I previously compared the Chase Sapphire cards and various American Express cards in my Card Wars posts. Now, my focus turns to Citibank. The Citi Prestige and Citi Premier are the bank’s top two travel cards. Both cards are similar in nature, name, and earning structure. But there are differences between them too.
As with everything in point and miles, your mileage may vary. Someone might find the Prestige better for her while their best friend mind like the Premier better.
Argument for the Prestige
Both cards earn bonus Thank You (TY) points. But they have completely different earning structures.
The Prestige earns 5x points on Dining and Airfare. It also earns 3x points on Hotels and Cruises. And until August 31, 2019, it earns 2x points on Entertainment purchases. All non-bonus spend earns one point per dollar.
The Premier earns 3x points on General Travel, including Gas Stations. It also earns 2x points on Dining and Entertainment. Like the Prestige, all non-bonus spend earns one point per dollar. General Travel purchases include airfare, hotel stays, a car rental, and toll road fees. Dining purchases include restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.
The Prestige wins for most people who have conventional travel expenses including Dining, Airfare, and Cruises. However, the Premier wins for Gas and more general travel. Both cards tie for Hotels and Entertainment.
Both cards come with various travel insurances to make life away from home easier. This includes cell phone insurance, baggage delay insurance, and car rental insurance. However, the Prestige comes with perks that the Premier does not.
The Prestige’s signature perk is its Fourth Night Free. If you use your card to book a hotel stay of at least four nights, you will receive a statement credit for your fourth night. The catch is that Citi limits you to use this perk only twice per year.
The Prestige also comes with a $250 general travel credit, a Pre-TSA / Global Entry fee credit, and access to Priority Pass airport lounges. If used in full, the travel credit effectively cuts the Prestige’s annual fee in half. But receiving positive expected value should not be an issue with the Prestige if you use most of the perks.
You Don’t Use Citi’s Travel Portal
The Prestige might be the better card if Citi’s travel portal is not useful for you. Paying an extra $155 (assuming you fully use the travel credit) doesn’t make sense for a redemption method that you won’t use.
Both cards also have the same travel partners. Therefore, it doesn’t matter which one you use to transfer points. You will get the same value either way.
Argument for the Premier
You Already Have Another Premium Card
The Preferred might be the better card if you already have another premium card. This is because the Reserve’s benefits are redundant to those from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Most premium cards come with Priority Pass airport lounge access and a Pre-TSA / Global Entry credit. Even if you fully use the $250 travel credit, paying more for redundant benefits might not be worth it.
You Use Citi’s Travel Portal
Both cards have the same redemption methods including travel partners. But one slight difference lies in Citi’s travel portal. Citi lets you redeem points through its portal at a flat rate. The Premier’s rate is 1.25 CPP and the Prestige’s rate is a lower 1 CPP.
The Premier has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) and the Prestige has a $495 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). Those who want to “test drive” a premium Citi card before paying should go for the Premier. Also, you can avoid paying $495 upfront by going for the Premier. This is especially useful if you don’t have that kind of money to spend immediately.
Many people argue that the “net” annual fee for the Prestige is $245. This argument assumes that you will use the $250 travel credit in full each year.
Point of Indifference: Sign-Up Bonus
Both cards have bonuses of 50,000 TY points that can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
Citi’s top two cards are underrated options for travelers, especially those who want to leave the United States. Both cards have their strengths and weaknesses:
The Citi Premier is the better card for many travelers considering its $95 annual fee and its nice earning structure. It’s also the winner if you want to use Citi’s travel portal and/or don’t have conventional travel expenses. However, its benefits and earning structure pale in comparison to those of the Prestige.
Conversely, the Prestige is a solid premium card with excellent benefits that only rival those of the American Express Platinum Card. You’re also getting a better earning structure than the Premier. However, its annual fee is $495 and its NOT waived the first year. With the Citi Prestige, you truly get what you pay for.
Consider your travel plans and where you spend your money. And remember that your mileage may vary before picking a card.