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Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card Review

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Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card

A Rewards Card for the Social Spender

Citi bills the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card as one of its best credit cards. It definitely gets off to a great start with the lack of an annual fee. The card comes with a 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. To earn points regularly, spend on dining and entertainment to earn double ThankYou® points. Everything else earns one ThankYou® point per dollar. There is no limit to how many ThankYou® points you can earn, nor will they expire. 

Once you’ve got your points, you can begin to redeem them for excellent rewards. You’ll be able to choose from a huge selection of gift cards, electronics, travel rewards, charitable donations and so much more. A big fan of Amazon.com? You’ll be able to use your ThankYou® points to Shop With Points on eligible purchases on Amazon.com. You will also have the option of transferring your ThankYou® points to a number of travel partner programs like JetBlue’s TrueBlue® or Hilton Honors. As long as you have at least 1,000 points to transfer, you’re all set. The travel transfer also comes at no extra fee.

Citi® also looks out for you by providing a number of protections for you and your purchases. For one, Citi® offers Citi® Price Rewind which does a 60-day search for a lower price on your purchases, helping you save your hard-earned money. Citi provides damage and theft protections, extended warranties, $0 liability on unauthorized charges, trip cancellation/interruption/delay protections, accident insurance and worldwide car rental insurance. You will also have Citi® Private Pass® where you get the best deals and access to thousands of events and experiences.

For your convenience, Citi® Cards with Apple Pay® allows you to connect your Citi® card with Apple Pay® on your Apple devices. Citi® Concierge provides you with a 24/7 staff to help you with your travel, shopping, dining or everyday questions.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card has a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months of account opening. After that it carries a APR of 14.99% - 24.99% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness and the Prime Rate. These rates apply to purchases and balance transfers. Cash advances always carry an APR of 26.74% (varies with the Prime Rate) and triggers a fee of either $10 or 5% of the transaction amount (whichever is greater). Balance transfers also come with a fee of either $5 or 3% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater.

Interestingly, Citi® provides you with the option of choosing your own payment due date. You choose from any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month, leaving your payments flexible. Should you make a late or returned payment, however, a variable penalty APR of up to 29.99%, based on your creditworthiness, will be activated and last indefinitely. Additionally, there is a foreign transaction fee of 3% of the amount in U.S. dollars.

Smart Features

No annual fee - No need to worry about gaining Citi® benefits at a high fee. The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card comes with no annual fee. 

0% intro APR - No need to worry about a high APR dominating your payments - at least for more than a year. Enjoy a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of opening the card. Please note, balance transfers must be completed within 4 months from account opening. 

Citi® Price Rewind - When you make a purchase on your Citi® card, Citi® Price Rewind will search for the same product at a lower price over hundreds of online merchants. If the same item is found within 60 days of your initial purchase, you can receive the difference between what you paid and the lower Citi® Price Rewind price. 

Purchase protection - Citi® can cover you for repairs or refunds in case a purchase you made on the card is damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase. Citi® can also extend a manufacturer’s warranty for purchases you make on the card. Additionally, you will have $0 liability on unauthorized charges should you notice any charges that you did not authorize. 

Citi® Private Pass® - Citi® Private Pass® gives customers special access to thousands of events like sports games, dining experiences, movies and more. You can even score presale tickets and VIP packages.

Travel protections - Citi® will provide you with a number of protection plans and insurances for when you’re on the road. If a trip is canceled or interrupted, Citi® can reimburse you for certain fees that arise. Citi® can also provide rental car insurance that will cover any damage or loss of the vehicle when you use your Citi® card to pay for the car. Plus you’ll have access to Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance to cover you or a family member in case of an accident while traveling.  

Convenient systems in place - Citi® ensures that your experiences with Citi® are as convenient and smooth as possible. For one, you can connect your Citi® card to Apple Pay® so you can pay through your Apple devices. Citi® also provides a 24/7 Concierge Service to assist you wherever and whenever regarding your card, travel, shopping, dining and more.

Choose your payment due date - Citi® allows you to choose your own due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month. 

Who It Benefits

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card would best benefit cardholders who go out often. This way, the double points on eligible dining and entertainment expenses won’t go to waste. They also stand to earn more from the card than other users, since their spending already reflects the bonus categories. The rewards would be even better for frequent travelers, since you would be able to transfer your ThankYou® points to a partner travel program.

However, the card might better benefit cardholders who are careful about their spending and repayment habits. With a penalty APR of up to 29.99% variable, you will want to avoid making late or returned payments at all costs. Making any bad payments could really cost you in the end and hurt your rewards. You can choose your payment due date, so make sure you stick to it. The same diligence goes for the 3% foreign transaction fee. Cardholders will want to minimize foreign charges on the card, if not avoid them altogether, to get the most out of the card.

How It Works

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card earns two ThankYou® points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment. Dining includes fast food stops, cafes and even bars. Citi® defines entertainment as live theatrical productions, live sporting events, movies, concerts, amusement parks, tourist attractions like museums and art galleries, record stores and on-demand internet streaming media. Places that won’t earn double points include bakeries, grocery or warehouse stores, country clubs, stores that sell musical instruments, bowling alleys, bookstores and more.  

You earn one ThankYou® point per dollar on everything else. Luckily, there is no limit to how many points you can earn for your spending. Your points won’t ever expire either, as long as your account is open and in good standing.

You can redeem your earned points for a number of rewards. This includes a huge selection of gift cards, electronics, travel, charitable donations, Amazon purchases and more. You won’t even have to turn your points into cash to shop on Amazon.com, you can use your points at checkout. You could also transfer your ThankYou® points to a number of travel partner programs like TrueBlue® points with JetBlue. That way you can put your points to extra use at no extra fee and get flights easier.

