The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, July 18, 2024

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

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CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card Review

Our Rating 4.7 /5.0 ★★★★★

There’s a sweet spot in the travel credit card marketplace that offers a balance between benefits and affordability. The annual fees of these mid-tier cards typically land around $100, give or take. Citibank’s entrant in this niche is the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card.

While the card provides some attractive features, it also competes with cards that offer more value and flexibility. In this article, I’ll review the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card and three alternatives that merit your consideration before you apply.

What to Know About the Card

    • The Citi Strata Premier℠ Card is a credit card for consumers with good to excellent credit who want to earn general-purpose points and travel-related benefits.

    • This unsecured card charges a $95 annual fee but waives the foreign transaction fee.

    • Its regular APR for purchases and balance transfers is 21.24% - 29.24% (Variable), while cash advances may impose a higher interest rate.

    • The card offers new cardmembers a generous signup bonus but no introductory 0% APR promotions.

How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

It’s easy to apply for the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card: Simply submit the online application form with information about yourself, including your age, residence, income, expenses, and employment. You can click on the link in the following review to begin the process:

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations.
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Annual Hotel Benefit: Once per calendar year, enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when booked through CitiTravel.com. Benefit applied instantly at time of booking.
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

To be eligible for the card, you must be 18 or older, reside in the United States, and have a Social Security number, email address, phone number, and enough income to afford your monthly minimum payments.

You need a credit score of at least 670 to have the best approval odds.

Citibank initiates a hard credit inquiry when you apply for the card, which may have a small impact on your FICO score. You should receive an immediate decision unless the bank encounters inconsistent or missing data.

Citi does not limit how many of its cards you can own. However, Citi regulates the rate at which you can apply for its credit cards. You must wait at least eight days between applications and apply no more than two times within a 65-day period. Citi recommends you wait at least 90 to 180 days between applications.

Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of travel credit cards is essential for making an informed choice based on your spending patterns. You need to review the card’s rewards, such as points on travel, hotel stays, dining, and other categories, as well as its fees and interest rates.

This approach helps you identify credit cards that maximize benefits, including travel perks and bonus points, while avoiding pitfalls such as high annual fees or interest charges that may outweigh the rewards. Let’s see how the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card measures up:

Benefits

    • Earn generous rewards: Accumulate bonus points on purchases for travel, hotel stays, dining out, groceries, and gas.

    • Receive a lucrative sign-up bonus: Get a substantial number of bonus points after meeting the initial spending requirement within the first few months of account opening.

    • Enjoy no foreign transaction fees: Make purchases abroad without incurring additional charges.

    • Transfer points to travel partners: Maximize travel flexibility by transferring points to partner loyalty programs, potentially increasing the value of your points.

    • Get an annual hotel savings benefit: Receive savings on a single hotel stay each year when you book through the Citi Travel portal.

Drawbacks

    • Annual fee: The card charges a $95 annual fee, which your spending and reward redemption habits may not justify.

    • Redeem points for travel at a lower value: When you redeem points for air travel through Citi’s portal, they’re worth only $0.01 each, a valuation lower than the rewards of some competing cards.

    • Limited luxury travel benefits: Compared to some premium travel cards, this card offers fewer luxury travel perks, such as airport lounge access or elite status with travel partners.

    • Foreign airline transfer partners may be less familiar: While offering airline transfer options, the selection primarily includes foreign and obscure carriers, which may not be as useful for travelers who prefer domestic airlines.

    • Complex points transfer and redemption options: Navigating the points transfer and redemption process can be complicated, requiring more effort to maximize point value compared to cards with simpler rewards programs.

In sum, this solid, mid-tier travel card provides a reasonable tradeoff between what you get and how much you pay. Before applying, check out other options to see which one best fits your requirements.

