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Citi ThankYou Premier Credit Card: A Premier Choice for Travelers?

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Citi ThankYou® Premier Card Editor's Rating: 2.9 / 5

Major changes to a credit card’s rewards program usually isn’t good news for consumers, but the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is an exception. In April 2015, the card rebranded and now offers triple ThankYou points in an array of travel purchase categories. Plus, its annual fee was reduced.

So do these changes make the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card a good addition to your wallet? Let’s find out.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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

    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • Needs excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0 for the first year, then $95

    APR

    • APR: 15.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn more on travel purchases - redeem points for meaningful rewards
    • Earn 3X Points on Travel, Including Gas Stations
    • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
    • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
    • Points are redeemable for airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center or for gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
    • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
    • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*

At a glance
Annual fees $0 for the first year, then $95
Foreign transaction fee None
Rewards program ThankYou Points
Sign-up bonus None
Verdict: If you spend a lot in travel categories and want to redeem for travel, too, this card might be a good fit
Good for:
  • Someone who spends a lot on travel, including gas
  • Someone who wants to redeem rewards for travel
  • Someone who uses nontraditional travel providers, like Airbnb and Uber
Bad for:
  • Someone who wants to redeem rewards for cash back
  • Someone who doesn’t want a card with a complicated earning and redeeming structure

In this article:

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card: The basics
Where the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card shines
Extra perks, no ‘thank you’ required
Where the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card falls short
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card versus the competition
Is the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card right for you?

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card: the basics

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is breaking some ground in the rewards credit card market by offering bonus rewards on travel, dining and entertainment spending. Specifically, you’ll get:

  • 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on travel
  • 2 ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment.
  • 1 ThankYou point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95. Our calculator can help you determine whether your spending would justify the annual fee:

Let’s do a deeper dive into what makes the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card a keeper for some consumers.

Where the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card shines

Finding a way to stand out on the travel credit card market is tough, but the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card delivers. It offers a cluster of benefits that can be hard to find in a single card. For example:

Earn triple points on travel, including gas – Citi ThankYou® Premier Card customers will score 3 ThankYou points for every dollar they spend on travel purchases, which is a higher earn rate than you’ll get with most of the card’s competitors. But the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card goes one step further by expanding the definition of “travel” to include purchases like gasoline and tolls, Airbnb stays, bike share rentals and more. More traditional travel expenditures like airfare, hotels and cruises are still included.

It’s rare for a credit card that earns extra points on “travel” to include gas in this category, not to mention all the other unconventional purchases that count, too. This feature alone should be enough to get consumers who spend a lot on travel in general (and gas specifically) to take notice.

Many ways to use points – The ThankYou Points program is known for providing customers with a wide range of redemption options. These include cash back, gift card purchases, merchandise purchases, bill payments, travel and more.

But folks with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card have yet another redemption option that’s not available to all customers with cards that earn ThankYou points: transferring rewards to participating frequent traveler programs. This degree of choice and flexibility in rewards redemption is rare, and definitely makes the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card sing.

No foreign transaction fee – Finding a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is much easier than it used to be, so it might not seem like a big deal that the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card waives this pesky charge.

What’s unusual is that the card provides extra rewards on such a diverse set of spending categories and no foreign transaction fees. This combination makes the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card a special breed. Plus, it comes chip-enabled, so you shouldn’t have any trouble with acceptance by overseas merchants.

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

Extra perks, no ‘thank you’ required

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card goes above and beyond basic credit card benefits by providing cardholders with some enticing extras, including:

Citi Private Pass – This platform allows Citi ThankYou® Premier Card customers to purchase presale tickets to concerts, sporting events, comedy shows and more. You may also be able to score a VIP package to the event of your choice. The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card might be just the ticket if you’re looking for a card that makes a night on the town a little more special.

Concierge service – Need help booking a flight or hotel room? Trying to arrange a night out to celebrate a birthday or anniversary? Can’t find the right gift for your spouse? The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has you covered. It provides 24/7 concierge service, so the help you need is just a phone call away.

Citi Price Rewind – Register recent purchases you’ve made with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi will go to work trying to find you a better price. With Price Rewind, you’ll get a refund of the price difference if a better deal is found on your registered item within 60 days of your purchase (up to $300 per item, $1,200 per year).

Where the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card falls short

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has a lot of strong points, but also has a few shortfalls:

Redeeming points for highest value requires strategy – Just because there are many ways to use your ThankYou points doesn’t mean that they’re all created equal. To get the maximum value from your rewards, you’ll have to be strategic.

According to the Nerds’ calculations, the best way to redeem points earned with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is for airfare, hotels, cruises or car rentals through Citi’s ThankYou Travel Center. Your points are worth 1.25 cents each if you cash them in this way.

For charitable donations, loan payments and some gift cards, you’ll see a value of 1 cent per point. For all other redemption options, including cash back, statement credits and merchandise, points will be worth less than 1 cent each.

Consequently, you’ll have to think through redemptions carefully (and possibly do some math) to figure out how to get a good deal for your ThankYou points. This isn’t ideal, and other cards on the market make getting a good value from rewards much easier.

Limited domestic travel transfer partner options – Citi allows Citi ThankYou® Premier Card customers to transfer ThankYou Points to several frequent flyer programs and one hotel program. This is a great way to get an award seat, but it mainly benefits international travelers. Its only domestic partners are JetBlue and Virgin America. Another card will better meet your needs if you intend to travel within the United States.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card versus the competition

Let’s see how the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card stacks up to a couple of the heavy-hitters in the travel credit cards space.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card vs. the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a longtime Nerd favorite for globetrotters, and it’s easy to see why. With it, you’ll earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining in restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are worth 1 cent apiece for most redemptions, but if you use them to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards platform, their value goes up to 1.25 cents each.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also allows cardholders to transfer points to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. This is where the card has a leg up on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, because its partners include big domestic airlines like United and Southwest. If you prefer to transfer to hotel loyalty programs, you’ll have four choices with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, whereas the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card only gives you one.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes chip-enabled and charges no foreign transaction fees, so it’s also a great choice to use overseas.

In terms of a sign-up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card certainly doesn’t fall short: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. It charges an $0 for the first year, then $95.

In general, the Nerds think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better choice for travelers who plan to transfer points to loyalty programs. Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are more valuable overall than ThankYou points, based on our calculations. However, if gas is one of your heavy spending categories and you want a card that will allow you to use rewards on travel, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card might be the way to go.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card vs. the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one to consider if the earning and redeeming structure of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is too complex for you. With it, you’ll earn 2 miles per for every dollar you spend. When redeemed for travel, miles are worth 1 cent each.

Miles earned with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card can be used for nearly any travel purchase of your choice. You’ll simply pay for your airfare or hotel stay with the card, then pay yourself back for the purchase in the form of a statement credit. This makes the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card a very flexible choice.

To get you started, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers a hefty sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

The takeaway? If you want to earn accelerated rewards on travel purchases and don’t mind doing some scheming to figure out how best to redeem, lean toward the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. If you’re looking for high value rewards and maximum simplicity, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is probably best.

Visit NerdWallet’s roundup of other good credit cards to see how these cards compare.

Is the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card right for you?

Travelers who spend a lot on dining, entertainment and gas and plan to redeem through the ThankYou Travel Center will get good value from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. If you don’t fit this profile, opting for one of the cards discussed above is probably a better bet.

Lindsay Konsko is a staff writer covering credit cards and consumer credit for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @lkonsko and on Google+.


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