$1,600+ In Travel Credit On American: It’s This Easy

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

Update: This offer for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is expired. Learn more about the current offer here.

Update: This offer is expired. You can find the current offer details here.

People new to this hobby are always surprised when they find out just how easy credit card sign-up bonuses are to earn. “So you’re saying I spend $X amount in Y days and then earn ____ points? What’s the catch?!”

For the most part it really is that easy.

Citi recently got more “serious” with their cards which accrue their transferrable points currency, ThankYou Rewards. Specifically:

If you apply for both of these cards correctly, you’ll end up with over $1,600 to spend on American. If you’ve read all my previous posts about these two Citi cards (and there have been lots of them), then by all means skip this post. But I figured I’d make one consolidated post with the best strategy for applying for both of these cards, so you can get $1,600+ in credit or 100,000+ points in no time.

Step 1: Apply for the Citi Prestige Card on Day 1

As I explained above, this card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months.

The card does have a $450 annual fee which isn’t waived the first year, but you’ll get a ton of value out of the card which more than offsets that annual fee. These include:

Let’s leave out all the benefits except the first, for the time being. There’s a $450 annual fee, and you get $500 worth of airline credits (these aren’t fee credits, but rather can be applied to any airline purchase, including airfare). That means you’re $50 ahead right there. And that doesn’t even account for the long list of other benefits which virtually any traveler will get value out of.

Prestige

Step 2: Apply for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card on Day 9

Citi typically requires you to wait eight days between applications for cards with them, and doesn’t allow more than two applications in any 65 day period. Assuming you haven’t applied for another Citi card recently, I’d recommend waiting until nine days after you applied for the Citi Prestige Card to apply for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

Ultimately the order of applying doesn’t really matter — you can apply for the Prestige and then Premier, or the other way around. Whatever floats your boat.

Step 3: Complete minimum spend on both cards

Each card requires $3,000 of minimum spend within the first three months to earn the sign-up bonus, so based on that decide when you want to apply for the two cards. If you have no trouble reaching the minimum spend then by all means apply for them nine days apart. If you have trouble reaching the minimum spend that quickly, then you can spread out the applications a bit more.

Once the minimum spend on both cards is complete, you should have over 100,000 ThankYou Rewards points

Step 4: Combine your ThankYou Rewards points

One of the best things about Citi ThankYou Rewards points is that they can be combined. Not just between cards for one member, but you can actually transfer points to other members as well.

Combine-Citi-ThankYou-Rewards

While points accrued through the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card can be transferred to their dozen or so airline transfer partners, the redemption values do differ otherwise. Specifically, points accrued through the Citi Prestige Card can be redeemed for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on American/US Airways. Alternatively, they can be redeemed for 1.33 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on another airline.

Citi-Prestige-Points

Once combined into the Citi Prestige Card account, those 100,000 points can be redeemed for $1,600+ towards the cost of an American ticket.

Alternatively you can transfer those points to any of Citi ThankYou Rewards’ other transfer partners, including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. Not a bad value either!

Bottom line

Both of these are fantastic sign-up bonuses, and best of all the cards are actually extremely lucrative for everyday spend beyond the sign-up bonuses as well, so I plan on holding onto at least one beyond the first year.

It’s tough to beat 100,000 easy points with the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. And if you have a spouse or other family member who can apply for cards you can boost your earnings even further.

And that doesn’t even factor in all the other awesome perks you get from the card, like the airline credit, lounge access, Global Entry credit, etc.

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Comments

  1. this post simply insults intelligence of your readers. there is no other way to say this. you’re smarter about it than other bloggers but still, extremely insulting.

  2. Doesn’t 50,000 points for the Prestige seem a little low? I agree that 50,000 points for the Premier is a good offer but it seems Citi (and Amex too) has occasional offers that are more like100,000 points for the cards with annual fees at $400+.

  3. Lucky, My intelligence is not insulted, but maybe I’m not as smart as Lantean and other readers. I have kind of ignored the points cards, but as my Citi AA Exec platinum nears its anniversary date, both these cards seem like a good deal. thanks!

    BTW, I’m just sick about not having free time to fly on JAL 1st again soon. I was thinking JAL JFK-NRT-HKG, then returning on Cathy Pacific back homer in 1st. Good way to try two of the best 1st experiences in one trip. 🙂

  4. Ben, you’re better than this. I expect the garbage click bait headlines, basic useless information, and heaps of credit cards links from Gary, but I expected better from you.

