The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs brings a flexible rewards program to a wider audience, with some unexpected perks and privileges for a no annual fee card. However, if you’re already packing a travel rewards card or a cash back card, you might find this account a little underwhelming.
Earning 1 ThankYou Rewards point per dollar spent, this card offers the equivalent of a 0.5 percent cash back rebate. That’s half the rewards value of similar cards from Capital One and Discover. The value of your rewards points increases substantially if you shop the “Rewards on Sale” section on Citi’s website. When compared to published prices on Amazon.com, some of the redemption deals on electronics push point values closer to 2 percent. Additionally new cardholders can earn 2 ThankYou points per dollar spent on the card on dining at restaurants and at select entertainment merchants.
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs offers a taste of great things to come
Although Citi doesn’t discuss the credit score you’ll need to qualify for a Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs, its marketing materials position this account as the entry level for a series that includes the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – earn up to 30,000 Bonus Point Offer, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card, and the Citi Prestige Card. Each rung of the ladder includes extra opportunities to earn bonus rewards points, making the basic ThankYou Card look anemic by comparison.
However, if this is your first rewards credit card, you might not know how good you’ve got it. Over the past few years, Chase and American Express have ramped up their rewards points programs with some compelling discounts on select merchandise and travel. Although Citi’s ThankYou program resembles both Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards, Citi makes it easier than its competitors to pool rewards with fellow cardholders.
Extra security for travelers to Europe
On the upside, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs may be the most accessible consumer credit card with an embedded EMV chip for use in Europe. American visitors who stray too far beyond tourist zones have expressed increasing frustration about merchants’ refusal to accept magnetic stripe cards. Even though Visa and MasterCard agreements state that merchants should take cards anywhere you see their logos, magnetic stripe cloning has run rampant in some parts of Europe, forcing some retailers to only accept chip-and-PIN transactions.
Until recently, only a handful of business and luxury travel credit cards carried the chip you’ll need for universal acceptance in Europe and a few other parts of the world. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs includes an EMV chip by default. However, Citi still charges this account’s customers a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. That’s a high enough fee to make you consider Chase’s British Airways Signature Visa or Citi’s own ThankYou Premier Card, neither of which add the surcharge. You might also consider carrying any of Capital One’s surcharge-free cards, breaking out the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs card as a backup when your cashier will only process chip-and-PIN.
Summary: A strong start, but not the go-to rewards card in Citi’s lineup.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs card will do just fine if your credit score doesn’t yet qualify you for an account with better perks. If you’re a college student or a recent graduate, you might get a better deal with the Citi Forward for College Students. That card also uses the ThankYou Rewards system, but offers five times the points on restaurant and entertainment purchases. But, with no annual fee, solid cardholder benefits, and a middle-of-the-road annual percentage rate, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs offers a step up from a no-frills card if you really want to build a relationship with Citi.
Updated December 10, 2013 and originally published June 29, 2013. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.