No one likes to pay an annual fee for a credit card, but the fact of the matter is, the best travel rewards credit cards often have annual fees – and many of them are worth it.
Case in point? The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which gives points for the miles you fly as well as the purchases you make, has no foreign transaction fees, no limit to the points you can earn, and rewards that never expire. Let’s dig a little deeper into this travel rewards card from the Citi ThankYou network – one of the more popular credit card rewards programs out there.
Fees First – Getting the Bad News Out of the Way
Most reviews focus on rewards, then hit you with the bad news about fees at the end, so let’s just get this out of way first thing, so we can talk about the rewards – which are pretty amazing.
The Citi ThankYou Premier Card has an annual fee of $125; fee waived for the first 12 months26. The bank promises to reduce this fee to $95 starting April, 2015. Is that a lot for a rewards credit card? With rewards cards annual fees running from $50 to $450, it’s not the lowest, but it’s not the highest either. The travel rewards can easily make the fee worthwhile – so read on. And remember – the fee is waived the first year!
The ongoing APR on this card will be 13.99% - 22.99%26 (Variable). The easy way to make this fee beside the point is to never carry a balance – not always the easiest thing to do, but if you’re careful and responsible, you won’t pay a penny of interest. Just remember that credit cards aren’t free money, and don’t spend more than you can afford, and you’ll be fine.
Let’s talk rewards! For many of Citi’s credit cards, ThankYou points are usually earned at the rate of one point per dollar spent, but the Citi ThankYou Premier Card offers you to earn a bunch of points as a sign up bonus!
You will earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within first 3 months of account opening. The first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember will bring you 30,000 points after you spent $3,000 in purchases.
You’ll also get bonus points by shopping through the ThankYou Bonus Center, Citi’s online shopping mall of over 600 retailers.
Points never expire, and the sky’s the limit on how many you can earn, so you can save up your points as long as you like.
Citi ThankYou Points are redeemable for cash, gift cards, merchandise, and more – all you have to do is go to the ThankYou Rewards Mall online to find the perfect redemption option for you.
The special thing about this card is that you can squeeze extra value from your ThankYou Points by redeeming them for airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center. This lets you book travel on any airline, with no restrictions like blackout dates, and gives you 20 percent more value for your points than other redemption options.
An airline ticket that costs $300 would normally require 30,000 ThankYou Points, but with this card, it only takes 25,000 ThankYou Points. That’s the best ThankYou Points value available, since points are usually worth about one cent each.
If you’re using your rewards for something other than travel, the best redemption value is gift cards or cash, not merchandise. Redeem ThankYou Points for a statement credit or a gift card, available from hundreds of retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GAP, iTunes, Sephora and Zappos. This can be a great option at the holidays, letting you do all your holiday gift shopping with your Citi ThankYou Points.
At the Citi ThankYou mall, most gift cards are available in $25, $50, and $100 increments, and the exchange rate is one cent per point, so 2,500 points will get you a $25 gift card, and 10,000 will get you a $100 gift card. Again, gift cards offer the highest redemption value, besides travel – and with such a wide variety of merchants to choose from, it’s very likely you’ll find a redemption option you like.
Since this is primarily a travel card, it makes sense that it comes with several great benefits for travelers, like:
- A free domestic companion ticket each year, when you book travel through Citi’s travel partner, Spirit Incentives. (Keep in mind that this ticket is good for flights in the continental US, not Hawaii or Alaska, and that you’ll still have to pay taxes and fees on the companion ticket.)
- 15 percent off when you book travel through Spirit Incentives – any airline, any time – and pay with your Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
- No foreign transaction fees, saving you an average of three percent on all overseas purchases.
- Travel insurance for you and your family when you pay for airline, bus, or train tickets with your Citi ThankYou Premier Card – including coverage for emergency medical assistance when needed.
- Car rental insurance – you’ll be covered for damage to your rental car when you pay with your Citi ThankYou Premier card, so you may be able to avoid paying extra for insurance at the car rental counter.
Price protection, extended warranty, and purchase protection give you peace of mind when you’re paying for purchases.
With price protection, you’ll get a refund if you make a purchase with your card and then see the same item for less within 60 days. Show Citi the advertisement, in print, and get up to $250 of the difference back in your pocket. (This doesn’t include internet purchases, unfortunately.)
Extended warranty coverage can save you from buying an extended warranty on big ticket items – if you buy them with your Citi ThankYou Premier Card, the manufacturer’s warranty may be extended for an extra year.
Meanwhile, if you accidentally break something you just bought with your card, or it gets stolen, purchase protection of up to $1,000 for 90 days from the date of purchase might save you shelling out for a replacement item, if the store won’t help you out with a refund or exchange.
Wrapping Up the Rewards
With the travel rewards, bonus points, and purchase perks, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has a lot to offer the right customer. Just remember that to get the most from this card, you should plan to do plenty of traveling, pay off your balance in full each month, and remember that the rewards outweigh the annual fee, if you make sure to use the card to its fullest potential.