When it comes to flexible rewards programs, most consumers are looking for multiple redemption options including statement credits, gift cards, and travel. Ideally, they also want to be able to transfer points to airline or hotel loyalty programs to get more bang for their buck.
The Citi ThankYou program offers a little bit of everything in this respect, even though its most lucrative redemption options are geared to people who travel. Before we dive into the specifics of this program and how you can use the rewards you earn, let’s go over the flexible rewards cards you’ll need to get started.
Citi ThankYou Credit Cards
The Citi ThankYou Preferred is a no-fee rewards card that helps you earn 2 points per $1 spent on entertainment and dining and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. In lieu of a signup bonus, it is currently offering 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
The Citi ThankYou Premier is typically considered one step up from the Preferred, partly because it offers 50,000 points after you use your card for $4,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Since you also earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel (including gas), 2x points on dining out and entertainment, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases, this card can be smart for consumers who spend a lot in those categories and don’t mind the $95 annual fee (waived the first year). You’ll also have no foreign transaction fees when you use this card abroad, and you’ll get 25% more out of your points when you use them to book airfare through the Citi travel portal.
The Citi Prestige is this bank’s answer to competing travel cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express. While it’s not currently offering a signup bonus, you do get perks such as a complimentary 4th night on hotel bookings, $250 air credit each year, $100 Global Entry application fee credit, Priority Pass Select Membership, no foreign transaction fees, and other perks. You’ll also earn 3 points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels, 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on select entertainment, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases, along with 25% “more” toward airfare when you book through the Citi travel portal. Still, this card’s $450 annual fee is a bit to stomach without an initial signup bonus.
Other Ways to Earn Citi ThankYou Points
While signup bonuses on Citi credit cards offer the easiest way to rack up points in a hurry, there are other ways to earn Citi ThankYou points fast. For example, Citi occasionally offers special Citi ThankYou promotions to consumers who open a checking or savings account and keep a certain amount of money on deposit.
With their credit cards, you can also take special care to maximize bonus categories like dining out or travel just by making sure you always use your card for bonused purchases.
How Can You Use Citi ThankYou Points?
One of the biggest benefits of this rewards program is just how flexible the points you earn become. For example:
- You can use your points to book travel through the Citi travel portal — and even score 25% more airfare with the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier.
- You can transfer your points to one of 15 airline transfer partners.
- You can redeem points for statement credits, merchandise, or gift cards.
While there are always exceptions, the best way to get the most value from your points is by transferring them to Citi’s travel partners. This will let you get “more bang for your buck” provided the redemption you make after your points are transferred is a good one.
Transfer partners Citi offers include:
- Air France / Flying Blue: 1,000:1,300 for a limited time (promo ends August 29, 2018)
- jetBlue: 1,000: 500
- Asia Miles: 1,000:1,000
- Avianca LifeMiles: 1,000:1,000
- Etihad Guest: 1,000:1,000
- Eva Air: 1,000:1,000
- Garuda Indonesia: 1,000:1,000
- Jet Privilege: 1,000:1,000
- Malaysia Airlines: 1,000:1,000
- Qantas: 1,000:1,000
- Qatar Privilege Club: 1,000:1,000
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 1,000:1,000
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus: 1,000:1,000
- Turkish Airlines: 1,000:1,000
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 1,000:1,000
When we say points are usually worth more when you transfer to an airline partner, here’s what we mean: Imagine for a moment you sign up for the Citi Prestige card to earn 50,000 bonus points and transfer those points to Air France/Flying Blue. For 50,000 miles, you could potentially fly round-trip to Europe from the mainland U.S.
Now imagine you used your points to book the same flight through the portal instead. An Air France flight to Europe that costs only 50,000 miles could cost as much as $1,500 in cash. Even with you getting 25% more value when you use your points for airfare through the portal, you would still pay 120,000 points for a flight that could have cost more than half off had you transferred points out of Citi and into an Air France/Flying Blue account.
Then again, booking travel through the Citi portal lets you avoid having to worry over award availability, blackout dates, or capacity controls. When you keep your points in the Citi program, they are much easier to use — even though it typically means scoring a lower rate of return. You can also book hotels and rental cars through the Citi travel portal, which can be smart if you don’t need airfare but want to cover the other components of any trip you’re planning.
Still, the least lucrative option for redeeming your points is going to be statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise. You will get less than one cent per point with each of these options, and in some cases, much less.
At the end of the day, there are myriad ways to earn and redeem Citi ThankYou points — and plenty of ways to use them. While transferring points to an airline partner will almost always yield a more lucrative redemption, it’s nice to know you can cash in points for other types of travel as well as statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise. Generally speaking, the more options you have as a consumer, the better off you’ll be.