Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier: Which is best for you?

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The answer depends on whether you are a luxury or budget traveler

Citi Premier vs. Citi Prestige

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If you love to pack your days off with travel or fun-filled
events – such as evening concerts, sporting events or afternoons at an art
gallery or zoo – Citi’s line of travel and entertainment-friendly rewards cards
could be a great match for your evening and weekend spending.

The Citi Premier℠ Card, is one of the only cards around
that offers bonus points on a wide variety of entertainment purchases, including
concerts and sporting events, live theater, movie tickets, amusement parks,
tourist attractions, video rentals and more. It also offers a solid rewards
bonus on travel purchases.

Meanwhile, the newly revamped Citi Prestige card has
earned a loyal following thanks to its unique fourth night free hotel benefit,
ample travel credit and other high-value perks. The redesigned card no longer
offers an entertainment bonus; however, it does offer one of the highest
rewards rates you can get on travel and restaurant purchases, making it an
ideal pick for heavy travelers and people who love to dine out.

Which Citi card should you choose? It depends on how
much money you typically spend on travel, dining and entertainment and how much
cash you’re willing to invest in a high-end travel card.

Here’s what else to consider when comparing the two
cards:

Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier











  Citi Prestige
Citi Prestige Card
Citi Premier Card
Citi
Premier Card
Rewards rate

  • 5 points per dollar on dining and air travel
  • 3 points per dollar on cruises and hotels
  • 1 point per dollar on other
    purchases

  • 3 points per dollar on travel purchases, including
    airfare, gas, hotel reservations, public transportation, car rentals,
    taxis and more
  • 2 points per dollar on dining
    and entertainment
  • 1 point per dollar on other
    purchases

Sign-up bonus

  • To be announced when the card launches later in January

  • 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual fee $450 ($495 starting Sept. 1) $95, $0 first year
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend) TBD $413
Pros

  • Substantial
    points bonus on air travel and restaurant spending
  • $250
    travel credit
  • 4th
    night free when you book four consecutive nights at a hotel through the Citi
    Prestige (limited to twice per year starting in
    September)
  • Complimentary
    Priority Pass lounge access
  • $100
    Global Entry Application fee

  • More affordable annual fee that’s waived the first year
  • Substantial
    points bonus on a wide variety of travel purchases, including gas station
    purchases, car rentals, public transportation, taxis, cruises and more
  • Solid
    bonus for dining and entertainment purchases
  • 25%
    higher redemption value on travel when redeemed through the ThankYou Travel
    Center


Cons

  • Extremely
    high annual fee

  • No
    luxury travel benefits, such as lounge access or Global Entry
  • Few
    additional benefits
  • Pricey
    annual fee for what you get

Who should get this card?

  • Heavy
    travelers
  • Vacationers
  • Frequent
    restaurant-goers


  • Someone
    on a budget
  • Someone
    who wants to earn a lot for weekend entertainment spending
  • Road
    trippers and weekend travelers
  • Someone
    who wants to earn points for their daily commute


Best
card for someone on a budget: The Citi Premier card

If
you’re interested in a premium travel and entertainment card, but don’t want to
pay a huge annual fee, then the Citi Premier card is, by far, your best option.
The Citi Prestige card is exceptionally pricey, even when you factor in the
card’s air travel credit and other perks. For example, if you subtract the
Prestige card’s $250 travel credit from its upcoming $495 annual fee, you’ll
still be left with a $245 annual commitment.

The Citi Premier card, on the other hand, only charges
$95 – which should be fairly easy to make up if you regularly use the card for
travel, gas, entertainment, dining and other purchases. Citi also waives the Premier
card’s annual fee in the first year, so you can test it out before you use it. With
the Prestige card, by contrast, you’ll have to commit right away since it
charges a fee in the first year.

Best
card for weekend spending: The Citi Premier card

The
Citi Premier card is also a better pick for entertainment purchases. Unlike the
Citi Prestige card, the Premier card offers 2 points for every dollar you spend
on a wide range of entertainment purchases, including concerts and sporting
events, movies, plays, museums, theme parks, music purchases, streaming
subscriptions and more.

The Prestige card, by contrast, only offers 1 point
per dollar spent on entertainment purchases. If you regularly spend hundreds of
dollars a month on entertainment, you could easily recoup the cost of your
annual fee with those purchases alone.

Points
earned on $100 weekly entertainment spend





Citi Prestige
card

Citi Premier card

1 point per dollar x $100 x 52 weeks = 5,200 points

2 points per dollar x $100 x 52 = 10,400 points

Best
card for a heavy traveler: The Citi Prestige card

The
Citi Prestige card does offer more generous travel benefits, though, so it’s
worth a closer look if you spend a lot of time in the air.  For example, in addition to a $250 travel
credit (which you can use for any type of travel purchase, including airfare
and car rentals), the Prestige card offers a $100 application fee credit for
Global Entry so you can zip through airport security lines.

