Are The Annual Fees On The Citi Prestige & Citi Premier Worth It After The First Year?

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Last year Citi really upped their game when it came to their transferrable points currency cards, as they refreshed the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou Premier Card. They historically offered sign-up bonuses of 50,000 ThankYou points upon completing minimum spend on both cards, so I’m sure I wasn’t alone in picking up both cards. That netted me 100,000 ThankYou points, and I’ve greatly increased my balances since then, thanks to the excellent return on everyday spend offered by both of these cards.

The Citi Prestige® Card still has a 40,000 point sign-up bonus upon completing minimum spend, while the Citi ThankYou Premier Card isn’t offering any sign-up bonus at all, which I find to be bizarre, though I shared what I believe to be the logic behind that in a previous post.

I’ve had both cards for roughly a year now, so I’m being hit with the $450 annual fee on the Citi Prestige Card, as well as the $95 annual fee on the Citi ThankYou Premier Card. I figured I’d reflect on the cards as such, and what I’m planning on doing now that the annual fees are due.

The Citi Prestige® Card is a keeper and has exceeded my expectations

This is my single favorite credit cards, hands down.

The card has a $450 annual fee, which seems high, but is an absolute bargain when you look at what you get. As I’ve explained before, the benefits include the following:

The $250 annual airline credit counts towards any purchase directly with an airline, which essentially lowers my out of pocket on the card to $200 per year, since I value the $250 airline credit more-or-less at face value.

Citi-Prestige-Airline-Credit

 

Then I get a Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges, which I’ve used several times.

Plaza-Premium-Lounge-London-Heathrow - 15
Plaza Premium Lounge LHR

And last but most certainly not least, there’s the fourth night free hotel benefit, which saved me well over a thousand dollars in the first year alone.

St-Regis-Bali-Resort - 6
I used the fourth night free benefit at the St. Regis Bali

The card also offers triple points on airfare and hotel purchases, double points on dining and entertainment, and one point per dollar spent on everything else. Given that the card offers great travel protection, this is my go to card for airline and hotel purchases.

The best part is all of these perks are available year after year, so it’s an absolute no brainer that I’ll keep this card.

What about the Citi ThankYou Premier Card?

The Citi ThankYou Premier Card is a fantastic competitor to the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit CardPremier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card is all about the return on spend, as it offers:

  • 3x points on travel purchases, including gas
  • 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • 1x points on all other purchases

This is a fantastic card to use for everyday purchases. But I’m not planning on keeping it after the first year, personally… because the Citi Prestige® Card is so great. Let me explain.

Marginal spend differences between the two cards

To compare the difference in return on spend between the two cards, the Citi Prestige® Card offers:

  • 3x points on airfare and hotel purchases
  • 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Meanwhile the Citi ThankYou Premier Card offers:

  • 3x points on travel purchases, including gas
  • 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • 1x points on all other purchases

The only difference in terms of return on spend is that the Citi ThankYou Premier Card offers 3x points on gas, as well as travel purchases other than airfare and hotels.

Given that I’m definitely holding onto the Citi Prestige Card, is it worth paying the $95 annual fee for those additional 3x points categories? I value Citi Thank You points at ~1.6 cents each, so I’d have to earn an additional ~6,000 points to come out even on the annual fee.

Could I come out that far ahead for the 3x points I’m earning on gas and travel purchases other than airfare and hotels?

I don’t make many gas purchases (after all, I don’t have a car), but when I do, I can use the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card where I’m earning 3x points on gas as well (when I factor in the 50% bonus for making 30 transactions per billing cycle).

Gas-Station
The Citi ThankYou Premier Card offers triple points on gas… but so do other cards

So that leaves the travel categories other than airfare and hotels. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card travel category includes all of the following:

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

The alternative would be for me to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for these purchases, which would earn me 2x points. Assuming you value Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points roughly the same, I’d need to spend $6,000 per year in the travel category excluding airfare and hotels to come out ahead.

CSP-Parking
I’m not spending enough on things like parking to justify the annual fee

And I just don’t spend that much on car rentals, tolls, parking, etc.

Bottom line

If I didn’t have the Citi Prestige® Card, I’d say the Citi ThankYou Premier Card would be an absolute no brainer long term, given that it offers among the best return on everyday spend of any card out there.

That being said, marginally the better bonus categories of the Citi ThankYou Premier over the Citi Prestige Card don’t justify the $95 annual fee, at least based on my spend patterns.

I’m still thrilled with the Citi Prestige Card, and think it remains the best value card out there.

