The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card vs The Chase Freedom Credit Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Sep 25, 2015 | Updated Jan 17, 2019

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Update: The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card has been discontinued for new applicants. It was replaced by the Citi Rewards+ Card.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and the Chase Freedom Card are both popular rewards credit cards, but they provide those rewards for very different purchases.

The ThankYou Preferred offers points in stable categories that you can use all year, while the Freedom has rotating categories that change every 3 months. Both offer a nice signup bonus.

Are one of these cards the right one for you? Keep reading to see how they compare on rewards, benefits, and rates.

We're currently unable to link directly to an application for the Chase Freedom, but you can learn more here, on our advertising partner's website.

The Rewards

Citi ThankYou Preferred

With this card, you’ll get:

  • 2 points per dollar on dining and on entertainment
  • 1 point per dollar for all other purchases
  • 20,000-point signup bonus for spending $1,500 in the first 3 months

The dining category includes fast food, bars, lounges, and generally anywhere that prepares food and drink for immediate consumption (as opposed to grocery stores).

The “entertainment” category is quite broad, and includes movie theaters, video rental stores, amusement parks, live shows, sports, record stores, and more.

Chase Freedom

Unlike the previous card you’ll only get 3 months at a time to use your reward categories, but the opportunity for savings is greater with the Freedom card.

  • 5% cash back in the certain categories (on the first $1,500 in purchases every quarter)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $150 cash back for spending $500 in the first 3 months

Here are the 5% cash back bonus categories from 2018, plus the 2019 categories for the first quarter:

QUARTER 5% CASH BACK CATEGORY
2018: January – March Gas Stations, Internet/Cable/Phone Services, Various Digital Wallets
2018: April – June Grocery Stores, PayPal, Chase Pay
2018: July – September Gas Stations, Lyft, Walgreens
2018: October – December Department Stores, Wholesale Clubs, Chase Pay
2019: January – March  Gas Stations, Tolls, Drugstores
Take note that you’ll need to go online and activate your 5% rewards category. If you forget to activate before the category begins, don’t worry: you’ll be able to earn retroactive reward points on previous purchases you made.

The Verdict

If you like categories that rotate throughout the year, and you tend to shop at stores like Starbucks, Lowes, Amazon, and/or Kohl’s, you’ll probably love the Chase Freedom card like many other people. Check out the Discover it for another great card with rotating reward categories.

If you’re not looking for rotating categories, the ThankYou Preferred might be more like the card you want. However, you can most likely find something more useful than the 2 points offered by the ThankYou Preferred card for dining and entertainment – perhaps one like the Citi ThankYou Premier, which also offers 3 points per dollar on travel purchases (including gas).

The Chase card also has a better signup bonus, providing $150 for spending $500 (you’ll need to spend $1,500 to earn 20,000 bonus points with the Citi card, which is the equivalent of $200).

If you’re looking for rewards that these cards don’t offer, check out our recommendations for the best rewards cards you can find today.

The Benefits

Chase Freedom

Shopping Benefits:

Purchase Protection: Covers new purchases against damage and theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Price Protection: If you find an item you bought being advertised for less than what you paid within 90 days, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

Return Protection: If the retailer won’t take back an item within 90 days of purchase, you can be reimbursed up to $250 per item, up to $1,000 per year.

Extended Warranty Protection: Extends an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by up to 1 year, for eligible warranties of 3 years or less.

Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Chip-and-Signature Technology: This card is EMV-enabled with Chip-and-Signature technology for increased security and better accessibility in foreign countries.

Travel Benefits:

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Provides help if you get into trouble away from home, including medical and legal referrals.

Roadside Dispatch (for Visa cards) / Roadside Assistance (for MasterCard cards): For Visa cards, call 1-800-VISA-TOW for any kind of help on the road, like towing or a tire change ($59.95 fee per service call). For MasterCard cards, call the customer service number on the back of your card (service fees will apply).

