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Charlie: This is a special post for me as it is the first guest post ever on Running with Miles! I have gotten to know Dustin a bit as of late and have really enjoyed his blog and writing style (and he is a fellow runner!) so asked if he would be willing to do a guest post here. Check out his blog – Waller’s Wallet – to keep up with him! He is also on Twitter – @wallerswallet
I just want to say thank you to Charlie for letting me be a guest on his site! When Charlie asked me to guest post on his site, I was excited to do so. I really enjoy comparing credit cards and since the game is always changing, I think the top card changes as well. The top card ultimately comes down to what works best with your goals. So, let’s get to it…
A couple of months ago, I dethroned the Chase Sapphire Preferred as the “Top Travel Credit Card,” when I thought the Citi Premier was a superior option. Recently, American Express made some favorable changes to the Premier Rewards Gold charge card. They adjusted some bonus categories, added an airline credit and even took away those dreaded foreign transaction fees (about time!). With all these changes, has the American Express Premier Rewards Gold done enough to regain top form and best the Citi Premier?
Credit Card Battle: Citi Premier vs American Express Premier Rewards Gold
Citi Premier: My Review
American Express Premier Rewards Gold: My Review
|Citi Thank You Premier||American Express Premier Rewards Gold|
|Current Sign Up Bonus||50,000 Points||50,000 Points with $100 Airline Credit|
|Spending Requirement||$3,000 in 90 days||$1,000 in 90 days|
|Bonus Categories – 3X||Travel, including Gas||Airfare booked directly with Airlines|
|Bonus Categories – 2X||Dining & Entertainment||US gas stations, US restaurants, US grocery stores|
|Other Spending – 1X||All other purchases||All other purchases|
|Annual Fee||$95, waived for first year||$195, waived for first year|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||None|
|Reward Program||Thank You, 12 partners (11 airline and 1 hotel)||Membership Rewards, 20 partners (16 airlines and 4 hotels)|
|Redemption Options||Credit statements, gift cards, transfer to partners, Citi Travel Center||Credit statement, gift cards, transfer to partner, points for charge, Amex Travel|
Credit Score Needed:
According to Credit Karma, individuals with the Citi Thank You Premier card have an average credit score of 793 with a low of 745 and a high of 819.
A person with the American Express Premier Rewards Gold the average credit score is 726, with a low of 676 and a high of 804.
I find it interesting that Credit Karma has a such a high average credit score for the Citi Premier, since creditboards.com has many scores in the low 700’s and a handful of scores in the 600’s.
I am confident if you applied for the Citi Premier with a credit score over 700 it would be good enough for an approval. If you credit score is under 700, I would advise against applying for any reward card like these. There are credit cards available to improve your credit and eventually play this game.
Current Sign Up Bonus:
The Citi Thank You Premier has a 50,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. I value Thank You points at 1.7 cents per point, making the 53,000 points (could be more from depending on your spending) from the bonus worth about $901.
The American Express Premier Rewards Gold has a public offer of 25,000 points after a $2,000 spend, but if you set your browser to Incognito, you will find a better offer of 50,000 points after spending only $1,000 in the first 90 days. I value Membership Reward points at 1.7 cents per point, making the 51,000 points (could be more from depending on your spending) worth $867, but…..
In addition to the 50,000 points, you will also receive $100 airline credit. Since the airline credit is based on a calendar year, you will get this twice before paying an annual fee, making it worth $200. Making the total sign up bonus worth about $1067.
Winner: American Express Premier Rewards Gold. The airline credit and lower spending requirement pulls American Express to victory here.
The Citi Thank You Premier has a $95 annual fee and that is waived for the first year.
The American Express Premier Rewards Gold has a $195 annual fee and that too is waived for the first year.
Winner: Citi Thank You Premier. The $100 lower annual fee doesn’t need any explanation, right? Some will argue this saying the $100 airline credit on the Premier Rewards Gold makes this a tie and you might be right, but if you gave me $100 and I gave you a $100 gift card, you still paid for it right?
I know this will change based on your spending needs/habits, but to keep this equal, I will look at the average American spending based on the Bureau of Labor Statistic:
|Category||Yearly Spend||Citi Thank You Premier||American Express Premier Rewards Gold|
|Gas||$2,400||7,200||US: 4,800 / Outside US: 2,400|
|Groceries||$4,000||4,000||US: 8,000 / Outside US: 4,000|
|Dining Out||$2,600||5,200||US: 5,200 / Outside US: 2,600|
|Transportation/Travel||$6,600||19,800||6,600 – 19,800|
|All Other Expenditures||$3,300||3,300||3,600|
|Total||$26,600||49,700 (including bonus 102,700)||26,000-48,800 (including 77,600-99,800)|
* I included the minimum spending requirement for the totals, but used 1 point per dollar for both cards
The Citi Thank You Premier earns 3 Thank You points per dollar spent on travel, including gas, 2 Thank You points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, and 1 Thank You point on all other purchases
The American Express Premier Reward Gold earns 3 Membership Reward points when you book airfare directly with the airline, 2 Membership Reward per dollar spent when you use it at US gas stations, US grocery stores, and US restaurants. Remember this…
Winner: Citi Thank You Premier. I gave ranges for American Express, there is no way to know if you’ll spend all your travel money on airfare or hotels and if you spend all your money in the US. Even if you did, the Citi Premier out earns the Premier Gold Reward.
