Citi ThankYou Premier Rewards Card Review

This card’s reward structure has gone through some changes in the past year — and more are on the way for April 2015. Our review will keep you up-to-date.
Citibank ThankYou Premier Visa

First things first:
This card’s benefits have been overhauled in the past couple years. Here are the up-to-date details (as of April 2015):

  • 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel (gas stations, airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies, commuter transit, taxis, limos, railways, cruises, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, campgrounds, trailer parks, time shares, bus lines, RV rentals, boat rentals); 2 ThankYou points for every dollar spent at restaurants and entertainment (sports promoters, theatrical promoters, movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, record stores, video rental stores)
  • 1 ThankYou Point per dollar on other purchases
  • Points never expire and there is no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • Your credit card points can be redeemed lots of ways in the Citi ThankYou program … travel, gift cards, merchandise, cash back, and much more.

Is the card worth the annual fee?

On April 19, 2015, the card’s fee decreased from $125 per year to $95 per year (waived the first 12 months).

Getting 3 points per dollar for travel, could be a boon for frequent travelers — especially because your points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem for airfares purchased through the ThankYou Travel Center. You also get a reasonable value of 1 cent per point when you redeem gift cards.

Plus, you can transfer your points to various partner hotel and airline programs. If you do so strategically and redeem for expensive flights, you might get even more value out of each point.

The value falls when you redeem for cash back or statement credits — your points will be worth 0.5 cents each. So if cash back is your game, consider a card that gets you a full 1 cent per point when you redeem for cash back.

You should also know that card has nixed a few of its benefits in recent years, in addition to eliminating its bonus per mile flown. It closed its bonus shopping portal that allowed you to earn extra points with partner merchants in early 2014. With 3 points per dollar on travel, earning an extra couple points via online shopping may not make a big difference to you, but it’s worth considering — especially because many other reward programs come with online malls that get you bonus points. The card also cut airline ticket discounts and its anniversary bonus a couple years back.

For a $95-a-year card, though. It’s not a bad value IF you consistently redeem through Citi’s program to get the extra value on airfares — or make use of the point-transfer feature. The card also has an EMV chip (a major perk for travelers in countries where EMV is the norm) and waives foreign transaction fees.

If you’re willing to pay $95 a year, though, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It offers only 2 points per dollar spent on travel but allows you to transfer your points directly to various partner airline and hotel programs. While the Citi Premier’s partner carriers are mostly international airlines, this card has more domestic ones, which could be more accessible and lucrative for you.

This post was written or last updated April 30, 2015.

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Confusing

I used the TY Premier Card for the last two years. The statement “So if you bought a roundtrip flight from NY to LA that was 4,800 miles, you would be earning a whopping 4,800 ThankYou points!” is MISLEADING.
Instead of “Thank You points” what you earn in “Thank You Flight Points”. Once you match your spending to the accumulated TYFP, it then gets credited as TY points. Real life ex, I bought 2 ORD to DEL tickets and earned 28,000 TY Flight Points back in Sep 2011. In order to get those 28,000 points to be credited to the TY account, Id need to spend $28,000.

Did you read the paragraph below that statement which explains that? Scroll up and you will see it says: “The only catch is that the number of points you earn from flights can’t exceed the number earned from your other spending (but don’t worry- if that happens, the flight points will be held and credited after an equal number have been earned from other purchases).”

Here is the sound bite response from their customer service: when they can’t give you a flight to match the time or airline you rather fly on.

“All our availability is based on the airlines’ lowest published fares. If you have any further questions please contact us at 866-428-4078. Thank you and have a great day!”

They use a company called “Spirit Incentive” which is nothing but a lady name Lisa that operates the internet for you, so you can do it yourself from your home computer, Lisa can’t do anymore then you could.

Their web page gives you about 3 choices out of 15-20 available for your departure, then they give you 1 to 2 choice on your return flight. If you need a red-eye flight, good luck it’s like a crapshoot, if you want to travel delta or american good luck. most likely the cheapest airline on a propeller airplane. YOU HAVE TO SETTLE WITH THE THREE CHOICES THEY GIVE YOU! YOU HAVE NO OTHER Choices!

