Which is Better Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier?

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One Mile at a Time compares the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

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.

Initial Bonuses

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.

Annual Fees

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.

Transfer Partners

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?

Chase includes the Sapphire Preferred Card in its 5/24 policy. You can generally only be approved for this card if you’ve had fewer than 5 new card accounts in the last 24 months.

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. You leave out a crucial problem with the Citi ThankYou card. Even if you have another card, such as the Citi Prestige, that accumulates TY points, you are in a “use it or lose it” mode with the TY card if you cancel it. That is, you must transfer your points to one of the TY airline or hotel partners, or they will disappear from your account; you can’t simply park the points in a combined TY account with the Prestige. I believe you can transfer the TY points to a spouse, but even then they must use those points within something like 60 days, or those points will disappear.

  2. I think if you downgrade to the no fee Citi card, you can still transfer the points (but maybe only if you have another one like the prestige)

  3. @Steve —> This, of course, presumes one is going to cancel it. But why would you?

    Yes, it’s true, “One Size Fits All” is one of the four “Great Lies of the Western World.” Each of us has our different needs, goals, etc. For the sake of an “even playing field,” I am ignoring whatever $450+ AF cards I hold, and focusing ONLY on these two….

    Personally, I carry and I use *both* the Chase Sapphire Prestige and the Citi Thank You Premier cards, and have for approx. three years. The Citi TYP is my “go to” for gas purchases — a travel expense that doesn’t qualify as travel on the CSP, meaning I would only get 1x on gas. Speaking of travel, 3x at 1.6¢ equals a return of 4.8¢/$ spent with the Citi TYP; 2x at 1.9 equals 3.8¢/$ spent with the CSP. Citi is, for me, the clear winner here.

    For Dining and Entertainment purchases, both cards are 2x points, but since Chase UR points are valued higher, the CSP is the more valuable card here. For non-bonused spend, I leave these two in my wallet.

    Now, clearly if we include cards like the CSR, Citi Prestige, or Amex Plat, it changes everything and this entire discussion is moot. But restricting this to ONLY these two cards, there’re (IMHO) to keep and use them both.

  4. > Chase offers a greater ability to combine points from different cards.

    I disagree. You can have multiple cards credit to a single TYP account (which is what I do), ala how Membership Rewards works by default, which is easier than having to move points around manually like Chase.

    What is a limitation is that if you cancel a card or switch it to a non-TYP card, then you need to redeem miles earned from that card or lose those points.

    Get these cards if you’re after bonuses (or if you really want the primary rental car insurance on the CSP), but it’s hard to beat the no-fee blue business plus Amex if you’re just looking for regular 2X points spend. (Granted, that card doesn’t have good referral bonuses like these cards, so I can see why it isn’t mentioned here)

  5. > I think if you downgrade to the no fee Citi card, you can still transfer the points (but maybe only if you have another one like the prestige)

    That’s correct, but you can temporarily product change back to a card that allows you to transfer.

  6. Every time you mention TYP you neglect to mention their best transfer partner: EVA. One of the best business classes, good abailability, and better redemption rates than Singapore Airlines. Bottom line if you want air travel to Asia, TYP are better. If you want air travel to Europe or hotels, UR are better.

  7. I agree with one mile at a time. Everyone’s valuation is different. I exclusively use citi premier/amex everyday preferred card combo. Hyatt’s footprint is too small and no one ever talks about United’s crappy exborborent award ticket fees. Wish the bloggers would stop being so biased towards Chase. I get so much more value from gas bonus categories and groceries.

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