Which is Better Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier?

The Citi Premier℠ Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are two of the very best rewards cards with annual fees under $100. Indeed, they are two of the very best rewards cards.

They’re direct competitors, both offering strong initial bonuses, fast points-earning, and valuable points that transfer to a variety of frequent flyer programs.

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 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.

Annual Fees

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.

Transfer Partners

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?

Chase includes the Sapphire Preferred Card in its 5/24 policy. You generally won’t be approved for this card if you’ve had 5 or more new card accounts in the last 24 months.

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.

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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  1. Look at time to transfer – most Chase partners transfer ASAP, most Citi Partners transfer in days. That knowledge is invaluable when a flight pops up you want to take, airline does not offer a hold, and you need the points ASAP. That is the main reason why I finally get out from Citi and moved everything to Chase/Amex. Transfer times with Citi stink – who cares if you can earn incrementally faster, it is harder to use.

    To offset CSP and no gas get another Chase card that offers a gas bonus. I have a legacy one, there may be others.

  2. A sound, balanced assessment. One big hassle you didn’t mention with Citi points, though, is that if you close a card you (or even a person you transfer points to) have to use those points within something like 60 or 90 days. Otherwise, you lose them.

    Glad you didn’t mention The Chase card’s supposed benefit of primary coverage on auto rental insurance, since that’s a bogus perk that Chase makes very difficult to use if you actually have an accident.

    For ongoing spending, Citi’s 3x for travel makes it the clear winner here.

  3. Simple way to determine which card to get. Look at the transfer partners and pick which card transfers to the program you want. If both cards transfer to the partner you want then Citi wins out. Citi wins pretty much hands down in head to head comparison, except where you want a travel partner that is unique to chase or you have a number of chase cards already and want to use the CSP. If you don’t have any chase or citi cards and don’t need a chase only travel partner I see no reason to get the CSP over citi. Given chase’s restrictions on new accounts etc you can’t just quickly build up a chase portfolio to make the CSP worthwhile anymore. Who knows at some point the Chase reserve may come out with a 70k or 80k signup (I doubt we will see the 100k signup again), but if you get the CSP now it will be four years before you can get another bonus and a lot can happen in four years.

  4. @Wit10 – new card offer, first time both have had the same bonus, it’s a logical one to write. I haven’t read theirs, but I assume it is not the same article, that we each have a slightly different treatment or take?

  5. I keep hearing rumors that Chase is going to refresh both the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve this fall. I fear that they will follow in footsteps of Amex (Platinum and Gold) and Citi (Prestige) by increasing the annual fees with and then offset the fee with new credits that will not be used by many cardholders.

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