The COMPANION TICKET now SUCKS, you have to go through a company called Spirit Incentives, out of 15 flights each day they only offer like two or three, all from the same airline with very limited choices on the time of your departure. i would say basically you have little chance to choose your airline and time of departure. It is a crap shoot, three choice come up and hopefully it fits your travel schedule if not, customer service cant do nothing about it. Lisa from Spirit Incentives is practically worthless, she will tell you all she can offer is the same thing you see on the web page.

Is this a chip plus pin or a chip plus signature, not a huge deal, but other places on the web seem to imply it’s chip plus signature. I talked to someone at Citi, but they did not seem to know the difference.

Citi consumer cards only offer Chip and signature period (this will be the case till at least 2015.)

Can’t I choose which airlines I want to fly?

Yep 🙂

My wife and I are both over 6′ tall, and I’m broad shouldered. Flying coach class leaves us near crippled on flights over 3 hours long since we can barely move. We both have the Alaska Air cards for the (now) $110 companion ticket, but they’ve just restricted those companion tickets to economy class only.

Since the ability for us to get 1st class (and thus the ability to breathe) for the cost of 2 coach tickets was the ONLY reason we had these cards, we’re wondering if the Citi companion ticket has the same restriction. In short, does the free companion ticket apply to 1st class fares?

Miles Question

If you fly for 5000 miles, but haven’t spent that amount yet, will they inform you how many bonus miles are still pending? Or do you need to keep track on your own?

Hi CreditCardGuru,

If you buy two same flight tickets, do you get double mileage points? For example, if the flight is 1000 miles, and you buy two tickets in one transaction, do you get 2000 mileage points or only 1000 points?

Thanks

Assuming they are billed correctly as airfare, you should.

Thank you, Michael

I have had this card for about 4 years. It use to be far better before the recession. Citi cut it back a lot. The annual fee was $75 (if you had it then you were grandfathered in). Adding additional users did not have an annual fee. Additionally, you could redeem flights on a tiered system instead of 1 point = 1 penny. For example I bought 2 round trip tickets to Europe for 240,000 points. For the program today that is $2400 worth of plane tickets. The actual tickets I got were $1800 a piece. It use to be 120,000 points per ticket to Europe (economy) regardless of the ticket cost. Anyhow, Citi has scaled it back a lot. I have accumulated approximately 500k points over the past 4 years. I recently just switch to the Chase as my flying is now on United. I am still booking plane tickets with this card until I even out my flight points with purchase points. Good luck trying to find that as I have called Citi numerous times and no one can answer (what the ration of lifetime purchase points to mile points). But they say you will see points on the Thank you page waiting to transfer when it is no longer even (they will show in a queue). This card was a cash cow though anymore I don’t know it is the best. Note I fly ~10 times a year (1-2 international) and I probably by 2-4 additional tickets for colleagues / friends. …. I am only interested in booking international travel in business or 1st. With that criteria in mind it requires less points to book directly through the airline (United in my case) then the Thank You points. Example: Australia 1st class is 180,000 miles on United. That is $10-$20,000 ticket normally or 1-2 million thank you points. The chase 1:1 to the airline is far better.

Hi Joe, you must be confusing this with another card that uses Citi ThankYou points – several of their cards do, but they don’t have the same redemption options.

The ThankYou Premier card was not launched until Dec 2010 and I actually applied for it the very first week – still have it today 🙂

I currently live in Hawaii and have the american express gold delta skymiles card. That card gives you a 99 companion ticket in the 48 states. That card however lets you use the companion ticket if you live in Hawaii.

1. Does the citi Thank you card allow you to use a companion ticket from Hawaii if you live there?

2. Is there any stipulations for using the companion ticket? Example: The price of the ticket you buy is substantially more expensive than say a ticket you could find on kayak?

3. Do you know any card that would be more beneficial for a pair of people that travel from Hawaii to Pennsylvania and California about twice a year? 2 or 3 trips to the mainland a year.

4. Can the companion ticket be booked on any airline carrier?

CreditCardGuru,

I have a question regarding companion ticket. Is there any additional charge for getting the companion ticket. e.g. I remember Amex charging $99 for the companion ticket

CreditCardGuru

No unlike your AmEx offer the ticket itself is free. However you will still have to pay any applicable taxes/fees on it (same ones you would pay if buying the ticket with cash).

