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Citi ThankYou Preferred Review: Not a Great Catch for Date Night

It earns dining and entertainment rewards, but it's neither the best card for those categories nor ideal for everyday spending.
Aug. 28, 2018
Citi ThankYou Preferred Editorial Review
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The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card is designed to appeal to daters, diners and folks looking for thrills out on the town. But frankly, it’s a bit of a party pooper.

The card earns double rewards on restaurants and entertainment, and its definition of entertainment is broad, including concerts, sporting events, theater, zoos and more. So if you’re single in the city — or you’re settled but seeking to get out of the house more — the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card is hoping you’ll bring it along.

But dining and entertainment have become uber-competitive categories in recent years, so even if those are your biggest spending areas, you can find many cards that offer higher rewards rates in those categories.

Plus, if you’re looking for the perks of a sign-up bonus or cash back, you’ll want to research other options.

Citi ThankYou<sup>®</sup> Preferred Card

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card

Apply Now on Citibank's secure application
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • Needs excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer; after that, the variable APR will be 15.24% - 25.24% based upon your creditworthiness*
    • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater*
    • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
    • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
    • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants, and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
    • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
    • No annual fee*

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card: Benefits and basics

Annual fee: $0

Rewards: The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card earns an unlimited 2 Citi ThankYou Points per $1 spent on restaurants and entertainment and 1 point on everything else. Points never expire. See our review of Citi ThankYou Points for details on redeeming points, including the highest- and lowest-value redemption options.

Sign-up bonus: None

Introductory APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

Foreign transaction fee: 3%

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

Highlights of the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card card

$0 annual fee: Many rewards credit cards come with a yearly cost. The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card does not. This means you won’t have to stress about using your card enough to cover a fixed yearly payment. Make monthly payments in full and on time; otherwise, interest charges could eat into any rewards you might earn.

Solid introductory APR promotion: New cardholders will get 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR. That’s not the longest intro APR period you can find — it’s not even the longest one available on Citi cards — but it’s a decent runway if you’re looking to finance a large purchase or transfer a balance. If you opt for the latter option, though, be sure to consider the balance transfer fee: $5 or 3% of the balance, whichever is greater.

Broad dining and entertainment categories: The “restaurants” category on the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card includes both full-service restaurants and fast-food places, as well as bars, lounges and cafes. And the “entertainment” category covers more than you might think. Purchases that qualify for 2X points include:

  • Live entertainment (including theatrical productions, sporting events and concerts)
  • Movie theaters
  • Amusement parks, circuses and carnivals
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries)
  • Record stores
  • Video rental stores
  • On-demand internet streaming media

Drawbacks to consider

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card works for spending out on the town, but what about your daily expenses? How good is it really for transferring a balance? Here are a few areas where the card falls short.

No sign-up bonus: Rewards credit card users have grown accustomed to sign-up bonuses, sometimes worth hundreds of dollars. If you’re looking for one in the terms and conditions of the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, you can stop your search early; there’s none to be found. Plenty of other cards do come with sign-up bonuses, many of them quite lucrative.

Limited redemption options: If you’re looking for flexible rewards points or cash back, the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card may not be for you. The card’s ThankYou Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants and department and home stores. You can redeem 2,500 ThankYou Points for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com. A Citi representative confirms that you can also redeem for cash back. But be aware that it’s a poor redemption value.

Poor rewards rate on common expenses: Though dining and entertainment are fun spending categories, you’ll get just 1 point per dollar on everything else. Cardholders may get more use out of a card that offers elevated rewards for more everyday purchases.

Fees: The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card’s annual fee is $0, but that doesn’t mean the card is completely fee-free. It charges a balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. You’ll also pay a foreign transaction fee of 3%, meaning the card isn’t a good choice for international spending.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best no foreign transaction fee credit cards

Possible alternatives

Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card tops the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card in every way. For starters, it’s a true cash-back credit card, and it earns an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. The card’s definition of entertainment is similarly broad. Plus, unlike the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, it offers a sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. The Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card is also a decent choice for financing a purchase or transferring a balance: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR. And you’ll get all of this for an annual fee of $0. For even higher rewards on dining and entertainment, you could opt for this card’s big brother, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card — although it does charge an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. 

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

If your definition of entertainment is “Netflix and chill,” consider the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. It hits a sweet spot for both foodies and folks who enjoy online streaming services, offering 3 points per dollar spent on restaurant dining as well as on services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify Premium, Apple Music and Pandora. And the high ongoing rewards rate doesn’t stop there: You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas stations, rideshares, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and more, all for an annual fee of $0 — making the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card a much more rewarding option for everyday spending than the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card. Plus, you’ll be eligible for a rich welcome offer: Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value. You can redeem points for many things, including travel or cash back, and points are worth a penny each no matter how you redeem (though, for cash back, you’ll need to have accrued at least 2,000 points first).

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Dining and partying are all well and good, but maybe you’re a homebody or a parent with hungry mouths to feed. If so, elevated rewards for grocery spending may be more your speed. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; and 1% on everything else. Terms apply. The cash back comes in the form of a statement credit. Like the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express comes with a promotional APR offer: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 25.74% Variable APR. Its annual fee is also $0.

You can also visit NerdWallet’s roundup of top credit cards to see how these cards compare with the competition.

Is the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card right for you?

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card will earn you rewards on dining and gallivanting about town. But it’s neither the best rewards card for entertainment and dining, nor is it a great value for everyday spending. You’ll be better off comparing other cards that can reward you more handsomely no matter what you spend most of your money on.