Who Is Citi ThankYou Rewards Good For?
As far as credit points programs go, Citibank is actually an old player in the game, more akin to American Express Membership Rewards than Chase Ultimate Rewards or the Capital One Venture program.
The original idea for the program was to reward you for all your banking, no matter what type it is, but over the years Citi has added several benefits specifically for travelers, such as airline point transfers.
Unlike many credit card reward programs, you can earn Citi ThankYou points for activities with your checking account as well as your credit card, with additional bonuses available for small business checking accounts. This means that in situations in which you need or want to use a debit card rather than a credit card, you can still earn double or triple points on that spending.
Coupled with an ability to pay bills online with points, the ThankYou program is a good fit for individuals looking for a program with rewards they can use for both travel and everyday spending. Rewards can even be used for student loan and monthly mortgage payment rebates.
|POINTS TRANSFER PARTNER
The main downside of the program is that many of the redemption options come with a value below 1 cent per point, which is a standard benchmark. But as the program continues to add airline point transfer partners and strengthen its travel benefits, it becomes increasingly competitive.
How Can You Use Citi ThankYou Points?
Citi ThankYou points can be used on a variety of products and gift cards at published redemption rates available on ThankYou.com. With a minimum of 10,000 points in your account, you can use Citi’s “Your Wish Fulfilled” feature to request a custom reward that is not currently offered.
When you want to book travel with your Citi ThankYou points, you can book cash fares directly through Citi’s online travel booking tool at a rate starting at 1 cent per point and pay the difference with your Citi card if you do not have enough ThankYou points available.
If you have a Premier or Prestige card, your points go further. Premier holders get a 25 percent bump on redemptions for cash fare travel, while Prestige card holders can use their points for any airline at a 1.33 cent value per point.
Most importantly, you can also transfer your points to 12 different frequent flyer partners, which typically offers the best value.
- Many airline transfer partners
- Points can be used for any type of travel through the ThankYou travel center, including airlines, hotels, rental cars, cruises, travel packages and more
- You can buy points in 1,000-point bundles at $25 per 1,000 points to top off your balance
- Points transfers can take up to 14 days to post
- Point transfers are only available for Premier and Prestige cardholders
- Points earned through certain methods are not transferable
- When purchasing products directly through ThankYou.com, the number of points required for each item depends on the type of card you have
- Cruises, travel packages and all-inclusive vacations can only be booked by phone, but are eligible for upgrades, on-board credits, and complimentary excursions
Best value awards
As the Citi ThankYou program gives you the option to both transfer points to airlines as well as use your points at a fixed rate to buy cash fares, the best use of points would be to redeem them for miles.
If you are looking for premium travel, the best use of Citi ThankYou points is as a transfer to Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines, the two most flexible and powerful airline programs connected to ThankYou rewards.
Worst value awards
Though Citi’s packed online shopping center can be very tempting, especially when you’re carrying a high point balance, using your ThankYou points in redemption categories besides travel will get you a very low return on your spend.
Many gift cards, such as the $25 Chili’s gift card that requires 3,500 points to redeem, carry a less than 1-point-per-cent value, which is the absolute minimum you should always aim for when redeeming any points or miles.
Associated Credit Cards
Three main cards funnel into the Citi ThankYou program, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card, Citi Prestige Card, and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card (not available for new applicants).
The Premier card has high earning opportunities, particularly for travelers, with:
- 3 points per $1 spent on Travel including Gas
- 2 points per $1 spent on Dining Out and Entertainment
- 1 point per dollar on everything else.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Citi Private Pass event access
- Concierge service
The card also has a $95 annual fee and no standard sign-up bonus, though sometimes you can get up to a 50,000-point bonus during special promotional periods.
For travelers, the next tier Prestige card also carries potent benefits, including Priority Pass airport lounge access, $250 air travel statement credit and complimentary fourth night at luxury hotels. The $450-annual-fee card earns double points on dining and entertainment and triple points on airfare and hotels, plus it comes with a 40,000-point sign-up bonus.
The introductory Preferred card has no annual fee, no standard sign-up bonus and earns double points on only dining and entertainment. It also does not offer a bonus when booking airlines through the Citi travel center.