Got the card a few days back since i was impressed by the offers and it still had 50000 points if i spend 3000$ in first three months. I actually compared the 15% discount ticket price and free companion ticket price on the website…the 15% discount ticket for 1 was coming at 225$ per person, including taxes. The free companion ticket was coming at 410$ for the same route, and on the website of the airlines, the price of the ticket including taxes was around 240$. Wonder why is it so…any inputs?

I have a question regarding the mileage rewards. You get 5,000 points for a 5,000 mile flight (subject to $5,000 additional spending). Do you also get the airline miles? I would assume so, if so this is a tremendous advantage for a high mileage flyer.

Exactly! You can also earn your airline frequent flyer miles since those are separate from the airline. I actually did so on a Delta flight recently… got my ThankYou Premier flight points from this credit card + Delta SkyMiles from my Delta frequent flyer mile account.

Thanks for the review. I wasn’t aware of all the benefits. My wife and I each got the card to take advantage of the 50,000 bonus points last summer. We’re debating whether to keep the cards for the companion passes, since our family of four flies about once a year, but we currently use the Southwest card. I have a couple of questions that I’m hoping you can answer.

1. Can I redeem points for airfare through Spirit Incentives and get the companion pass all in one transaction?

2. For the companion pass, does the flight or just the booking have to take place within the year? For example, I want to book a September flight soon and my first anniversary date is in July. Would it count as the first or second year companion pass allowance?

Hi Eric…

Re: Q1 – The companion ticket applies when you buy one (so buying the 1st ticket with points wouldn’t count).

Re: Q2 – That’s a good question. To the best of my knowledge it is based off of the date you book the flight. Double check with them to find out for sure, but I think your idea might work so long as you buy the first ticket before your anniversary date.

One other question regards to companion ticket! Is the 1 free companion ticket annually based upon calendar year, or anniversary of my card? So if my anniversary date of the card is April 1st…can I essentially book a flight on March 15th, and on April 15th to get 2 free companion tickets? Or is the companion ticket valid only for any 12 month rolling period?

Hi Sharpy. I guess great minds think alike, as Eric just asked that question too 🙂 Please see above.

CreditCardGuru, thank you for your posts! I had a question about the flight miles. Assume I receive ThankYou Premier Card January 1st, 2012. I spend $5000 from January 1st – April 31st, then subsequently buy a round trip ticket that flies on May 1st and return May 10th for a total of 8000 flight miles. From June 1st – December 31st 2012 I spend an additional $5000. Will I receive 5000 flight miles or 8000 flight miles?

Sorry Sharpy, I’m not sure if I understand correctly… so are you asking if you will have had enough regular spending to also be awarded your full flight miles?

CreditCardGuru, my family is going to Europe this coming summer and the ticket prices are substantial, so 15% off would be real nice. When you purchase through Spirit incentives are the per-discounted ticket prices the same as the airlines prices?

Thanks

Hi Jeff, I got a test quote for you comparing the Citi Thank You Price vs. Expedia. The British Airways flight was LAX to LHR departing on 3/21 and returning on 3/28.

Price through the card: $760.15
Price through Expedia: $784.30

Both quotes incl. taxes/fees. The departing flight was non-stop and there was one-stop on the way back in Toronto.

As you see with these the discount doesn’t appear to be 15% when compared to Expedia but you still would be saving about $25 on this ticket (or say around $100 on 4 tix).

This vs Amex Platinum

I know the annual fee is quite different but you do have high marks for both cards in terms of traveling. Do you use both or just one? Also would you recommend these cards if they won’t be your primary cards since I have other cards with better rewards?

On a side note, I currently have a Citi Forward card, I spoke with the thank you rep and he mentioned if I did own a Thank You Premier card they would share the same Thank You points account. This sounded like an amazing deal as I could use the 33% increase for travel and wanted to see if you do something similar.

That’s an excellent question. Right now I personally choose to use this card, because the types of hotels I typically stay at are not high-end. But if you stay at those types of hotels, then the Platinum Card is a tremendous value, even with its $450 annual fee.

So in a nutshell my recommendation would be to go with the Platinum AmEx instead if you meet these criteria:

(a) Travel frequently
(b) Tend to stay at higher-end hotels and resorts
(c) Travel internationally

If that describes you, then the benefits you get with the Platinum will definitely outweigh the $450 membership fee. You can read my Platinum Card review here.