If you’re in the same boat and have annual fees due soon for the Citi Prestige® Card and/or Citi ThankYou Premier Card, do you plan on keeping the card(s) past the first year?

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Comments

  1. Agreed, if you don’t have a car the spending categories are the same. But you can buy other stuff at gas stations.

  2. Well, I have both and totally agree with your math. But I’ll probably be keeping both given the retention offers I got after saying I was going to cancel.

  3. Great analysis. I also have both cards. Living in Manhattan, I pay $500/month in parking alone — the fact that I earn 18,000 points/year should make me want to keep it. However, I also have the Chase Freedom / Chase Sapphire Preferred combo which means I’d earn 12,000 UR points if I put it on that card. Since UR are valued more, the 6k point difference isn’t as great, and therefore it’s not worth the additional $99 for the Premier card next year.

  4. I planned to cancel after 1st year, unless a retention offer offsets the AF. It turned out to be 5000 points after $1000, not too bad…

  5. I think the big exception here is cruise lines. If you take a cruise with family or a significant other once or twice a year, you could easily justify the ThankYou Premier card.

  6. Ben:

    Don’t overlook the bonus offers from the premiere card. So far this year, I’ve received 5000 bonus points for spending $1000 at Hilton properties and am in line for another 10000 bonus points for spending $3000 on the premiere between March 15 and June 15. I don’t know whether those offers were open to everyone or were targeted, but they are pretty good deals.

  7. As an AA flyer, If I had to keep only one card it would be this one. The 4th night free benefit has netted me $1350 in credits in the last 12 months and i plan to use it several times in the next 12 months. I’d be paying for Admirals access anyway so this is a no brainer for me.

    I will be launching the premier card as the benefits overlap too much to pay another $95.

  8. How do you manage to use so many credit cards to make them worthwhile? I mainly use the CSP and Amex Everyday Pref card. And even then I don’t make that many transactions. Granted I am not traveling so much so maybe that makes somewhat of a difference. But even still…

  9. Prestige priority pass isn’t the best given only two free guests. CNB visa infinite offers unlimited free guests.

  10. I just canceled my ThankYou Premier but plan to keep the Prestige. Should’ve called to see if there was a retention offer for the ThankYou Premier, but instead I just sent them a secure message asking to cancel, since I hate talking on the phone.

  11. I’m pretty sure Citi segregates points earned by different cards, and points earned with a canceled card will expire after 60 days. That’s what their terms suggest, at least, although I’d love to wrong. I was going to cancel the Premier and keep the Prestige, but after I learned this, I decided it was worth $95 only to keep the 65K or so points I’ve earned on this card alive for another year rather than transferring them prematurely.

  12. Although most of the things that you said make sense, but by now I think Citibank should award you a gold medal for promoting their product so eloquently and persistently. Fine, I am applying using your link. Are you happy now.

  13. Keep in mind that if you do cancel the Premier card it will be 2 years before you can qualify for the sign up bonus again. Keep it and you can get the bonus again in just 1 year.

  14. I am planning on cancelling my Premier but keeping the Prestige as well. Any thoughts as to where to transfer the points associated with the Premier card before they expire? Is there a good program, where miles don’t expire, that I can park the points indefinitely?

  15. I don’t follow how this works.

    Elizabeth says:
    April 20, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Keep in mind that if you do cancel the Premier card it will be 2 years before you can qualify for the sign up bonus again. Keep it and you can get the bonus again in just 1 year.

  16. Re:Robert
    With Citi you can have multiple of the same card, but the bonus is stipulated on not opening OR closing the card j. The last two years.

    Card #1 in 2016.
    If you cancel in 2017, you can apply in 2019.
    If you get retention offer, keep the card for a other year, apply for card #2 in 2018. Then cancel #1 after bonus from #2 posts.

  17. I will repeat what Jordan said. You will lose the Premier points after 60 days, even if they have been combined with the Prestige points and appear to be Prestige points. This is in the T&C and what I was told by a rep. I had a choice of retention offers, and one of them included $95 or $100 (I forget), so I kept the card. When spending combined points, I have no idea how they determine which points get spent first. This may be a card that has to be kept for a while, although I will try to use them ASAP on AA at 1.6 cents.

  18. For those of who travel, and do silly things like buy gas/groceries, the Citi Prestige and the Amex Everyday Preferred combine for the best 1-2 punch in the game.

  19. If you already have global entry, you can use the $100 Global Entry benefit by paying the fee for a friend or family member.

  20. There’s also a lot of discussion on Flyertalk about Citi shutting down accounts that have multiples of the same card. Now, I don’t know if this applies to someone who applies for a second Premier card, or if it’s mostly people who have 15 AA Platinum cards. Still, applying for a second Premier card would make me nervous.

