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Why Having a Rewards Card Makes You More Likely to Spend

There have been many studies and clinical trials that set out to prove or disprove that having a credit card increases the occurrence of spending money. Over the many years that this particular question has been combed over, the same answer is extracted almost every time: yes, people do spend more money when they have a credit card.

The question that we derive from there is why? Why do people feel more inclined to spend more when they have that little plastic rectangle in their wallets as compared to loose cash or even a debit card? The answer has two prongs:

1.) a delayed payment as a result of the credit card, and

2.) the sweet, sweet smell of those rewards.

Here is a closer look at why we love swiping the plastic, and why we should all be a little warier about being so focused on those rewards points.

Our love affair with the modern credit card.

With the verdicts from the earlier studies coming out the way that they did, it sounds pretty relatable doesn’t it? We all feel a little better using our credit cards instead of the debit.

When you go to the grocery store and are waiting for your turn to exchange awkward pleasantries with the person behind the counter, and you spy that king size KitKat bar on the shelf, you are faced with a quick choice –should you go ahead and splurge for it? You don’t need it, but you kinda want it.

According the studies that were done, if you only have cash you more than likely will pass on the opportunity to indulge your sweet tooth, but when the checkout person asks you if there is anything else you would like to include and you only have your credit card on you, you are much more likely to lean over and snatch up that chocolatey crunch stick before leaving.

So why does this happen, and if you are like me, keep happening? The answer is that in our minds, credit cards are not real money. At least, not as real as the money attached to our debit cards, or even cash.

The New York Times refers to this mentality as the “Credit Card Premium”, and it goes to the reasoning behind why we prefer to reach for credit card instead of methods of payment that subtract an instant total from our accounts: it feels like we are delaying the payment indefinitely, even though in reality we are putting off the payment for only about a month or so.

We prefer the idea of not having to think about the money leaving our account instantly versus having our money drained after a lengthy delay. One of the deeper reasons that we tell ourselves that this is an alright way of thinking — security.

“Credit cards are much safer than using my debit card!”

With credit cards come with a sizable amount of security and peace of mind.

If by some odd chance we come across a situation that while using our debit card someone snagged our account info, they could make all kinds of wild and extravagant purchases with our accounts before we even notice that we had our identity stolen, and that could wreak all kinds of havoc within our financial holdings. With a credit card however, we have that comforting feeling of a “safety net” that if something goes wrong, we can deny the purchases and walk away from the situation unscathed.

This mentality of credit card = safety and debit = bad isn’t always a wrong way of thinking, but being 100% responsible with credit cards is not always possible 100% of the time. When we let the false freedom of credit cards get the better of us, it can actually be more dangerous that having your account info stolen from you. In other words, when it comes to the plastic, you are your worst enemy. 

Reaping the rewards.

The reason that we love credit cards so much and never shy away from the opportunity to stick our rectangles in that painfully slow chip reader is the rewards.

It’s pretty insane when you think about it –we are essentially getting paid to spend money. Rewards points, when used carefully and acquired strategically can be a huge life help and financial boost, as it can lead to cheaper airline miles that otherwise would cost you an arm and a leg, cash back that can cover a fancy night out for you and the Mrs., or even just “thank you” bonus’s like first dibs on concert tickets that otherwise are unavailable to others. All this just because you like to spend money so much that you decided you should be payed to do it.

These rewards can be insanely awesome, but when we get nothing but rewards points on the mind, that is when we can find ourselves in some pretty hot water that we never thought we would get into otherwise. Having a credit card that gives you an insane rewards points ratio is a great way to enhance your life, but it can also be a dangerous way to push you into overspending without you even noticing.

It may sound simple and amateurish, but you always need to keep track of everything that you purchase, and if you are swiping your card just so that you can earn some rewards points, then you might want to reconsider what is more valuable: saving a few bucks on an airline ticket through your rewards program, or the money you just wasted on a gas grill from Patio World just so that you could earn a few points?

A ridiculous example, I know. But if you aren’t paying attention, you can run around town just looking for ways to rack in more rewards points and completely forget that rewards points are just “thank you’s” for spending your money with a particular credit company. If you aren’t careful, you just might find yourself at Patio World making more and more unnecessary purchases (Nothing against Patio World, really, they just came to mind as an example).

Don’t get wrapped up in the rewards hype.

Don’t get carried away by the glitz and the glamour of credit card rewards. They can be amazing, absolutely, but when we lock our sights on them, things can get pretty crazy.

Remember: credit cards are connected to your own accounts and run off of your own money, which is limited, regardless of how much time there is between you and your bill cycle.

Stay grounded on that fact and you should be alright, and when it comes to earning those rewards points –earn them as you go about your purchases at a normal pace. Don’t go out of your way to earn a few more rewards points if it means that you need to buy something you wouldn’t normally.

The savings earned from rewards points are not going to be equal to that gas grill you just bought, and they never will be.

