95 annual fee after the first year, so it’s not as steep as the annual fee on the Prestige.

What does the Premier Card offer, which the Prestige Card doesn’t?

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has the following category bonuses:

  • 3x points on travel
  • 3x points on gas
  • 2x points on dining out and entertainment
  • 1x point on all other purchases

Meanwhile the Citi Prestige® Card has the following category bonuses:

  • 3x points on air travel and hotels
  • 2x points on dining out and entertainment
  • 1x point for all other purchases

In other words, the difference in category bonuses is that the Premier offers 3x points on gas and all travel purchases, while the Prestige doesn’t offer 3x points on gas, and the only travel categories on which it offers 3x points is air travel and hotels.

For the purposes of the Citi Premier, travel is defined as follows:

airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies, gas stations, commuter transportation, taxi/limousines, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, campgrounds and trailer parks, time shares, bus lines, motor home/RV rental and boat rentals.

TGV-Train-Brussels-Paris-06
Earn triple points on train tickets with the Premier but not with the Prestige

So is it worth paying a $95 annual fee exclusively to earn 3x points on all travel categories and gas, as opposed to just on air travel and hotels? I’m not sure. I’ll have to crunch the numbers more closely, but I’m probably leaning towards no.

Bottom line

Ultimately I’m thrilled to have signed up for both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. The former is an absolute no brainer long term keeper for me, while I guess I’ll have to monitor my spend patterns after the first year to see if I’m getting enough marginal points out of the Premier in the travel and gas categories to justify paying the annual.

What about you — which card makes more sense for you after the first year?

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Comments

  1. @Lucky

    If you keep the premeire after year 1. Do you consider canceling the Sapphire preferred? With more points per category bonus for travel and the addition for gas. Seems like a plausible option. But I’m on the fence on this due to the few differentiating transfer partners Chase has over Citi (BA for example)

    What are your thoughts. Will your decision between the two come down to the txfr partners (if there is a decision to make)?

  2. Not sure why the changed the categories on the premiere a few months back. It was the perfect set up to keep both cards. Prestige 3x on travel and Premiere 3x on dining and entertainment…perfect reason to have both. They lost a lot of business by switching them to basically mirroring categories IMO.

  3. As long as they keep the 4th night free I will keep the Prestige. Based on that assumption I will likely let go of the Thank You as it falls into having too many mouths to feed.

    Re the question of the CSP, I keep that card to earn United points. I figure have to have either the CSP or SPG for that purpose and the no foreign fees makes the CSP the obvious choice.

  4. @lucky

    How does one “claim” the airline credit? is it automatic when a purchase codes as airlines?

  5. A warning on the 4th night free,it doesn’t work for every hotel. It is only for hotels in the Carlson Wagonlit system and they don’t offer as much selection as an Online Travel Agency. For example, right now I am trying to book something for Cappadocia, and they are having a hard time coming up with a hotel, while Expedia and other have more than 50 hotels listed. Benefit works fine for bigger cities with Hiltons, Hyatt, SPG, etc.

  6. Lucky,
    How do you think this card compares to the AA Citi Executive card? Does it offer the same trip delay insurance that kicks in after a 3 hour delay? It looks like the annual fee is the same.
    I just applied & got the AA Plat card ($95) because some sites said it had this trip delay insurance, but I think with the plat card the coverage only applys after 12 hours, so I would like to convert or apply for one of the cards that offers the 3 hour insurance.

    Also, do you know if its easier to process these trip delay claims with Chase or Citi?

  7. What I plan to do is have mrs snic apply for both cards, and I will do the same. But we may only keep the Premier longer than the first year because of the extra travel/gas bonuses. I don’t value the Prestige benefits particularly highly and the annual fee is expensive.

    The only reason for keeping more than one card between the two of us is that points from cards that you cancel will expire shortly after you cancel the card (if I understand correctly). There is no way to prevent this from happening except to transfer them to a partner. I’m aiming for Singapore Air now, and their points expire after 3 years. That should be enough time to accumulate enough miles for a trip for 3 to Australia, but in First Class that’s nearly 900,000 points, which might take an extra year or two! So if we decide to aim for First instead of Business tickets, I may bite the bullet and pay all 4 annual fees for at least one extra year.