  21. I have the premier and prestige card. I think I will keep the prestige and maybe PC the premier card to a citi double cash. I had heard somewhere that all the TY point earning cards are linked, so that if you close the premier then it resets the bonus clock on both the premier and the prestige. Anyone else hear that?

  22. Can anyone on how to get the 4th night – it looks like it requires booking through their Carlson Waginlit portal. I usually book direct with the hotel’s site – does this impact benefits? Is there any instance where booking direct with the hotel results in the credit?

  23. So if we keep card 1 then apply for card 2 and earn the bonus then cancel card 1, will we still lose the points we earned on card 1 60 days after we cancel it?

  24. @Civet five
    It’s not Carlson Wagonlit anymore, it’s Aspire Lifestyle now. Booking through them is just as good as booking directly with the hotel. When you call you ask to include your hotel loyalty # and they will add it. You can also direct them to where you see the cheapest price available online, but keep in mind they themselves can’t book via some online travel agency like Expedia, etc. And this 4th night benefit ONLY works by booking through them.

  25. For Lucky, Tiffany- or team: I have a simple profile. In MIA, travel only on AA. Spend about $60,000 on credit cards a year. Im EXP on AA. I have the following credit cards: AA Executive card ($450 or so) to gain 10,000 miles EQM when I spend 40K per year (this gives me free access to Admirals Club and helps me cross into my EXP status each year)…. I have the Citi Premier card…got the free $500 worth of credit when I spent about $3000 sign in….. love that, it paid for the card easily, yes it cost me $95 after the first year which I need to think about for the coming year…..but I really like those Citi Thank You points….. at CVS or Saks …..most anywhere….. I give them out as gifts to my team.
    Here’s the thing that I don’t understand- why do I still have the AMEX Platinum Card ($450)? to get into the SUPER crowded Centurion Lounges? I need to release my AMEX Plat Card but I’m hoping you can help me – one way or the other? The lounges are few and not so nice (if you ask me… as they are alway so populated by a “certain crowd” that I do not appreciate.

  26. Thanks for the therapy! I just re-read my email. I answered myself….. no need to reply…. thanks for the read on the site. appreciate it……

  27. I just did my very first ever business class trip.

    I can’t believe you guys fly around just for the sake of flying around. Even the best champagne does not make it worth it.

  28. I think I’ll grab this next tjk!e there is a nice sign up bonus. Surprised there isn’t a comparison this vs AMEX platinum maybe i missed it. The bigger question is do these bonuses count abroad? Anyone have any experience?

    Thanks

  29. @harold@jordan many thanks! Did not know that; guess lucky didn’t either?

    @Robert if I haven’t cancelled a card, the points don’t expire do they? So how do they know which account to pull them from?

  30. I don’t know if this has been asked. If you use reward points for the 1st 3 nights and pay cash for the 4th, do you get reimbursed the cash?

  31. Can spouses each get the City Thank Your premier card and transfer the points between them like you can do with the Chase Sapphire Cards?

  32. I have only the Citi TY Premier. I don’t see value in the TY Transfer Partners. Anyone reading this post, can you share which Transfer Partner you value the most?

  33. @Lucky , You should do a compare these with the Citi At&T Access More Credit card,

    3x Points on Retail Websites including Travel websites. 10,000 Thank You points every year with $10,000 annual spend which is easy. I think this card offers way more value than Premier card for the $95 fee even if you don’t have AT&T service.

  34. I think the Citi Prestige is worth paying the annual fee on, but if they ever get rid of the 4th night free benefit in the future it will not be worthwhile.

  35. @Robert Hansen. If I still have both cards active, points do not have an expiration date (Points never expire, I believe, until you cancel the card). So, please explain your comment in that context.

  36. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is spend on Uber/Lyft which should net you 3 points per dollar. This is the reason why I decided to keep Premier.

  37. I know this is always mentioned, but I have a Citi Gold account and my annual fee is $350. I just got that in writing on my statement since my annual fee is going to be due in my next billing cycle. I DID NOT go into a branch and request this specific deal.

    I had a Citi Gold account for another reason, but I have maintained a $0.00 balance in the account for the last 6 months (or so). Once in a while they charge me the monthly service fee, but it is always removed.

    Like I said, I didn’t do anything to request the reduction, but I’m not going to complain. Just for the record I did at one point keep some cash (not much and certainly not enough to waive the monthly), I just don’t do so any longer.

    $350 – $250 credit plus the earnings and Priority Pass…I’m happy with that.

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