Foreign Transaction Fees:
Both the Citi Thank You Premier and the American Express Premier Gold Reward have no foreign transaction fee
Domestic or International Use:
It is great that American Express finally removed foreign transaction fees from their card that is going to cost you close to $200 to have, but this is still not a card I would use internationally. If American Express want people to use this card outside of the US, they need to make the bonus categories extend to other countries. The Premier Gold Reward is the better option for groceries if in the US, but that is about it.
The Citi Premier doesn’t restrict their bonus categories for international use and personally I’ll be using my Premier when I head to Europe in a couple of months. The earning rate makes this card a great option for domestic or international travel.
Winner: Citi Thank You Premier. Not having to worry about losing out on points when you’re traveling internationally should be a no brainer. Clearly, Citi understands this and American Express lacks that understanding.
The Citi Premier earns Thank You points and they can be transferred to 11 airlines and 1 hotel program
The American Express Premier Rewards Gold earns Membership Rewards and they can be transferred to 16 airlines and 4 hotel programs
Winner: Membership Rewards. Membership Rewards has a greater number of transfer partners, but I don’t think it is a large margin of victory here.
You can see there are a few overlapping transfer partners; Asia Miles, Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Hilton Hotels. Both of these programs have great alliance options as well. You can use Singapore miles to book United flights for less miles, you can fly Delta with Virgin Atlantic miles and there are other alliance partner options that make these both very valuable programs.
Citi lacks a direct domestic transfer partner and they should address this. You can use your miles and book with alliance partners, but I think to move up in the world of travel currency, they really need a direct domestic transfer partner.
This is where American Express does a pretty good job, even if the all the transfer rates aren’t 1:1. You can use Virgin America, Delta (there is still some value here), British Airways, Jetblue and Hawaiian airlines if you are flying to Hawaii/between islands.
My biggest complaint isn’t their airline partners, but I do think both need better hotel partners. Hilton points are extremely inflated and even at a 1:1.5 transfer ratio you would still need to transfer a lot of points for a free night. There is some underrated value in Choice and Best Western, but most people are saving their points for a week long vacation at the Best Western in Rome, right? SPG is a terrible 3:1 transfer ratio and personally I’m not a fan of their reward program.
Both of these programs offer occasional transfer bonuses to certain partners, which can be very valuable if you were planning to use that particular partner.
**Currently, Citi is offering a 25% bonus if you transfer your Thank You points to Virgin Atlantic.**
One other consideration, American Express will not allow you to combine others (like spouse/partner) into one account. You can share your points with them, but won’t be able to pool your points. Citi will allow you to transfer your points to others (like spouse/partner), BUT they will be give a 90 day expiration date, so make sure you plan to use them if you do combine your points
Citi allows you to redeem your points for credit statements at 0.7 cents per point and gift cards for 1 cent per point. If you were to redeem your Thank You points through their travel center, you will redeem your points at 1.25 cents per point. You can also transfer your points to one of their 12 partners and redeem for even more value.
American Express allows you to redeem your points for charges at 0.6 cents per point, gift cards for 0.5 cents to 1 cent per point and statement credit for 0.6 cents per point. Again, American Express needs to address this…
If you redeem your points through Amex Travel, you will redeem at 1 cent per point when you book airfare, but if you use your points for a hotel redemption you’ll redeem for about 0.7 cents per point.
**Make sure to price check other sites before using Amex travel or the Citi Travel center, their prices can be much higher than booking on other 3rd party sites or even directly with the hotel**
Winner: Citi Premier. Booking through their travel center you redeem at a better rate than you do with American Express.
Both Citi and American Express offer great product protection when you purchase items with their cards.
I really enjoy Citi’s Rewind program. If you’re not familiar with it, you purchase an item with your Citi card and you register it on their Rewind site. They do all the work for you and if they find a better price than what you paid for it, they refund you the difference. Totally worth the 5 minutes to register your purchases!
The best perk I feel from American Express is their Amex Offers, these bad boys can really help you save money on items you would purchase anyways. Their offers seem to be getting better all the time and these alone are a good reason to have any American Express card in your wallet!
Does the American Express Premier Gold Reward top the Citi Premier?
American Express has made some really solid improvements to their card, but I don’t think they have done enough to over throw the Citi Premier. Even though American Express has more transfer partners, Citi overlaps with many of them and has access to many airlines within their respected alliances. The Citi Travel Center offers a better redemption option than the Amex Travel Center. American Express needs to expand their bonus categories and not include only the US if they want people to use their card when traveling abroad.
At this time, I give the Citi Premier the “Top Travel Credit Card” ranking.
What do you think, do you agree? Do you like American Express’s recent changes to the Premier Gold Reward
Thank you again Charlie for asking me to guest on his site, I really enjoyed it and hope you all enjoyed my article as well.
I realized this is my 50th blog post and celebrate, I’ll be giving away 2 $10 gift cards to Amazon. One will be through Twitter, the other will be through Facebook.Follow my blog then Follow me on Twitter or Like my Facebook page and leave me a comment telling your favorite trip and what made it special. I’ll select 2 winners on 8/17 and reach out to get you your Amazon gift card.
Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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