Unveiling the New Citi Strata Premier: What’s Changed and What’s Improved

by joeheg

The Citi Premier card was an often unappreciated travel rewards card. For a reasonable $95 annual fee, it provided a 3X multiplier for everyday expenses – mostly gas, groceries, and restaurants. Cardholders could transfer those points to any Citi ThankYou program partners and redeem them for flights or hotel stays. Additionally, they were able to pool their Citi points across multiple accounts, including cards like Custom Cash, Rewards+, and Double Cash, to unlock all of their points earned instead of having to use them for cash back or with limited partners.

I used the past tense when talking about the Citi Premier because the card, in its previous configuration, is no more. Citi suddenly “refreshed” the card and changed all accounts to the new Citi Strata Premier.
a credit card with a design on it

Citi Strata Premier

Citi is calling this a refresh of the Citi Premier and I tend to agree. When a bank refreshes a card, they’ll tweak some of the bonus categories, possibly add or remove some benefits and review the annual fee. While the Citi Premier was a very good card, there were some things about it that could make it better. I think Citi has done a good job of keeping the card’s best features and adding some necessary improvements, all while keeping the same annual fee.

Citi hasn’t launched the new card in a major way, so it’s not apparent what’s changed. Here are a few of the major improvements:

Travel Coverages Are Back!

One major reason people weren’t using Citi cards to pay for travel is that the bank removed all travel protections in 2019. That means if you booked airfare with your Citi Premier and your flight was delayed overnight, you’d get nothing from the card. I know that this kept me from using the card to pay for flights and hotels.

With the launch of the Strata Premier, the following coverages are back:

  • Trip Delay ($500 for a 6-hour or longer delay)
  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption ($5,000 per covered trip)
  • Lost or Damaged Luggage
  • Secondary Car Rental Coverage

It took some digging through the Citi website, but as a cardholder, I was able to find a copy of the new Benefits Guide. I’m happy to report that the Trip Delay and Trip Cancellation/Interruption coverages apply when you pay with your Strata Premier Card, use ThankYou points, or partially pay with frequent flyer points.

You must charge the full amount of a covered trip to your covered card or in combination with your covered card and accumulated points on your eligible account or redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts awarded from frequent flyer program or similar program.

The baggage coverage only applies when paying with your Strata Premier or Citi points.

If you’d like to read the details of all coverages, the updated Benefit Guide can be found HERE (This link will download a PDF of the guide). If you’re a Citi Strata Premier cardholder, the guide can be found on the card benefits page.

Shopping Coverages Are Also Back!

When Citi removed the travel coverages, they also took away all of the shopping protections. While we didn’t get all of these back, Citi has brought back Damage & Theft Protection and Extended Warranty coverages.

New Bonus Categories

Most importantly, Citi didn’t mess with existing bonus categories with the Strata Premier. You’ll still get 3X points with:

  • Supermarkets
  • Restaurants, including takeout
  • Gas stations
  • Air travel
  • Hotels
  • Travel agencies (This is a hidden bonus category)

a screenshot of a phone

There are only a few notable changes. First, the 10X bonus category for booking at CitiTravel.com was already a temporary benefit of the Citi Premier. The Strata Premier makes that 10X a permanent feature, adding attractions to the existing hotels and car rental categories. EV charging stations were added to the 3X gas station category. Several cards are adding this benefit as EVs become more prevalent.

Sign-Up Bonus

Citi is offering a limited-time 75,000-point sign-up bonus for the Strata Premier after spending $4,000 in the first three months. This offer is similar to the best we’ve seen on the Citi Premier. The typical Citi 48-month rule applies to people who received the sign-up bonus for the Citi Premier.

Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi Premier or a Citi Strata Premier account in the past 48 months.

Final Thought

The Citi Premier was already a great card for earning ThankYou points on everyday spending. It was also the only card, besides the Citi Prestige, that allowed you to unlock all of the Citi ThankYou travel partners for point transfers. The downside was that it wasn’t a great card to use for paying for airfare or travel due to the lack of travel protections.

Citi has refreshed and relaunched the Strata Premier card, making it a solid all-around option. Now, the Strata Premier can be considered alongside the Sapphire Preferred, Capital One Venture, Bilt Rewards and the AMEX Green Card as one of the best entry-level travel cards with transfer partners.

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