6 reasons why the Citi Premier should be your go-to card for the pandemic and beyond

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  • The Citi Premier® Card's 3x bonus categories were refreshed in 2020 to include restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. That makes it perfect for getting through the rest of the pandemic. 
  • Some other cards have made changes to earning and redeeming points during the pandemic, but they're temporary. The Citi Premier® Card's bonus categories are permanent and uncapped, making it a great "one and done" card.
  • With this single card, you can also access Citi's airline transfer partners or save your points and redeem them for travel, statement credits, and other rewards. You'll also earn 3x points on air travel and hotels when you're ready to travel again.
  • You'll earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. That's worth $600 in travel booked through the Citi portal, or potentially much more when you transfer to airline partners for award flights. 
  • Read Business Insider's guide to the best travel rewards credit cards.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are spending more on groceries, restaurant takeout, and fuel for road trips until we feel safe flying again. Several credit-card issuers have acknowledged this with limited-time promotions and credits designed to reward changing cardholder spending habits.

Those are customer-friendly moves, but what happens when those promotions run out or spending thresholds are met? 

There's already a card with quarantine-friendly categories built-in, but it's often overlooked in favor of flashier travel rewards credit cards. The Citi Premier® Card earns 3x Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations — and these bonus categories are permanent and uncapped. 

If you find yourself ordering a lot of takeout, buying more groceries than usual, or making more trips for gas nowadays, the Citi Premier® Card is ideal for maximizing spending in all of these categories. And when the pandemic is over and you start traveling again, you'll also earn 3x bonus points for air travel and hotels.

Citi Premier® Card

Citi Citi Premier® Card

In fact, there are only a couple of other popular rewards credit cards I know of that compare, but they earn rewards that are less flexible to use. For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns 6x Hilton points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets, and the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card earns 2x IHG points in similar categories worldwide.

These three categories are tailor-made for getting through the rest of the pandemic. Instead of having to remember categories across multiple cards, you can stick with the Citi Premier® Card and rack up points on your everyday spending without extra effort. And there are no dates or spending maximums to consider.  

Get a head start with the Citi Premier® Card 60,000-point welcome bonus

The Citi Premier® Card welcome bonus is nothing to overlook, either. You'll earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. You can redeem your bonus for an easy $600 toward travel booked through Citi's portal, gift cards, and more, or transfer them to Citi's 16 transfer partners.

You'll notice Citi shares some of the same partners as Chase Ultimate Rewards (including JetBlue, Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines), and Amex Membership Rewards (including the airlines we just mentioned plus Avianca and Qantas). If you're used to transferring your points to any of these partners, it's business as usual with the Citi ThankYou program. 

The value of transferable bank points varies depending on how you redeem them, but travel website TPG estimates Citi ThankYou points are worth an average of 1.7 cents apiece as of November 2020, making this bonus potentially worth over $1,000 in travel. I've personally been able to get even more value than that with the Citi Premier® Card.

You can even use Citi ThankYou points to pay off your student loan or mortgage at a rate of 1 cent each, or shop on partner websites, like Amazon and Best Buy, at a lesser value. There are plenty of ways to use your points even if you're not traveling.

There's no pairing to think about, either — unless you want to

Chase has great no-annual-fee cards, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Those cards are strong points earners, but to "unlock" the ability to transfer your points to travel partners, you need another Chase Ultimate Rewards card that carries an annual fee. 

You won't have to think about this, or juggling multiple cards, with the Citi Premier® Card. That is unless you want to. Citi has other cards you can pair with the Citi Premier® Card to pool your points in one place, including the Citi® Double Cash Card and Citi Rewards+℠ Card, which have no annual fee. 

But while Chase wants you to "level up" to use your points, Citi makes it easy to start at the top and fill gaps later. And if you don't want other cards, no problem. The Citi Premier® Card is already one of the best cards that'll reward you for a lot of the spending you're already doing. 

It's not Chase, Amex, or Capital One — and that's a good thing

Every transferable points program has its pros and cons, but you can't go wrong with diversity. Citi ThankYou points are no easier or harder to use than other types of points. They're just different and have their own best uses. 

It's a strong primary program to focus on, as well as a good backup program. Most folks would be fine to maximize the Citi Premier® Card, and those who like to get into the details of points programs will have plenty to work with, too. 

I've always found strong value in the Citi ThankYou program, but I also keep a points balance with Chase and Amex. It's good to mix things up. 

The Citi Premier card will come in handy post-COVID for your travels

When you get back to traveling, the Citi Premier® Card's 3x ThankYou points on air travel and hotel stays are waiting, too — in addition to the 3x points you'll earn at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. That's an incredible array of valuable categories for a card with a modest $95 annual fee. 

The card also has no foreign transaction fees, so it's great to carry when you travel abroad. And there's also a $100 discount per calendar year on a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when you book through Citi.

I don't use this benefit because it cancels out perks and bonus points from elite status at hotel chains like Hilton or Marriott. But I'd consider using it for a boutique hotel or in a place where chain hotels are sparse or too far from where I want to be. Even if you don't use this benefit, the excellent bonus categories are well worth the annual fee. 

Keep it simple and play the long game

When other promotions run out, you don't want to accidentally use those cards for gas, dining, or grocery shopping and miss earning bonus points for your purchase.

Instead of worrying about promotion end dates and spending caps, you could use this time to meet the spending requirements to earn the Citi Premier® Card's welcome bonus instead. And then you'll be ready to go without having to think about which card to use for those expenses. 

Citi Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardChase Chase Freedom Unlimited®

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please click here.

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