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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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The possible effects of cancelling your rewards credit cards

We all know that canceling our credit cards unnecessarily can have a negative impact on our credit scores. And maintenance of a healthy credit score is essential for availing home and auto loans at the best possible interest rates, apart from allowing us to make the most of the top rewards cards offers.

 

Cancelling Credit Cards

 

You shorten the average age of your credit accounts every time you cancel a credit card. There is nothing better for your credit health than having multiple credit accounts with long histories.

Now that we are aware that cancellation of rewards credit cards can adversely affect your credit score, let’s discuss some ways in which you can keep these accounts active, or even if you need to close them, you get something good in return, for instance a new rewards card with a hefty bonus.

Wallet Wisdom 1: If you’ve had a credit card for many years now and it doesn’t have any annual fee on it, don’t ever think about closing it! Matter closed. Keep it till your last breath!

Wallet Wisdom 2: Never close a rewards credit card after you’ve received its signup bonus. Banks are authorized to reverse the signup bonus in such scenarios. They may even blacklist you. Both these outcomes are bad for your financial future.

Using current credit cards as baits during reconsideration calls

In the event that you’re initially denied or aren’t instantly approved for a particular rewards credit card, you can strategically use any of your existing credit cards as a bait. For instance, someone we know was denied a new rewards credit card by Chase, but got approved during the reconsideration call when he agreed to partly switch over some of the credit on his existing card. He’s also been approved many times for new rewards credit cards by choosing to close his current cards. He gets to keep his existing credit limit and receives a brand-new card with a $ 600 worth signup bonus! That’s how it makes a lot of sense to close a credit card and bargain for something in exchange.

Downgrading to the no annual fee version

Who likes paying annual fee on his/her credit cards?! No one! There are probably only couple of rewards credit cards that are worth shelling out an annual fee on. You can easily avoid the annual fee payment, and continue with the same credit account by downgrading your card to a no fee version. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card can be easily downgraded to the regular, zero-annual-fee version by agreeing to forego some of its benefits. This is an excellent option that not many credit card gurus talk about!

Shamelessly ask for a retention bonus!

Obsessed air miles addicts don’t shy away from calling and asking for a retention bonus. The timing is the key here! Make that call a couple of months prior to the annual fee payment date. Normally, this fee is waived by most credit card issuers for the first year of the card. So, call after 10 months of the card activation. When you make that call, be prepared to cancel your card if you’re not willing to cough up the annual fee. The best case scenario would be that the bank would want to retain you as their customer and happily waive off that fee. As an alternative, they may even offer you some credit or air miles equivalent to the annual fee amount. In a way, the bank may pay you to keep the rewards card. An excellent side effect of continuing with the rewards credit card for another year would be that you’d have an aged card by the end of the next year!

Wallet Wisdom 3: It’s always better to make some purchases with your credit card, if you haven’t been using it actively, before making that retention bonus call.

Final Word

There’s nothing better than receiving mega-bonuses and traveling the world for pennies! However, you need to be smart at the same time. Protecting your credit score is of utmost importance and taking good care of your credit accounts can help you accomplish that, without compromising on the points and miles’ earnings. So, if you ever contemplate cancelling your rewards credit cards, think about the downgrade, retention and reconsideration options before you take that step.

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How to pick the right rewards card for your needs

The way everyone’s going after them, rewards cards have become a real hot property these days! Probably no other product has ever enjoyed this kind of popularity in the history of finance. These cards are the easiest way you can get free hotel nights and s-load of air miles! Agreed that the sign up bonuses are amazing, but the benefits don’t just stop there! Every rewards credit card comes with some unique features, maximizing its offerings and allowing the users to increase their points’ balances in all sorts of ways.

Rewards credit cards

The key point

Whenever you’re faced with multiple credit card options, look deep into each one of those cards and pay close attention to the finer details. Don’t restrict your vision just to the sign up bonuses. All in all, ensure that the rewards credit card meets your different travel requirements, the present and the future ones. For instance, if your sole purpose of buying a credit card is to be able to use it during your overseas travel, the 50,000 Southwest Points may not be of much use.

Following are some important points we suggest our readers to go through before making their final card choice:

Will the miles be really useful and is the sign up bonus seriously good?!

Sign up bonuses have always been hot and nothing has changed! There are all sorts of rewards credit cards out there which are offering some highly attractive sign up bonuses. Any rewards card that gives you sign up bonuses less than 50 K may not be worth paying attention to.

