Citi ThankYou® Premier Credit Card: In-Depth Review

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The flexible points market is pretty competitive these days — though, I wouldn’t mind if Barclays or Capital One really invested in it. However, of the three big players — American Express, Chase and Citi, I bet Membership Rewards points and Ultimate Rewards points get most of your attention.

That’s okay, though.

This is partly because Amex has a partnership with Delta, and Chase has a partnership with United, while Citi doesn’t partner with any of the big 3 U.S. carriers. Totally understandable.

But when you think about it, this just means that ThankYou Points are an untapped resource just waiting to be explored. With the Citi ThankYou® Premier card, you can step into a new world of flexible points that can help you travel both domestically and internationally — you might even find that it helps you save some Ultimate Rewards points that you can then use for Hyatt stays.

In fact, if you’re considering dipping a toe into the world of ThankYou Points, the Citi ThankYou Premier’s annual fee of $95 is even waived the first year with the card.

With that, let’s take a look at what this card can do for you.

Earn 3X and 2X ThankYou Points

The Citi Prestige is definitely the ThankYou Points card with the most perks — $250 air travel credit, 4th-night free hotel bookings and a Priority Pass Select membership. However, applications are currently not being accepted for that card, and there are rumors of an entirely new card in the works.

Regardless, if you’re looking for the best card to earn points, you really should be looking at the Citi ThankYou Premier.

The bonus categories are as follows:

  • 3X on travel (includes gas stations)
  • 2X on dining and entertainment
  • 1X on other purchases

There are 2 things that really stick out to me. First, the 3X on travel for a card with an annual fee of $95 is quite competitive with the 2X Ultimate Rewards points earned on travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Second, the travel category actually includes gas stations, unlike almost all other rewards cards.

That entertainment is a 2X bonus category is another nice perk for those who like to go to ballgames, concerts, comedy shows, etc.

For a mid-range card, this card really packs a punch when it comes to everyday spending.

Great welcome bonus to kick things off

While the Citi Prestige isn’t available for application right now, the Citi ThankYou Premier currently has a 60,000-point welcome bonus — the highest bonus we’ve seen with this card. To earn the bonus, you must spend $4,000 within 3 months.

The welcome bonus has varied, though so make sure you check the specific offer terms. Personally, I take a screenshot of the offer for which I apply so I don’t forget, and to make sure there isn’t any confusion about which offer I used.

When applying, keep in mind that Citi has rules regarding who is eligible for sign-up bonuses. If you have opened or closed this card, the Citi Prestige Card or the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card within the last 24 months, you won’t be eligible to receive the welcome bonus.

Additionally, across all Citi cards, you can only apply for one card every eight days and no more than two cards every 65 days.

I actually just applied (and was approved) for the Citi ThankYou Premier in August. I was 2-3 weeks beyond 24 months since opening the Citi Prestige and didn’t have any issues receiving the welcome bonus.

ThankYou Points transfer partners

Earning points is great, but transfer partners are where we get to really have some fun. While Citi doesn’t have a domestic airline partner — anyone still hoping American will partner with them? — but its 15 partners provide some great award booking opportunities.

Here’s a complete list of these partners as well as their respective transfer ratios:

Citi ThankYou Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
Air France KLM FlyingBlue1000 : 1000
Avianca LifeMiles1000 : 1000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1000 : 1000
Etihad Guest1000 : 1000
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands1000 : 1000
Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles1000 : 1000
Jet Airways JetPrivilege1000 : 1000
JetBlue TrueBlue1000 : 800
Malaysia Airlines Enrich1000 : 1000
Qantas Frequent Flyer1000 : 1000
Qatar Privilege Club1000 : 1000
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1000 : 1000
Thai Royal Orchid Plus1000 : 1000
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1000 : 1000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1000 : 1000

Of course, the partnership with Singapore KrisFlyer will catch your eye as it can help you earn the necessary points to try Singapore Suites, first class, or business class, but there are other great opportunities as well.

Don’t sleep on Etihad Guest which can help you book flights on American Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and more! You can also find some great uses for Avianca LifeMiles — Lufthansa first class, anyone? — and, of course, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has several fun options.

Citi Travel Center

The Citi Travel Center doesn’t get the same chatter as the Ultimate Rewards travel portal but it’s worth checking out, especially if you plan to fly economy. Your ThankYou Points are worth 1.25 cents per point in the Travel Center which is identical to the rate you’ll get in the Ultimate Rewards portal if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

When you think of the great economy fares to Europe, Asia and Hawaii we’ve seen, this can be a great way to save points. Sure, transferring to a partner is still sometimes a better option for economy flights, but I strongly recommend checking the Travel Center before your book.

