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Update: The Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou® Premier now offer 1.25¢ per point towards travel on any airline, versus the previous enhanced redemption rate on American Airlines. Learn more about the current offers 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:
- A $250 annual airline credit (with your first year’s annual fee you actually get two of those — that’s $500 of airline credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee)
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
- A great points earnings structure
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.
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.
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.
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?