The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers a rewards program designed to benefit those who travel frequently, and it provides a sign-up bonus that could more than cover the annual fee for a number of years. However, depending on your spending habits and preferences, it may fall short from being a truly competitive travel rewards card relative to other rewards cards that also offer an introductory APR and a lower annual fee.
- Sign-up Bonus. You are awarded 20,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account. You also earn 30,000 additional bonus points when you spend another $3,000 in purchases with your card within three months of your second year of membership. The bonuses combine for 50,000 points, which are equal to $500 in gift cards, or up to $625 if redeemed for airfare.
- Fees. The annual fee of $125 is waived the first year. The balance transfer fee is 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
- APR. The APR, which is based on your creditworthiness, is 13.99%, 16.99%, 18.99%, 20.99%, or 22.99% and varies with the prime rate.
- ThankYou Points. You are awarded three ThankYou points for each dollar spent on purchases at restaurants, as well as on entertainment purchases such as movie theater tickets, amusement park admission, music, and video rentals. You earn two ThankYou points per dollar spent on airlines, hotels, and travel agencies, and one ThankYou point for each dollar spent on all other purchases. Your ThankYou points do not expire, and there are no caps or limits to the number of points that can be earned.
- Redemption. ThankYou points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, merchandise, travel, and charitable donations. You can redeem 8,000 points for $50, or 16,000 points for $100 if you choose to redeem for cash. Gift cards start as low as 2,500 points for $25 gift cards with popular retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Gap, Bloomingdales, iTunes, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden. If you choose to redeem your points for airfare through Citi ThankYou Travel Center, you receive a discount of 20% in points required.
- VIP Access to Events. You also receive access to Citi Private Pass, which gives you VIP access to purchase tickets to events such as concerts and sporting events, and access to pre-sale tickets to entertainment events.
- Personal Concierge Service. Concierge service is available to assist with booking flights and hotel rooms, making restaurant reservations, and purchasing gifts. The service is available 24/7 and is included with Citi ThankYou Premier cardmembership.
- Chip Technology. The Citi ThankYou Premier card includes an embedded chip for added security with merchants that use chip terminals, which are commonly used with many European retailers.
- High Sign-up Bonus. The total sign-up bonus is equal to at least $500 in gift cards, or $625 if you book airfare with the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, where 20% fewer points are required because you are a cardmember. Although the bonus spans across a two-year period, it is one of the highest sign-up bonuses available. The annual fee for the card is nearly covered for two additional years after the first year (which is waived), even if you only reach the first year bonus of 20,000 points and redeem for $200 in gift cards.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. If foreign transaction fees are charged, they typically range from 1% to 3% on purchases made outside of the United States. This is an important element if you travel abroad frequently. The Discover it card is a competitive card that also does not charge a foreign transaction fee; however, the Citi ThankYou Premier credit card is likely to be accepted by more retailers outside the U.S. than Discover.
- No Introductory APR. Credit cards often offer 0% introductory APRs on purchases and balance transfers, which is helpful if you need to make a large initial purchase or transfer a balance from a credit card that carries a higher APR. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card and the Chase Freedom credit card both offer a 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months.
- Annual Fee. The annual fee is waived the first year. However, if you do not make the spend threshold to earn at least the first bonus of 20,000 points, you will need to earn at least 12,500 ThankYou points in your second year of membership in order to cover the annual fee. This is at least $4,167 if all of your spending is in the three-point category. The Chase Freedom card has no annual fee at all, and the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card carries a slightly lower annual fee of $75.
- Low Redemption Options. If you redeem your ThankYou points for gift cards, each point is worth one cent per point, which is standard with rewards cards. However, if you would rather redeem for cash, each point is worth less than a cent each. Gift cards are the best option when redeeming ThankYou points, but other credit cards such as the Chase Freedom card allow you to redeem 2,000 points for $20 if you choose direct deposit, statement credit, or check by mail.
If you are able to meet the spending requirements in order to earn the total sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points, you can earn enough to cover the annual fee for a number of years. The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card is also valuable if you travel abroad frequently. However, the low value of ThankYou points on most options requires that you redeem for gift cards in order to fully maximize your rewards.
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is great if you travel frequently because of the opportunity to earn bonus points in purchase categories related to travel and because there are no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the U.S. However, if you have no use for gift cards or if you do not travel enough to earn the points required to cover the annual fee, other cards such as Chase Freedom allow you to earn points on purchases that can be redeemed for cash with no annual fee.
4.0 out of 5 stars: ThankYou points are best redeemed for gift cards which may not be the best option for a card with an annual fee of $125, but the rewards program and sign-up bonus still place the Citi ThankYou Premier credit card as a competitive option for travelers.