  5. lantean, which aspect is insulting? i have no issues with bloggers pushing credit cards that are great, and the prestige and premier are actually great cards. bloggers have to earn a living too… all the fantastic posts on hotel and flight reviews are “unpaid” and done solely for the love of travel. cc affiliate links are the main source of income.

  6. @Lucky: Do you know if you can use the 100K TYP to purchase AA miles from AA at the 1.6 cents valuation? it seems like this is a way to convert TYP to AA miles during one of AA’s Sales.

  7. Wow! Really pushing these cards hard. Are you getting a better deal from Citi than Amex and Chase? I don’t think I can remember you pushing any other card this much.

  8. @ Nic — Because they’re actually new cards and they’re cards a lot of people don’t have. I’ve personally switched a vast majority of my spend to these cards, and I think they’re great.

  9. @ Lumpy — The travel has to be booked through Citi’s ThankYou Rewards portal, so unfortunately you couldn’t buy miles at that rate.

  10. @ phil — But that doesn’t factor in the $450 annual fee. Ultimately not trying to pull a fast one on anyone here. Would rather undervalue than overvalue. Agree otherwise!

  11. I’m thinking of doing this as part of the next churn. Does it matter when I do my other applications (day 1 or 9)?

  12. @ Brian — Given that they’re giving you so many perks, including $500 of airline credit the first year, I’d say that’s more than fair, personally. There may be targeted offers out there which are better long term, but I wouldn’t count on anything better being publicly available.

  13. I can only hope that some of the above commenters upset with Lucky having the audacity to make money off his blog are just trolling.

    Anyway, thanks for the alert on JAL availability yesterday. Will be traveling in true international F for the first time next February. Keep up the good work.

  14. “@ Nic — Because they’re actually new cards and they’re cards a lot of people don’t have”

    You can’t really claim that the reason you’re pushing it so much is because of it’s newness when the IHG card was around for many years, and you only recently started pushing it when the best offer (which was lower than the best offer for the years you were mostly ignoring it) was paying an affiliate fee

  15. This is becoming a harder thing to do.

    $6,000 spend in 3 months
    $500 visa gift card = ~$5 fee
    12 gift cards = $60 in fees

    Route 1:
    Buy 12 gift cards and cross fingers that the Target employee allows you load them to your card in two visits.

    Route 2:
    Buy checks at wally world for a few bucks, deposit into bank account.

    Liquidating 12 gift cards is not as easy as it use to be. Especially if the Target or Walmart you frequent requires your method of payment to have a name that matches your ID. Also, two trips and loading 12 gift cards is time consuming and somewhat annoying.

  16. @ Rob — I’ve been “pushing” the IHG card for years. I’ve written about it many times before, and applied for it long before the card was part of my affiliate network.

  17. Lucky, I would pay you ~$200 a year just for your blog’s content. The fact that I get a credit card with 50k miles and a bank pays you that ~$200 instead is just icing on the cake.

  18. I should know this . When you say $500 first year you mean $250 through end of calendar year than another $250 in January next calendar year . Than $250 yearly after annual fee is paid again ?

  19. well, we have to read these posts, so we can get to the nice trip reports. $1600 in travel for two credit cards from Citi is not bad, but not amazing either. And the transfer partners are not great yet for CITI- Singapore first class space is very hard to get.
    There was an AMEX business platinum offer going around the forums until a few days ago, for 150k AMEX points — that’s only one application.

  20. @ Donn — Correct, so you get $250 now and $250 in 2016. Then after a full 12 months you’ll be charged the second year’s annual fee, and you can decide if you want to keep it or not.

  21. I wish more bloggers would comment on reports that Citi’s rates for some AA flights are higher than if we went on aa.com or a OTA. I haven’t read enough on this, but there are several reports on FT.

  22. With the $500 in airline credit ($250 in 2015, $250 in 2016), plus 50,000 TY points (so another $500+ in value there, plus Global Entry credit ($100), Prestige is definitely a great product to get.

    Not sure I’d keep it after the first year. Another $250 credit means annual fee of $450 is offset somewhat. If you are an AA flyer, the lounge access may be worth it, or if you can use 4th night free benefit a couple times. Otherwise, might be smart to get Citi ThankYou Premier.