But, as we mentioned before, it’s important to look beyond the sign up bonuses. You should also be able to use all those miles effectively. If there’s a particular airline that you love flying with, there’s a good chance they have a rewards credit card for loyal customers like you.

We know many people who love mixing and matching these sign up bonuses! For instance, someone we know signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card last year. In his opinion, what makes this card so better than the others is the kind of flexibility you get with the points. The earned points can be easily transferred to Hyatt, Priority Club, British Airways, Marriott, Southwest, Continental and United. It couldn’t get flexible than that! Mind you, all these programs come with their own rewards cards too! And this is exactly where you start maximizing the value of your points.

This person also signed up for the United MileagePlus Explorer card as its sign up bonus was phenomenal and he flew United and its various international partners pretty frequently. However, the biggest reason why he applied for that card was because he already had Sapphire in his possession and over 50,000 points on it, waiting to be transferred to his ‘United’ account, enabling him to fly first class to Europe! This is a very good example of maximizing the credit card’s sign up bonuses. Furthermore, he added another credit card from Chase into the equation, which came with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

He has earned more than 150,000 points in total with just these 3 cards in the past few months. It allows him the flexibility of either traveling more in the coach or flying classy in the first. He didn’t just stop at that, he made his wife also sign up for the very same cards. Now that’s household miles maximization for you!

This is just a basic example of finding the right rewards cards for your needs and using them appropriately for fulfilling your travel requirements.

Go through the spend requirements

Make it a point that you check the spend requirement on every card under consideration. Although it’s common sense, but there is no harm in setting a reminder! After all, you wouldn’t want to get into a situation that may soon go out of control. The best rewards card deals are the ones where you’re handed the sign up bonus right after your first purchase. Nevertheless, many cards may have certain minimum spend requirement before you’re allowed to lay your hands on that sweet bonus. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred puts the condition of spending at least $ 3000 in the first 3 months with the card.

First year annual fee waiver

Almost every rewards card waives off the first year annual fee. Still, don’t take that for granted, and double check. There are some card issuers who aren’t that generous. For instance, the American Express Platinum has an annual fee of $ 450 which it doesn’t wave. However, it does provide you with some very nice perks for offsetting that fee. Although the perks may not completely justify that first year charge, they’re at least there for you to benefit from! You can also learn some tricks for finding your way around such annual fee payment! We’ll leave that to another blog post!

What exactly are the special perks?

Every rewards card offers different perks like free checked bag, priority boarding, lounge access and more. Go through each one of these perks and figure out if the card is right for you or not. In order to do that, you must know your needs very well. A good number of airline rewards cards offer priority boarding and free checked bags. Some may even offer free lounge access.

Many of these rewards cards may also provide you with spending bonuses. For example, the Chase Sapphire card gives 2 rewards points on every dollar spent on travel and meals. But it doesn’t provide the same deal on the money spent on groceries and gas. But, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card does. So, you’ll need to look into your monthly budget and figure out where you spend most, and then select your card.

A good number of cards also don’t charge any foreign transaction fee. This can be huge for people who travel overseas very frequently. They won’t mind the convenience of using the card anywhere they like, without having to worry about any additional charge.

To conclude

When it comes to rewards credit cards, it’s very important that you understand the benefits of each one of them. How else will you be able to take full advantage of their perks and maximize your earnings? You must put your thinking cap on and get into the research mode! Pay close attention to the fine print, bullet points and every term and condition. All these efforts will be worth it in the longer run when these cards will start earning you some major air miles and allow you to travel the world for pennies!

 

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USAA Active Military MasterCard Review

USAA recognizes that active members of the military certainly deserve some special benefits in exchange for their sacrifice. They are offering a special USAA Active Military MasterCard that provides specific benefits for those who are active military members.

 

Apply Now: USAA Active Military MasterCard®

 

Benefits

No Annual Fee, Ever!

The USAA Active Military MasterCard offers no annual fee. All of the great benefits offered by this card will be available with no yearly cost.

Low APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers

Enjoy a low APR, as low as 9.90% yearly (up to 25.99%, based on your creditworthiness) if you have good credit. This is a very competitive rate for those who have great credit scores.

Deployment Benefits

Should you be deployed, you can get your APR reduced to as low as 4% for twelve full months, and then it will raise to the previous APR that you were paying, based on your credit. Should you have a balance on your card at the time of deployment, you will only pay 4% interest on that balance during any qualified military campaign.