You also have a number of protections and insurances just by having the card. This includes purchase protections, travel insurance and reimbursements and car rental insurance. Citi® also provides 24/7 services to provide you with assistance on anything. These perks come at no extra cost to you.

The card comes with no annual fee. It carries a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months that applies to purchases and balance transfers. After those 15 months, however, purchases and balance transfers are subject to a APR of 14.99% - 24.99% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness and the Prime Rate. Cash advances have an APR of 26.74% variable. Cash advances cost a fee of either $10 or 5% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater. Balance transfers cost a fee of either $5 or 3% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater. There will also be a fee for foreign transactions. This fee is 3% of the amount in U.S. dollars.

What’s the Catch

The catch to the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card lies in its fees. True, there is no annual fee, which is a huge plus. However, the 3% foreign transaction fee can really hurt you when traveling abroad or making foreign purchases. This seems to counteract the travel rewards you can get with the card, like transferring ThankYou® points to TrueBlue® points. Either you use those rewards to only travel domestically, or you pair this card with another card that lacks a foreign transaction fee.

There is also a huge penalty APR. While you do get to choose your payment due date, you will definitely have to make sure you make your payments on time, every time. You will also have to make sure you’re making payments that won’t be returned. Otherwise, you’ll activate a variable penalty APR of up to 29.99%, which can apply indefinitely. That’s not something you’ll want to deal with.

Just the Math Please

Rewards

You earn two ThankYou® points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment with the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card. Everything else earns one ThankYou® point per dollar spent. There is no limit to how many points you can earn per category, nor will your points expire.

When you redeem your points, points are often worth 1 cent each or less. So you would get the most out of the card by always redeeming through the options where one point equals one cent. These options include charitable donations, most gift cards, many rental company certificates and through Citi’s Travel Center. Options that value one point at less than 1 cent are merchandise, cash and statement credit.

Should you be a member at a partner travel program like JetBlue TrueBlue or Hilton Honors Worldwide, most of these transfers come at a 1:1 ratio. You should check the ratio with Citi before transferring, to make sure you’re getting the best deal you want.

Balance Transfers

Balance transfers begin with a 0% APR for the first 15 months, from the date of first transfer completed within four months from account opening. After that, they have a APR of 14.99% - 24.99% Variable.  They will also trigger a fee of either $5 or 3% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater.

Rates and Fees

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

0% for first 15 months after opening, after which it is a 14.99% - 24.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and the Prime Rate.

APR for Balance Transfers

0% for first 15 months from the date of first transfer when transfers are completed with four months from account opening. After which the rate will be 14.99% - 24.99% Variable, based on your creditworthiness and the Prime Rate.

APR for Cash Advances

26.74%, will vary depending on the Prime Rate.

Penalty APR and When It Applies

Up to 29.99% variable, based on your creditworthiness.

Applies when you make a late payment or make a payment that is returned. The penalty APR will apply indefinitely. 

How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases

Your due date will be a minimum of 23 days after the close of each billing cycle.

Citi will not charge you interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month.

Annual Fee

$0

Transaction Fees

  • Balance Transfer $5 or 3% of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance $10 or 5% of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction 3% of each transaction in US dollars. 

Penalty Fees

  • Late Payment Up to $35
  • Returned Payment Up to $35

How It Stacks Up

If you like the double points on dining and entertainment but aren’t crazy about the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, don’t worry. There are other cards you can take a look at that might work better for you. For one, the Citi Prestige® Card also offers double the ThankYou® points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment. However you can earn even more on air travel and hotel spending, with three ThankYou® points per dollar. The Prestige® card also earns one point on everything else. So if you’re into traveling as well as dining out and entertainment, the Prestige® card can offer you more rewards, without a foreign transaction fee. However, due to automatically included elite benefits and protections, the card does carry a hefty $450 annual fee. 

Citi® also has the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. The card’s annual fee lands at $95. With the Premier card, you also earn double points on dining and entertainment. However, your triple earning category includes most travel spending like gas, airfare, tolls, cruises and much more. Everything else earns one point per dollar. This card also lacks a foreign transaction fee, which won’t limit your spending to only the U.S. So if you’re not big on the luxury benefits, but still want some travel, dining and entertainment perks, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card could be for you.

Another card to consider is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which largely benefits those who travel and dine out frequently. This is because cardholders earn double points on worldwide dining and travel expenses, without the burden of a foreign transaction fee. Everything else will earn one point per dollar spent as well. Then you can redeem your points for a number of rewards through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. These rewards include cash, merchandise, travel and entertainment rewards. The card carries a $95 annual fee. However, it is waived for the first year, and you still gain a number of benefits from the card. 

Bottom Line

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card doesn’t have the worst rewards system as far as credit cards go. With double the ThankYou® points on dining and entertainment, those who go out often can put their social spending to even better use. And even when they’re not spending on dining or entertainment, everything else will still earn one point per dollar.

The card comes with amazing perks as well. For one, you can use your points to buy merchandise directly on Amazon.com. Or you can transfer your points to a frequent traveler program. Citi® also provides you, your family and your purchases with protections and insurance to ensure you’re taken care of whether you’re at home or traveling. 

Unfortunately, the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card’s downfall comes with its 3% foreign transaction fee and its penalty APR. While the benefits of the card are good, there are many other cards that don’t have a penalty APR nor a foreign transaction fee. Without those, cardholders don’t have to worry about being charged an arm and a leg in fees.