Citi ThankYou Preferred Card Review

The offer for this card is no longer available. The following post may contain references to outdated offer terms, but will remain for comparison.

Several years ago, Citi launched the Thank You credit card series, which is their latest lineup for the rewards category. But is the “Preferred” Visa the best version for you or not? This review will take you through the benefits as well as the drawbacks.

The Citi ThankYou program has many redemption options, from merchandise to gift cards, charitable donations, travel, online shopping at Amazon.com and more. You can think of the ThankYou program as Citi’s version of Chase Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner).

On most of your spending, you’ll earn 1 ThankYou point per dollar. The 2x point categories are restaurants and entertainment are helpful, but since ThankYou points convert to cash back at a value of around a 1/2 cent per point, it’s not among the best choices if you’re after optimal cash back rewards.


With those caveats out of the way, here is my full review of the Citi Thank You Preferred card’s benefits.

Cardmember Benefits

Concierge: You have access to a 24/7 phone concierge service free of charge. They can help you with all sorts of requests – restaurant reservations, gift advice, locating hard-to-find items, travel plans, and more. While concierge service won’t usually help you find anything you couldn’t have found on your own, when you’re out on the road or just don’t have time to do the legwork yourself, concierge service is a valuable benefit to have at your disposal.

Trip interruption/cancellation coverage: This benefit provides you with up to $1,500 of reimbursement for eligible trips that are interrupted or have to be cancelled due to covered reasons, assuming you paid for the trip using your Citi Thank You Preferred.

Here’s what it says in the fine print about what’s covered: “due to accidental injury, sickness, or death of yourself, an immediate family member or a traveling companion, which results in medically imposed restrictions as certified by a Physician at the time of loss.” Once you get the credit card consult the benefits guide for additional details, rules and exclusions but at least that statement gives you the gist of it.

Auto rental insurance: This is secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your existing car insurance pays out (if you don’t have any, then this benefit will kick in). As with all credit card rental coverage, please note there plenty of rules and not all types of vehicles or damage is covered. So make sure you study your benefits guide before using this perk.

Automatic travel accident insurance: If you’re a ticketed passenger on eligible “common carrier” travel, there is automatic coverage for death or dismemberment assuming you purchased the ticket using your credit card. However as you know, any insurance benefit is complex because it involves all kinds of rules, so for the details and exclusions please contact Citi directly.

Price protection: Few credit cards offer this benefit. If you buy something with the card and within 60 days it is advertised for less, you may receive the difference – up to $300 per item. Certain circumstances and categories are excluded, but, in many cases, you’ll avoid the frustration of an item you just bought going on sale. You can also find a similar benefit on the Chase Freedom.

Extended warranty: This benefit extends the warranty coverage on eligible purchases up to 1 extra year (if the item has a U.S. warranty of five years or less). This is a lifesaver for covered electronics, because most tend to have very short manufacturer warranties to begin with. However most cards these days come with this benefit, so it’s nothing special anymore.

Retail purchase protection: You get up to $1,000 in coverage per incident (subject to maximum yearly/cardmember cap) for eligible purchases that are stolen, damaged by fire, or incur accidental breakage within 120 days from date of purchase (90 days for New York residents). Just make sure you review the rules so you know what is and isn’t covered. Again, this is another common benefit found on most cards nowadays.

Rewards program

The Citi ThankYou Preferred credit card offers you some advantages over its predecessors for the following reasons:

  • 2 points per dollar on purchases for dining and entertainment.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • No cap on the number of points that can be earned.
  • ThankYou points don’t expire.

You will get the best value per point when you spend your points on $50 and $100 gift cards from their retail/dining partners, as well as for travel certificates toward hotels, car rentals and hotels. For most other options, the conversion is not very favorable because you get a value of less than 1 penny per point in return. You always want to aim for getting full 1 cent per point if possible.

Drawbacks

As discussed above, the Thank You Preferred comes with a notable drawback: The unfavorable point value when redeemed for cash back. Even the value you get when you shop with your points on Amazon is below 1 cent per point. To get a competitive value out of your points, it’s best to stick with gift cards.

Verdict for 2014?

The Citi Thank You Preferred is a decent value since there’s no annual fee. But there are many other cash back cards that have generous reward programs and no annual fee, so be sure to check them all out before making an informed decision.

This post was written or last updated January 2016

 
Comments
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What are some of the merchants for which you can get gift cards?

Can you redeem points for travel?? If yes, are there black out dates, or can you do any airline, any time, anywhere?

Thanks

Yes, you can. Their literature describes it as:

“Redeem ThankYou Points toward air travel on any airline, with no blackout dates”

Typically when you do this you get a full cent value per point redeemed.