3X retail and travel, free $650 phone… My reactions to Citi’s new ThankYou card: AT&T Access More

This card is no longer available to new applicants, but it may be possible to get this card by calling to product change from another Citibank card.  You won’t get the free phone signup bonus that way, but you’ll still earn 3X for online retail, AT&T, and online travel; and you can still qualify for 10K annual bonus when you spend $10,000 or more.


Last week Citibank and AT&T announced the new Access More credit card (you can find the press release here).  One of the things that makes this card particularly interesting is that it earns Citi ThankYou Rewards points.  ThankYou points can usually be used, at best, for 1 cent per point value towards gift cards, merchandise, and travel.  However, if you also have a ThankYou Premier or Prestige card, you can do better.  Both cards allow you to transfer ThankYou points to select airline and hotel programs, and both allow you to purchase airfare at better than 1 cent per point value.  With the Premier card, you get 1.25 cents per point value towards airfare, and with the Prestige card you get 1.6 cents per point value towards American Airlines airfare and 1.33 cents per point value towards all other airlines.

Let’s look at my evolving reactions to this new card…

First reaction… yawn

When I first heard about Citi’s AT&T branded ThankYou card, I was only mildly interested.  I remembered that PF Digest had written about this card before (found here), and I remembered not being too excited about the product.  Yes, the card earns Citi ThankYou points – that part was interesting (since ThankYou points can be very rewarding), but the card didn’t seem to offer much beyond what was already available from other Citi ThankYou cards.  It turned out, though, that there are two cards: AT&T Access and AT&T Access More.  PF Digest had written about the first, but not the second.

ATT_Access_Both

Second reaction… wow!

Once I realized that there really was something new here, I looked at the details of the new Access More card:

  • Free phone, up to $650, after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • 3 points per $1 on products and services that are purchased directly from AT&T
  • 3 points per $1 on all purchases at online retail and travel sites
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • 10,000 anniversary bonus points after $10,000 in annual spending
  • $95 annual fee, not waived first year

Two items from this offer jumped out at me beyond the unusual free-phone signup offer:

  1. The ability to earn 3X at online retail sites
  2. 10,000 anniversary bonus points after $10K annual spend

My initial excitement regarding 3X at online retail sites was due to the fact that no other card offers bonus miles for general retail purchases.  There are a few cards that offer excellent cash back rates for online purchases when you start your shopping within certain portals (see Best Category Bonuses – Online Portal Purchases), but none offer points that can be redeemed for miles.  Similarly, there are a few cards that offer cash back for retail department store purchases (including in-store), but none that offer miles (see Best Category Bonuses – Department Stores).

I immediately began imagining triple dip opportunities… Could we use the Access More card to buy gift cards online, after going through a portal), then go through a portal again to use those gift cards?  That would definitely work in some situations.  For more details about double and triple dip shopping, please see: Stacking deals for fantastic points and savings.

The 10,000 point anniversary bonus looked exciting too.  You could think of it as paying you back for the annual fee, or think of it as increasing your rewards for your first $10K of annual spend: 4X for online retail and travel and 2X everywhere else.  Wow!

Third reaction… it’s a solid offer, but ongoing value depends upon how you use it

I need another $95 annual fee card like I need a hole in my head.  Is this card worth it?  Let’s look at each benefit one by one…

Free Phone: Pretty good!

Yep, this looks like an excellent signup bonus if you’re planning to buy a new phone anyway.  Or, if you’re into reselling, I imagine you could do pretty well that way.  Note, though, a few important terms (bolding is mine): “Only phones (smartphones or basic/feature phones) purchased from AT&T at full retail price (no annual contract) through the link provided are eligible. You must activate the phone with qualifying AT&T postpaid wireless service (including voice and data as applicable) and keep the phone, and remain active and in good-standing, for at least 15 days.”

3X AT&T: Meh

Given that Chase Ink business card products already give you 5X Ultimate Rewards points (which I value a bit more than ThankYou points) for phone, internet, and more, I don’t find this benefit exciting. I suppose, though, that people with AT&T service who do not have any kind of business would find value in this benefit.

