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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Citi issues 19 different credit cards, including co-branded hotel and airline cards, but only five — all on the consumer side — give you full access to the company’s valuable ThankYou Rewards program and all its airline and transfer partners. And whether you’re applying for your first credit card, a seasoned pro looking to complement a Citi card already in your wallet, or a Chase/Amex loyalist exploring what Citi ThankYou Rewards has to offer, one or more of these cards might be right for you. So let’s take a deep look at the program, with an analysis of each of the cards, what they offer, how to redeem the points and how it all fits together in the ThankYou Rewards universe.

In This Post

Earning with Credit Cards

Not all ThankYou points are created equal. You can usually get the most value for your ThankYou points by transferring them to one of the program’s 15 travel partners, but in order to be able to transfer your points to most partners, you must hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier Card.

If you only have the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students or the AT&T Access Card from Citi, you’ll earn what we call “basic” ThankYou points. They’re worth a flat 1 cent each when redeemed toward travel, student loan repayments or mortgage payments, and cannot be transferred to the ThankYou travel partners. But as long as you hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier, you can combine your ThankYou points earned from one of the lower-tier cards in order to transfer those as well.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the sign-up bonus, rewards structure, annual fee and benefits for each of the Citi ThankYou Rewards credit cards. Remember that under Citi’s application rules, you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card in the same card family (such as the ThankYou Rewards family) if you haven’t opened or closed a card in that family in the last 24 months.

Sign-Up Bonus Bonus Categories Annual Fee Perks
Citi Prestige None 3x points on air travel and hotels; 2x points on dining out and entertainment $450 $250 annual air travel credit; complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice; $100 Global Entry application fee; Citi Concierge; Priority Pass Select membership; no foreign transaction fees
Citi ThankYou Premier 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months 3x on travel (including gas/fuel); 2x points on travel and dining purchases $95 (waived 1st year) Delayed baggage insurance, trip interruption/ cancellation insurance and primary car rental insurance outside the US
Citi ThankYou Preferred None 2x points on dining out and entertainment $0 Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students 2,500 points after spending $500 in the first three months 2x points on dining out and entertainment $0 Introductory APR on purchases
AT&T Access Card from Citi 10,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months 2x points on purchases made online at eligible retail and travel websites; 2x points on products and services purchased directly from AT&T $0 Citi Concierge

That’s a lot of information, so let’s take a deeper dive into each card and what each one offers.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige not only unlocks the capability to transfer ThankYou points to travel partners, but it includes a perk that no other card anywhere on the planet can touch: the 4th Night Free benefit, which gives you one free night at virtually any hotel when booking four nights or more through ThankYou.com or the Citi Prestige Concierge. Read the full card review.

Sign-Up Bonus

Unfortunately, there’s currently no sign-up bonus available on the Citi Prestige, though previously the card was offering 75,000 points after $7,500 spent in the first three months.

Earning

With the Citi Prestige, you’ll earn 3x points on all airfare and hotel purchases, 2x points on all dining and entertainment purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. I love that when using 4th Night Free and paying cash, I still earn 3x points on the hotel purchase. I also appreciate that the 2x points on entertainment purchases includes museums, theaters and sporting events, since none of the other premium cards offer extra points on those purchases.

As for what counts as a dining purchase, essentially any establishment that serves (as opposed to sells) food or drinks counts, including bars (even ones that don’t serve food), coffee shops and restaurant delivery services. As long as a merchant classifies itself in a restaurant category when applying to accept credit cards, the purchase will qualify.

Perks

You could save thousands upon thousands annually using the Citi Prestige if you frequently book 4+ night stays in hotels. (Yes, this includes aspirational stays such as the Park Hyatt Maldives, where overwater bungalows can approach $2,000 per night.) The rate is based on your average night stay and doesn’t include taxes and fees. The primary benefits include:

  • The aforementioned 4th Night Free benefit.
  • Priority Pass Select membership, which gives access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across the world for the cardholder and immediate family members (defined as your spouse/domestic partner and/or children under the age of 18), or up to two guests. You’ll be charged a $27 fee for each additional guest.
  • A $100 application Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every five years. If you’re already enrolled, you can use the credit to cover a friend or family member’s application fee.
  • A $250 Air Travel Credit: Citi will reimburse you $250 every year for airline-related purchases. That means you can apply it to tickets, baggage fees, upgrades, in-flight expenses and more.
  • Trip Coverage: You’ll be eligible for reimbursement for lost or delayed baggage or if your trip is canceled or interrupted. But the most generous of these policies is the trip delay protection — if your flight is delayed for more than six hours, Citi will reimburse you up to $500. With most other cards you’ll only be eligible for reimbursement around the 12-hour mark.
  • Purchase Protection: There’s no sugarcoating this — Citi devalued many of the perks related to protections, returns, and insurance, though many still remain in some form. You can still take advantage of Citi’s Price Rewind program, which will automatically track purchases to find a lowered advertised price for items purchased on a Citi card. If it’s successful, Citi will issue you a refund for the difference in price.

