Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card Review – 3x Points on Travel

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AT A GLANCE

Rating: 4.1

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Published or updated: August 16, 2016

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The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is a rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee (waived during the first year) and an expansive loyalty program that lets you redeem for general merchandise, gift cards, cash back, and travel, including airline tickets and hotel stays. Most redemptions occur through Citi’s ThankYou portal, but you can also use your accumulated ThankYou points to make purchases at Amazon.com and with LiveNation.

Citi ThankYou Premier is comparable to a number of other cash back and travel rewards cards with annual fees, including Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee), Capital One Venture Rewards Card ($59 annual fee), Citi Prestige ($450 annual fee), Barclaycard Arrival Plus ($89 annual fee), and various airline- and hotel-branded cards, such as American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles ($95 annual fee) and Chase Marriott Rewards Premier ($85 annual fee). It’s also comparable to cash back and travel rewards cards without annual fees, such as Discover it Miles and Barclaycard Arrival, though their benefits tend to be less generous.

Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus: There is currently no bonus offer for this card.
  • Earning ThankYou Points: Citi ThankYou Premier earns an unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on all travel purchases, including airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, trains, taxis, tolls, and other forms of local and long-distance conveyance. The card earns an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment, including tourist attractions, music venues, and more. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
  • Redeeming ThankYou Points: You can redeem your accumulated ThankYou points at the Citi ThankYou portal for a wide variety of merchandise, travel, experiences, and cash and cash equivalents, including gift cards, statement credits, and paper checks. You can also redeem for direct purchases at Amazon.com and with LiveNation. Point values vary based on how you redeem. Travel booked through Citi’s travel portal offers the best bang for your buck – points are worth $0.0125 apiece with this option, meaning a 40,000-point haul translates to $500 in travel purchases. Plus, there are no blackout dates on Citi travel bookings – and, if you don’t have enough points to cover the full cost of a travel purchase, you can pay the difference with a credit or debit card. Gift card redemptions are worth a straight $0.01 per point. All other redemption options are worth between $0.005 and $0.01, with cash redemptions on the lower end of this range and Amazon.com redemptions on the higher end. Redemption minimums vary by redemption method as well – for instance, they start around 1,000 points for merchandise redemptions and 5,000 points for paper check redemptions.
  • Points Transfers: If you don’t want to redeem for any of the options listed above, you can transfer your accumulated ThankYou points to about a dozen travel loyalty programs, often at a one-to-one ratio, and sometimes better. You typically need at least 1,000 ThankYou points to complete a transfer. Most transfer partners are airlines that operate overseas, such as Qantas and Malaysia Airlines, but a handful of popular U.S. brands participate as well, including Virgin America and Hilton (which also has the best transfer rate: 1,500 Hilton HHonors points for every 1,000 ThankYou points).
  • Regular APR: This card doesn’t have an introductory APR promotion. The purchase and balance transfer APR ranges between 14.24% and 23.24%, depending on prevailing interest rates and your personal creditworthiness. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
  • Important Fees: This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived during the first year of card membership. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and late and returned payments both cost $35.
  • Citi Private Pass: Citi Private Pass is a useful fringe benefit for cardholders who enjoy entertainment, outings, and VIP privileges. Private Pass perks include VIP access to popular concerts, sporting events, and other productions, as well as exclusive access to specially organized events, such as celebrity dinners.
  • Additional Benefits: This card’s additional benefits include 120 days of purchase protection for stolen or damaged items bought with the card, up to $1,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year; complimentary loss and damage coverage for car rentals charged in full to the card; 24/7 concierge service for travel and event bookings; and complimentary one-year warranty extensions on all items with original warranties set to expire after five years or less.
  • Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit. Even minor dings can affect your application and reduce your chances of approval.

