In recent weeks, reports have begun to crop up about the existence of superior credit card offers at brick-and-mortar Chase and Citi branches. For details on these offers, I’ll direct you to reports by The Miles Professor about her experiences at Chase and Citi branches. But just to whet your appetite, she found a 50,000-mile offer on the United Explorer card, a slightly lower spending requirement for the 40,000-point bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and a Citi Thank You card that offers 5 points per dollar at drug stores, supermarkets, and gas stations for one year. The Points Guy also reports that his local Chase branch has an offer for the United Club card that, unlike the publicly-available offer, has no annual fee for the first year.
Each of these offers is superior to its publicly-available counterpart, but the one that really piques my interest is the United Explorer offer. If I hadn’t recently taken advantage of a targeted 50,000-mile offer on the Explorer card, I’d apply for this one.
The Citi Thank You offer used to be available online, but now appears to be available exclusively through Citi branches, and only upon inquiry. The 5x bonus categories certainly seem tempting, but it’s difficult to justify spending a credit inquiry on a limited-time (one-year) offer that only “pays off” at high spending levels when you could, alternatively, grab a quick 50,000-point sign-up bonus with several other cards (like the United Explorer card!). Plus, Thank You points aren’t particularly valuable — they top out at about 1 cent apiece when redeemed for gift cards, used to pay off a student loan or mortgage, or donated to charity. If you also open a Citi Thank You Premier card, Thank You points can be redeemed for travel purchases at a rate of 1.33 cents per point, but, again, not worth the opportunity cost of a credit inquiry.
The bottom line? If you plan to apply for a Chase or Citi card and live close to a Chase or Citi branch, be sure to stop in and ask about the best available offers. They might very well be better than what you find on the internet!