Citi ThankYou Premier

 

If the Citi Prestige’s $450 annual fee feels a bit too steep (or you simply won’t use the 4th Night Free benefit enough to justify the cost), the ThankYou Premier is a great option for travel rewards. It will only set you back $95, although the annual fee is waived the first year. Read the full card review.

Sign-Up Bonus

The ThankYou Premier is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, 60,000 ThankYou points are worth approximately $1,020 thanks to factors like ease of use, transfer partners and more.

Earning

The Citi ThankYou Premier’s earning structure is one aspect where the card really shines. Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel, including (most) gas stations, 2x points on dining out and entertainment, including things like concerts, plays, museums and amusement parks, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Of note, the ThankYou Premier earns a 3x bonus on a wider array of travel purchases than Citi’s own higher-priced Prestige card (with which 3x is limited to just air travel and hotels).

Perks

The ThankYou Premier also comes with a slew of travel and purchase protections that might earn it a place in your wallet.

  • Travel Coverage: The ThankYou Premier offers emergency travel assistance like helping with arrangements or emergency cash transfers, travel accident insurance up to $500,000, trip cancellation and interruption insurance up to $5,000 and trip delay protection up to $500 per covered person.
  • Baggage Coverage: If your checked bag is delayed, Citi will reimburse you up to $100, while if it’s lost, it goes up to $3,000 per covered traveler per trip or up to $10,000 total for all travelers in the same group.
  • Auto Rental Insurance: Citi offers insurance on car rentals worldwide up to $100,000. In the United States, this coverage is secondary, but outside the US, the coverage is primary, even if you have another insurance policy.
  • Citi Price Rewind: Like other Citi cards, the Premier offers Price Rewind, with which cardholders can register specific purchases to be monitored for price drops within 60 days, with the difference reimbursed to you. The coverage is up to $200 per item and $2,500 per calendar year — though starting in 2019 the maximum coverage per year will drop to $1,000.
  • Purchase Protection: If you purchase an item with your card and/or ThankYou points and it’s damaged or stolen within 120 days for most jurisdictions, Citi will repair or reimburse you for it up to $10,000 per item and up to $50,000 per year per Citi card account. Just note that this coverage is now secondary.
  • Extended Warranty: Citi offers the opportunity to extend the warranty on many purchases up to 24 months beyond the manufacturer’s warranty expiration, with coverage up to a maximum of $10,000.
  • World Elite Mastercard Benefits: As a World Elite Mastercard, the Citi ThankYou Premier confers several travel-related perks that consumers might not know about. Those include access to the Luxury Hotels & Resorts portfolio and on-property perks like free daily breakfast; discounts on certain airfares with carriers like Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways; shipboard credits with various cruise lines and more.
  • Return Protection: If you try to return an item within 90 days of purchase and the merchant won’t accept it, Citi may refund you the purchase price of the item up to $300 per article and up to $1,000 per year.

Citi ThankYou Preferred

While the $0 annual fee is alluring, remember that Citi ThankYou points earned solely via this card are more limited. In order to be able to transfer your points from the Preferred to a partner’s loyalty program, you must hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier. If you hold only the ThankYou Preferred, any earned ThankYou points will be worth a flat 1 cent each when redeemed toward travel, student loan repayments or mortgage payments and cannot be transferred to the ThankYou travel partners.

Sign-Up Bonus

Unfortunately, Citi is not currently offering a sign-up bonus for the ThankYou Preferred. That’s not all that uncommon for a fee-free card, but the product does offer a different kind of sign-up perk. Depending on creditworthiness, you could score a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases (after the introductory period ends, the interest rate increases to a variable APR of 15.49%-25.49%  based upon your creditworthiness). So if you already hold a Citi Prestige or ThankYou Premier and need to finance a larger purchase, picking up a ThankYou Preferred could be a great option — by doing so, you’d not only have access to an introductory APR, but ThankYou points earned on those purchases could be transferred to travel partners due to also holding a premium Citi ThankYou card.

Earning

For a card with a $0 annual fee, Citi’s ThankYou Preferred offers a fairly stout earning profile, which is detailed below:

  • 2x ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment (including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants; and on select entertainment, including live entertainment, live theatrical productions, concerts, live sporting events, movie theaters; amusement parks including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals; tourist attractions including museums, and art galleries; record stores, video rental stores and on-demand internet streaming media)
  • 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases

You’ll be pleased to know that any earned ThankYou points are good for life (e.g. they won’t expire), and you can earn an unlimited number of them.

