Executive Summary -
A good starter reward card for those looking for one without an annual fee. It's key strength are the ability to earn unlimited points and to redeem them for travel rewards like airline tickets from the ThankYou travel portal.
The ThankYou Network is the reward program for Citi and they have a few cards that are based off this. In particular, they have three "ThankYou" cards and in this review, we will be looking at the one with the lowest tier. To be honest, there really isn't much difference between the lowest and the middle tier cards. But let's start now by looking at this one in greater detail.
Rewards and How You Earn Them
- Like most cards with rewards program, you get to earn one point (called ThankYou Points) for every dollar that you spend on the card. You can also earn extra points when you shop with merchant partners at Citi's Bonus Cash Center. Originally, the bonus cash center was a perk available to their Dividend
card holders. The online shopping portal has partnered with hundreds of merchants so that when you purchase online at their site (using the portal), you will earn more than 1 point per dollar. Some partners allow you to earn the extra points even when you go to their physical stores or order from their catalogs. This is a great way to earn extra points.
The points do not expire and you can exchange your points for a variety of rewards like travel, merchandise, gift cards etc. You get the most bang for the buck when you exchange your points for travel and gift cards.
To exchange your points for travel, you would need to book your flights or hotels with the ThankYou travel portal. 100 points gets you $1 in value (1%). When you exchange your points for gift cards, 1,000 points gets you a $10 gift card (also a 1% value). Redeeming for merchandise typically is the least efficient way to redeem your points as you get less than 1% return in most cases.
Other Features - Chip Technology
- Another nice feature that this card has is the fact that it uses Chip technology. This makes the card slightly more convenient when used outside the US.
How Does This Differ From Other ThankYou Cards?
As we mentioned earlier, this card is the lowest tier of all the ThankYou cards. The next level up is the Preferred version
. Like this version, the Preferred version has no annual fee. And for all intents and purposes, the card is nearly identical. The only difference as far as I can see is that the Preferred Card has a sign up bonus whereas this one does not.
On the other hand, this version comes with a 0% APR deal for 15 months (both balance transfer and purchases), which is much better than what the preferred card has to offer.
Next level up is the "premier version", which has a $95 annual fee, but comes with lots of perks that are more associated with higher end travel cards. With this card, you can earn points for regular spending and also points for the miles that you fly (if you use the card to book your airline ticket). You also get anniversary bonuses based on your annual spending, a companion ticket and a 15% discount if you book your travels with Spirit Incentive Travel.
When we compare all three, we can see that this card is the most similar to the preferred version. The edge that it has is that it has a better 0% teaser deal. Given that it is on the lower end of the pecking order, one might expect to be approved to this card without the excellent credit requirements for the "premier" version.
As a general rewards card, this card faces competition from most other major issuers. And the key differences essentially lie in their reward program (which is getting similar all the time). For example, Amex has got their no annual fee Blue card with the Membership Rewards Express program. Chase has their Sapphire with the Ultimate Rewards program and Capital One has their Venture Card with their own program.
As far as the other programs go, they operate mainly in the same way. For 100 points, you get $1 in travel rewards (less if you redeem your product for merchandise). There are a couple of slight nuances among the program. For example, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program allows you to book with any travel agent (without using their portal) and claim a statement credit whereas the others and Citi's ThankYou require that you use their portal to book your flights. Otherwise, they are really very similar.
Is This A Good Card?
Having looked at how it compares with the other TY cards in the Citi Family and with it's peers, I would say that this is a very good starter reward card for those looking for one with no annual fee. The main advantage this card has over others is that it has a good 0% teaser deal (which would appeal to folks looking specifically for this feature). If you are looking for more features, then a card like the TY Premier version might be better. But otherwise, this card is a very competitive one in the no annual fee rewards space.