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against collision damage and theft for rented cards, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Visa Signature Travel Benefits:

If you qualify for a Visa Signature level card, you’ll also receive these benefits.

Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $250,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment, when you pay for air, bus, or cruise transportation with your card.

Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance: Provides up to $5,000 in reimbursement for non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled or interrupted for eligible reasons, like sickness or severe weather.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Provides up to $3,000 in reimbursement if you or your family members’ checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged.

ThankYou Preferred

Entertainment Benefits:

Personal Concierge Service: A 24/7 personal assistant. You can call for food and travel recommendations, to find particular services near you, or to purchase hard-to-find gifts.

Citi® Private Pass®: Provides exclusive access to pre-sale tickets to a variety of events, including concerts, sports, dining, theater, and more.

Shopping Benefits:

Purchase Protection: Provides reimbursement if your eligible purchases are damaged or stolen, up to $1,000 per item and $50,000 per year.

Citi® Price Rewind: If you find and item you bought being advertised for a lesser price within 60 days, you can refunded up to $300 per item and $1,200 per year.

Extended Warranty: Adds up to a year on a manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less, and provides coverage up to $10,000 per year.

Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology: Like most cards today, this card is EMV-enabled for better security.

Travel Benefits:

Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $250,000 in compensation if you or your family suffers a tragic accident while traveling.

Worldwide Car Rental Insurance: Provides coverage against damage and theft for rented cars as long as you decline the rental company’s own insurance, up to $50,000.

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance: If your trip is cancelled or interrupted for eligible reasons, you may be reimbursed for any non-refundable expenses.

The Verdict

The extra benefits provided by these cards are pretty comparable, but the ThankYou Preferred probably comes out on top for the entertainment benefits.

If you love to travel and see sports, concerts, and other exciting events you might find the travel services and Citi Private Pass of the ThankYou Preferred card a great asset. The concierge will also help you find the best deals and restaurants when you’re out of town, but it can also come in useful at home.

ThankYou Preferred Chase Freedom

Entertainment:

  • Personal Concierge
  • Citi Private Pass

 

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Citi Price Rewind
  • Extended Warranty
  • Zero Liability Protection
  • Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology

 

Travel:

  • Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
  • Worldwide Car Rental Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Price Protection
  • Return Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Zero Liability Protection
  • Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology

 

Travel:

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Roadside Dispatch / Roadside Assistance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

 

Visa Signature Travel Benefits:

  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Intro APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers Regular APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
ThankYou Preferred Card $0 0% for 15 months 15.24%–25.24% Variable 15.24%–25.24% Variable 26.99% Variable 3%
Chase Freedom $0 0% for 15 months 16.99%–25.74% Variable 16.99%–25.74% Variable 26.99% Variable 3%
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
ThankYou Preferred Card Up to 29.99% Variable Up to $35 Up to $35
Chase Freedom None Up to $38 Up to $38

The Verdict

As you can see, the major difference here is that the ThankYou Preferred has a penalty APR while the Chase Freedom does not.

This means that if you make a late or returned payment with the ThankYou Preferred, you may get hit with that 29.99% APR.

Other than that, these cards are very similar in all of their costs and fees.

The Bottom Line

If you’re considering applying for one of these cards, check your spending habits.

Would one of these cards fit right in? If so, it’s the right kind of card for you.

Remember that you’ll only get the 5% cash back in those categories for 3 months at a time, so if you want to get rewards for gas year-round, for example, you’ll need a different card.

Instead of having to pick between quarterly rewards and steady categories, consider pairing two rewards cards – one with rotating 5% categories, and the other with stable categories you can always count on.

Far from being a bad thing, having multiple credit cards can help you out in more ways than one.

If this review was helpful to you, go ahead and share it with a friend! Which one of these cards do you like better? Why? Leave your own review for the ThankYou Preferred or Freedom card, we’d love to hear from you!

We're currently unable to link directly to an application for the Chase Freedom, but you can learn more here, on our advertising partner's website.
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