Perks

As one would expect, Citi doesn’t offer a flotilla of perks on the ThankYou Preferred. The highlights of what’s included are listed below:

  • Citi Concierge: A direct line to experts who can assist with reservations, bookings, and other inquiries across travel, shopping, dining, entertainment.
  • Choose Your Payment Due Date: Choose to pay your bill on any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • $0 Liability on Unauthorized Charges: You’re protected against unauthorized charges on your account, online or otherwise.
  • Citi Private Pass: Citi customers enjoy access to purchase tickets to thousands of events annually, including presale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more, at citiprivatepass.com

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

If you’re just entering college and you’re looking to both establish your credit history and maximize travel rewards, kudos to you! Be sure to read our collegiate guide for maximizing rewards, top starter cards for college students/graduates, and our guide to paying college tuition on a credit card. Citi’s ThankYou Preferred for College Students largely mimics the conventional ThankYou Preferred, but includes a modest sign-up bonus and calls out features that are especially intriguing to those in school.

Sign-Up Bonus

You’ll earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening, which TPG values at around $42.50. Additionally, depending on creditworthiness, you could score a 0% introductory APR for 7 months on purchases (after the introductory period ends,  the variable APR will be 16.49%-26.49% based upon your creditworthiness).  So if you plan on applying for a Citi Prestige or ThankYou Premier down the road and need to finance a larger purchase in the here and now, picking up a ThankYou Preferred for College Students could be a great option. By doing so, you’d not only have access to a 0% intro APR, but ThankYou points earned on those purchases could be transferred to travel partners due to also holding a premium Citi ThankYou card.

Earning

For a card with a $0 annual fee, Citi’s ThankYou Preferred for College Students offers a fairly stout earning profile, mirroring the ThankYou Preferred:

  • 2x ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment (including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants; and on select entertainment, including live entertainment, live theatrical productions, concerts, live sporting events, movie theaters; amusement parks including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals; tourist attractions including museums, and art galleries; record stores, video rental stores and on-demand internet streaming media)
  • 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases

You’ll be pleased to know that any earned ThankYou points are good for life (e.g. they won’t expire), and you can earn an unlimited amount of them.

Perks

Citi’s perks for the ThankYou Preferred for College Students follows the ThankYou Preferred. The highlights of what’s included are listed below:

  • Citi Concierge: A direct line to experts who can assist with reservations, bookings, and other inquiries across travel, shopping, dining, entertainment.
  • Choose Your Payment Due Date: Choose to pay your bill on any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • $0 Liability on Unauthorized Charges: You’re protected against unauthorized charges on your account, online or otherwise.
  • Citi Private Pass: Citi customers enjoy access to purchase tickets to thousands of events annually, including presale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more, at citiprivatepass.com
  • Citi Quick Lock: While this is available on all cards registered within the Citi Mobile app, Citi clearly expects college students to be the most likely to use it. You can tap once to instantly lock your card, then tap again to request a new card, track it and activate it if you’re unable to locate the original.

AT&T Access Card from Citi

If you’re looking for a Citi ThankYou card that’ll cause a fair amount of head-scratching, this is it. The AT&T Access Card is the remaining cousin of the previously offered AT&T Access More card, which is no longer open for applications. It offers an average sign-up bonus given the $0 annual fee, and it does offer 2x points on AT&T purchases, but it’s certainly not the strongest of the pack. In fact, we’ve created a guide looking at the best credit cards to pay your cellphone bill with regardless of carrier, and Citi’s  AT&T Access Card didn’t make the cut.

Sign-Up Bonus

You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening, which TPG values at around $170.

Earning

Even though the card doesn’t have much of a sign-up bonus to speak of, Citi’s AT&T Access Card offers a very intriguing earning profile covering many online purchases:

  • 2x ThankYou points per $1 spent on eligible retail websites (including department store websites, specialty store websites, warehouse store websites and boutique websites) and travel websites (including online travel agencies, and hotel and airline websites).
  • 2x ThankYou points for each $1 spent on products and services purchased directly from AT&T, including payment of monthly phone, cable or internet bills.
  • 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases

You’ll be pleased to know that any earned ThankYou Points are good for life (e.g. they won’t expire), and you can earn an unlimited amount of them.

Redeeming at the Travel Center

While all of these credit cards can redeem ThankYou points for statement credits or toward third-party gift cards at a flat rate of 1 cent per point, the options available through the two premium cards offer far more value for travel redemptions in two separate ways.

First, if you don’t want to worry about learning award charts and chasing award availability, you can redeem points directly through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center. If you hold the Citi Prestige or ThankYou Premier card, you can redeem for airfare at a rate of 1.25 cents per point and at a rate of 1 cent per point for hotels, car rentals and cruises. All of the other ThankYou points cards allow Travel Center redemptions at a flat 1 cent across the board, unless you combine points from lower-tier Citi cards with your premium card before spending. We’ve assembled a complete guide to transferring ThankYou Rewards, which also takes a look at Citi’s unique Point Sharing feature.