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Reviewing the Citi ThankYou Prestige Benefits

Traveling used to be reserved only for those with ample money and a taste for luxury. Thanks to a healthy dose of competition among airlines and an increased desire to travel among the less than wealthy crowd, booking a flight for business or pleasure is far less expensive and less elite than it used to be. Still, we’ve all experienced first-class envy when running through the airport – a desire to take it easy in the members-only lounge, longing to be at the front of the boarding herd, or sitting in preferred seats with a decent amount of legroom once on board. Without paying the hefty price for airport and in-flight amenities, most travelers are forced to be content with the coach experience. However, for some frequent flyers, the ability to achieve first-class status in some aspects of traveling is made easier simply by being a Citi ThankYou Prestige credit cardholder.

 

Citi Prestige

 

The Citi ThankYou Prestige credit card is not just a travel rewards card; it is a true experience. With unmatched benefits, this first-class card is worth taking a closer look.

The Basics

First and foremost, the Citi Prestige credit card offers a robust rewards program, as do the other ThankYou rewards cards offered through CitiBank. Cardholders earn three rewards points for each dollar spent on airfare and hotels, and two rewards points for each dollar spent on entertainment and dining out. All other purchases receive the standard one point per dollar spent. Cardholders are not limited to the number of rewards points they can receive while maintaining the card, nor are rewards set to expire after a certain time frame. As a promotional bonus, any cardholders who qualify for and receive a new Citi Prestige credit card are eligible for a 50,000 rewards bonus when $3,000 in purchases are made within the first three months after account opening. The rewards accumulation system and potential bonus make the travel card attractive to those who fly often, but there’s more!

Cardholders are not limited to how rewards can be redeemed, as may be the case with comparable travel credit cards. The Citi Prestige credit card offers the most bang for the proverbial buck when rewards are used to purchase airfare with American Airlines, followed by other airfare purchased through Citi’s partner airlines. For example, 50,000 rewards points can be redeemed for a $800 American Airlines flight, or a $665 flight with any partner airline. Not too shabby, right? Rewards may also be used for non-travel redemption, such as hotels stays or rental cars. That same 50,000 rewards balance is the equivalent of a $500 hotel stay, for instance.

Rewards may also be transferred to other direct airline or hotel points programs, but a minimum of 1,000 points must be used when taking advantage of this option. There is no fee to transfer points from Citi to another loyalty program, and there is no restriction on the number of times that can be done. Cardholders also have the option of redeeming rewards for merchandise, gift cards, tickets through LiveNation.com or travel getaways. Citi has partnered with ThankYou.com to offer an impressive spread of items that can be purchased in exchange for earned points from the Citi Prestige credit card.

Unique Perks

While the travel rewards available through the Citi Prestige card are attractive, the first-class travel experience is just around the corner for cardholders. One of unique perks that sets Citi Prestige apart from other travel cards is the once-per-year $250 air travel credit applied to any flight-related expenses charge to the card, such as airfare, baggage fees or seat upgrades. Additionally, cardholders have the opportunity to extend a qualifying hotel stay for a fourth night at no cost when the Citi Prestige credit card is used. More benefits come by way of the following:

  • 24/7 access to the Citi Prestige Global Concierge
  • Access to Citi ThankYou Events and Citi Private Pass Beyond events
  • Access to elite travel perks, such as private jets and car services
  • Unlimited access to airport lounges

Finally, Citi Prestige cardholders who also fall under the category of Citigold or Global banking members through CitiBank have the opportunity to ramp up rewards even faster. An annual 15% bonus is applied to the rewards points earned throughout the year for Citigold or Global banking members, while private bank clients receive a 25% rewards bump.

The Fine Print

Although the Citi Prestige card has a great deal of allure for frequent flyers who don’t mind a little luxury now and again, the credit card comes with a big price tag. The annual fee is $450 and is not waived for the first anniversary, making the benefits not necessarily worth the expense for travelers who aren’t out and about often. If you happen to have an authorized user associated with the Citi Prestige card, you can tack on an additional $50 per year, per user to the standard annual fee.

In addition to a hefty cost compared to other travel rewards credit card, the Citi Prestige card comes with a few challenges from the start. According to Citi, an applicant must have an exemplary credit history and score to qualify for the Prestige credit card, meaning a high level of current income, no past due accounts, and low balances on all other revolving credit accounts. If you’re lucky enough to get approved for the Prestige card, be prepared for an annual percentage rate ranging between 15.49% and 25.49% that fluctuates in line with the broad interest rate market. No low introductory rate is offered at this time, nor are there any promotions for balance transfers.

The Verdict

If you prefer to feel like an A-lister when you travel, the Citi Prestige credit card may be the best fit for your needs. The perks included with the card seem endless, ranging from access to private jets and special events to airport lounges and ’round the clock concierge access, and the potential for rewards on travel and non-travel purchases is relatively high compared to other credit cards for travel. However, the Citi ThankYou Prestige card is not a great choice for individuals who aren’t a fan of a high annual fee, or those who simply don’t travel enough to justify that fee. Also, the travel rewards card isn’t meant for individuals with less than perfect credit, no matter how much they long for a stepped up travel experience.

