My Review of The Citi Premier Card – Is It Worth The $125 Annual Fee?

In my opinion the Citi Thank You Premier Card is quite the hidden gem when it comes to rewards credit cards for people who travel frequently. I’ve had this card for over 5 years, back when it was called the Citi Premier Pass card (when the annual fee was only $75), and although many people on FlyerTalk will complain about how Citi has clawed back all the valuable benefits of the card like not requiring flight points to be matched with spend, fixed point redemption options – 20,000 points for a domestic round trip, and allowing you to book fixed point first/business class fares, which you could then cancel and either get a cash refund or flight voucher for future travel, I still think this card can easy be worth the $125 annual fee if you take advantage of its benefits.

What Are The Benefits of Having This Card?

– 25,000 point sign up bonus (after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months)

– No foreign transaction fees

– Free domestic companion ticket

– 33% discount on booking travel with your Thank You points

– 15% discount on all airfare booked through Citi’s partner Spirit Incentives

– 1.2 points per dollar spent at grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, commuter transportation/parking (warehouse stores like Costco and department stores as well as Amtrak tickets do not count)

– 1 point per dollar spent on everything else

– 1 Flight Point per miles flown on all airline tickets purchased using the card (one Flight Point is converted into a Thank You point when matched with one dollar of spend)

– Anniversary bonus depending on how long you have had the card:

  • 0-1 Years – 1%
  • 1-2 Years – 2%
  • 2-3 Years – 3%
  • 3-4 Years – 4%
  • 4+ Years – 5%

That’s quite a long list of benefits, making this card a difficult product to fully value, and even harder to maximize its value.

Why I Like This Card

Free Companion Certificate

First, what makes this card valuable in my opinion is not it’s point earning, but it’s free annual companion certificate. At first I was a bit skeptical about the free companion certificate, but after using it recently it was extremely easy to book, and it appeared that Citi was not assessing any fees, or passing just a nominal booking fee on to book the companion certificate. I recently searched for tickets from Chicago to Los Angeles and the fares for the weekend I wanted to travel on were about $300 on AA. When I logged into the Spirit Incentives portal, the cost was only an additional $101.08 for taxes and fees about the published base fare for the ticket as you can see below.

Indeed, it looks like my wife’s $278 ticket was free! I only had to pay for the additional taxes plus a $10 booking fee. The same fare when I searched for it on Kayak was $307 all in so I’m guessing that $80 of the ticket was taxes and Spirit tacked on a $10 booking fee per ticket.

If you were going to pay for these tickets anyway like I was, this already paid for my $125 annual fee. What’s more, we both earn AA miles on our tickets unlike the free companion passes issued by the airlines.

Redeeming Thank You Points for Travel

The second most useful thing about this card is redeeming Thank You points for travel. Thank You points are worth 1 cent per point toward airfare, but when you hold the Citi Premier Card you actually get 1.33 cents per point, which can often be more valuable than redeeming for fixed award level with airline frequent flyer miles. Take for example a $300 flight. Without the Premier Card you would have to pay 30,000 Thank You points for it. However, having the Premier Card you only have to pay 22,500 points (a 7,500 point, or $75 savings). In this example it was actually more beneficial to use Thank You points than it would have been to redeem 25,000 AA miles for this flight. What’s even more special about this redemption is pairing the Premier Card with the Citi Forward card where you can earn 5 TYP per dollar spent on restaurants, bookstores, and movies which I’ve highlighted in this post. If you earned all your points via restaurant and bookstore purchases, you would have had to spend only $4,500 to get this $300 flight for free! That’s a pretty tremendous earning rate!

Would I Recommend This Card?

I would definitely recommend this card if you value the free companion certificate. That alone covers the cost of the annual fee. Beyond that if you pair this card with the Citi Forward, I think it’s a complete no-brainer especially if you travel frequently for personal trips.

Here is a list of all the point earning details.

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