Big Changes Announced for the Citi Premier Card

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The changes below have taken effect, and this post is no longer being updated. Here is our archive of major updates from card issuers and loyalty programs.

Update: On June 2, 2020, Citi launched the improvements to the Citi Premier® Card that were scheduled to launch on August 23, 2020.

Big news for fans of the ThankYou Point ecosystem! Citi has announced that they are revamping the Citi Premier® Card. At first glance, it looks like a positive move overall, with several spending categories getting a higher earning rate.

However, you're probably going to be disappointed by these changes if you're a fan of the general travel and entertainment bonus categories.

Citi Premier® Card
Citi Premier® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Offer Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
The Citi Premier card offers some of the top earning rates of any rewards card with an annual fee under $100. This card is best-in-class for rewards on air travel and hotel spending, and it tops our list of the best cards for gas & fuel purchases with a generous 3X ThankYou® Points.
  • 60,000 point signup bonus worth $750 towards airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
  • 3X points per $1 on airfare and hotels and at gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets
  • Annual Hotel Benefit: Save $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book through ThankYou.com
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • 3X points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels, and at gas stations
  • 3X points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants, including cafes, bars and lounges
  • 3X points per $1 spent at supermarkets
  • 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Cardmembers who opened their Citi Premier account before April 10, 2020 will also earn 2X points on entertainment and 3X points on a broader range of travel purchases through April 9, 2021.

Earning Rates

Currently, the Citi Premier has a pretty competitive earning rate that makes it one of the best travel credit cards on offer—especially of those with an annual fee under $100:

  • 3X on all Travel (including Gas)
  • 2X on Dining and Entertainment
  • 1X on everything else

But according to changes shared with One Mile At A Time, the earning rates for the Citi Premier will be adjusted to the following starting August 23, 2020:

  • 3X on airfare and hotels
  • 3X on gas
  • 3X on dining (including take-out)
  • 3X on supermarkets
  • 1X on everything else

The Good News

Before we dig into the losses, just look at all of those 3X categories! For a mid-tier card that only charges a $95 annual fee, that's a lot of potential return on your spend. The addition of 3X at supermarkets is especially exciting, considering American Express is the only major card issuer that currently offers bonuses on grocery spending year-round.

Cardholders that signed up before April 10, 2020 will maintain the current bonus categories through April 9, 2021 and will get the new bonus categories starting August 23, 2020. If you beat the deadline, you'll get 3X on general travel, 3X on dining, 3X on supermarkets, and 2X on entertainment from August 23, 2020, through April 9, 2021.

The Bad News

Now for the bad. The Citi Premier currently has a bonus category for general travel spend—similar to its closest competitor the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Starting in August, the Citi Premier will limit the 3X earning category to only airfare and hotels. This means that with the new earning structure, you'll no longer earn 3X for other travel expenses like cruises, public transit, parking meters, and rental cars.

Additionally, the card is losing the Entertainment bonus category completely. Historically, the Citi Premier was a leader in this category, but cards like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card have since surpassed it. While I don't imagine this is a huge earning category for most people, it could be a hard loss for those that used the card for a lot of ticket purchases—like season ticket holders or ticket resellers.

ThankYou points transfer 1:1 to Singapore Airlines' Krisflyer Program

Changes to Citi Travel Center Redemptions

Along with the revised earning categories, the Citi Premier will also see some unfortunate changes to portal redemptions. One of the current highlights of the card is the ability to redeem ThankYou points at 1.25¢ a piece towards travel through the Citi Travel Center. Starting April 10, 2021, these redemptions will be adjusted to 1¢ per point.

While cardholders will still have the ability to transfer points to Citi's 16 transfer partners, the 25% boost is always a nice option to have. I particularly liked using my ThankYou points in this way to book cheap, domestic flights.

New $100 Hotel Credit

Another new benefit of the Citi Premier is an annual $100 hotel credit on any $500+ hotel booking made through thankyou.com. This once-per-year perk goes into effect starting August 23, 2020.

At first glance, this doesn't strike me as all that valuable. If you're going to pay cash for a hotel reservation, you're not typically going to find the most competitive pricing through thankyou.com. Additionally, since these bookings would be through a 3rd party, you probably won't receive any elite status recognition or earn elite qualifying nights. However, this could come in handy if you're booking an independent hotel or with a hotel brand where you don't have elite status.

Timeline for Changes

The timeline for Citi to implement these updates is a little quirky. The official start date for all the card changes is August 23, 2020. However, current cardmembers—including anyone who applied before April 10th, 2020—will be grandfathered into the existing earning structure until April 10, 2021.

For one thing, this gives current cardholders a lengthy heads-up before they have to consider the card's value going forward. Even better, though, it gives them the best of both earning structures.

Not only will current cardmembers continue earning 3X on general travel and 2X on entertainment until April 2021, but they'll also gain the ability to earn 3X at groceries and restaurants starting this August!

Changes to the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card

The Citi Premier isn't the only card seeing changes effective August 23, 2020. Citi emailed current ThankYou Preferred cardholders about changes to the card's earning structure.

