Citi Premier launches new earning opportunities ahead of schedule

Editor's note: This post as been updated with new details from Citi. Citi is a TPG advertising partner. The information for the Citi Premier Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Credit card issuers are constantly looking at how to adjust their credit card lineups in order to accommodate an always-evolving market filled with customers looking for the best rewards card for them. In that vein, Citi announced upcoming changes to its mid-tier Citi Premier℠ Card back in April 2020 — including a new rewards structure and an added annual hotel credit. However, those new earning opportunities are now going live sooner than originally planned.

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Effective June 2, 2020, you'll now earn 3x on travel (including gas stations), dining and grocery stores, plus 2x on entertainment.

The standard bonus structure for the Citi Premier is 3x on travel (which includes most gas stations and other purchases like cruises, parking, tolls and more) and 2x on dining out and entertainment. Citi's original plan was to change that structure in Aug. 23, 2020, to 3x on air travel, hotels, gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (including takeout).

This new announcement shakes things up a bit in that original timeline.

The new timeline for Citi Premier changes

While the addition of two new 3x categories (grocery stores and restaurants) is great, the initial announcement in April also included some negative changes.

For cardholders who applied on or after April 10, 2020, you'll no longer earn 3x on other travel such as cruises, tolls and parking, nor will you get 2x on entertainment beginning Aug. 23, 2020. However, this change is delayed for cardholders who applied before April 10, 2020. If you fall into that group, you'll get to hold onto the 3x on other travel and 2x on entertainment purchases through April 10, 2021. At that point, your earning rates for these other travel purchases and entertainment will drop to 1x.

The Citi Premier℠ Card will also be eliminating a valuable perk alongside these other changes. Starting April 10, 2021, you will no longer be able to redeem ThankYou points with a 25% bonus compared to gift cards through the ThankYou Travel Center.

While Citi's transfer partners still have the potential to provide great value on the redemption front, the elimination of the 25% portal redemption bonus is definitely a devaluation of the overall ThankYou program for Citi Premier cardholders — especially since flights booked in this fashion typically code as revenue tickets and thus earn miles and count toward elite status qualification.

A bit confused by the overall timeline, now? You're not alone. It was all a bit confusing when they first announced it, and switching up the start date for the new earning categories didn't help matters. Here's a simplified rundown of important dates cardholders should know in regards to these changes:

June 2, 2020:

  • NEW: All cardholders begin earning 3x on supermarkets and dining.
  • Cardholders who applied before April 10, 2020 will continue to earn 3x on travel (including gas stations) and 2x on entertainment.
  • Cardholders who applied on or after April 10, 2020 will continue to earn 3x on airfare, hotels and gas and 2x on entertainment.

Aug. 23, 2020: 

  • NEW: All cardholders begin receiving an annual $100 hotel credit, eligible on purchases of $500 or more made through
  • NEW: Cardholders who applied on or after April 10, 2020, will now begin earning 3x on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout).
  • Pre-existing cardholders will continue to earn 3x on the broader travel category and 2x on entertainment.

April 10, 2021: 

  • NEW: Cardholders will no longer get a 25% bonus when redeeming through the travel portal.
  • NEW: Cardholders who applied before April 10, 2020, will now begin earning 3x on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout).

Bottom line

According to Citi, these changes have been long-planned.

“As our cardmembers' needs evolve, we want to ensure we're evolving with them and offering products that best meet their spending habits and deliver exceptional value,” said Lora Monfared, Citi's General Manager of Proprietary Rewards Products, in a press release. “As such, we're excited to be launching a new rewards structure on our Citi Premier Card, offering an enhanced 3x point accelerator on restaurants, including takeout, and supermarkets, to provide additional earning potential within the categories that matter most to our cardmembers.”

When Citi originally announced the changes, I had expressed concern over waiting so long to add the new earning opportunities. I'm glad to see Citi making the decision to accelerate the timeline a bit, even if it muddles the dates for the other changes. Supermarkets and restaurants are great additions to the rewards structure of the Citi Premier, especially since most of us are spending more on groceries and takeout while staying home.

Note that the annual fee on the card is not increasing, and eligible new cardholders will still get the chance to earn 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy

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