Both the Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may be suitable if you are looking for a travel credit card with a low annual fee. However, you may find that one of them is better suited to your needs than the other.
While these two rewards cards are similar in some ways, the Citi Premier can help you earn points on more everyday purchases. In comparison, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card provides a more comprehensive set of cardholder benefits, particularly in terms of travel insurance and purchase protection.
Continue reading to find out which top rewards credit card best fits your spending habits and financial goals.
Highlights of Citi Premier vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Citi Premier is the winner of the welcome bonus.
Both cards provide generous welcome bonuses, but their values differ depending on how they are redeemed. After spending $4,000 within three months of account opening, you can earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points with the Citi Premier, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening.
When redeemed for 1-cent redemption options such as gift cards or travel through the Citi portal, the Citi Premier bonus is worth $600. However, according to our most recent point and mile valuations, if you transfer your points to a high-value Citi travel partner, your points could be worth 1.9 cents each. That means your welcome bonus from Citi could be worth up to $1,520.
When you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, the Chase Sapphire Preferred welcome bonus is worth $750. This is due to a 25% points boost for Ultimate Rewards travel redemptions, making your points worth 1.25 cents each. However, if you transfer your points to the right Chase travel partner, your points could be worth up to 2 cents each, resulting in a $1,200 bonus.
It is dependent on the winner’s reward rate
Depending on your spending habits, either of these travel cards could earn you a lot of points. The Citi Premier, on the other hand, is better for everyday purchases, whereas the Chase Sapphire Preferred is better for travel-related purchases.
The Citi Premier card gives you 3X points on restaurant, supermarket, and gas station purchases, which are all commonplace spending categories. Additionally, you will earn 3X points on air travel and hotel stays, as well as 1X points on all other purchases.
The winner of the annual fee is a tie
The annual fee for both cards is $95, which is considered low in the world of travel credit cards. While you may be hesitant to sign up for a card with a yearly fee, you’ll see a significant return on your investment if you spend enough to earn either card’s welcome bonus during your first year (provided you pay off your card in full each month to avoid paying interest).
Furthermore, if you fully utilize the rewards and benefits of either card, the annual fee will most likely be worth paying in subsequent years. For example, if you spend at least $61 per week with your Citi Premier Card on gas, groceries, or dining out, you’ll earn enough points (9,516 annually, worth $95 in rewards) to cover the annual fee. The same is true if you spend $1,900 (9,500 points) per year with your Chase Sapphire Preferred on Lyft rides or travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Winner of the foreign transaction fee: a tie
On purchases made outside of the United States, neither card charges a foreign transaction fee. That means you can use either option to travel abroad without incurring additional costs.
Which card has the highest earnings?
The card that earns you the most money is determined by how you spend your money. So, let’s consider a possible spending scenario.
Example of Citi Premier vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred spending
Assume you spend $200 on gas, $800 on groceries (in-store), $100 on dining out, and $1,000 on a plane ticket and hotel accommodations in a given month using your Citi Premier Card. Because each spending category earns 3X points, these purchases will earn you 6,300 points. If each point is worth one cent, these points are worth $63.
Assume you make the same purchases with your Chase Sapphire Preferred, with the exception of buying groceries online rather than in-store and booking travel through the Chase portal. You will receive 7,900 points, which is worth $79 at a rate of one cent per point. If you then redeem these points for travel through the Chase portal, they will be worth 1.25 cents each, for a total of $98.75.
If you subtract the airfare and hotel costs, you’d earn 3,300 points ($33) with the Premier and 2,900 points ($29) with the Sapphire Preferred. If you intend to use your card primarily to cover general living expenses, the Citi Premier will most likely provide a slightly higher payout. However, if you intend to use your card primarily for travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the better choice.
Why should you purchase a Citi Premier?
Beyond its rewards program, the Citi Premier provides a few additional benefits, the most notable of which is a $100 annual hotel discount on a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when booked through ThankYou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU.
Citi Entertainment also provides access to VIP packages and presale tickets for popular concerts, performances, and sporting events. Finally, you’ll get World Elite Mastercard benefits like a free ShopRunner membership, a $5 Lyft credit after three rides in a month, and more.
Options for redemption
Transferring your points to one of Citi’s airline or hotel partners can help you get the most out of them. Other redemption options, however, include:
- Travel via the Citi portal
- Deposits made directly
- Credits for statements
- Checks for personal use
- Credits for payments (toward eligible loans)
- Shopping with points at participating retailers (like Amazon and BestBuy)
- Gift certificates
- Donations to charities
- Credit score recommendation
- To be eligible for the Citi Premier, you must have good to excellent credit. When you apply, your credit score should be between 670 and 850.
What are the benefits of getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
In general, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers more benefits than the Citi Premier. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, an auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage are all included.
You’ll also receive up to $50 in statement credits on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards after each cardmember anniversary. You’ll also receive a generous anniversary points bonus equal to 10% of your previous year’s total spending.
You’ll also receive a free one-year subscription to DoorDash DashPass, which includes no delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders (must activate by Dec. 31, 2024). You’ll also receive a free six-month Instacart+ membership, as well as up to $15 in statement credits each quarter until July 2024. Finally, through December 31, 2023, you can receive a $10 statement credit per month on eligible Gopuff orders.
Options for redemption
While transferring your points to a Chase airline or hotel partner is the most lucrative option, you can also redeem for:
- Navigate through the Chase portal.
- Statement credits for cash back
- Gift certificates
- Merchandise (including Apple product purchases) (including Apple product purchases)
- Chase Adventures
- Shopping with Amazon points or PayPal
The Citi Premier Card could be a great addition to your wallet if you want a card that rewards everyday expenses as well as some travel purchases. However, if you value travel rewards and customer service, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a better option. But keep in mind that there is no rule that says you can’t have both. With both cards in your wallet, you can earn cash back on almost any purchase.