Sapphire Preferred vs Citi Premier: Which Card Is Better?

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The Citi Premier® Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are two of the best mid-tier rewards cards available. Both earn flexible points that can be redeemed for travel at a fixed value or transferred to more than a dozen hotel and airline partners.

Both cards feature affordable annual fees under $100, and currently feature great signup bonuses. Now is a great time to compare the earning potential and benefits of these cards, and decide which one deserves a spot in your wallet.

Citi Premier & Sapphire Preferred at a Glance

Card DetailsCiti Premier® CardChase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Signup BonusEarn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® PointsEarn 80,000 bonus points
Bonus Categories• 3X points on airfare, hotels, and at gas stations
• 3X points on dining at restaurants, including cafes, bars, and lounges
• 3X at supermarkets
• 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
• 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
• 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
• 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

* From November 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021, earn 2X points per dollar spent at grocery stores
Value of Points• 1.25¢ per point for airfare through Citi Travel Center through 04/09/21, then 1¢ per point
• Transfer points to 16 airline partners
• 1.25¢ per point for travel through the Chase Travel Portal (also for purchases at grocery stores, dining, and home improvement stores through 04/30/21)
• Transfer points to 13 airline and hotel partners
Key Benefits• Hotel credit - $100 annual credit eligible on hotel reservations of $500 or more made through ThankYou.com.
• World Elite Mastercard benefits
• Free FICO score
• Primary CDW insurance on car rentals worldwide
• Trip delay reimbursement up to $500 for delays 12+ hours or overnight
• Trip cancellation and interruption insurance up to $10K per covered trip
• Lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay coverage
EligibilityWon't be approved if you:
• Have opened or closed a ThankYou points earning card in the previous 24 months
Won't be approved if you:
• Currently hold a Sapphire card, or have received a signup bonus on one in the previous 48 months.
• Have opened 5 or more new credit card accounts in the previous 24 months (Chase's 5/24 Rule)
Annual Fee$95$95

60,000 ThankYou Points vs. 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points

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.

The Citi Premier is currently running an increased bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This is an excellent bonus that can provide plenty of value when transferred to airline partners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring an 80,000-point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This card comes with great benefits and earns valuable Ultimate Rewards points.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

For only the second time, the Sapphire Preferred is offering a massive signup bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, plus you'll get a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases made in the first 12 months of card membership.

We value Ultimate Rewards points and ThankYou points at roughly the same value, so the Sapphire Preferred is a clear winner in the race for the best signup bonus.

Bonus Categories and Earning Potential

While Chase added some temporary bonus categories in response to the coronavirus pandemic (set to expire April 30, 2021), the earning potential of the Sapphire Preferred is still a sore point when you line it up next to the Citi Premier.

The Citi Premier earns 3X points across a wide range of bonus categories including airfare, hotels, dining & restaurants, and at gas stations and supermarkets. Those are all useful bonus categories in which many cardholders will spend a lot every year.

As standalone cards, you'll earn a lot more points on everyday spending with the Citi Premier over the Sapphire Preferred. However, you can hold companion Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to broaden your bonus categories.

Key Benefits and Highlights

Understandably for sub-$100 annual fee cards, the Citi Premier and Sapphire Preferred are relatively light on big-ticket perks.

We were disappointed to see Citi pull most of its travel and purchase protection benefits from the Citi Premier in 2019. Realizing it may have gone too far, Citi sweetened the Citi Premier in early 2020 with an annual $100 hotel credit and new bonus categories. Plus, the card still offers some skeleton purchase protection benefits.

Outside of a new $60 Peloton credit, Chase doesn't offer any sort of statement credits on the Sapphire Preferred. Instead, it offers a robust set of travel and purchase protection benefits, making it one of the best in its class for purchasing travel. You can read more about the Sapphire Preferred benefits in our full review of the card.

airport-gate-lounge
Chase's travel protections could really come in handy in a pinch.

Who's Eligible for the Welcome Bonuses?

To qualify for the Citi Premier 60,000-point bonus, you can't have opened or closed a ThankYou Points earning card in the previous 24 months.

“Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier® or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.”

New Sapphire Preferred applicants have a few extra hurdles to jump through to get the increased 80,000-point bonus. In addition to Chase's 5/24 policy, you can't currently be a Sapphire cardmember, and cannot have received a signup bonus on a Sapphire card in the previous 48 months.

“This product is available to you if you do not have any Sapphire card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.”

Final Thoughts

When you factor in the 80,000-point signup bonus, we think the Sapphire Preferred should be on the radar of anyone that qualifies for the bonus. The card is a staple for Ultimate Rewards fans and offers the cheapest method of transferring UR points to partners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring an 80,000-point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This card comes with great benefits and earns valuable Ultimate Rewards points.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Over the longterm, the Citi Premier will likely earn more points, given it has a much higher earning potential on everyday spending categories. If you spend a lot in the Citi Premier bonus categories, or you don't qualify for the Sapphire Preferred, this is a great card to add to your wallet.

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.

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