Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Citi is a TPG advertising partner.
Citi’s flagship transferable points cards — the Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees) — often fly under the radar compared to the likes of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and other mid- or top-tier travel cards.
Several years ago, Citi announced that the Prestige Card is no longer available for new applicants for the “foreseeable future.” However, existing cardmembers continue to enjoy the benefits of their Prestige card, so we’ll still see how the Citi Premier compares to the Citi Prestige.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier comparison
|Benefit||Citi Prestige||Citi Premier|
|Annual fee||$495||$95(see rates and fees)|
|Sign-up bonus||No longer available to new applicants||60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening|
|Earning rates||5 points per dollar on air travel and restaurants
3 points per dollar at hotels and cruise lines
1 point per dollar on all other purchases
|3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout)
1 point per dollar on all other purchases
|Benefits||No foreign transaction fees
$250 travel credit every calendar year
Fourth-night free award
Priority Pass Select membership
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
|No foreign transaction fees(see rates and fee)
$100 annual hotel credit
Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier welcome offer
The Citi Premier offers new applicants 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. This sign-up bonus is worth $1,080, based on TPG’s latest valuations. But, based on your recent activity, you may not be eligible for a sign-up bonus. The application page for the card notes:
Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi Premier® account in the past 48 months.
Meanwhile, the Citi Prestige is no longer available for new applicants, putting the Prestige out of the running in this category. However, its previous sign-up bonus (before the application shut down) was 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening — worth $900, based on TPG’s latest valuations.
Winner: Citi Premier, due to its welcome offer and the Prestige being closed to new applicants.
Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier benefits
The Citi Prestige flexes its muscle as a premium credit card in this area, offering several perks and credits to help you travel more luxuriously for less money.
Even though it’s capped at two uses per year, one of Citi Prestige’s most popular benefits is the fourth night free on eligible hotel stays, which I’ve used at hotels like the Andaz Maui.
Here’s a list of the other perks offered by the Prestige:
- Up-to-$250 travel credit: Each year, you’ll receive a $250 travel credit that will be automatically applied whenever you make purchases within the travel category
- Priority Pass Select: A Priority Pass Select membership gives you access to more than 1,400 lounges worldwide, including some restaurants. You can also bring in two guests or your immediate family members at no charge
- Global Entry credit: Once every five years, you can get a statement credit to cover an application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck on your card (up to $100).
If you can get significant value from the Priority Pass Select membership and the fourth night free benefit — even if it’s capped — the Citi Prestige can present an excellent value.
By comparison, the only meaningful benefit offered by Citi Premier is a $100 hotel credit on eligible stays of $500 or more booked through ThankYou.com or by phone at 1-800-THANKYOU. Using this perk once could entirely offset the card’s annual fee, but you’re capped in the value you can get compared to the Prestige.
Both cards offer the advantage of no foreign transaction fees, making them ideal to carry with you on vacation.
Winner: Citi Prestige. It undeniably offers a better benefits package. Current cardholders should continue to be able to recoup the annual fee between the $250 annual travel credit and the fourth-night free benefit.
Earning points with the Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier
Besides the annual fee, the biggest difference between the two cards is the rate at which they earn points for different purchases:
- The Citi Prestige earns 5 points per dollar spent on air travel and restaurants, 3 points per dollar at hotels and cruise lines and 1 mile per dollar everywhere else
- The Citi Premier earns 3 points per dollar spent on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
It should be no surprise that the premium Citi Prestige takes the lead with its high-powered 5 points per dollar bonus category for air travel and restaurants. However, in all other areas, the cards are either tied, or the cheaper Citi Premier comes out ahead.
As part of a limited-time offer, new cardholders who apply for and are approved for the Citi Premier earn 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rentals booked on the Citi Travel portal through June 30, 2024.
If you already have the Prestige card, you’ll also earn 5 points per dollar at restaurants. Based on TPG’s valuations, this means you’ll get a 9% return on restaurant spending.
Winner: Tie. For those who already have the Citi Prestige, the card’s earning rate is great; however, for those looking to open a new card, the Citi Premier offers stellar earning options and a great limited-time offer of 10 points per dollar on certain purchases.
Redeeming points with the Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier
- Transfer to airline or hotel partners
- Statement credits
- Citi Travel Center redemptions
- Shop with Points
Citi ThankYou points are a transferable currency, and the best value for them would be to transfer them to an airline partner instead of redeeming points for gift cards, statement credits, or travel through the Citi Travel Center portal, which would value your points at 1 cent a piece.
Winner: Tie. Both cards have the same redemption options.
Transferring points with the Citi Prestige vs. Citi Premier
The Citi Prestige and Citi Premier transfer to 18 airline and hotel partner loyalty programs. Airline transfer partners include Air-France KLM Flying Blue, Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, and Avianca LifeMiles, and hotel transfer partners include ALL Accor Live Limitless and Wyndham Rewards.
One of the best ways to redeem Citi ThankYou points is to transfer to top-tier programs that offer the greatest return on your points. This includes transferring points to LifeMiles to book Lufthansa, first class, for as little as 87,000 points or transferring to Singapore KrisFlyer for business-class tickets on Singapore Airlines.
My favorite transfer partner is Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program, which offers business-class tickets for as little as 45,000 miles one-way to Europe from any North American airport that Turkish Airlines services.
Winner: Tie, with no difference in transfer partners.
Should I get the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier?
Keeping the Prestige in your wallet is a good choice if you frequent airports with Priority Pass lounges and don’t have another card that provides Priority Pass lounge access, pay for at least a couple of hotel stays of four nights or longer, and spend a lot at restaurants and on airfare. However, the Citi Premier is right for you if you have significant gas or grocery expenses and moderate dining and travel spending.
How to switch/upgrade from the Citi Prestige to Citi Premier
As a Citi Premier cardmember, you cannot request a product change to upgrade to the Citi Prestige; however, you can downgrade from the Citi Prestige to Citi Premier. As both cards are part of the same travel credit card family, you can easily switch to Citi Premier if you no longer find much value in the Prestige or do not wish to keep paying the hefty annual fee.
To do so, call Citi customer service to request to switch your card to the Premier. Remember that a product switch or downgrade will not give you a welcome bonus offer and may make you ineligible for future welcome offers on the card for at least 48 months.
Citi’s two premium ThankYou Rewards credit cards provide solid earning potential. The Citi Premier has a modest annual fee and a broad range of 3 points per dollar earning categories. While the Citi Prestige is no longer available to new cardholders, existing cardholders are lucky as they can more than offset the annual fee by taking advantage of the card’s annual travel credit and fourth-night free benefit — even though it’s limited to two uses per year.
Apply here: Citi Premier
For rates and fees of the Citi Premier, click here.