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The Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Having a credit card that rewards purchases related to airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, and other transportation can be a method to save a substantial amount of cash each year. Travel rewards points or miles translate quickly into dollars. But not every travel rewards program is equal. Two of the top-rated travel rewards credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi ThankYou Premier, each offer strong earning potential to card members. However, the credit cards vary in how miles are earned, how they can be redeemed, card member benefits, and cost. Let’s take a closer look at both travel rewards credit card options.

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Rewards Program Breakdown

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has one of the strongest rewards programs for travelers. Each dollar spent on dining at restaurants and travel, including airfare, taxis, hotels, and trains, earns card members two rewards points. All other purchases earn a single point for each dollar spent. There are no caps on earnings. New card members can maximize earnings by taking advantage of the promotional offer of 50,000 bonus points earned when $4,000 is spent on the card within the first three months after account opening. Adding authorized users adds an additional 5,000 bonus rewards points when a purchase is made within the same time frame.

The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card also offers a strong rewards program. Cardmembers earn three points for each dollar spent on travel-related expenses. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Citi ThankYou Premier card offers the enhanced points potential on gas purchases as well. Cardmembers earn two points for each dollar spent on dining and entertainment purchases too. All other purchases made with the Citi card earn one point per dollar spent, with no cap on earnings. Currently, Citi ThankYou Premier card members do not have the chance to earn a one-time rewards bonus as an introductory offer. This makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred card a better choice for those who want an upfront perk.

Redeeming Points

Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card members have the option to redeem points for travel on air, land, or sea directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. Cardmembers can receive as much as 20% off travel purchases through the redemption site. There are no blackout dates or restrictions imposed. Citi ThankYou Premier cardmembers can utilize points to redeem gift cards, shopping through select partner retailers, cash, and even charitable donations. ThankYou points may also be used to purchase travel through Citi’s Travel Center. Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for hotel stays, cruises, car rentals, and airfare purchases. The redemption options through Citi are far more robust than through Chase. They are especially attractive to those who want flexibility above and beyond travel-related purchases.

Additional Benefits

Both cards allow cardmembers to transfer accumulated rewards points to partner loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. Citi does not specifically list the transfer partners eligible under the ThankYou points program, but Chase includes the following:

  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Marriott Rewards
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • United MileagePlus
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Korean Air SkyPass
  • British Airways Executive Club

In addition to transfer potential, each travel rewards credit card offers supplemental benefits to cardmembers. Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou Premier account holders have access to chip-enabled card technology. This allows for wider acceptance around the world. Chase customers have a variety of travel and purchase protection benefits, including trip interruption, cancellation insurance, and extended warranty protection. Citi customers can access a personal concierge service anytime, day or night. Purchases are covered with damage and theft protection up to certain limits. Both Citi and Chase cardmembers have $0 liability for fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Card Member Costs

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers and Citi ThankYou Premier account holders won’t have additional fees for transactions made outside the United States. However, both travel credit cards come with an annual fee of $95. Currently, both card providers waive the annual fee for the first year. Neither Chase Sapphire Preferred nor Citi ThankYou Premier applicants are offered a low introductory interest rate on purchases or a promotional rate on balance transfers at this time.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has a variable interest rate that fluctuates with the broad market. This typically ranges from 16.24% up to 23.24%, depending on the creditworthiness of the applicant. Balance transfer interest rates are the same as purchase rates. A fee of $5 or 5% (whichever is greater), is applied to all balances transferred to the card. The cash advance APR for Chase Sapphire Preferred customers is 25.24%, and a fee of $10 or 5% (whichever is greater) applies.

The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card also has a variable interest rate for purchases, depending on credit history and score. Similar to the Chase option, balance transfer made to the Citi card receive the same APR as purchases, and a $5 or 3% (whichever is greater) applies. Cash advance interest rates are a standard 25.49% with a $10 or 5% fee (whichever is greater).

The Verdict

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi ThankYou Premier credit cards are great options for individuals who are on the go. For those interested in an upfront bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a smarter option. Those looking for higher rewards potential on travel purchases should look at the Citi card. Both travel credit cards offer substantial discounts on trips arranged through their travel sites. The absence of foreign transactions fees for either card make them both appropriate for overseas travelers. The other fees are comparable. Neither card is great for someone looking for an introductory 0% offer on purchases or balance transfers. Prospective card members should consider the total cost of each card and the corresponding benefits prior to applying.

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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.