The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students offers an opportunity to earn rewards on purchases while establishing a positive credit history. It combines the opportunity to reduce your APR, which was offered by the Citi Forward for College Students (which is no longer available), with the ThankYou rewards program that Citi cards are known for.
This card falls a bit short of being the best all-around credit card for students, but depending on your personal spending habits – especially if the majority of your purchases fall into the dining and entertainment categories – it could still be a great option.
- Sign-up Bonus. If you make $500 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of opening the account, you receive a bonus of 2,500 bonus ThankYou points. These points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card.
- Fees. There is no annual fee for the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students. The balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3%, and the foreign transaction fee is 3%.
- APR. There is an introductory APR of 0% on purchases made during the first 7 months after opening the account. The APR on balance transfers and on purchases after the introductory period is based on your credit worthiness and is 13.99%, 18.99%, or 23.99%, varying with the prime rate.
- Rewards. You are awarded 2 ThankYou points for each dollar you spend on dining and entertainment purchases, and 1 ThankYou point per dollar spent on all other purchases, with no caps. Dining purchases typically include fast food, fine dining, bars, nightclubs, and taverns that primarily prepare food and drinks – however, it depends on the merchant’s category. Entertainment categories generally include movie theaters, amusements parks, concerts, zoos, live sporting events, and video rental stores. You can earn an unlimited number of ThankYou points, which do not expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
- Redemption of Rewards. You can redeem 2,500 ThankYou points for a $25 gift card or a $15 statement credit. You can also redeem your points for merchandise or a check in $50 or $100 denominations. The best value is typically for gift cards, where each point is worth approximately one cent.
- APR Reduction. You can receive a 0.25% reduction in your APR each quarter when you make purchases with your card, stay within your credit limit, and make your payments on time for three consecutive billing periods. You can reduce your APR a maximum of eight times, up to a total of 2% per year.
- Citi Price Rewind. Purchases made with your Citi card can be registered with Citi Price Rewind and tracked for 30 days. When the tracking is complete, you receive an email notification letting you know whether you qualify to request a refund. If a lower price of at least $25 is found for that item, you can submit a claim by fax or mail with a copy or photo of the original purchase refund, and then receive a refund of the difference. CitiRefunds are limited to $250 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.
- Citi Private Pass. Cardholders receive exclusive access to events such as live music, sporting events, and family entertainment through Citi Private Pass. This benefit is powered by a partnership with Live Nation, and includes exclusive ticket pre-sales and perks such as preferred seating, VIP packages, and reservations at acclaimed restaurants.
- Sign-up Bonus. Although the sign-up bonus is minimal, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students is only one of a handful of student credit cards that even offers a bonus to new card members. The Discover it for Students credit card offers a bonus of $20, and the Upromise card offers $25, placing the Citi ThankYou for Students among the best sign-up bonuses available for students.
- Opportunity to Reduce APR. The Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students is the only student card that awards managing your credit card with an APR reduction. Although it is a small reduction that can only be used to a maximum of 2%, it still gives an opportunity to reduce your APR simply by making your payments and paying on time. It is recommended that balances are paid in full each month rather than carried over in order to avoid paying any interest at all.
- Short-Term Introductory APR. It is best to take advantage of 0% APRs only if you know for sure that the purchases or balance transfers will be paid in full before the regular APR kicks in. The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students only offers 7 months on purchases, and you don’t have the opportunity to transfer balances from cards with higher APRs. The BankAmericard Credit Card for Students offers 0% on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, which is one of the longest terms available for any credit card, including cards not directed to students. The Upromise card also has the 0% offer for both purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, which is still a good amount of time in which to pay off new purchases or balances transferred from other cards.
- Bonus Categories Are Limited. The purchases that earn 2 ThankYou points per dollar include only dining and entertainment purchases, which is beneficial if the majority of your spending falls into these two categories. However, many student cards – including the Discover it for Students and Citi Dividend for Students – reward 5% in rotating categories such as movies and restaurants, home improvement stores, summer break, and holiday shopping. And not only do they award more for each dollar spent in cash back, but they also provide more of a variety in the purchases that earn more. However, if you do not want to sign up for rotating categories and most of your spending falls within the dining out and entertainment categories, you could earn more in rewards with the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students than you would with the others.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. If you travel frequently outside the United States, credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees are better for those purchases. Foreign transaction fees can range from 1% to 3% and, when earning rewards, can void out any earnings when traveling abroad. Student cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees at all include the Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card and the Discover it for Students card.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students provides a number of benefits if you are just starting out and want to earn rewards for your purchases. However, if the majority of your purchases do not fall into the dining and entertainment categories – or if you travel outside of the U.S. frequently – there are better student credit cards that are geared toward those who are attempting to build positive credit histories.
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students is best for students whose spending is primarily in dining and entertainment and do not travel outside of the U.S.
3.7 stars out of 5: Because of the foreign transaction fee, short-term introductory offer, and low opportunity for earning minimal rewards, this card falls near the middle of the student cards. However, it offers a competitive sign-up bonus and an opportunity to reduce the APR over time.
Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.