They’re direct competitors, both offering strong initial bonuses, fast points-earning, and valuable points that transfer to a variety of frequent flyer programs.
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 also lets you earn 60,000 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. They have different airline partners, which I’ll get to shortly. I value Chase points slightly above Citi points.
Both cards have $95 annual fees 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 – because they have many cards bonusing different categories of spend, 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, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, JetBlue, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Air France KLM
- Hotels: Marriott, IHG, Hyatt
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card‘s points transfer to:
- Airlines: Air France KLM, Avianca, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, JetPrivilege, 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); 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); Avianca LifeMiles doesn’t add fuel surcharges to awards and has most of their partners awards online; 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 (lots of) Qantas miles.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Citi does offer occasional transfer bonuses so you get even more miles for your points. We’ve only seen a transfer bonus from Chase once.
It’s tough to say whether Chase’s transfers to United, BA and Hyatt trump Citi’s transfers to Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Avianca.
Who Should Get Which Card?
As a result if you’re interested you should sign up for Sapphire Preferred 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.