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TravelWhen (and why) you should downgrade from the Citi Strata Premier to...

When (and why) you should downgrade from the Citi Strata Premier to the Citi Rewards+


Citi is a TPG advertising partner.

Sometimes, a card that you have in your wallet no longer serves you like it used to. Fortunately, there are other options besides outright canceling your card, which could potentially affect your credit score and forfeit all of the rewards you’ve accumulated.

Let’s talk about when (and why) they should downgrade to a card with the same issuer. We’ll start with the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card (see rates and fees), a popular midrange travel credit card with a $95 annual fee that replaced the Citi Prestige card in 2024.

While it’s likely that most cardholders can get enough value from the card to justify paying this fee, for some, it may start to lose its luster. For instance, the card’s annual $100 hotel savings benefit is somewhat limited, requiring you to book through Citi ThankYou and spend at least $500 (excluding taxes and fees) for the statement credit to kick in. While the card’s points transfer opportunities can be lucrative, you may want to move onto a different transferable points program or earn cash-back rewards instead.

Whatever your motivation is, let’s analyze when (and why) cardholders might want to downgrade from the Citi Strata Premier to the no-annual-fee Citi Rewards+® Card (see rates and fees).

You get to keep your Citi ThankYou points

Rather than canceling your Citi Strata Premier card, downgrading to the Citi Rewards+ ensures that you won’t lose any of your hard-earned ThankYou® points in the process.

Be aware, though, that your ThankYou points will lose significant value once they are transferred over to your Citi Rewards+ balance. That’s because the Citi Strata Premier unlocks points transfer opportunities to 15-plus airline loyalty programs, which helps you land closer to TPG’s July 2024 valuation of 1.8 cents per point.

Use your AAdvantage miles to book a seat in domestic business class for 25,000 Etihad Guest miles one-way. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The Citi Rewards+ does not allow for points transfers, but you do have the option to move your points to JetBlue TrueBlue or Wyndham Rewards at a less lucrative 5:4 ratio compared to 1:1 with the Strata Premier. You can also move your points to Choice Privileges at a 1:1.5 ratio with the Rewards+ compared to the 1:2 with the Strata Premier.

But if losing points transfer abilities doesn’t matter to you, your Citi ThankYou points will be worth 1 cent each — or less — with the Rewards+ card. As a cash-back card, your redemption options are buying gift cards at 1 cent per point or shopping with points at Amazon and Best Buy at less than 1 cent each.

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Still, having these redemption options is better than losing your points altogether.

Related: What credit score do you need to get the Citi Rewards+ Card?

The sign-up bonus on the Citi Rewards+ is marginal

With the Citi Rewards+, new applicants can earn a sign-up bonus of 20,000 bonus points after they spend $1,500 in purchases with their card within three months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through Dec. 2025. This bonus is worth $360 according to TPG’s June 2024 valuations.

THE POINTS GUY

For comparison, the Citi Strata Premier offers 70,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,260 according to TPG’s June 2024 valuations (a higher offer may be available through Citi.com).

Following the previous point (get it?), you’ll get to preserve any of the ThankYou points earned through your Citi Premier when downgrading to the Citi Rewards+, eliminating the risk of losing your rewards balances altogether.

Related: Who should get the Citi Rewards+ Card?

You’ll keep some of the same bonus categories — with a round-up benefit

Admittedly, the Citi Strata Premier comes with one of the best rewards rates, awarding bonus points on both travel and everyday purchases:

While downgrading to a no-annual-fee card often means you’ll lose that full earning potential, the Citi Rewards+ preserves some of this rewards rate by offering 2 points per dollar on supermarkets and gas stations (on up to the first $6,000 spent per year, then 1 point per dollar) and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

If your spending has decreased significantly — especially for travel — since the start of the pandemic, then the Rewards+ will ensure that you’ll still earn bonus points on two common purchase categories.

What’s unique about the Citi Rewards+ is the 10% points bonus benefit. In other words, all purchases will round up to the nearest 10 points. To illustrate this, imagine that you buy a $1 bottle of water at a vending machine. You’ll earn 10 points on that purchase, despite it typically earning 1 point with most other cards.

While this benefit is marginal, the points-earning opportunities can add up over time. Therefore, the Citi Rewards+ also becomes a useful card for those small, routine purchases you’ll have in your everyday life.

Related: Citi Rewards+ review

You’ll automatically get 10% of all the points you redeemed back

Another unique benefit of the Citi Rewards+ that is not found on the Strata Premier is the ability to get 10% points back for the first 100,000 points you redeem each calendar year.

You can redeem your points on the Citi Rewards+ for gift cards. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Let’s say that you redeemed 50,000 points with your Rewards+ in a year. You’ll receive 5,000 points back, worth $50 toward gift cards. While not a huge benefit, this is an easy benefit that takes no work on your part — a great feature for a card with no annual fee.

Related: Citi Strata Premier review

Double down with both cards

Here’s an alternative strategy: Double down with both cards instead. Here’s a preview of the benefits of doing so:

  • Snag an additional sign-up bonus (so long as you meet Citi’s eligibility criteria)
  • Earn more Citi ThankYou points by using your Citi Strata Premier for 3 miles per dollar earning (on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and EV charging)
    and the Citi Rewards+ for non-bonus and small purchases
  • There’s no additional annual fee associated with adding the Citi Rewards+ to your wallet
THE POINTS GUY

Adding the Citi Rewards+ can make carrying your Citi Strata Premier more valuable, so it’s definitely worth considering if you are on the fence about discontinuing your participation in the ThankYou program.

Related: Why you should double down with the Citi Strata Premier and Citi Rewards+

Bottom line

TPG staffers are used to routinely evaluating what’s in their wallets, making decisions to keep, downgrade or cancel cards when it comes time to pay an annual fee. If you’ve carried the Citi Strata Premier for some time now — and the $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) is about to hit your statement — know that downgrading to the Citi Rewards+ is a viable option.


Apply here: Citi Strata Premier
Apply here: Citi Rewards+


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