  8. i had a charge from a travel agent on my prestige card (it was not for airfare or hotel) and i still received 3x points… my guess is most travel qualifies anyway.

  9. In same boat as Drew regarding CSP. If you have a Chase Ink card, you would still have ability to transfer and protect your points, correct? Then if it’s been 2 years, you can also downgrade the CSP to another Freedom and re-apply for the 40K+5K bonus.

  10. One thing I just noticed after having received my Priority Pass card, and it’s that the expiration date is showing as 2018…..so what happens if I don’t renew my Premier card after year 1? does it kill the membership to PP at that point?

  11. Can you transfer Thank You points to AA? I see the Citi Prestige card provides special privileges on AA, like access to Admirals Lounges, but when I go to the Thank You Rewards page, AA is not listed as air partner for points transfer. Am I missing something?

  12. @snic

    Be careful on the points transfer. Transferred points typically expire after 90 days.

  13. @Lucky – Don’t forget the three rounds of golf you get for free annually with the Prestige card. That can be worth more than the airline credit if you use it for nicer courses.

  14. Citi Prestige 3x includes travel agencies, but dunno if OTAs count. It’s an even better proposition if you get the in-branch offer with the $350 annual fee because then you’re only out of pocket $100 after getting the airfare credit.

  15. Do hotels.com, expedia, hotwire, and priceline etc… fall under the 3x travel category for Prestige?
    Thx.

  16. Is it possible that at some time in the future, Citibank may change Prestige’s 3X bonus categories the same as Premier’s?

  17. @jrjcopp: I know, the expiration of transferred points (to other people) after 90 days is one of the annoying things about TYPs. Chase Ultimate Rewards points don’t have this “feature” – but from Citi’s perspective it makes a lot of sense: here I am, considering spending a lot more in annual fees to keep more Citi cards open than I would have if the points didn’t expire after transferring.

  18. @ Norzan — It’s certainly possible, and it would be awesome on their part. That being said, it’s not unusual for the “premium” versions of a card to offer less lucrative category bonuses than the less premium versions. The assumption sometimes is that people willing to pay a higher annual fee care more about perks than points (of course then they haven’t met us). 😀

  19. @ Jimmy — Nope, it would count for the Premier 3x points category, but not the Prestige category.

  20. @ Stannis — Oh, thought the Citi Prestige only offers 3x points on air travel and hotels booked directly through the provider. I could be wrong!

  21. @ Drew — Nope. In conjunction with the Citi Prestige you can redeem them for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on American/US Airways, though you can’t transfer them to American AAdvantage. My hope is that they’ll be added as a transfer partner at some point.

  22. @ Wayne — Correct. Even though the expiration date indicates it’s valid longer, in practice it would be deactivated shortly after you cancel the card.

  23. @ snic — I could be mistaken, but I believe the 90 day expiration only kicks in when you transfer to someone else’s account, as opposed to simply to another one of your accounts. In other words, if you transfer points from your Citi Premier to your Citi Prestige (both in your name), I don’t think the points would expire in 90 days. That would only happen if you choose to transfer the points to an account in someone else’s name.

  24. @ Drew — While I love the new Citi cards, ultimately I don’t see myself canceling the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I still value the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners immensely, and it is a really well rounded card.

  25. The Premiere probably does NOT make sense to pay the AF for with the Prestige. You’re looking to make up the $95 AF in gas and non-hotel, non-airfare travel expenses over fee-free cards. Compared to the Double Cash, you’d earn an extra 2.8 cents for every dollar spent in those categories. That’s a break-even point of ~$3400 in spend- possible but unlikely unless someone is doing a serious volume of car rentals, Uber or gas consumption. Once you consider other gas bonus cards like Sallie Mae and rotating bonuses on Discover IT and Chase Freedom, I have a tough time imagining the Premiere being worthwhile for basically anyone.

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