Citibank offers 4 credit cards which earn their flexible rewards points, similar to Chase’s UR and Amex’s MR, called ThankYou Points (TYP). These cards are called Citi ThankYou –

  • Preferred Card;
  • Preferred Card For College Students;
  • Premier Card; and
  • Prestige Card

Another similarity between the Chase, Amex, and Citi cards which earn flexible rewards is the annual fee structure. The annual fee (AF) can tell someone which cards are competing with each other.

The Preferred cards have no annual fee (AF), similar to the Amex Everyday and Chase Freedom cards. The Premier has the same $95 AF the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Everyday Preferred or Premier Rewards Gold card (after taking into account the airline fee credit) have. And the Prestige competes with Amex’s longtime Platinum charge card and Chase’s new Sapphire Reserve card.

The Cards

The ThankYou Preferred Card and ThankYou Preferred Card For College Students are essentially the same with the only differences being the sign-up bonus and the introductory interest rate period of 0%. Let me list the points earning structure, annual fees, and other perks for the three/four cards:

  • Preferred Card – No Annual Fee
    • 3x – No bonus categories; cannot earn 3x points on purchases
    • 2x – Dinning out and Entertainment
      • Restaurants;
      • Movies;
      • Sports events; etc.
    • 1x – Everything else
  • Premier Card – $95 Annual Fee
    • 3x – Travel
      • Gas;
      • Airfare;
      • Hotels;
      • Cruises; etc.
    • 2x – Dining out and entertainment
      • Restaurants;
      • Movies;
      • Sports events; etc.
    • 1x – Everything else
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Baggage Delay, Trip Delay, and Lost Baggage Protections
  • Prestige Card – $450 Annual Fee
    • 3x – Air travel and hotels
    • 2x – Dining out and entertainment
    • 1x – Everything else
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Baggage Delay, Trip Delay, and Lost Baggage Protections
    • Medical evacuation
    • $250 Air travel statement credit (not just for fees)
    • 4th night hotel benefit
    • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership (same as the Amex Platinum but 2 guests enter with you for free)
    • $100 Global Entry application fee credit

Which Card for What Reason(s)?

If you do not want a card with an annual fee but you want to earn ThankYou Points I’m sure you are looking at the ThankYou Preferred card. However, I would advise you to look at the Premier card.

Why? Because the annual fee might be waived for the first year and the sign-up bonus for the Preferred card is much less than the sign-up bonus on the Premier. Plus, you have 3x Travel instead of only the 2x Dining and entertainment categories.

Preferred vs. Premier

If your monthly spending is less than $3000 in 3 months but at least $1000 in 3 months then the Preferred would be better. If your monthly spending allows for you to meet the $3000 in 3 months spending requirement then your choice would be split between the Premier and Prestige assuming you are okay with an annual fee.

Premier vs. Prestige

Basing the decision on the points earning structure of the cards, I would go with the Premier because the 2x categories are the same for both cards but the Premier has a more general 3x category (travel; more than air fare and hotels) compared to the specific 3x categories of the Prestige (Air fare and hotels only).

Another thing to consider about points between all three cards is the Preferred cannot transfer points, and the Premier and Prestige have bonus point values when using the TYP to book hotels and flights and other travel through the TYP portal. New applicants get the following bonuses when using their ThankYou Points through the TYP portal:

  • Premier
    • 1.33 cents per point for American Airline (AA) Flight (7,518 pts for a $100 AA/US Ticket)
    • 1.25 cents per point for other airlines (8,000 pts for a $100 Southwest ticket)
    • 1.25 cents per point for Car Rental
    • 1.25 cents per point for Hotels
    • 1.25 cents per point for Cruises
  • Prestige
    • 1.6 cents per point for AA Flight (6,250 pts for a $100 AA/US Ticket)
    • 1.33 cents per point for other airlines (7,518 pts for a $100 Southwest ticket)
    • 1.00 cents per point for Car Rental
    • 1.00 cents per point for Hotels
    • 1.00 cents per point for Cruises

Looking at the annual fees, the Premier should be a clear winner but not quite. For someone already planning some travel, specifically flights, they could effectively reduce the annual fee from $450 down to only $100 via the $100 Global Entry and $250 airfare credits. This puts the effective annual fee of the Prestige only $5 higher than the Premier.

Again, this is an effective decrease and not exactly a true decrease. A real way to reduce the annual fee from $450 down to $350 is by being having a Citi Gold bank account, but that is another topic.

Now, with all of this information, the decision as to which card to get is up to each person and their personal situation. I say which card rather than which card first because Citi recently implemented a limit to sign-up bonuses. If you get the sign-up bonus on a card you can’t get a bonus of the same type of points for another 24 months.

If you get the Preferred and earn the sign-up bonus, you have to wait 2 full years to be eligible for the sign-up bonus for the Premier or Prestige, or the Preferred again. This is why I recommend the Premier over the Preferred given the sign-up bonus and earning structure.

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