Advantages

  1. Rapid Point Earnings on Travel Purchases. Every local and long-distance travel purchase earns 3 points per $1 spent. If you’re planning to redeem exclusively for travel, that’s an effective 3.75% return on your spending, or a 3% return if you plan to redeem for gift cards. Many competing cards, such as Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select and American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles, earn just 2 points for each $1 spent on travel.
  2. No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. That’s great news for frequent travelers who regularly set foot – and use their cards – outside U.S. borders. It’s also a distinct advantage relative to competitors such as the Expedia+ Card.
  3. Points Worth 25% More on Citi Travel Redemptions. ThankYou Premier’s travel benefits don’t stop with its rapid point earnings on travel purchases. When you redeem your ThankYou points for travel purchases made through Citi’s travel portal, your points go 25% further (relative to the gift card rate, which is the highest otherwise available). By contrast, Discover it Miles and Capital One Venture Rewards both have flat-rate ($0.01 per mile) travel redemptions.
  4. Versatile Redemption Options. You can redeem accumulated ThankYou points for pretty much anything – not just travel and gift cards. You also don’t necessarily have to redeem through the ThankYou portal, as ThankYou points can be used on direct purchases with Amazon and LiveNation. This is a big benefit relative to Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture Rewards, and Discover it Miles, which only allow you to redeem for travel purchases (or statement credits offsetting already-made travel purchases).
  5. Lots of Fringe Benefits. ThankYou Premier comes with a slew of fringe benefits. The most notable is Citi Private Pass, which can be very valuable for cardholders who enjoy special events and experiences – including those off-limits to non-cardholders. And, as this card caters to frequent travelers, the 24/7 concierge service feature can be valuable and convenient as well.

Disadvantages

  1. Has an Annual Fee. ThankYou Premier has a $95 annual fee. If you don’t use this card heavily enough to offset that recurring cost, you’re better off with a fee-free alternative, such as Barclaycard Arrival or Citi ThankYou Preferred.
  2. Point Values Lower for Cash and Merchandise Redemptions. ThankYou points are worth less than $0.01 apiece, and sometimes as little as $0.005 apiece, when redeemed for anything other than gift cards and travel – including hard cash. This is a drawback relative to Chase’s rewards cards, which offer cash redemptions at a flat $0.01-per-point rate.
  3. Limited Point Transfer Options. While it’s nice that you can transfer ThankYou points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, the options aren’t exactly a “who’s who” of popular American travel brands. Aside from Hilton HHonors, which offers a 50% boost on transferred points (in other words, 1,000 ThankYou points becomes 1,500 Hilton HHonors points), most transfer opportunities involve international airlines that are liable to require huge quantities of points when it comes time to redeem. In most cases, you’re better off redeeming ThankYou points for Citi travel bookings.
  4. Charges Penalty Interest. This card charges penalty interest at a 29.99% APR. If you occasionally miss payment due dates, that can quickly add up. Some competing cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus, never charge penalty interest.

Final Word

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card isn’t a straight-up cash back card – after all, its cash redemption values are pretty low relative to its peers. It’s also not exclusively a travel rewards card. And, despite solid earnings on dining out, it’s not only a restaurant credit card either. It’s a mashup of all these things and more – making it a powerful ally for consumers who spend in its favored categories and enjoy being able to redeem rewards for pretty much anything they want.

Of course, ThankYou Premier has drawbacks, including a sizable annual fee and uneven redemption options that can eat into the value of your accumulated points. However, if you’re not sure which types of rewards you value or intend to use most, it could be the right card for you.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • pinche970

    regarding; citi premier card

    Here is the sound bite response from their customer service: when they can’t give you a flight to match the time or airline you rather fly on.

    “All our availability is based on the airlines’ lowest published fares. If you have any further questions please contact us at 866-428-4078. Thank you and have a great day!”

    They use a company called “Spirit Incentive” which is nothing but a lady name Lisa that operates the internet for you, so you can do it yourself from your home computer, Lisa can’t do anymore then you could.

    Their web page gives you about 3 choices out of 15-20 available for your departure, then they give you 1 to 2 choice on your return flight. If you need a red-eye flight, good luck it’s like a crap-shoot, if you want to travel delta or american good luck. most likely the cheapest airline on a propeller airplane. YOU HAVE TO SETTLE WITH THE THREE CHOICES THEY GIVE YOU! YOU HAVE NO OTHER Choices!