Other Cards Worth a Look

The following three cards provide stiff competition for the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card. Some offer more benefits for the same annual fee or have a more valuable rewards program. I owned the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (before upgrading to the bank’s best credit card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®) and was very pleased with it.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.49%-28.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best credit card for travel among those with an annual fee below $100. Its points are worth 25% more than the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card when you redeem them for travel through Chase.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is miles ahead when it comes to benefits, which include primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation or interruption insurance, and more extensive travel and consumer protection benefits. Both cards charge the same annual fee, have attractive signup bonuses, and provide similar bonus reward rates, although the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card covers more merchant categories.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Enjoy $250 to use on Capital One Travel in your first cardholder year, plus earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening - that’s equal to $1,000 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns a straightforward two miles per dollar on every eligible purchase, simplifying the rewards process. The card offers some perks lacking from the Citi card, such as a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, increasing its appeal for frequent international travelers.

The card provides high-value bonus rewards on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Its signup bonus may be larger and best APR lower, but the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card has better hotel benefits and point transfer options.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Low $95 annual fee.
  • Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn 2.5-3.5 points on travel and dining purchases and 1.87 - 2.62 points on all other purchases, for every $1 you spend.
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $100 in Airline Incidental Statement Credits annually and TSA PreCheck®/Global Entry Statement Credits of up to $100, every four years.
  • Travel Insurance protections to assist with trip delays, cancellations and interruptions, baggage delays and lost luggage.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
$95
Excellent/Good

Additional Disclosure: Bank of America is a CardRates advertiser.

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is another member of the $95 annual fee club. It provides up to a $100 annual airline incidental statement credit, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, and no foreign transaction fees. The card’s top bonus rate is less than the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card, but its regular rate is higher.

Cardowners may benefit from the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, through which eligible customers can earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase, This significantly increases value for those with qualifying Bank of America or Merrill accounts.

FAQs: What Credit Score Is Needed for Approval?

Many Citibank credit cards, including the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card, cater to consumers with good to excellent credit, which translates to a 670+ FICO score.

If you don’t have a high enough credit score to qualify, consider adopting a multifaceted approach. First, diligently pay your bills on time, as payment history is the most critical component of your credit score. Also, aim to keep your credit utilization ratio under 30%.

You may want to diversify your credit mix by responsibly using several types of credit accounts, such as installment loans and credit cards, to demonstrate your ability to manage various credit products. Regularly review your credit reports to identify and dispute any inaccuracies that could unfairly lower your score.

Finally, avoid opening new credit accounts too frequently, as each application can temporarily impact your score. By following these strategies, you can gradually raise your FICO score from fair to good.

What is the Card’s Credit Limit?

This card has a minimum credit limit of $2,000. Some cardholders report credit lines of $25,000 or more.

The bank bases your credit limit on several factors, including your credit history and income. You can ask for a higher limit online or over the phone. Citi may perform a soft or hard inquiry to evaluate your request.

Citi periodically reviews your account and may unilaterally raise your credit limit as soon as six months after account opening.

Sometimes, your card may have a lower credit limit because of your credit history, but this needn’t hold you back. You may qualify for another of the bank’s cards with a higher credit limit if you’re a long-standing and responsible Citi cardholder.

How Much Are 70,000 Citi ThankYou Points Worth?

Citi credit cards, even those that offer cash back, denominate rewards as ThankYou Points. The value of 70,000 Citi ThankYou Points can vary significantly depending on the redemption method:

    • Travel booked through Citi’s travel portal: Points are typically worth one cent each, making 70,000 points worth $700 when you redeem them through Citi Travel.

    • Transfer to airline partners: The point values can vary widely and may reach 1.8 cents each if you transfer to airline partners and redeem for flights, especially in business or first class. This rate could potentially make 70,000 points worth up to $1,260 — depending on the specific redemption.

    • Shopping with points at retailers such as Amazon or Best Buy: This method often provides less value, sometimes below one cent per point. For example, you may get a per-point value from Amazon of $0.008, which would make 70,000 points worth $560 when you use them on the site.

Transferring points to airline partners and redeeming for premium travel typically offers the highest value, while selecting cash back is a poor choice. It’s essential to understand these redemption methods if you want to maximize the value of your ThankYou Points.

Is It a Good Card for Hotels?