3X online retail and travel: Depends upon your spend habits

The Citi Premier card earns 3X for gas and all travel expenses (and 2X for dining and entertainment).  So, there’s no advantage here to the Access More online travel site benefit (unless you do not have the Premier card).  3X for online retail sites could be very interesting if you make many such purchases.  In my case, most of my online retail purchases are with Amazon.com and I have an old (no longer available) Citi Forward card which earns 5X at, among other categories, bookstores, and this includes Amazon.com.  So, for me, I doubt I would earn many bonus points in this category unless we find an online retailer that sells valuable gift cards.  For example, in the extremely unlikely event that Citi would code Amex Gift Cards as an online retail purchase, it would be an incredible benefit to earn 3X plus cash back portal rewards when buying Amex gift cards!  I’m willing to bet that won’t happen though.  If we’re stuck buying merchant gift cards at 3X, then I see this as only a slight benefit.  Both the Chase Freedom and Discover It cards offer rotating 5X categories that frequently cover similar ground.

10,000 anniversary bonus points after $10,000 in annual spending: Depends upon your spend habits

Unless you find a way to spend big within the online retail category, this card’s $95 annual fee hardly seems worth paying beyond the first year.  It may, though, be worth spending $10K per year with this card to get the 10K anniversary bonus and lessen the sting of the annual fee.  Let’s compare $10K spend with this card to $10K spend with a no fee 2% cash back card (like Citi’s Double Cash card or the Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex):

2% no fee card:

  • $10K spend with 2% cash back = $200

Access More $10K spend within 1X categories:

  • $95 annual fee, not waived first year
  • At 1X, earn 10K points
  • Earn 10K anniversary points
  • With the Fair Trading Price of 1.25 cents per ThankYou point, 20K points x 1.25 cents = $250 value
  • Value after annual fee = $250 – $95 = $155

Access More $10K spend within 3X categories:

  • $95 annual fee, not waived first year
  • At 3X, earn 30K points
  • Earn 10K anniversary points
  • With the Fair Trading Price of 1.25 cents per ThankYou point, 40K points x 1.25 cents = $500 value
  • Value after annual fee = $500 – $95 = $405

Access More $3K spend within 3X categories, $7K spend at 1X:

  • $95 annual fee, not waived first year
  • $3000 x 3 = 9000 ThankYou points
  • $7000 x 1 = 7000 ThankYou points
  • Earn 10K anniversary points
  • Total ThankYou points = 26,000
  • With the Fair Trading Price of 1.25 cents per ThankYou point, 26K points x 1.25 cents = $325 value
  • Value after annual fee = $325 – $95 = $230

As you can see above, if you only earn 1 point per dollar with this card, you can do better putting the same $10K spend on a 2% cash back card.  With only $3K of the $10K at 3X, though, you’ll do significantly better with the Access More card even after accounting for the annual fee.

Conclusion

If you need a new phone (or think you will in the near future) and you don’t mind having AT&T service (at least for 15 days), then the Access More card offers a very lucrative signup bonus.  Whether it makes sense to keep the card beyond the first year, though, will depend entirely on your spending habits.  Will you spend enough to earn the 10,000 point bonus?  How much of your spend will be within the lucrative 3X categories?  And, will we find any good ways to “game” the 3X categories?

Personally, I plan to wait until I need a new phone or until I hear compelling 3X success stories (in unexpected places) from cardholders.  If / when I do get the card, I expect that I would shift all of my online travel purchases to this card.  The reason?  Sure, I would get the same 3X from the Premier or Prestige card (which offers 3X for airlines, hotels, and travel agencies), but with this card I would also make progress towards the $10K spend needed for the 10,000 point anniversary bonus.

Last updated on March 28th, 2017

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

29
Leave a Reply

avatar
16 Comment threads
13 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
Works in progress: Cash Back combos, Discover double-dips, and AT&T - Frequent MilerFrequentMilerSamGeneMy Week in Points: The Bullseye Almost Off My Back Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
Chris
Guest
Chris

If I recall, all Citi cards post Amex GC purchases as a cash advance so I don’t see why that would be any different for this card…one could dream though.

Lantean
Guest
Lantean

for this reason i set cash advance limit on all my citi cards to $0. i would hate to see a surprise charge on the statement.

andy
Guest
andy

I used Citi Prestige to buy Amex business gift card – no cash advance fee. This was on 3/13 this year.

al613
Guest
al613

If you need to switch to ATT to get a free phone consider that it will take one more credit pull.

Ash
Guest
Ash

Both I and my wife are in an At&t 10GB data share plan right now under my name. We both were thinking about getting new phones, so the timing couldn’t have been better. However, I think I can get a new phone as the signup bonus with my current At&t plan, but what about my wife? Will she need to signup for her own At&t plan. Do we have any info about that?