While the 1.25 cents per point on airfare doesn’t represent a stellar deal at first blush, it’s worth noting that airlines will treat tickets purchased this way as paid fares, which earn both redeemable and elite qualifying miles. This also allows you to sidestep one of the biggest hurdles to award travel bookings: availability.

Transferring to Partners

The second way of redeeming ThankYou Rewards for travel is through a growing list of airline partners. With some time and effort, that’s where you can get the very best value, such as premium cabin redemptions to international destinations that normally cost thousands of dollars.

TPG settles into the A380 suite with Singapore Airlines
TPG settles into an A380 suite with Singapore Airlines, bookable with ThankYou points transferred to the Singapore KrisFlyer program.

Again, in order to be able to transfer your points to most ThankYou partner loyalty programs, you must hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier. As long as you hold one of those two cards, you can even combine your ThankYou points earned from one of the lower-tier cards in order to transfer those as well.

Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, which mostly (with a few exceptions) transfer instantly across its airline and hotel partners, ThankYou transfer times are hit and miss. While some transfer instantly, more than a few require one or more days, so be sure to plan those awards carefully. Also, keep a check on Citi’s ThankYou hub, where you’ll occasionally find transfer bonuses available for a limited time.

Program Transfer Ratio Transfer Time
JetBlue TrueBlue 2:1 Instantaneous
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1:1 < 24 hours
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) 1:1 Instantaneous
Avianca LifeMiles 1:1 Instantaneous
Etihad Guest 1:1 7 days
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands 1:1 3 days
Garuda Indonesia Miles 1:1 2 days
Jet Airways JetPrivilege 1:1 Instantaneous
Malaysia Airlines Enrich 1:1 Varies
Qantas Frequent Flyer 1:1 2 days
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 1:1 2 days
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1 1 day
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus 1:1 7 days
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles 1:1 1 day
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1 Instantaneous

With so many transfer partners, your options are plentiful when it comes to maximizing ThankYou points. Here’s a sampling of what you can do with them:

  • Transfer 47,500 points to Virgin Atlantic for a one-way Upper Class ticket to London (LHR) from the East Coast, or just 17,500 for one-way in premium economy. Note that both redemptions come with taxes, fees and surcharges, equaling roughly $185 on the one-way premium economy award and over $500 for Upper Class.
  • One of Etihad’s partners is Virgin Australia, which has great deals for flights within Australia and the South Pacific. Many short- and medium-haul flights are just 6,900 miles, so you can see a huge chunk of the country using the 60,000 point sign-up bonus on the Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
  • The Asia Miles program is another transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards, giving you a decent option for Oneworld redemptions with your sign-up bonus. The program’s multiple charts generally follow a distance-based formula for determining the number of miles you need for a given ticket. A flight of up to 7,500 miles in length would only cost you 72,000 miles round-trip for a premium-economy flight, allowing you to use the sign-up bonus for flights from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) or Vancouver (YVR) to Hong Kong (HKG).
  • If you’re thinking about using the sign-up bonus from the Citi ThankYou Premier for Singapore first class, your best bet is either flights from Japan or South Korea (65,000 miles) or from Dubai (70,000 miles). Be sure to pay attention to the type of plane on these routes, as redeeming miles for the carrier’s A380 will ensure several hours in Suites Class.
  • You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club to book the only Air China redemption option: London (LHR)–Beijing (PEK). You’ll spend 28,000 points for economy or 37,500 points for first class.

With so many options, you’ll want to review some of our favorite tips and tricks on redeeming Citi ThankYou points. We’ve listed a number of the very best ones in the “Further Reading” section below.

Further Reading

Now that you’ve learned the basics of the Citi ThankYou Rewards program, you’ll find more advanced information in our multitude of guides on the subject. Here our some of our favorites:

Bottom Line

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Citi’s ThankYou points are perhaps the most underrated of the major points and miles currencies. Despite some negatives, they remain a valuable transferable asset, especially for those looking to book award flights on international carriers. It’s vital to have a Citi Prestige or ThankYou Premier in the mix, as those two enable transfers to partners, which unlock a multitude of aspirational booking opportunities.

If you’re a heavy traveler who tends to book stays of four nights or longer, the Citi Prestige is a no-brainer. The heralded 4th Night Free benefit could save you thousands per year atop the ThankYou points that you’ll earn along the way. But if long hotel stays aren’t your thing, the ThankYou Premier offers a compelling array of perks and outstanding bonus earning categories with a comparably low $95 annual fee and an impressive sign-up bonus.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: 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.