Comparison Table of Citi Preferred vs. Premier vs. Prestige

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Citi has three cards that earn ThankYou Points and whose names start with “P-R-“. Those are about the only similarities though as the cards differ wildly from their bonuses to their benefits to their annual fees. In this post, I’ll compare and contrast the:

What are the differences between and who is best served by each card?

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Strength: Sign up bonus and category bonus for a no annual fee card
Weakness: Lower bonus and earning rates than ThankYou cards with an annual fee
Competitor: Chase Freedom

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card is good for a no annual fee card, but should not be the main earning card in your arsenal. It is designed for people who are afraid of annual fees, but want to earn something for their spending instead of using debit cards.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card offers 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in the first three months, and it offers 2x points on dining out and entertainment.

Unfortunately the ThankYou Points earned on the card are only worth 1 cent each toward travel or gift cards. ThankYou Points earned on the Premier and Prestige are worth a lot more than that, and luckily you can combine your ThankYou accounts to get the best redemption rate, even for points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, if you have a Premier or Prestige.

Citi ThankYou Premier

Strength: Sign up bonus, category bonuses, transfer partners
Weakness: No benefits for cardholders
Competitor: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is a card that can really rack up the points. It is designed to be your main rewards card, and like all great rewards cards, it has an annual fee (that is waived for the first 12 months.)

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The points rack up incredibly quickly for travelers with 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining out and entertainment.

These are extremely broad bonus categories that include all of the following, according to Citi:

  • 3x: 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
  • 2x: restaurants and on select entertainment merchants, including sports promoters, theatrical promoters, movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, record stores and video rental stores

ThankYou Points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card (or earned on the Preferred and combined with a Premier account) are worth 1.25 cents toward flights, hotels, car rentals, or cruises. That’s a solid 3.75% back on your travel and gas purchases. But you can often do better.

First, if you have a Premier and a Prestige, you can combine points and get better redemption rates with the Prestige, which I’ll explain below.

Second, the Premier allows transfers of points at a 1:1 rate to 12 types of airline miles. I’ve gotten huge value from Singapore miles before, and I see great value on the Air France Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic award charts.

This card has no annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter. If you ever decide you can’t justify the annual fee, you can downgrade the card to a Preferred to avoid the annual fee while keeping your ThankYou Points active.

Citi ThankYou Prestige

Strength: Sign up bonus, category bonuses, transfer partners, redemption rate for American Airlines flights, statement credits, lounge access
Weakness: annual fee
Competitor: American Express Platinum

The Citi Prestige® Card is designed to be the only card you carry. It has huge sign up and category bonuses and unrivaled perks like lounge access and statement credits to offset airfare. Like all premium cards, it has a big annual fee ($450), but I happily pay it.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. The points rack up incredibly quickly for travelers with 3x points on airline and hotel spending and 2x points on dining out and entertainment.

ThankYou Points earned on the Citi Prestige® Card (or earned on the Preferred or Premier and combined with a Prestige account) are worth 1.33 cents each toward the purchase of any flight.

The Prestige also allows transfers of points at a 1:1 rate to 12 types of airline miles. I’ve gotten huge value from Singapore miles before, and I see great value on the Air France Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic award charts.

The Prestige really differs from the other ThankYou cards with its benefits and commensurate annual fee. The card offers lounge access for you plus two guests into the American Airlines lounge every time you fly American Airlines and into Priority Pass lounges worldwide no matter what airline you fly. It also offers a $250 per calendar year Air Travel credit that wipes out your first $250 spending on tickets, fees, or award taxes. The card even offers a $100 statement credit to offset the Global Entry application fee and three free rounds of golf per year.

For all that, you pay an annual fee of $450 per year, but I still plan to keep the card indefinitely. Those benefits are worth around $700 per year to me.

If you ever decide you can’t justify the annual fee, you can downgrade the card to a Preferred to avoid the annual fee while keeping your ThankYou Points active.

Comparison Table

In case, your head is spinning from all that information on each card, here is a side-by-side comparison. The asterisks in the “Value of Points” row is because you can combine your ThankYou Points into one account and redeem all your points at the rate of your best card. That means Preferred points could be worth 1.6 cents each if you combine them with a Prestige.

Bottom Line

The Preferred, Premier, and Prestige are very different cards designed for different people.

The Preferred has good earnings for a no annual fee card, but poor earnings compared to its sister ThankYou cards.

The Premier has fantastic earnings for a small annual fee. It is designed for users who don’t need benefits from their credit cards.u

The Prestige has fantastic earnings plus great benefits for travelers and golfers. I can justify its annual fee because I use the lounge access and golf benefits, but if you won’t, the Premier may be better for you.

While very different from each other if you have just one card, you can get the best of all worlds by holding more than one of the ThankYou cards. You can combine all your ThankYou Points earned from all your ThankYou cards into one account, from which you can redeem points at the value of your card with the best redemption values.

Just make sure if you are getting more than one Citi card to get no more than one card in 7 days and no more than two cards in 65 days.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Noticed an error…you have both the second and third cards listed as Citi ThankYou Premier in the heading. The third card should be listed as Citi ThankYou Prestige. I know it was am oversight and it happens when writing so many articles. Just wanted you to be aware. Love the site and the great info you put out.

    • Thanks, corrected. I’m surprised I only made one of those errors in this post, since the card names are so similar.

  2. One other benefit of the Prestige card you didn’t mention was the 4th night free on paid hotel stays when using the Prestige card (4th night charge will be reimbursed back to you approximately 30 days after your stay). Must use the Citi Concierge service to book a four night (or longer) stay.

  3. @milevalue
    great analysis!
    -can i churn the premier if i closed it 11 months ago please?
    -can a different person, who currently has the preferred, open the premier & receive the bonus?
    thanks!

    • -can i churn the premier if i closed it 11 months ago please?

      Wait 18 months from closure

      -can a different person, who currently has the preferred, open the premier & receive the bonus?

      Yes, I have both the Prestige and Premier for instance. You can have all three.

  4. Can I downgrade Premiere to Preferred within less than 12 months after opening Premiere to avoid the first annual fee ? Thank you.

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