The Credit Card Duo That Gets The Majority of My Spend

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Best Citi Credit Card Combination

The Easy Best Citi Credit Card Combination

For the past several months one credit card combination has dominated my wallet when it comes to everyday spend: the Citi Premier and the Citi Double Cash. It’s a simple duo of two simple cards, but this Citi credit card combination is pretty much the best option for me.

Why I Rock the Citi Premier and Double Cash

These two cards offer a simplicity that I really appreciate. The Citi Premier earns:

  • 3x ThankYou Points on gas
  • 3x ThankYou Points on grocery
  • 3x ThankYou Points on restaurants
  • 3x ThankYou Points on hotels
  • 3x ThankYou Points on air travel.

This is a lot of 3x earning. The 3x on grocery that launched earlier this year was the biggest game changer for me. For any of the above expenses, I use the Citi Premier. It’s pretty much the best all-around card.

For all other typical expenses, I pull out my Citi Double Cash Card. Rather than find other cards earning bonus points for specific retailers or categories, it’s usually easiest to just earn 2x on everything. Beyond groceries, gas, and occasionally eating out, which are most of our monthly expenses payable by credit card, there are things like clothing, utilities, and kids’ activities that fill out much of the rest of our spend. I don’t have cards that earn bonus points on these categories, or any of the other random expenses.

So the simplest solution is best: default to the Double Cash. Always remember the KISS principle in life.

What I Like About This Citi Credit Card Combo

The primary draw is the ease of the combination. The Citi Premier hits *so* many bases. Gas and groceries are two major expenses, and it is nice to get 3x on so much of our spend. If only the card was a Visa so that I could use it for Costco gas! I need to get one of the other excellent cards for gas station spend.

I also like how cheap this credit card combination is. You can get better grocery earning with the American Express Gold Card, but the high annual fee is a turn off. I’d much rather spend $95 per year on the Citi Premier than $250 per year on the Gold Card. The credits are mostly useless for me, and I would have to spend a lot on the Gold to make it more lucrative than the Citi Premier. The Citi Premier grocery spend is also uncapped.

There are definitely combinations that rival this one in the Chase ecosystem. I have an Ink Preferred card, Ink Cash, Ink Unlimited, Freedom, and Freedom Flex. Here I have bonuses on travel (3x), office supply (5x), and drugstore (3x). Remaining spend enjoys unlimited 1.5x per dollar. The annual cost is the same as well, since the Ink Preferred is the only non fee free card.

While I do spend some on my Chase cards, the Citi credit card combination is easier and still lucrative.

Best Citi Credit Card Combination

Where This Combo Falls Apart

I will definitely note that I have an affinity for ThankYou Points since I can get great use out of them with their transfer partners. Not everyone will be in this situation, though, which I get. It is definitely a bummer that the Citi Premier no longer enjoys the 25% bonus when redeeming through their travel portal. This really cuts into the strategy for people who like to use their points to book whatever is most convenient.

If you cannot use any of the ThankYou transfer partners, this Citi credit card combination will likely not appeal to you, either. The best Citi ThankYou transfer partners in my mind are:

  • Turkish Miles and Smiles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Flying Blue
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

There are others that have some decent uses, but these cover most of the bases. Citi doesn’t have any hotel partner programs, which is a major bummer.

My personal situation results in me transferring the majority of my ThankYou Points to Miles & Smiles and LifeMiles. My first several Turkish redemptions had an average redemption value of 7.0 cents per point. That’s amazing.

Final Thoughts

The ease of these two cards cannot be understated. It’s simple and effective for my points and miles needs. Once Citi opened the door to converting Citi Double Cash cash back into ThankYou points, I knew this was going to be a winning combination for me. Unless I’m working on a welcome offer, I put about 80% of my monthly spend across these two cards.

Oddly enough, I’m way more willing to do extra legwork on the redemption side of the hobby rather than the earning side. With a limited number of points, you have to make all of them count, which is why I appreciate the barrier to entry afforded by Turkish Miles and Smiles.

Ian Snyder
After igniting his passion for award travel while planning his honeymoon, Ian now enjoys using points and miles to see the world with his wife and three internationally adopted kiddos. He loves dissecting loyalty programs to find maximum value. His goal is to demonstrate that extraordinary travel is possible for the ordinary family.

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12 COMMENTS

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12 COMMENTS

      • Yep me too for the Costco extended warranty and the 4% on gas up to $7K. Can get another Citi card for a better SUB then product change to Costco I’ve read.

  1. Citi is the often overlooked ecosystem. I rock the Prestige, Premier, Reward+, and the Double Cash and still come or cheaper than the Amex Platinum/Gold set up.

    The downside is no protection. Thankfully most of my air travel is award flights and I just put the taxes and fees on my Ritz Carlton card since it had the exact same travel protections as the Sapphire Reserve.

    The Citi setup does require a bit more work than the Amex or Chase ecosystem but your can still get access to OneWorld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance partners. I never transfer to hotels so the lack is a hotel partner doesn’t bother me to much.

    My wish is that Citi inks a deal with American and they become a transfer partner for ThankYou points. That’d be awesome.

    • A true Citi-American transfer partnership would be phenomenal. Sadly, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

      Still, I’ve really come to appreciate their ecosystem. My Chase and Citi setups combined are cheaper than an Amex Gold. I get that the Gold is a great card, but the cost is really a turn off.

  2. Each year-end when Chase, Citi, Amex have all our spend in a file to download, I put all of this into one spreadsheet where I can see how I did spend on various cards. I do this to find out if that card earned its fee. Last year I dumped the ATTMore card because I would only get 3x at Amazon, but couldn’t anywhere else. It got dumped. Green card was also on the block, but Amex put up 20K for retention. I keep all the no fee cards, but look hard at all the others. 2020 was not the best for the travel bonuses from the cards so most of those get a pass for last year. I learned out spending would never net us very many points on the Citi Rewards + card. It now just holds a spot to get another card in its place.

    • I should start doing an annual assessment as well. Typically, I just assess whether or not to keep a card when the fee hits.

  3. For 2021 my wife and I are starting with the AMEX Gold for grocery and dining out (although where we live we are locked down) and the AMEX Blue Business Plus for all other spending. We actually picked up a second BBP in November as we had elapsed our 50K in spending for 2020 and did not want to give up the double points.

    • Same, BBP/Gold is my “duo” with high grocery spend for our large family. I’ve considered a second BBP for my wife for the same reason, but so far we can take advantage of other high spend “sweet spots” like Hyatt $15K and some SUB minimum spends for new cards so not much needs to go on the backup 2% card.

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