(An additional update on this post, the Premier & Prestige cards have an additional 15% discount on all flights book through Spirit Incentives, details below)
Citibank recently launched a new credit card rewards program to replace their Citi Premier Pass and the higher level program, Citi Premier Pass Elite. The new Citi ThankYou Rewards program comes in 3 levels: Preferred, Premier, and Prestige.
My Citi Premier Pass was my go-to credit card for all flight purchases as it rewarded you with points on the number of miles you fly as well. I was very disappointed that Citibank had terminated the program and downgraded me to the Citi ThankYou Preferred card.
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card
The Citi ThankYou Preferred is your basic no annual fee rewards card. Every $1 spent gives you 1 ThankYou point. ( A ThankYou point comes out to be $0.01 when spent on $100 gift cards). Citibank removed all the travel benefits for this card. With only a 1% cashback, I would most likely let this one sit until Citibank decides to cancel/close it on me.
Citi ThankYou Premier Card
Without my usual travel benefits, I started looking into the next level, the Citi ThankYou Premier card. The Citi ThankYou Premier is their new travel-oriented rewards card and is the successor to the Citi Premier Pass Elite with a steep $125 annual fee plus another $50 for each additional card. Every $1 spent will still get you 1 ThankYou point and you’ll get 1.2 ThankYou points when you make purchases on commuter fare, gas or at drugstores and supermarkets. But as a travel rewards card, it comes with no foreign transaction fees and an annual complimentary domestic companion flight ticket, which probably will be worth more than $125 (I’m not sure if the additional cardholders will also get an additional complimentary ticket). And following the Premier Pass Elite program, you would be rewarded with 1 Flight point for every mile flown (a Flight point is similar to the ThankYou point but would only be credited if you have earned an equivalent ThankYou point). So for a round-trip from New York City to Miami, you can earn up to 2380 ThankYou points that’s equivalent to $23.80 for gift cards at their best value.
Here’s the calculation of the points:
$200 round-trip flight = 200 ThankYou Points
2180 miles from JFK to MIA = 2180 Flight Points
TOTAL POINTS = 2380
On top of all these benefits, with the possession of a ThankYou Premier card, your ThankYou points are worth 33% more when used to redeem airline tickets via Citibank’s ThankYou Travel Center. The point balance at the ThankYou Travel Center are comparable to that of Orbitz and other online travel sites where 1 ThankYou point is equal to $0.01.
Here’s a screenshot of Citibank’s ThankYou Travel Center for a flight from JFK to MIA:
10481 + 33% of 10481 = 13940 points or a cash value of $139.40
Here’s a screenshot of what the same flight on Orbitz for $139 (it’s actually $139.40 if you check out on Orbitz, I’m not sure why these travel sites always trim out the cents):
This is probably the best travel perk. You have the ability to increase the value of your points by 33%!
Citi ThankYou Prestige Card
The next level up, the Citi ThankYou Prestige card is very similar to the Premier card but comes with a $500 annual fee! Almost the same benefits except it comes with 1.3 ThankYou points on purchases for commute, gas and at drugstores and supermarkets and an annual complimentary international companion flight ticket, which would probably be worth over $500 depending where you go.
Here’s a summary across these 3 cards compared to another 2% cashback credit card that I own.
Overall, I think the best of the new cards is the Citi ThankYou Premier for me. Although the ThankYou Prestige gives you a complimentary international companion flight ticket, I’m not sure if it is worth the extra $375 in annual fee if I don’t fly international every year. Plus with the 33% extra bonus coming from the ThankYou Travel Center, you might be able to even it out a little. Just keep in mind that the annual fee you pay is really for the complimentary ticket. These cards will work out well for those that travel a lot. It’s not for everyday purchases especially for me because I have another credit card that offers me 2% cashback on everything purchased. But since I already have some extra ThankYou points sitting around, this card would work out well for my next vacation coming up.
Addendum to the Travel Benefits of Premier & Prestige Cards (9/5/12)
In addition to the free annual companion flight ticket, both Premier and Prestige card holders are eligible to 15% discount on all flight purchases made through Spirit Incentives (both domestic & international flight regardless of the type of card you own) . You have unlimited use of the 15% discount as long as the cardholder is part of a maximum party of 4. This 15% discount is the same discount you see from sites like Expedia and Orbitz (taxes and fees included).
Here’s a snippet of a sample flight from JFK to LAX.
Using your cardholder benefit, you save $36.66 for this flight. If you are already a cardholder, you can look up flight details here.
Current Promotions from Citibank
Citi ThankYou Preferred is giving out
100,000 150,000 ThankYou points (or $100 $150 value in gift cards) if you make a $500 $1000 purchase within the first 3 months. Remember this card doesn’t have any annual fees but does not come with any of the travel bonuses.
Citi ThankYou Premier is giving out
500,000 250,000 ThankYou points (or $ 500 $250 value in gift cards or $665 $333 value in airfare from the ThankYou Travel Center) if you make a $2000 purchase within the first 3 months. First year annual fee is waived. But this gift card has a $125 annual fee (although some people claimed that they were able to ask the customer representative to waive their annual fee for the first year.) And comes with no foreign transaction fees and a complimentary domestic companion flight ticket. I actually took advantage of this deal as I figured even if I don’t use the complimentary domestic companion flight ticket, 500,000 250,000 ThankYou points will compensate 4 2 years of annual fees.
That’s it for my very first post! Comment below to let me know if you want to see more details.