Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier: Which Travel Credit Card?
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Hilary Stockton
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Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier: Which Travel Credit Card?

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Citi ThankYou Premier: which is the better travel credit card? TravelSort reader Robin writes "I recently discovered your site and am just getting started with earning miles and points, hopefully to fly international business class to Asia. I currently have the Chase Freedom and a Capital One Venture Rewards card, but I gather from your post, Capital One Venture Card: 5 Reasons It Isn't Worth It that it's not the best travel rewards card for getting me business class awards to Asia. So now I'm looking at either getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Citi ThankYou Premier card--which one do you think I should get? Or should I try for both?"

 

While I do think Robin should try to get both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi ThankYou Premier cards, for the sake of argument, let's compare the features of them across a few dimensions to see how they measure up--a good ol' travel credit card smack down :)

Signup Bonus and Minimum Spend

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $4000 minimum spend within the first 3 months, plus 5000 bonus points after adding an authorized user, so 45,000 bonus points total.

The Citi ThankYou Premier card offers 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after $3000 minimum spend within the first 3 months.

So on both points, the Citi ThankYou Premier card wins, with 5000 more bonus points and $1000 less in minimum spend.

Winner: Citi ThankYou Premier

 

Category Bonuses

Category bonuses are another huge source for how my family earns 1 million miles and points a year. Admittedly, we especially leverage our Ink Plus and Chase Freedom to earn 5X points per dollar on as much of our spend as possible, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou Premier can be useful in earning extra points on pretty much all travel. Note that in order to earn these category bonus points, the company you're buying from must have a credit card merchant code in the relevant category; if for some reason its merchant code is in a different non-travel category, you won't earn the bonus points.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2X on all travel and dining. Here's what Chase defines as travel:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels, Motels, Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Car Rental Agencies
  • Cruise lines, Ferries
  • Travel Agencies (including TravelSort)
  • Travel Sites
  • Trains, Buses
  • Taxis, Limousines
  • Toll bridges, Highways
  • Parking Lots and Garages
Not Included (not an exhaustive list):
  • Real Estate Agents, Web sites or Owners that rent properties
  • In-flight goods and services
  • Sighteseeing activities, including dinner cruises and tour buses
  • Tourist attractions
  • Airport stores
The Citi ThankYou Premier offers 3X on travel, and 2X on dining and entertinment.
 
Travel includes:
  • Airlines
  • Hotels, motels, timeshares
  • Boat leases and boat rentals
  • Car rental agencies
  • Communter transportation
  • Cruise lines
  • Gas stations
  • Motor vehicle rentals
  • Taxis, limousines
  • Toll bridges, Highways
  • Trains, Buses
  • Travel Agencies (including TravelSort)
 
Dining and entertainment include:
  • Restaurants
  • Amusement parks
  • Sports promoters of live sporting events
  • Theatrical promoters and theater/concert ticketing agencies
  • Tourist attractions and museums
  • Video rental stores

Winner: Citi ThankYou Premier

 

Airline and Hotel Transfer Partners

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders earn Ultimate Rewards points that can transfer to a number of airline and hotel partners; I've bolded the ones I consider most valuable:

  • British Airways Avios
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott / Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Citi ThankYou Rewards points also transfer to a variety of partners, although the only two I've found useful are Singapore KrisFlyer and Air France Flying Blue:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guesdt
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar 
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
While you can also transfer to Virgin America Elevate, you'll only get 500 miles for every 1000 points you transfer.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred


Transfer Time to Airline and Hotel Partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards points usually transfer instantly to British Airways Avios, Korean Air SkyPass, United MileagePlus, and Hyatt Gold Passport, and typically transfer within 24 hours to Singapore KrisFlyer, though it could take 48 hours.

Citi ThankYou Rewards points usually transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer within 1-2 days, though Citi says to allow up to 14 days for transfer. Typical transfer time to Air France/KLM Flying Blue is 1-5 days, and other partners such as Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club typically take 1 business day. Allow several days for a transfer to Etihad Guest.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred

 

Transfer to a Friend's or Relative's Frequent Flyer Account

Chase Ultimate Rewards points may only be transferred to a frequent flyer account in your name, or that of your spouse or domestic partner (so no transfers permitted to your kids' frequent flyer accounts, or those of other relatives or friends).

While on the face of it Citi ThankYou Rewards is more restrictive, only permitting transfers to frequent flyer accounts in your name, you can actually share your ThankYou points with *anyone* who has a Citi ThankYou Rewards account (you'll need their account number, in addition to their name). Note, however, that these points will expire 90 days after you share points, so ensure that the recipient transfers those points promptly to a frequent flyer account to book an award.

Winner: Citi ThankYou Premier


The Verdict

The Citi ThankYou Premier has a slightly higher signup bonus, higher 3X travel category bonus and more flexibility in getting points to others' frequent flyer programs (although note you can always book award travel for others out of your own frequent flyer account).

That said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has the edge when it comes to airline and hotel transfer partners as well as transfer times to these partners. And if you already have a Chase Freedom (which I highly recommend as a no annual fee card, given its 5X categories) you gain the ability to transfer those Freedom points to airline and hotel partners if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card.

In Robin's shoes, I would recommend getting both cards, if she can meet the minimum spend for both cards ($7000) within the first 3 months, or applying for one, and a few months later, applying for the other, if she needs to stagger them due to the minimum spend. That would give her the ability to earn over 100,000 points (taking into account points from meeting minimum spend for the signup bonuses), which could all be transferred to Singapore KrisFlyer, which is both an Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards partner. One way in Singapore Business Class on the A380 from LAX to Singapore is 68,000 KrisFlyer miles, or 91,375 KrisFlyer miles for Singapore Suites on the A380, if you can find saver award availability, which has becoming quite scarce.

Do you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier card, or both?

Related Posts

Redeeming 800K Miles and Points: Why We Don't Save Our Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer Rules

Citi ThankYou Points Transfer Rules

Ultimate Rewards: How to View Signup and Refer a Friend Bonuses

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