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Many consumers are aware that credit cards can offer them a variety of benefits, such as those that are partnered with airlines and hotel brands. However, for travelers who enjoy the cruise experience, there are also rewards credit card options available.
Credit cards for cruises work similarly to hotel and airline credit cards in that they provide points for purchases made with the card that can ultimately be redeemed for a cruise or travel-related spending in the future. Cruise credit cards are not a great fit for everyone, but they can be valuable to those who prefer to hit the open seas.
Are Co-Branded Credit Cards for Cruises a Good Deal?
The majority of cruise credit cards are co-branded, meaning they are offered by a credit card issuer and a specific cruise line. Because of the co-branded nature of credit cards for cruises, cardholders are limited as far as how and when they can redeem accumulated points.
Only the particular cruise line accepts rewards points from co-branded credit cards, and the rewards cannot typically be redeemed for other perks like cash back or discounts on merchandise. Most cruise credit cards also have annual fees that make them less attractive to credit card users who do not spend much on the card each year.
Choosing the Best Cruise Credit Card
Although there are a few caveats to cruise credit cards, certain travelers may benefit from their use over time. Choosing the best cruise credit card starts by evaluating the features of the card, followed closely by looking over the rewards potential from purchases. If the benefits and points add up to significant savings for the cardholder, it may be worth utilizing a cruise credit card as a go-to tool.
It is also important for cardholders to review the rewards redemption options before signing up for a cruise credit card. The most valuable advantage is having the ability to book a cruise directly from earned points, which some cards offer.
The following broad travel credit card is worth reviewing for frequent travelers based on their benefits. Otherwise, if you are a frequent cruise traveler, see if a rewards card is offered by the company.
Citi ThankYou Premier
on Citi’s secure website
Citi ThankYou Premier
- Annual Fee: $0 intro for the first year; $95 after that
- APR: 16.24% – 25.24% variable APR
- Benefits: Earn 3x on travel related purchases, 2x points on dining and entertainment, and 1x points on all other purchases
- Category: Travel Credit Card
- Penalty APR of 29.99%
- No foreign transaction fee
- A late fee of up to $38
The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card is not a co-branded cruise credit card but instead allows cardmembers to earn points on all purchases. Cardholders earn three times the points on travel-related purchases, including gas stations, two times the points on dining and entertainment, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
The credit card also offers a bonus to new cardmembers—up to 50,000 points when at least $4,000 is spent in the first three months after opening an account. The ThankYou points earned with the credit card have a higher value when redeemed for airline purchases, but redemption for cruise purchases is a one-to-one point ratio. ThankYou rewards points may also be transferred to any participating loyalty program through Citi. This rewards credit card is most valuable to cardholders who want flexibility in redeeming rewards over time, mostly for travel-related purchases.