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He makes some good points comparing these two very strong (and in many ways similar) rewards cards, but I think he gets it wrong when he says “[n]owadays I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points equally.” Chase points remain more valuable, even though it can make good sense to have both cards and earn both kinds of points.
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has a best-ever offer of 60,000 points after $4000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of account opening.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Points in both cases can be used to buy travel at 1.25 cents apiece, or transferred to airline miles. Chase has better airline partners, which I’ll get to shortly. I value Chase points at 1.9 cents apiece and Citi points at 1.6 cents.
If you’re just comparing the signup bonuses using these valuations, the Citi card’s bonus is worth $960 and the Chase card’s bonus is worth $950. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also offers you 5000 more points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months, which makes the Sapphire Preferred bonus more valuable.
One Mile at a Time gives ThankYou Premier a slight advantage in this category, though I’m not so sure.
Both cards have $95 annual fees which are charged at $0 for the first 12 months. So there’s no difference in cost between the cards there.
Earning for Ongoing Spend
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers stronger ongoing earning, although both cards are similar.
- ThankYou Premier: 3 points on travel (including gas), 2 points on dining and entertainment, 1 point on other purchases.
- Sapphire Preferred: 2 points on travel and dining, 1 point on other purchases
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Suites
Chase offers a greater ability to combine points from different cards, so you can earn in each card’s bonus category and then move those points into a single account that lets you redeem for an airline or hotel loyalty program currency. That makes Chase better for a portfolio earning strategy, while Citi’s product is faster-earning as a standalone. (Not only does Citi give more points for travel, it also bonuses gas which Sapphire Preferred doesn’t.)
Citi points can be transferred to other cardmembers without restriction, while Chase points can only be transferred to your one designee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card‘s points transfer to:
- Airlines: United, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Air France KLM
- Hotels: Marriott, IHG, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card‘s points transfer to:
- Airlines: Air France KLM, Avianca, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, THAI, Turkish, Virgin Atlantic
- Hotels: None
Etihad First Apartment
Both cards transfer to Air France KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines. That’s useful because you can combine points from both cards into the same frequent flyer accounts for booking awards.
Looking at the partners that don’t overlap:
- Chase offers United (most comfortable for most US members to use, no fuel surcharges and plenty of partners online); Korean (good first class availability, good Hawaii awards on Hawaiian and Alaska, 80,000 mile business class roundtrip to Europe); British Airways (good short haul awards in the U.S., Europe and Asia); Hyatt (good value redemptions and great access to awards for suites).
- Citi offers Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles (distance-based oneworld awards); Etihad (redeem for their flights and cheap premium cabin Europe and Asia awards on American Airlines when American has space); and a handful of airlines you might use for strategic plays like upgrades on those same airlines, for instance if you want to upgrade on Qantas between the US and Australia you need (an exorbitant number of) Qantas miles.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Citi does offer occasional transfer bonuses so you get even more miles for your points.
One Mile at a Time points out the value in Star Alliance program Avianca LifeMiles — which doesn’t add fuel surcharges to awards and has most of their partners awards online — however Avianca regularly offers miles for sale at less than 1.5 cents apiece. I wouldn’t transfer Citi points since I’d rather buy them on the cheap. If Citi points were valued based on Avianca miles, those points would top out at the price LifeMiles sells miles for.
In any case Chase’s transfers to United, Korean and Hyatt trump Cathay Pacific and Avianca in my view.
Who Should Get Which Card?
As a result if you’re interested you should sign up for this card first. However if you’re over 5/24 already or otherwise aren’t eligible for a Chase card, get Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. Ultimately the 60,000 point offer on this card is too compelling not to sign up even if you choose Chase for a top position in your wallet.
Overall I’d rate the Citi card as easier to get approved for.