About Citi ThankYou Premier Card
The Citi ThankYou Preferred is a multi-faceted credit card that allows you to rack up rewards you can redeem for JetBlue TrueBlue points, resulting in the chance to book free flights.
What makes this card unique is that there is no annual fee, a feature that puts this card on par with some of the heavyweights in the cash-back world (more on that later).
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone likes JetBlue and some people may not live near an airport with sufficient JetBlue destinations. Also, there are other factors to consider when you’re thinking about if you should sign up for the ThankYou Preferred.
We’re going to cover all the important features of this card and we’ll compare it to some other cards in the cash-back category.
By the end of this review, you’ll have a clear sense of what this card’s rewards, benefits and rates/fees are, as well as what other people think about it and how it compares to competing cards.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred’s Rewards
Any credit card that offers rewards has a name for their rewards program. Citi’s is ThankYou, Chase’s is Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express’s is Membership Rewards.
These programs are the platform through which you redeem your points for cash, travel or merchandise. Often, your running balance of rewards points or cash is featured on the home page of your online account.
How you get those rewards and how you’re allowed to use them is really what sets one rewards card apart from another.
2% and 1% Cash Back
The main way that you earn rewards on this card is by using it. It’s that simple really. And when you use it, you’ll get 2% or 1% back in ThankYou points depending on what you buy.
Any entertainment or restaurant purchases you make will earn you the 2% and just about everything else will get you 1%. So, if you spend $100 on dinner at a restaurant, you’ll earn 200 ThankYou rewards points.
The restaurant and entertainment purchases can be tricky because getting the 2% cash back is dependent upon something called “merchant codes”, which is a number that businesses use to identify to credit card companies their business type.
For example, Chili’s uses a merchant code for restaurants, which is how Citi knows that you’re making a restaurant purchase.
Same goes for entertainment. So, without making things too complicated, we compiled a list of locations that will get you 2%, according to Citi’s fine print:
- Fast food
- Live entertainment
- Live theatrical productions
- Live sporting events
- Movie theaters
- Zoos, aquariums, circuses & carnivals
- Amusement parks
- Museums, art galleries and other tourist attractions
- Record stores
- Video rental stores
- On-demand internet streaming
Lots of options here, right? But options aren’t quite enough to understand how many points you’ll earn with your ThankYou Preferred card.
A good way to judge its value is to look at Americans’ average spending on restaurants and entertainment during the course of the year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent around $6,200 in those categories in 2016.
All that spending equals 12,400 ThankYou rewards points, which have a cash value of $124. Now, you can also transfer those points to JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent flyer program (more on that in the next section).
When you couple those points with what you can earn from non-2% spending (around $20K), you’re looking at 32,400 points per year.
Pro tip: Restaurant purchases that don’t get the bonus include bakeries, cafes/eateries inside stores, golf course restaurants, bowling allies and other locations.
How to Redeem Your ThankYou Points
The rewards you rack up on your ThankYou Preferred card can be redeemed for anything from JetBlue frequent flyer miles to cash, gift cards or merchandise.
Our usual recommendation is to transfer the points to a travel partner or redeem them for cash because they have rewards rates of one cent per point and gift cards are usually lower than that.
However, you can get a one-cent-per-point exchange rate on gift cards for three retailers: The Home Depot, Macy’s and Best Buy.
We estimate that you can earn about 32,400 points a year, which could get you $324 in cash or nearly 13 gift cards to the three retailers we mentioned a second ago.
In addition to cashing-out/gift-carding your points, you can transfer your them to JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent flyer program. Based on our research, you can book rewards seats on a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to New York for between 18,400 and 20,600 points.
If you were to pay with cash, the same flight would cost you at least $308, which means your 18,400 points have a flight value of about 1.67%, whereas the cash value of those points would be 1%.
Travelers who like JetBlue can benefit a lot from this card because you can earn enough points each year to get a free round-trip flight along with enough points to book another one-way ticket. The cash value of the round-trip and one-way tickets is, in the case of the L.A.-N.Y. flight, around $450.
Pro tip: You have to redeem at least 1,000 points at a time if you’re redeeming them for cash.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card’s Benefits
The Citi ThankYou Preferred is part of the MasterCard benefits program, which means you get certain complimentary perks and protections when you make purchases.
Citi Price Rewind
Whenever you buy something with your Citi card and the price goes down within 60 days, you can use the Price Rewind tool to ask for a reimbursement of the price difference.
Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
Whenever you purchase your travel with your ThankYou Preferred card, you’ll have certain protections and insurance-like coverages if you get hurt, seriously injured or if you die while you’re traveling.
This benefit can be pretty complex and includes several exclusions, so make sure you read through them when you receive your MasterCard benefits guide along with your credit card.
Many of the items you buy with your Citi card come with a compliment warranty extension that maxes out at two years. This means that any item you buy that has a manufacturer’s warranty will get an additional 24 months from Citi.
The program covers the amount you spend on the item up to $10,000. But, like the other benefits the card offers, there are certain exclusions and restrictions, so make sure you read through your benefits guide.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred’s Rates and Fees
Here’s a quick list of the interest rates and fees on this card:
- APR: 14.99%-24.49%
- Intro offer: 0% for 15 months
- Cash advance APR: 25.49%
- Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
- Late/Returned Payment Fee: Up to $35
- Annual fee: None
Nothing is really out of the ordinary here, but it would help you to remember two things.
First, you’ll only pay APR on balances you don’t pay off in full every month. If you pay late one time, then your penalty APR kicks in and you may have it indefinitely.
Second, the intro APR of 0% is good for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, but those balance transfers have to be made within four months of the day you’re approved for your card.
Pro tip: You’ll pay a 3% fee on balance transfers and a 5% fee on cash advances.
Current Reviews of the Citi ThankYou Preferred
Most of the reviews of the Citi ThankYou Preferred are average – the card, they say, isn’t awesome but it’s not awful.
Consumer reviews seem to follow that same track of mediocrity, with one person in particular complaining about the 1,000-point requirement for redemption.
There’s a reason why the card gets average reviews; we’ll explain why in the conclusion.
Pros of the Citi ThankYou Preferred
We believe the strength of this card is the fact that you can transfer your ThankYou points to the JetBlue TrueBlue frequent flyer program.
Another strength of this card is the 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers and purchases.
Cons of the Citi ThankYou Preferred
As cash rewards cards go, this card’s low-end APR is higher than cards like the Discover it Cash (11.99%) and the Bank of America Cash Rewards, American Express Blue Cash Preferred and the Capital One Quicksilver.
The other main drawback of this card is the lack of a sign-up bonus. Most rewards cards – cash back cards, especially – will offer you a chunk of points or cash if you can spend a certain amount of money in the first three months.
Each of the cards we listed in the APR comparison offers some sort of bonus, whether it’s $150 in cash back or doubling your cash rewards the first year.
There aren’t too many consumers who can really take advantage of the restaurant and entertainment bonuses on this card. If you spend a ton of money each year on entertainment and eating out, then we think this card could be a good fit.
However, if you’re just someone who wants an easy-to-understand credit card that earns cash rewards, we suggest reading our reviews of the Citi Double Cash, the Discover it Cash and the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Each of these cards offers better cash back rates than the Citi ThankYou Preferred and, in the case of two of the cards, the APR is lower.