With multiple award chart devaluations from several airlines over the last couple weeks, the idea of having a fixed-value credit card that earns you bank-branded points in your wallet is a great idea. When airline miles and hotel points get devalued, these cards can provide protection from all of your points losing value.

Citi recently increased the sign-up bonus on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card to 50,000 points. With this offer hitting 50,000 points it is a fairly lucrative card, but I still think it stands below Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® 40,000 point offer. I will go over the new Citi ThankYou Premier offer and compare how it stacks up against the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card.

Citi ThankYou Premier Rewards Card

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card bonus increased to 50,000 Thank You points, a boost from the usual 30,000 point offer. The bonus basically gives you $625 worth of airfare. Not a bad deal especially considering you can use the points for any airline and there are no blackout dates.

Get $625 worth in travel

Get $625 worth in free travel

Offer details:

Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

There is a mild catch. While meeting the $2,000 minimum spend requirement within three months of receiving the card will earn you 20,000 bonus points, the rest of the bonus will be deposited into your account after spending $3,000 within the first three months of the anniversary year.

One way to look at it: the 50,000 bonus is really like a 20k bonus and a separate 30k anniversary bonus. There is also a $125 annual fee for the card that’s waived for the first year. Even though the bonuses deposit into your account at different times, the positive about these points is that they never expire.

Essentially by not awarding the second 30k of the sign-up bonus until the second year, Citi is ensuring you keep the card at least a year. Although the $125 annual fee is waived the first year, you will end up paying it the second year if you want the full bonus. Doing the math on the whole bonus, you will end up netting about $500 worth of free airfare not including the points you earn from the spending requirement.

Card Earnings

Earn 3 Points per dollar spent on Dining and Entertainment – Movies

Earn 2 Points per dollar spent on Airfare and Hotels

Earn 1 Point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Point Redemptions

By redeeming the points for ravel through thankyou.com you’re getting 1.25 cents per point.The 50,000 Thank You points bonus can be redeemed for $625 in airfare with any airline; subtracting the $125 annual fee to receive the additional 30,000 points brings the total net value of the sign-up offer to $500. All-in-all you will get $500 value from a $5,000 minimum spend sign-up offer.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Barclays has offered 40,000 points on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® for close to a year now, and although it is technically only a limited time a limited time offer it seems to be an offer that is more or less here to stay–for the meantime at least. With the 10% rebate for redeemed miles the sign-up bonus is worth $444 in free travel.

You can redeem 40,000 Arrival miles for $440 worth of travel

You can redeem 40,000 Arrival miles for $440 worth of travel

Offer details:

Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • 0% intr APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR currently 14.99% or 18.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases – Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Chip card for increased confidence and convenience to pay abroad as easily as you do at home
  • Redeem your miles for travel statement credits – redemptions start at 2,500 miles for $25 toward travel purchases made in the last 120 days
  • Get 10% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers

The nice part is the bonus is awarded in one lump sum after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. The minimum spend is $1,000 less than the Citi ThankYou Premier card and you get the entire bonus after reaching the minimum spend. The annual fee is waived the first year and is $89 after that.

The miles earned with the Arrival Plus card are worth 1 cent each and when redeemed for travel, you get a 10% rebate on the miles. So the sign-up bonus is worth a total of $444 after you redeem the first 40,000 miles. Although this is less than the Citi ThankYou Premier offer, you don’t have to wait until the second year to get the whole bonus.

Card Earnings

Earn 2 miles per dollar spent (for every purchase)

When you redeem your miles for travel you get 10% of your miles back as a refund, which brings your earning per dollar spend on the card up to 2.2%. This is one of the best all around earning rates across all cards currently available.

Point Redemptions

To redeem miles, you have to log into your account by going to Barclaycard US and click on “Manage Rewards.” Your miles can be redeemed as soon as they post to your account. Regarding the 10% miles rebate, you will get the bonus miles credited to your account within 1-2 weeks after making a redemption. For example, if you were to redeem 30,000 miles you would get a 3,000 bonus posted to your account within a couple of weeks. You can use these miles towards your next redemption. Since the rebates posts a couple weeks after you redeem, this means that you have to have the full amount of points needed to make the redemption you want. In other words, you cannot just make a redemption for 90% of the total and get the 10% refund immediately.

Comparing the Cards

Sign-up bonus value after hitting min spend

Citi ThankYou Premier = $625

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® = $444

Net sign-up bonus after the first year (including 2nd annual fee)

Citi ThankYou Premier = $500

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® = $355

Card earning

Citi ThankYou Premier = 3.75% return in dining and entertainment, 2.5% return on airfare and hotels, and 1.25% return on everything else.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® = 2.22% return on all spending.

Point redemption value

Citi ThankYou Premier = 1.25 cents per point

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® = 1.0 cent per point

Annual fee

Citi ThankYou Premier = $0 annual fee for the first year, then $125.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® = $0 annual fee for the first year, then $89.

Which card is right for you?

Both cards offer a valuable sign-up bonus, but each card will be better for specific people and worse for others. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is the card I recommend as the best all-around rewards earning card because you will earn 2.2% back on every purchase. If you don’t want to think about which card to use and still earn a very high return, this might be the right card for you.

On the other hand the Citi ThankYou Premier card has a higher sign-up bonus and potentially higher points earnings if you spend in the higher earning bonus categories. If you plan on spending a significant amount on dining and entertainment and airfare and hotel, you should look at the Citi TY Premier because you will earn 3.75% and 2.5% respectively. The catch for the card is that you have to keep it a second year to earn the full 50,000 points bonus.

If you plan on getting both you could get $1069 worth of free travel. Since both cards earn some of the highest returns for fixed value cards on the market, you should choose which one fits your needs.

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