In addition, the Prestige card offers free access to
airport lounges through Priority Pass Select. Purchasing Priority Pass lounge
access on your own, by contrast, can potentially cost you more than $99 to $399
a year, depending on how often you plan to use it. If you’re a heavy traveler,
those perks alone could be worth the cost of admission – especially if you
prefer waiting for your flights in quieter, more luxurious airport lounges,
rather than at busy airport gates.

The Citi Prestige card also offers a unique hotel
benefit that can be a huge money saver: Twice per year, you’ll be reimbursed
for your fourth hotel night if you book four consecutive nights through Citi’s ThankYou.com travel website. It
doesn’t matter where you’re staying or how costly your hotel; even if you book
a hotel that costs several hundred dollars a night, you’ll still get the fourth
night free benefit.

The updated Prestige card also offers a huge rewards
bonus on travel spending: You’ll get 5 points for every dollar you spend on
airfare and 3 points for every dollar you spend on cruises. The Premier card,
by contrast, only offers 3 points per dollar for travel purchases. 

Travel
credits





Citi Prestige
card

Citi Premier card


  • $250 travel credit
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Hotel reservation credit for one night when you book
    four consecutive nights (limited to 2 times per year starting in September
    2019)

None

Best
card for vacationers: The Citi Prestige card

You
don’t necessarily need to travel regularly to benefit from the Citi Prestige card’s
travel credits either. Just one or
two vacations a year could make the Prestige card’s annual fee worth it. For
example, consider how much you’d save if you spent $800 in airfare for a family
vacation and charged four or more nights to a hotel that cost $150 a night.

If
you used up your annual $250 travel credit and booked your hotel through Citi,
you’d save at least $400 on airfare and hotel charges. If you booked another
four-night stay later that year, you’d save even more money, canceling out your
annual fee charges.  

Best
card for restaurant-goers

The
Citi Prestige card also offers an exceptionally high rewards rate for
restaurant purchases. So if you spend a lot of money dining out every month,
you could rack up a ton of points just for everyday restaurant spending. For
example, the newly revamped Prestige card now offers 5 points for every dollar
you spend at restaurants. The Premier card, by contrast, only offers 2 points
for restaurant spending.

Points
earned on $200 weekly restaurant spend





Citi Prestige
card

Citi Premier card

5 points per dollar x $200 x 52 weeks = 52,000 points

2 points per dollar x $200 x 52 weeks = 20,800 points

Best
card for road trippers and weekend travelers:
Citi Premier Rewards card


If you don’t fly regularly enough to take advantage of the Citi Prestige card’s
benefits, though, then it’s probably not worth the annual fee – even if you
account for the restaurant benefit. Most of the Prestige card’s perks are
reserved for air travel and lengthy trips. So if you typically drive to your vacation
destinations – or if you rarely stay in a hotel for longer than three nights – then the Prestige card’s benefits won’t mean as much to you.

The Citi Premier card, on the other hand, offers a far
more inclusive travel rewards program that rewards road trippers just as
heavily as air travelers. Unlike the Citi Prestige card, for example, it offers
triple points on a wide variety of travel purchases, including gas, cruises,
car rentals, trains, public transportation, taxis, toll fees, parking and more.
Airfare and hotel purchases also earn a triple-point bonus. As a result,
charging a long weekend vacation to the Premier Rewards card could earn you
significantly more points than if you used the Prestige card.  

Sample
point earnings for a 3-day road trip





Citi Prestige
card

Citi Premier card

(5 points per dollar x $200 dining) + (1
point per dollar x $800) = 1,800 points

(3 points per dollar x ($200 gas + $300
hotels)) +

(2 points per dollar x ($200 dining +
$300 amusement park ticket)) =

2,500 points

Best
card for someone who wants to earn points for their everyday commute: Citi Premier
card


The Citi Premier card’s generous travel bonus also makes it a great choice for
everyday transportation spending, no matter how you typically commute. For
example, if you regularly drive to work, this is an excellent gas card. It’s
rare to find a card that offers an unlimited 3 points for every dollar you
spend at gas stations.

In addition, the Citi card offers triple points for toll
fare, too, so you can beat the traffic and earn additional points. Meanwhile,
if you typically take the bus or subway or ride a commuter train into work
everyday, you’ll also earn a significant amount using this card. If you used
the Citi Prestige card, by contrast, you would only earn 1 point for every
dollar spent on your commute.  

Points
earned on $400 ground transportation per month





Citi Prestige
card

Citi Premier card

1 point per dollar x $400 ground
transportation x 12 months = 4,800

3 points per dollar x $400 ground
transportation x 12 months = 14,400

Bottom
line

For
many cardholders, the Citi Premier card offers more than enough value to make
it worth a $95 annual fee – especially if you regularly use it for your daily commute,
your weekends and evenings out, your restaurant purchases and other ongoing
expenses. But if you’re a heavy traveler or plan to take at least one or two
lengthy vacations, then the Citi Prestige card is worth a closer look. It may
cost more upfront, but it could also save you hundreds of dollars a year –
especially if you spend a lot of time in hotels.

See related: Changes coming to the Citi Prestige in 2019, Earning and using Citi ThankYou points




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