HoKo
Guest
HoKo

@FM Any idea how this would work for people that already have AT&T service? I am on a standard 2 year contract (some other family members are on the plan as well but I am the primary account holder). We will be eligible for normal upgrades in Jan’16 but I’d like to get a new phone now…do you think if I got a new phone using this credit card offer I could just add it to my existing plan and sell my existing phone on eBay or something?

phantasmic
Guest
phantasmic

hmm. maybe if you could somehow manage to expedite the card perhaps it could pair with this crazy offer from TCB – http://www.topcashback.com/at-and-t-wireless/ Take out a new AT&T NEXT or 2 year postpaid plan with AT&T Wireless, and receive an outstanding $350 cash back!

Mark Fink
Guest

This sounds like it might be possible to start using Google’s Fi service – https://fi.google.com/about/ – without having to pay much for the necessary Nexus 6. If I use the credit from this signup, it should just about cover the cost of the phone, then I can get 1GB of data plus unlimited voice and text for $30 per month. Not too shabby! Plus, it works in over 120 countries, so that means no more buying SIM cards when I travel. Getting more excited by the moment – or am I missing something?

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

An angle I am considering, since I don’t need a new phone and don’t want to spend two hards pulls (Cit and AT&T) is to covert an existing card to the Access More for a year. Either I give up a Dividend that is collecting dust this year or a ThankYou Preferred, but I have to be darn sure won’t lose the ThankYou points from that account in the process since each has 50k+ and I see no way to spend one down or transfer to my Prestige rather than the pooling.

By the way, still envy your Forward card!

josefismael
Guest
josefismael

Great post – looking forward to hearing more about this card….2 completely unrelated questions 🙂

-are you sure that “grandfathered” forward card still gives 5X at amazon.com? I thought that went away awhile ago…

-I’ve always had trouble with double-dipping via portal when not using the portal’s branded card. Any tips on how to make sure all your cookies and referral links are working properly?

sakthi
Guest
sakthi

How about buying 500 $ visa gift cards from giftcardmall with 5$ fee (1%) . Is this purchase considered as retail purchase with 3% cash back ?

Then we are getting effective 2% cash back + 10000 points.

per year calculation will be

12000 $ in visa gift cards = 240 $ ( 360 – 24*5$ fee) in gift cards
10000 points = 100 in gift cards
95$ annual fee

245 $ gift cards or (300 $ in travel ) equivalent to 2% cash back.

Will this work ?

And any way to convert those 12000 $ worth of gift cards into money in ur bank account ? (That would be awesome)

Any way first year 95 $ – mandatory fee ( since there is no previous year) + 56$ 1 month att service will make effective sign up bonus as 500 $ .

trackback

[…] You can get a free iPhone by signing up for the Citi AT&T Access More card and spending $2,000 (details here).  Doctor of Credit published a link to the phone’s available through this deal.  Both the […]

Ayswaryaa
Guest
Ayswaryaa

we ordered a new phone iphone 6s plus (in the basis of new customer)…suddenly we got a mail that “Unfortunately, we were unable to verify your identity with the information you provided. Your order was canceled and your credit card has not been charged”… what can we do now?? we are not having the link to order a phone.. kindly give me a solution

raj
Guest
raj

You can buy it from store and fax the receipt to citi. They will be able to credit your account. Chat with citi team and get the number from them for fax and ask them to add a note on ur account.

Go to store , buy the phone , fax the receipt , spend remaining requirement , u should get the credit back

julia
Guest
julia

i signed up and received the citi access more cc but… i was never given the link to buy the phone??? where can i find this link???

trackback

[…] if converting a ThankYou Preferred will the ThankYou points not be forfeited? See FreqeuntMiler for more thoughts on the cards. I wish ThankYou points could be transferred from one account to another instead of […]

Gene
Guest
Gene

very interesting. 

but at&t will not allow to purchase expensive phones without contract.
the contract must be at least 2 months ($50/mo is the cheapest plan).
then you have to pay off the complete retail cost of the phone.
any fee to break contract?

$650bonus
-$95annual fee
-$100(2 months of service @$50/mo)
-$694.99(retail cost so samsung s7)
=$239.99 out of pocket

someone, help me out here please. am i calculating this correctly?
does this deal have value only if you already have at&t service or plan to start new at&t service?

thanks!

trackback

[…] here).  I keep wondering if its possible to combine this deal with the free phone offered by Citi’s new AT&T Access More card.  The card offers a free phone after $2000 in spend but it requires you to have AT&T service […]