Executive Summary -
One of four Citi "ThankYou" cards that is based on their ThankYou rewards program. It is a step lower from the Premier and Prestige version and faces a ton of competition from other issuers with very similar cards. At this point, it's fiercest rival is probably the Barclaycard ArrivalTMWorld MasterCard®, which is slightly better in terms of reward redemption, lack of foreign transaction fee and free FICO scores for their card members.
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Rewards Card is Citi's new card is appears to e replacing the old Diamond Preferred Rewards Card. It also comes with a swanky new design.
Rewards - The Citi ThankYou(SM) Preferred Card allows you to earn one point for every dollar that you spend on the card. You can also earn double points on 'dining and entertainment' expenses. These points can be redeemed for products on Citi's ThankYou Rewards. The more interesting question is what qualifies as dining and entertainment expenses?
According to Citi's website, dining includes fast food and fine dining restaurants. Dining establishments are defined as such because their primary goal is to prepare food for immediate consumption by their customers either on their premises or even for take-outs. The also include bars, cocktail lounges, discotheques, nightclubs and taverns. One thing to note is that some food places are not included in this 'dining category'. Typically they are places that sell food within a larger merchant. An example would be a department store food cafeteria.
The 'entertainment category' is rather broad. It includes merchants for live performances, movie theaters, amusement parks and cultural events. Concert promoters, ticketing agencies, sports team sales are all included. ThankYou Rewards - For those of you who are not familiar, the Citi ThankYou Network is Citi's Reward program that allows you to redeem points for rewards like merchandises, gift cards and travel rewards. The way the travel rewards work is that you book your travel through their online portal. You can then choose to pay with reward points, your credit card or a combination of points and cash.
Citi ThankYou Versus Other Rewards Card
Let us now compare the Citi ThanYou Preferred Card against it's peers and we'll start with looking at other CitiCards like the Citi Forward Card and the Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
Versus the Citi Forward Card - The Citi Forward Card is also based on the same reward program. So the rewards are the same. But the way you earn points are slightly different. With the Forward Card, you earn 5 points for every $1 spent on restaurants and entertainment and 1 point for other regular purchases. Hence, the way that you earn reward points are slightly different. In terms of earning reward points for the long term, the Citi Forward Card might be more appealing because you can earn more points with restaurant and entertainment spending.
Against the Citi ThankYou Premier Card - The "Premier Version" of this card is an upgrade and the comparison really isn't apples to apples because it has a $150 annual fee. But you earn 1.2 points on things like gasoline, supermarkets, drugstore purchases etc. You also earn Citi Flight Points for every miles that you fly in addition to the miles that you earn with your airline ticket. They do not charge any foreign transaction fee. And every year, you get a free companion ticket (domestic). If you book your flights with Spirit (their travel agent), you get a 15% discount. If you are a real frequent traveler, then you should consider the Premier over the Preferred version.
Versus the Chase Sapphire - Another card worth comparing with is the Chase Sapphire. It is Chase's no annual fee reward card. Like the Citi ThankYou Preferred card, you earn one point for every dollar that you spend on the card. But you also get to earn double points when you make a travel purchase through Chase Ultimate Reward program. Chase also allows you to book directly with the airlines or use any online travel agents and use your points to cover those travel expenses. Other than that, the reward programs between both cards are really quite similar.
Versus Amex Blue - The Amex Blue is American Express's general reward card. Like most reward cards, you can earn one point for every dollar you spend. On the travel front, you can use your Membership Rewards points to book airlines and hotels with Amex online travel portal. I also think that the Amex Membership Rewards has a greater variety of rewards and in the gift card section, it provides more bang for the buck. For example, 1,000 MR points gets you a $10 gift card whereas with the Citi ThankYou Network, you need 12,500 for a $10 gift card. From this perspective, Amex comes out slightly ahead though many folks will have legitimate concerns that Amex is not as accepted widely as a Visa or MasterCard.
ThankYou Preferred vs Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard - Perhaps their fiercest rival is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. Barclays allows you to earn 2X on dining and travel (which Citi does not have). There is no foreign transaction fee (which Citi has) and you also get your FICO scores for free as a card member (not a benefit of any Citicards). When you redeem Barclays points for travel, you get 10% of the points redeemed deposited back into your account (no other issuer has such features).
Is The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Rewards Card Good
The no annual fee reward card is probably the most competitive space in the industry as most issuers have similar offerings. As you can tell from the comparisons, there is a glut of identical cards in the market with very marginal differences in their rewards. In that sense, this card is on par with it's peers. However, if you are considering a no annual fee reward card (especially a travel rewards card), then I think that the Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard is a better card and probably the best in the space today. You can get your FICO scores without having to pay anything, not pay any foreign transaction fees when you are abroad. These are features that this card lacks.