Trip delay and baggage delay protection

The Citi ThankYou Premier has both trip delay and baggage delay protections that take effect after delays of more than 12 and 6 hours, respectively.

If your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours, you and your family members can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses — lodging, food, local transportation, etc. — up to $500 each. If your bags are delayed by more than 6 hours, you and your family can be reimbursed up to $100 each for reasonable expenses.

To be eligible for these benefits, you must at least pay for part of your fare with your Citi ThankYou Premier Card and/or use ThankYou Points.

Is the Citi ThankYou Premier right for you?

If you spend a lot of money on gas, just do yourself a favor and get this card. Earning 3X ThankYou Points is just too good to pass up.

Of course, that’s not the only situation that makes this card worth it.

I still recommend folks new to the miles and points world look into cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points first because of that pesky 5/24 rule. However, if you’ve already hit 5/24, this is a great card to help you expand beyond Ultimate Rewards points, while still providing flexibility.

Unlike some cards that earn Membership Rewards points, Citi doesn’t limit your bonus category earning to U.S. merchants so you can travel abroad and continue earning tons of points — keep in mind the ThankYou Premier doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

I will say that I understand if you don’t feel ready to tackle ThankYou Points. While I think they provide tons of value, I do see why one might feel using Ultimate Rewards points or Membership Rewards points would be easier.

If that’s the case, find your feet in the points world and you can start earning ThankYou Points when you feel more comfortable using award charts from foreign airlines — I think you’ll be happy with the opportunities you find.

Bottom line

While Chase is still clearly the go-to for beginners, I don’t think ThankYou Points get the attention it deserves. As a result, a card like the Citi ThankYou Premier often feels like a niche product for serious points nerds.

That’s a shame, really, as this card can earn some serious points that can open up some fun redemption options. I even took advantage of the GarudaMiles 90% off awards promo to try Garuda Indonesia first class for 38,000 miles round-trip.

Whether you’re earning points to take advantage of crazy opportunities like this or using ThankYou Points to save Ultimate Rewards points or Membership Rewards points, I think you’ll find it’s a very useful program with loads of potential.

Anyone have this card? How do you use it?

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Comments

  1. What a ridiculous comment “Mr G.” I think it is a fine looking card. Must better looking than the gaudy AMEX and Chase cards.

  2. @spencer
    one thing I notice in the airline transfer category is Emirates is not on the list. previously it uses to be on the list. I don’t know what happen to it.

  3. “This is partly because Amex has a partnership with Delta, and Chase has a partnership with United, while Citi doesn’t have a U.S. airline partner.”

    Isn’t JetBlue a US carrier? Yes, not one of the big US/international carriers, but a US carrier none the less.

  4. Isn’t AA Citi’s US airline partner despite that TY points can’t transfer to AA (I wish)
    If they do, then citi will imo be the most valuable of the big 3 transferable points currencies

  5. Personally, I think the most important factor about this card (both its greatest strength and
    deepest weakness) is that it’s neither Chase nor American Express.

    For a person deep into this game of points and miles, I bet this feels refreshing. Basically, it’s a hedge against the two gorillas, to avoid point depreciation, to work around their various requirements. For this, Citi is great.

    On the other hand, most people have probably not heard of 5/24 rules. In fact, I think most people don’t even come close to 5/24! (on a side note: I once saw a comment included both “wife” and the aforementioned rule; that’s kinda insane: between a couple, they could go 10/24, or a credit card for every 2.4 months!). When I considered opening a new card earlier this year, the 3rd one in 2 years, my wife was concerned that we are damaging our credit history.

    It’s also worth mentioning that there is a whole class of people who barely use credit cards at all! Remember, there is a cult where apparently the act of cutting up your credit cards would free you from financial troubles!

    Anyhoo, for the 2 latter groups, it’s no longer this particular card vs CSR or Amex Gold. It’s simply Citi vs Chase vs Amex. And in that context, there is much less competition.

  6. Won’t say ugly but every time I pull it out in local coffee shop, they go “we do not take Amex, sorry!”

  7. They also have a bonus right now for transferring points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1000:1300. Bonus ends Oct 13.

  8. AWFUL FRAUD PROTECTION!!!
    I had an awful experience with the Premier card. Mine was used for fraud, including a recurring charge. The fraud department called me, issued a new card, and reversed the fraudulent activity. However the following month the recurring charge appeared again. Called and told the fraud group – they sent me yet another card. This happened the following 3 months (each with a new card number) and the fraud group submitting my claim for “possible” reversal.

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