Interest Rebates

If you owe a balance at the time you are deployed, you will be reimbursed for any interest that accrues while you are deployed.

Choose Your Rewards System

With the USAA Active Military MasterCard, you have a choice regarding how you earn rewards. You can opt to get cash back, and earn up to 1.25% on all of your purchases, or you can opt to build up rewards that can be redeemed for travel discounts, brand name merchandise, gift cards, charitable donations, cash and more! If you opt for the cash rewards program, you will earn a percentage that is based on your annual spending.

For example, if you spend $0-5,000, you will earn 0.45%, but once you reach an annual spending level of greater than $17,000, you will earn cash back rewards of $135 plus 1.25% of all spending over $17,000. Depending on how much you plan to spend annually, you can earn considerable cash back rewards. Opting for the USAA Rewards program is a great option, earning you rewards like $150 toward travel with only 15,000 points, or electronics merchandise rewards with as little as 1,400 points. The redemption process is simple and the rewards are very flexible, accommodating the needs of many.

 

The Nitty Gritty

Just to summarize, the USAA Active Military MasterCard offers no annual fee, and an APR of 9.99-25.99%, based on your credit history. There are specific benefits that are available during deployment periods, including reduced interest rates or interest rebates. Balance transfer fees are 3%, with a maximum fee of $200. Cash advance fees are 3%, but the fees are waived if the cash advance is transferred to a USAA bank account. Late payment fees of $35 apply. Foreign transaction fees are quite low, at only 1%, but these are also reimbursed during any periods of deployment.

 

Conclusion

This card has some great benefits for active military members. When you are surprised by a deployment assignment, you won’t have to worry about how to pay your bills. With no annual fees and a competitive reward system, this card is definitely a great option for military members serving our country proudly. For those outside of the military, or those with terrific credit, there may be other credit card options that are very attractive.

Apply Now: USAA Active Military MasterCard®

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Barclaycard and Discover offer free FICO Credit Score Monitoring

Knowing your credit score is important. Whether you’re applying for a new credit card, mortgage, or any other line of credit, your credit score plays a very important role in not only whether you’ll be approved, but the interest rate you will receive. Having a good score can mean the difference in approval, and having an excellent score can mean savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars throughout the course of a loan.

For more on how your credit score works, read What’s In Your Credit Score.

The unfortunate thing is, many don’t have a clue as to what their score is. Perhaps that’s because it hasn’t been made easily accessible to them, or maybe it’s because many monitoring services have charged a fee until recently.

That’s why we think it’s pretty great that Barclaycard and Discover are now offering free credit score monitoring to card members on certain cards through the FICO Score Open Access program. Just for holding one of these cards, members will receive monthly monitoring on their statements or with a click of a button. By easily tracking their score, they will be able to make steps to improve it, as well as make future plans. Knowledge is power.

Here’s how they’re doing it.

 

Barclaycard

If you hold one of the following cards, you will be able to receive free monthly FICO score monitoring:

Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard® (no annual fee)

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® (annual fee)

Barclay Rewards Card – Excellent Credit

Barclay Rewards Card – Average Credit

The Carnival™ MasterCard®

Other cards included are the Juniper and Frontier cards by Barclays.

To access this program, simply log in to your account and accept the terms of service. Card members will be able to view their score, as well as graphics that display the past 12 months of their FICO score and tools that explain how the score works. The even better news? Barclays has plans to expand their program to even more cards in the future.

Discover

Following in Barclays’ footsteps, Discover has offered the same credit monitoring benefit to Discover it® card members. If you hold the Discover It card, you will be able to view your score (based on data from the TransUnion credit bureau) on your monthly statement and by logging in to your account online. Also like Barclaycard, Discover plans to add this benefit to other cards soon!

 

Other Ways to Know Your FICO Score

If you don’t hold one of the cards mentioned above, don’t worry – there are still ways to know and monitor your credit score. Here are some sites that offer a free monthly credit score:

Credit Sesame (Experian)

Credit Karma (TransUnion)

You should also know that you’re entitled to a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com each year. You can request your report from all bureaus at once, or spread it out so that you’re requesting it from each one every few months. This doesn’t provide your score, but rather activity that affects your score.

 

For tips on improving your credit score, read Improving Your Credit Score.