Currently, the ThankYou Preferred earns:

  • 2X on dining and entertainment
  • 1X on everything else

Starting on August 23, 2020, the ThankYou Preferred will earn points as follows:

  • 2X on cable and popular streaming services
  • 2X on live entertainment, including concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions and orchestras
  • 2X on dining
  • 1X on all other purchases

The addition of 2X earnings on cable and streaming services is a nice addition. However, it comes paired with a narrowing of the entertainment category. According to terms and conditions shared by Frequent Miler, Citi now explicitly states:

“You will not earn 2X points for purchases made at charitable organizations that provide live entertainment, sporting camps, sports complexes where you participate in the sport, public and private golf courses, country clubs (including membership fees), bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums or art galleries.”

Final Thoughts

The Citi ThankYou portfolio of cards has some of the industry's leading earning rates. The bonus categories of the Citi Premier were already one of its strengths. This revamp only makes it more so, especially when it's combined with the 2X earning of the Citi® Double Cash Card.

As a mid-tier travel rewards credit card, the Citi Premier‘s direct competitors are cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card, and American Express® Green Card. With its excellent earning structure and a $95 annual fee, the Citi Premier is easily among the best, even if Citi's transfer partners aren't quite as lucrative as those of Chase or American Express.

While I don't like losing the 25% bonus for redemptions through the Citi Travel Center, the new uncapped 3X at grocery stores and raised 3X at restaurants makes this an exceptionally well-rounded card in terms of earning. With a current sign-up offer of 60,000 bonus points, it could be a great card to jump-start your ThankYou point savings for when traveling picks up again.

Citi Premier® Card
Citi Premier® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Offer Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
The Citi Premier card offers some of the top earning rates of any rewards card with an annual fee under $100. This card is best-in-class for rewards on air travel and hotel spending, and it tops our list of the best cards for gas & fuel purchases with a generous 3X ThankYou® Points.
  • 60,000 point signup bonus worth $750 towards airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
  • 3X points per $1 on airfare and hotels and at gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets
  • Annual Hotel Benefit: Save $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book through ThankYou.com
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • 3X points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels, and at gas stations
  • 3X points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants, including cafes, bars and lounges
  • 3X points per $1 spent at supermarkets
  • 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Cardmembers who opened their Citi Premier account before April 10, 2020 will also earn 2X points on entertainment and 3X points on a broader range of travel purchases through April 9, 2021.

This post was updated after publishing to add the changes to the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card

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Comments

  • Avatar

    no thank you. I prefer the simplicity of the Citi Double Cash card for our spending needs. No annual fee and no need to track categories. Just an straight up simple 2% on everything.

  • Avatar

    I like the new categories for 3X. I wish they kept the 3X for general travel instead of limiting it.

  • Avatar

    I miss the days when the Citi premier used to have the flight voucher – buy a ticket and you get the second ticket for just taxes

  • Avatar

    I want to be excited but can’t be… Amex gold is much better.

  • Avatar

    Does Citi also exclude Walmart and Target from the supermarkets category?

    • Avatar

      Everyone does because those stores won’t code as grocery. Card issuers are just getting ahead of the complaints of people saying “but I bought groceries, can I please have my points.” Banks don’t control how the merchant codes. The merchant does. You could go buy groceries or anything else at a gas station and it will likely code as gas.

    • Avatar

      These code as retail which is why these exclusions are proactively stated (I believe Discover does the same thing). If I recall correctly, I think I did have a true Walmart grocery store – that literally ONLY sold groceries – code as groceries but your mileage may vary.

    • Avatar

      Yes, they’re mainly excluded, however there might be a little more nuance to it. I believe Walmart Online Grocery and their Walmart Neighborhood Market stores do count as grocery for some cards like AmEx. Don’t know about Citi.

  • Avatar

    Given all the uncertainty in the travel industry going forward, I just applied for a CITI Double Cash card. It will compliment my Premier card nicely.

  • Avatar

    I forgot about this card. This is a good slot for the Premier card with 3x categories along with a sub $100 annual fee because these Sapphire annual fees can be very pricey.

  • Avatar

    This is a huge change that overall seems very positive but losing car rentals, cruises, and travel agencies is a huge negative.

  • Avatar

    Overall i prefer the 3x on all travel more than 3x on dining or supermarkets as the AmEx Gold card does that better with 4x for a relatively lower net annual fee.

  • Avatar

    I was really considering closing my premier card…. however… with this I might be able to see some usefulness in the card…

  • Avatar
    lenin1991 says:

    I’m not sure who they’re positioning this card for… if it’s supposed to be a peer to Chase Sapphire Preferred, that loss of 1.25 is a huge hit.

  • Avatar

    I like these changes. I wonder if the new earning structure would include 3x for OTAs?

    • Avatar
      Patrick Stouffer says:

      Good news, it looks like the Premier WILL earn 3x on OTAs! The ‘Additional Info’ section of the Premier’s Terms list Travel Agencies as a part of ‘Air Travel and Hotels’.