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Big news for fans of the ThankYou Point ecosystem! Citi has announced that they are revamping the Citi Premier℠ Card. At first glance, it looks like a positive move overall, with several spending categories getting a higher earning rate.
However, you're probably going to be disappointed by these changes if you're a fan of the general travel and entertainment bonus categories.
- 3X on all Travel (including Gas)
- 2X on Dining and Entertainment
- 1X on everything else
- 3X on airfare and hotels
- 3X on gas
- 3X on dining (including take-out)
- 3X on supermarkets
- 1X on everything else
The Good News
Before we dig into the losses, just look at all of those 3X categories! For a mid-tier card that only charges a $95 annual fee, that's a lot of potential return on your spend. The addition of 3X at supermarkets is especially exciting, considering American Express is the only major card issuer that currently offers bonuses on grocery spending year-round.
Cardholders that signed up before April 10, 2020 will maintain the current bonus categories through April 9, 2021 and will get the new bonus categories starting August 23, 2020. If you beat the deadline, you'll get 3X on general travel, 3X on dining, 3X on supermarkets, and 2X on entertainment from August 23, 2020, through April 9, 2021.
The Bad News
Starting in August, the Citi Premier will limit the 3X earning category to only airfare and hotels. This means that with the new earning structure, you'll no longer earn 3X for other travel expenses like cruises, public transit, parking meters, and rental cars.
Additionally, the card is losing the Entertainment bonus category completely. Historically, the Citi Premier was a leader in this category, but cards like the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card have since surpassed it. While I don't imagine this is a huge earning category for most people, it could be a hard loss for those that used the card for a lot of ticket purchases—like season ticket holders or ticket resellers.
Changes to Citi Travel Center Redemptions
Along with the revised earning categories, the Citi Premier will also see some unfortunate changes to portal redemptions. One of the current highlights of the card is the ability to redeem ThankYou points at 1.25¢ a piece towards travel through the Citi Travel Center. Starting April 10, 2021, these redemptions will be adjusted to 1¢ per point.
While cardholders will still have the ability to transfer points to Citi's 16 transfer partners, the 25% boost is always a nice option to have. I particularly liked using my ThankYou points in this way to book cheap, domestic flights.
New $100 Hotel Credit
Another new benefit of the Citi Premier is an annual $100 hotel credit on any $500+ hotel booking made through thankyou.com. This once-per-year perk goes into effect starting August 23, 2020.
At first glance, this doesn't strike me as all that valuable. If you're going to pay cash for a hotel reservation, you're not typically going to find the most competitive pricing through thankyou.com. Additionally, since these bookings would be through a 3rd party, you probably won't receive any elite status recognition or earn elite qualifying nights. However, this could come in handy if you're booking an independent hotel or with a hotel brand where you don't have elite status.
Timeline for Changes
The timeline for Citi to implement these updates is a little quirky. The official start date for all the card changes is August 23, 2020. However, current cardmembers—including anyone who applied before April 10th, 2020—will be grandfathered into the existing earning structure until April 10, 2021.
For one thing, this gives current cardholders a lengthy heads-up before they have to consider the card's value going forward. Even better, though, it gives them the best of both earning structures.
Not only will current cardmembers continue earning 3X on general travel and 2X on entertainment until April 2021, but they'll also gain the ability to earn 3X at groceries and restaurants starting this August!
Changes to the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
The Citi Premier isn't the only card seeing changes effective August 23, 2020. Citi emailed current ThankYou Preferred cardholders about changes to the card's earning structure.
Currently, the ThankYou Preferred earns:
- 2X on dining and entertainment
- 1X on everything else
Starting on August 23, 2020, the ThankYou Preferred will earn points as follows:
- 2X on cable and popular streaming services
- 2X on live entertainment, including concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions and orchestras
- 2X on dining
- 1X on all other purchases
The addition of 2X earnings on cable and streaming services is a nice addition. However, it comes paired with a narrowing of the entertainment category. According to terms and conditions shared by Frequent Miler, Citi now explicitly states:
“You will not earn 2X points for purchases made at charitable organizations that provide live entertainment, sporting camps, sports complexes where you participate in the sport, public and private golf courses, country clubs (including membership fees), bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums or art galleries.”
The Citi ThankYou portfolio of cards has some of the industry's leading earning rates. The bonus categories of the Citi Premier were already one of its strengths. This revamp only makes it more so, especially when it's combined with the 2X earning of the Citi® Double Cash Card.
As a mid-tier travel rewards credit card, the Citi Premier‘s direct competitors are cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card, and American Express® Green Card. With its excellent earning structure and a $95 annual fee, the Citi Premier is easily among the best, even if Citi's transfer partners aren't quite as lucrative as those of Chase or American Express.
While I don't like losing the 25% bonus for redemptions through the Citi Travel Center, the new uncapped 3X at grocery stores and raised 3X at restaurants makes this an exceptionally well-rounded card in terms of earning. With a current sign-up offer of 60,000 bonus points, it could be a great card to jump-start your ThankYou point savings for when traveling picks up again.
- 60,000 point signup bonus worth $750 towards airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
- 3X points per $1 on travel, including gas stations, plus 2X points at restaurants and on entertainment
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- 3X points per $1 spent on on travel including gas stations, as well as airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, public transportation, tolls, and parking
- 2X points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants, including many cafes, bars and lounges
- 2X points per $1 spent on entertainment, including sporting events, movie theaters, concerts and more
- 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases
This post was updated after publishing to add the changes to the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
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