With 15 airline transfer partners, Citi ThankYou Rewards are relatively flexible and can get you some great back-door deals. But only two premium cards let you get full value from the points, and they still don’t measure up to Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards.
What Are Citi ThankYou Rewards?
ThankYous are the loyalty points that banking giant Citi gives customers for certain banking activity and spending on a handful of specific credit cards. You can also earn them by converting the cash rewards earned with a Citi Double Cash Card into ThankYou points, at a rate of up to 1 point per cent.
The Citi ThankYou program has two tiers, and it’s crucial to know which one you’re in. Customers with the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier card (both of which have annual fees) earn points that can be transferred to more than a dozen travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Other cards earn points that can be used only through Citi for cash, statement credits, and gift cards. They can’t be transferred to travel partners, which makes them less flexible and less valuable.
Which Cards Earn Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Citi Rewards+ Card
- Citi Premier Card
- Citi Prestige Card
- Citi Rewards+ Student Card
- AT&T Access Card from Citi
How to Use Citi ThankYou Rewards
ThankYou Rewards have a flat value of 1 cent each when redeemed through Citi, but they can be worth more if you use them to book travel through the ThankYou Travel Center or transfer them to a partner program. Here’s an overview of the ways you can use your ThankYou points:
- Transfer to airlines. Premium cardholders can transfer points to 15 partner airlines, at a 1:1 rate.
- Book travel through Citi. Premium members can book through the ThankYou Travel Center at 1.25 cents per point. For everyone else, 1 point = 1 cent.
- Gift cards. Buy gift cards at popular restaurants, department stores, travel companies and other retailers. 1 point = 1 cent.
- Shopping with partners. Use your points for purchases or statement credits at a number of popular online retailers. Points are worth around 0.8 cents each.
- Cash back. Get a check mailed to you, for 0.5 to 1 cent per point.
- Statement credits. Redeem points for a statement credit, at 0.5 to 1 cent each.
- Mortgage and student loan payments. Checks are payable to your financial lending institution. 1 point = 1 cent.
- Transfer. Share your points with any Citi cardholder, which can increase their value.
Transferring to Travel Partners
Citi’s travel partners form a vast global network that can provide great value for international travelers. However, there is currently only one domestic airline partner, JetBlue.
ThankYou points transfer at a consistent rate of 1:1, however, there are often redemption promotions that offer an increased rate when transferring to one or more of Citi’s global travel partners. The one exception is Jet Blue which transfers at 1000 points to 800 JetBlue TrueBlue points (although Chairman, Prestige, Premier card holders still get a 1:1 ratio). Points must be transferred in increments of 1,000 points. There is no fee for transferring, but depending on the program it can take up to 14 days for your transfer to post to your airline account.
While it does require a fair amount of research, transferring ThankYou rewards to travel partners may get you the most bang from your points. You can also uncover back-door options that are not promoted by Citi.
For example, if you transfer your ThankYou Rewards to Singapore Airline’s Krisflyer Miles, you can fly Singapore Airlines First Class From Los Angeles to Tokyo for 107,000 miles. The last time we checked, you had to pay more than $10,000 to fly that route in the middle of March—booking with points would yield you 10 cents a point. You can also transfer ThankYous to Etihad and book American Airlines rewards flights from the U.S. to Europe for 50,000 miles in business class or 62,500 miles in first class.
Here’s a list of the current Citi ThankYou travel partners:
- Avianca Lifemiles (1:1)
- Aeromexico Club Premier (1:1)
- Asia Miles (1:1)
- Emirates Skywards (1:1)
- Etihad Guest (1:1)
- Eva Air (1:1)
- Flying Blue (1:1)
- JetBlue Trueblue (1:1 for Chairman, Prestige, Premier card holders, 1:.8 for ThankYou Preferred and Citi Rewards+ card holders)
- JetPrivilege (1:1)
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich (1:1)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer (1:1)
- Qatar Privilege Club (1:1)
- Singapore Airlines (1:1)
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus (1:1)
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (1:1)
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (1:1)
Booking Travel Through Citi ThankYou Travel Center
Booking travel through the ThankYou Travel Center simplifies the redemption process and eliminates the need to research. With most Citi cards, your points are worth 1 cent each—which is okay but not fantastic value. The exception, once again, is Citi Premier card holders, who enjoy a 1.25 cent-per-mile rate.
It’s worth mentioning that if you have a Citi Premier card, you can combine your points from other, lower-tiered cards. Also: airlines will treat your Citi ThankYou Travel Center ticket redemptions as a paid fare. This means you’ll earn frequent flyer miles and you won’t have to worry about whether award tickets (the ones booked with points) are even available, a common problem.
Buying Gift Cards
You can choose to redeem your points for gift cards from over 100 popular retailers. Each ThankYou Reward point is worth 1 cent in nearly all cases. There are occasional promotions. This may not be the savviest way to spend your points, but it’s not horrible value and can be a good way to cash out smaller amounts of points.
Shopping with Partners
Citi provides two options for shopping with partners. You can transfer your points to Sears’ Shop Your Way loyalty program at a rate of 1 Reward point = 12 Shop Your Way Points. These points can be used to make purchases in-store and online at Sears and Kmart (which, amazingly, does still exist).
You can also use your points to make purchases online at Amazon, merchants that accept PayPal, Expedia (but only for “Pay Now” bookings at hotels) or Live Nation. You can also use your points for statement credits at 1800Flowers.com and BestBuy.com. Points redeemed in this way are usually worth about 0.8 cents each.
The upshot: there are a lot of different options for spending your Citi ThankYou Rewards, but they provide subpar value compared to the industry standard of 1 cent per point. This is not a great redemption option.
If you’d like to trade your ThankYou Rewards for cash, you can redeem them for a check made payable to you in denominations of $50 and $100, at a low, low value of 0.5 cents per point— unless you have the Citi Prestige card, which is 1 cent per point. It will take one to three weeks for the check to reach you. This is one of the worst ways to spend your Reward points.
The same redemption rates apply for statement credits. So this option is definitely not worth it for most cardholders, even if you have the Citi Prestige card.
You can redeem Points for a statement credit, which will be applied to your account in one to three weeks in denominations of $10, $15, $25, $50, $100, $175 or $250. They will reduce your balance, but they don’t count as payments. You’ll still have to make the minimum monthly payment for your card.
Make Mortgage and Student Loan Payments
This is an unusual option, and one of the few ways to get the industry standard of 1 cent per point on all cards. This could be useful for some people to reduce monthly payments, but it’s complicated to set up and doesn’t provide any additional value.
Transfer to a Friend
Citi has one of the least restrictive point sharing systems. There are a few ways you can squeeze extra value out of your points by transferring your points to a friend or family member.
- If someone you know is a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier cardholder, you can gain access to their better benefits.
- If someone you know has elite status with one of Citi’s airline transfer partners, you can transfer your points to them and they can book the award for you, along with elite perks.
Keep in mind that shared points expire in 90 days, so be sure to have your plans ready. Also, there is a 100,000-point limit for both giving and receiving.
All in all, Citi ThankYou Reward points are relatively versatile, and you can find some really good value in transferring your points or booking travel. However, if you don’t have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card, you won’t have access to the best redemption options.