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Citi ThankYou® Premier Card Review

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card Review

Last year, Citi made significant changes to its ThankYou® Premier Card. In some cases these credit card overhauls can present challenges for consumers. Citi’s rebranding, however, had several positive changes that will impress cardmembers. You can now earn triple ThankYou® Points on a large selection of travel-related purchases in addition to other outstanding offerings including a reduced annual fee.

 

ThankYou Premier

 

Is Citi’s ThankYou® Premier Card a good fit for you? Check out these card details and decide for yourself.

 

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card Pricing and Information

  • APR for Purchases: 14.24% to 23.24%
  • APR for Balance Transfers: 14.24% to 23.24%
  • APR for Cash Advances: 25.49%
  • Penalty APR (as it applies): 29.99%
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first 12 months)

How Citi ThankYou® Premier Card wins

This credit card offers extensive perks to cardmembers, including a great rewards structure that gives added bonuses to those who travel frequently. While domestic and international travel is not the only way to earn points with your ThankYou® Premier Card, it is the most financially lucrative, as you’ll see in the rewards structure described here. Other benefits include cardmember protection, additional savings opportunities and conveniences which are explained in further detail below. 

Rewards

Citi’s ThankYou® Premier Card provides great rewards on travel, entertainment, dining and all other purchases. This is how the earning structure works for your rewards:

  • Earn 3 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 2 ThankYou® Points per$1 spent on entertainment and dining out
  • Earn 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 on all other purchases

 

Details of the ThankYou® Rewards Program

Citi places no limitation on the number of points you can earn each year. Furthermore, there is no expiration to the points you earn and accumulate. This is an important element to note for cardmembers, as not all other credit reward programs provide this kind of allowance.

Cardmembers can redeem ThankYou® Points for a variety of gift cards, electronics, books, media, home goods or cash. You can get a close look at all of your choices at Citi’s reward redemption website at ThankYou.com. There are many notable retailers listed there including home stores like Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Target, Walmart, HomeGoods, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma, and clothing retailers like Gap, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Land’s End, and many more. You can also purchase select merchandise with your points, shop with Citi partners and even use transfer points for a selection of loyalty travel programs including hotels and airlines.

As an added bonus, ThankYou® Points are worth an additional 25% when you redeem them for hotels, airfare, car rentals and even cruises through the exclusive ThankYou® Travel Center when compared with the gift card redemption from the rewards collection. That means that each point you earn is worth $1.25 if you cash them in this way. If you travel extensively, this card is a great option for you!

Cardmember Protection

Citi knows that card security and travel protection are highly valued among credit card holders. There are multiple ways Citi ensures that your money and personal information are protected.

Purchase Protection

With the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, consumers are protected against any unauthorized charges on their cards. This $0 liability is in addition to Citi’s damage and theft purchase protection which covers up to $1,000 per item, up to $50,000 per calendar year. 

Travel Protection

The ThankYou® Premier Card’s chip technology gives users the assurance that use of this feature provides enhanced security. The chip feature on Citi’s card has been proven to reduce counterfeit fraud, as the cardmember information is difficult to duplicate when the card is used at a chip enabled terminal. This feature is great for those who travel internationally as well, because there is usually little difficulty finding merchants who provide chip enabled terminals.

Citi also offers car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, lost baggage protection and travel and emergency assistance to cardmembers. These features are a valuable asset to consumers who travel often.

 

Bonus Benefits

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has added perks to sweeten the deal.

Additional Savings

Citi Private Pass offers exclusive access to tickets to thousands of events each year. These include VIP packages and presale tickets to sporting events, concerts, dining experiences and movie screenings.

Citi Price Rewind offers additional savings to consumers by helping them get a lower price on items after making a purchase. Cardmembers simply register items purchased with their ThankYou® Card and Citi tracks prices at hundreds of merchants online for 60 days from the purchase date. If a lower price is found, consumers can request a refund of the price difference up to $300 for each item and up to $1,200 per calendar year.

Convenience

Citi offers extra conveniences to take into consideration.

  • Additional cards for added authorized users
  • 24/7 access to accounts online
  • 24/7 access your own Personal Concierge Service
  • Apple Pay on applicable devices (providing quick and easy payments at check out)

 

Missing the Mark

While there are many great advantages of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, there are also a couple shortcomings.

Limited Use of Transfer Points

If you prefer to travel within the United States, wanting to use your ThankYou® Premier Card transfer points will be a disappointment. Currently, Citi partners with twelve international air travel companies and only Hilton HHonors Worldwide in the hotel and accommodations category. Another credit card would suite your needs better if your primary intention is to use your earned points to travel domestically.

Complicated Reward Structure

While there are vast redemption opportunities for your ThankYou® points, it can be a difficult task to calculate the maximum value out of your earned rewards. Since the point structure is different for travel, gift cards, donations or cash payments, you’ll have to be cunning in your calculation of which option gives you the best monetary worth for your points. If variety of options is more important to you than monetary value of points, this may not concern you.

 

For More Information

Contact Citi to apply by phone at 1-800-479-0141. You can also visit citi.com for additional information, pricing and to see the card’s terms and agreement in its entirety. For more particulars regarding Citi’s ThankYou® rewards go to thankyou.com online.