Best Ways to Use Citi ThankYou Points
Citi's ThankYou program has been around for a long time, but in recent years it's emerged as one of the top credit card reward programs. Its strength is in the many ways that you can redeem your points. The challenge is finding the most valuable uses for your rewards.
The different credit cards that offer ThankYou points
Citi, a Credit Cards House advertiser, offers several credit cards that earn points in the ThankYou rewards program, but each allows points to be used in many different ways.
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students are entry-level cards that have no annual fee and offer 2x points for spending on dining and entertainment. You earn 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere, and points can be redeemed for many options including merchandise, gift cards, travel reservations, cash back and loan repayments. Points can also be transferred to JetBlue.
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 3x points for all travel and gas purchases, 2x points on dining out and entertainment and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for airline tickets through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, compared to gift cards. You also have the option of transferring points directly to participating airline, retail and hotel loyalty programs (including Hilton, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and more).
There's a $95 annual fee for this card.
Citi Prestige® Card
The Citi Prestige® Card is a high-end card offering 3x points for air travel and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. It also includes benefits like airport lounge access and numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies. As with the ThankYou® Premier card, you can transfer points to airline, hotel, and retail partners. Your points are also worth 25% more when redeemed for airfare through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, compared to gift cards.
Examining the value of each rewards option
Cash back: Citi allows you to redeem your ThankYou points for cash back or statement credits, but it only offers you one half of a cent per point redeemed. Unfortunately, this makes cash back the least valuable use of your points.
Shopping with points: Citi offers you ways to shop with points, or pay bills with points, but these are also low-value options. In most cases, you'll receive between 0.5 and 1.0 cents per point redeemed, which is still a poor value.
Gift cards: Citi offers a variety of retail gift cards that you can redeem your ThankYou points for. These options offer 1 cent in value per point redeemed. This is a decent value if you have only the ThankYou Preferred or ThankYou Preferred for College Students.
Loan repayments: Citi will allow you to redeem your ThankYou points for a home mortgage or student loan payment to any lender. Furthermore, Citi offers 1 cent in value per point redeemed. For ThankYou Preferred cardholders, this is considered to be a good value as it offsets your cash needed for these payments.
Purchasing reservations though the Citi Travel Center: Citi offers its own online travel agency, through which you can redeem your points. You always get 1 cent in value per point redeemed towards hotels, car rentals, cruises and activities, but it's possible for some cardholders to receive greater value when redeeming points for airfare. ThankYou Premier and Prestige cardholders receive 1.25 cents per point towards airfare.
Transferring points to partners: The ability to transfer ThankYou points to airline, hotel and retail partners is a valuable feature. The Premier and Prestige cards offer the ability to transfer points to miles with more than a dozen different frequent flyer programs and points with one hotel. You can also transfer points to the Sears rewards program. However, the value you receive for each point transferred depends on the value of the miles you receive. Here are some of the best options for airline, hotel, and retail point transfers:
Flying Blue: This is the frequent flyer program of Air France, KLM and others. It's also part of the Skyteam alliance which allows you to redeem miles for flights on Delta, AeroMexico, Korean Air, Alitalia, and others. This program offers several excellent values including round-trip, economy award fights to Europe for just 50,000 miles.
Singapore Airlines: Singapore Airlines is recognized as having some of the best service of any carrier. It's also a member of the Star Alliance, which allows you to redeem its miles for flights on partners like United, Air Canada, Lufthansa and others. The primary benefit of Singapore Airlines is the ability to redeem miles for business- and first-class tickets on its flights, which it doesn't offer to its partners.
Etihad Guest: This middle-eastern carrier has a valuable frequent-flyer program that can allow some good awards on its numerous partners.
JetBlue TrueBlue: JetBlue's TrueBlue is an excellent frequent-flyer program that offers awards on any flight they operate. But sadly, the ThankYou points program only offers you 500 TrueBlue points for every 1,000 ThankYou points redeemed. And since TrueBlue points are generally worth 1.5 to 2 cents towards JetBlue fares, it's difficult to receive more value from these transfers than you would booking flights directly through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
Other airlines: Other transfer partners include Asia Miles, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Jet Airways, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar, Thai Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Most of the time, these airlines provide very little value per mile, especially for travel to and from the United States. However, the ability to transfer miles to these programs can be very useful if you already have miles and need to "top off" your balance to earn a specific reward fare.
Hilton Honors: Hilton is the only hotel transfer partner in the Citi ThankYou program. You’ll receive 1,500 Honors points for every 1,000 ThankYou points redeemed, but there are sometimes promos that allow you to transfer at a better rate. Hilton Honors points can be redeemed for award nights at over 4,600 properties around the world.
Sears: You can redeem one ThankYou point for 12 points in the Sears Shop Your Way rewards program. Each Sears point is worth about 0.01 cents each, which allows you to realize 1.2 cents in value towards merchandise from Sears. This is a better value than gift cards, but not as good as some airline reservations, frequent flyer miles or hotel points.
The Citi ThankYou rewards program continues to provide excellent value by offering a range of different rewards. Many cardholders are happy to receive about 1 cent in value their points by redeeming them to repay loans or to purchase gift cards. Yet you often can find even more value by transferring your rewards to points and miles with airline, hotel and retail partners. Furthermore, ThankYou Premier and Prestige cardholders will always receive more value by booking airfare through the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel center. By understanding the value of each reward redemption option, you can make the most of your ThankYou points.
First published , last updated
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.