The Citi Strata Premier℠ Card can be an excellent choice for hotel stays, particularly because of its annual hotel savings benefit. Cardholders receive a $100 yearly hotel credit on a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when you book through CitiTravel.com.

This perk offsets the cost of a hotel stay. Additionally, you earn triple points on travel, including other hotel purchases, which means that every dollar you spend at hotels using the card earns bonus rewards. You can redeem these rewards for future travel and hotel stays.

While the card does not offer direct hotel loyalty benefits or status, you can transfer your points to several hotel loyalty programs, including Accor Live Limitless, Choice Privileges, Leaders Club, and Wyndham Rewards. Points may gain considerable value when you transfer them.

Citi points transfer details
Cardholders may gain more points when they transfer them.

For example, the card gives you two Choice Privilege points (worth $0.008 each) for each ThankYou Point. Thus, you can exchange 10,000 ThankYou Points and get (10,000 x 2 x $0.008), or a $160 value in Choice Privilege points.

Note that Citi offers very high bonus rates, such as 10x points, on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.

The list of hotels participating in the Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer program is small and may exclude your favorite hotel chain. A co-branded hotel credit card may offer more targeted advantages if you desire luxury hotel benefits or prefer to stay at non-participating hotels.

How Does the Card Compare to the Citi Double Cash® Card?

You may favor the Citi Double Cash® Card if you don’t travel much. It provides a flat rate of cash rewards on all eligible purchases, doesn’t charge an annual fee, and is a great balance transfer option.

Here is a detailed comparison of the two cards:

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card Citi Double Cash® Card
Annual Fee $95 No annual fee
Earning Rate 10x points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com; 3x points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations; 1x Point per $1 spent on all other purchases 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% as you pay) in the form of ThankYou points
Signup Bonus Yes, it offers a signup bonus of points (varies) No official signup bonus
Foreign Transaction Fees None 3% on foreign transactions
Redemption Options Travel, gift cards, shopping, transfer to airline partners Cash back
Travel Benefits $100 annual hotel savings, no foreign transaction fees, transfer points to airline partners None
Intro APR Offer None 0% Intro APR Period 18 months on Balance Transfers
Credit Requirement Good to Excellent Good to Excellent
Annual Hotel Savings $100 off on a single hotel stay of $500 or more each year when booked through Citi N/A
Point Value in Travel 1 cent per point when booked through Citi’s travel portal N/A

As mentioned earlier, many Reddit contributors tout the value of owning multiple Citi cards with complementary features. By owning both the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card and the Citi Double Cash® Card, you earn a minimum of 2x ThankYou Points on all eligible purchases. Throw in the Citi Custom Cash® Card, and you have a terrific trifecta with up to 5x bonus ThankYou Points.

Is the Card Worth It?

With its moderate $95 annual fee, this card may be a great match if you love to travel and enjoy dining out. Your travel, hotel, and dining expenses earn triple points, meaning every trip and meal out gets you closer to your next getaway.

The generous signup bonus is a good deal that can balance out the annual fee. Plus, the card comes with some valuable perks, such as a $100 discount on hotel stays each year and no extra fees on purchases abroad, making it suitable for globetrotters.

The card gives you the option to transfer your points to various airline and hotel partners, which can help you obtain freebies and upgrades faster.

On the other hand, if your spending is more about variety or you prefer keeping things simple, a no-annual-fee card or a straightforward cash back card may be more up your alley. Ultimately, if you can maximize the card’s benefits, it can be an accommodating travel companion.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • You frequently travel and dine out: The card’s reward structure makes every dollar you spend in the bonus categories work harder toward paying for your next adventure.

    • You’re looking for valuable travel perks: The card’s benefits provide significant value if you’re an avid traveler.

    • You want flexibility in how you redeem points: This card offers several ways to use your rewards.

Here are two thoughts to consider before you apply for this card. First, you should look at competing cards, such as the three I reviewed above, to find the one that best suits your lifestyle.

Second, you may want to employ the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card as part of a multi-card strategy, combining it with one or more Citi cash back cards to earn the maximum yield from Citibank.

About the Author

Eric Bank
Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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