However with my current lifestyle, the TY Premier is the best bet for me right now.

Q about Companion

I was wondering if there are any limitations on the companion ticket. Is it round trip? Does the flight have to be business/first class?

Nope, the nice thing is that you get this benefit on regular coach tickets:

“To qualify for the complimentary companion airfare ticket, a round trip, one-way or multiple-destination coach airfare ticket must be purchased at the published fare from Spirit Incentives (directly from a reservation agent) for coach-class travel within the 48 continental contiguous United States”

(I copy/pasted that from the benefits guide)

Is companion ticket is only good for coach class?

That’s correct.

I just signed up for the card but I have a question about the companion fare. I plan on flying 12/09/12 and returning a week later. My question is will the companion fare expire before I get a chance to use it?

Hi Nathan just to clarify, so you applied and 12-9 and will be flying on 12-9 of next year?

I’m testing out the card but based on what I know, it’s not really worth it. Yes, you get 1 extra flight point for every mile you fly by purchasing an air ticket with this card, however, you cannot turn flight points to thank you points unless you have equal amount of ordinary purchase points. This means that assuming each Thank You Point = $0.01, your maximum rebate is 2% (ie, if your ordinary purchase point is 20,000 per year, no matter how many miles you fly, only 20,000 flight points can be converted into redeemable Thank you points, you can only turn 20,000 purchase points + 20,000 flight points = 40,000 Thank you points eligible for redemption). In addition, the anniversary bonus point is based on % of ordinary purchase points earned, which means that 40,000 Thank you points = 200 Bonus Thank you points (20,000 purchase points) the first year anniversary.

Hi Moon, if you plan on using the Citi ThankYou Premier only for buying flights then you are right. However from my experience (I’ve had the card 1 year now) my other spending is plenty sufficient to get the flight points (and keep in mind I use other credit cards in addition to the Premier, so it’s not like all my spending goes on that card).

Here’s an example:

-During the course of a year you take 4 round-trip flights which are 2,500 miles each. That’s 10,000 flight points.
-That would mean as long as your spending was at least $10k during that time, you would get all your flight points. $10k annually is just about $834/month… easy to do even for the moderate spender.

On the other hand, if you are flying somewhere every 2 or 3 weeks, then yes, your spending on everything else probably wouldn’t be high enough. But I think for most average people who travel this stipulation is not a problem at all.

Hi CreditCardGuru,

Based on your comment, you agree with me that the maximum rebate is 2% (That in order for you to really benefit from the card, you have to not only have flown 10,000 miles a year but also incur the equivalent amount of purchase points/dollars on your card).

If the rebate is maximum 2%, then Citi Thank You Premiere Card cannot be titled as the “BEST REBATE” card out there since the annual fee is $125.

Discover’s ESCAPE credit card is also maximum 2% rebate (2 miles for every dollar of purchase) but the annual fee is only $60. In addition, you would not need to worry about the situation where you either don’t have enough flight miles or purchase points to realize the 2% rebate in the Citi Thank You Premiere.

Thus, in my opinion, Citi’s Thank You Premiere is a good rebate card but definitely NOT THE BEST rebate card out there and definitely not worth it if you take into account the hefty annual fee ($125 annual fee for primary card holder and $50 for each additional card holder)

If you fly 10k miles but only spend 5k. Would you only get the bonus points for that 5k? Or would you need to spend the whole amount to get the bonus?

Questioning Mof

When you say you get 1 point per mile flown, do you have to purchase the tickets from them? Or will this with even if you buy your tickets online like at Expedia.com?

Citi is really great about this, as you get them on any airline. I normally buy directly through the airline websites because I find they are sometimes a couple bucks cheaper, so I don’t have experience using my ThankYou Premier card on Expedia.

That being said, I called customer service and gave them the example and they said if you buy a stand-alone flight through Expedia the information should be passed on to them. But even if you don’t and instead, you buy a package vacation which includes a flight, then you can submit the detailed receipt from Expedia (which includes your flight info) and they can manually add the flight points.

So in a nutshell, nope you don’t have to buy through Citi to get the flight points 🙂

With what airline (s) are the travel advantages applicable?

You can enjoy these benefits on major as well as discount airlines… it’s your choice!