    One thing to know: award tickets don’t get the travel delay protection with the Citi cards, whereas Chase Sapphire Preferred if you charge the fees/taxes you do get the protection. Due to this, some of the travel expenses may be better off on CSP vs. Citi Prestige.

    I heard this card is shipped to people via FedEx overnight? Is that true?

  23. Ben,

    I have a question about Citi’s 65 day policy – does that mean you can’t get 2 of any cards within 65 days, or just 2 personal cards?

    I was approved of the Citi Business AAdvantage card a week ago, and plan to apply for the Prestige card now. How long do I need to wait before I can apply for the ThankYou Premier card? If the policy applies to any 2 cards then seems like I will need to wait until 65 days after the application of the Citi Business AAdvantage card. However, if it only applies to personal cards, then looks like I can do the strategy you proposed and apply for the ThankYou Premier card in just a week after I get the Prestige card.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  24. If you don’t like Lucky’s posts then stop reading. I have over 1.2 million miles and since I started reading this blog I added 200,000 more and now I have 1.4 million Mike’s. And yes, I put over $1 million per year on my cards. Luckjecan keep insulting me and keep increasing my totals. Thanks Lucky !

  25. (This time from a new Tom)

    @Dave: The Citi travel portal does eventually get to the “real” price but you do sometimes have to call and insist. So there is a bit of caveat emptor here, but it comes right in the end.

    @Eric: Yes but unfortunately Citi appears to be extremely, extremely stingy with the targeted offer — so far.

    @Mark: I agree with Lucky completely. You are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, this blog’s most loyal reader. In fact, you get my Best Comment of the Day prize since timing matters . . . especially in comedy!

  26. Nice post.

    I’m doing it the other way round. I figure the premier is the better offer (no cash up front), and if they decline my second app (I’ve been churning a longggg time and starting to hit obstacles that the reconsideration line doesn’t solve), I have the one I want more.

    If folks wanted the perks of the prestige card (because they don’t have the citi-executive, or some other reasons), then I would do it in the order you said.

    Is there a no fee card that gives you a 10k point bonus too?

  27. Lucky–I remember a while ago someone asking for a good exit strategy for someone who had to step out of cc churning for a year or two (say for home buying etc). Did you ever get around to doing a post for that?

  28. Remember for the Prestige card, you can also get $100 off the annual fee by applying for the card in person. I have no citibank account but just walked in a branch and got the same card with only a $350 annual fee. Offer is 30k plus another 30k after 12 months but I think still better because 100 less on annual fee.

  29. Totally in agreement with the comments shaming Lucky for making a living. I personally don’t purchase anything from companies that advertise. Sure, that means I don’t wear clothes, eat food, or receive medical care, but at least I can sleep at night (on a bed of leaves) secure in the knowledge that I haven’t helped any person or organization that is trying to sustain itself. This blog is solely for our benefit — why should Lucky get anything out of it? #snarkasm

  30. @ Gaurav — Had that post on my “list,” and will get to it ASAP. Thanks for the reminder!

  31. @ Seanny — It applies to any two cards. So you’d need to wait 65 days from when you applied for the business card before you apply for the third card. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

  32. Citi Prestige has a 100K targeted offer?
    Who has been targeted and what is the code?

    I contacted Citi CS rep in June 2015 who old me there were no targeted offers for the Citi Prestige at 100k only 50K.

  33. Lucky is there a way to avoid the two hard inquiries on your credit report when you apply for these cards?
    If possible can you please email me with these tips?

  34. I’ve looked at the prestige website and the global entry perk isnt listed anywhere…is it possible the offer has been changed since the original posting?

  35. Hello Ben,

    I had always been irked when paying too much for flying; this blog (and, particularly this post) motivated me to try flying for really cheap. Thanks to this post for Citi Prestige & TY Premier cards, my wife applied and got approved for these cards; and, there is a very good chance that we will be visiting Europe and saving big on airfare.

    I also applied (and, got approved) for Citi/AAdvantage Executive and Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select cards. The Executive card provides 75,000 miles and the Platinum card provides 50,000 miles. I am pretty sure I can add these miles and we can fly to India (during shoulder/off-peak seasons) for cheap in an Economy class. I have some questions, though:

    1) What were your reasons to suggest the combo Citi Prestige+TYP cards over combo Citi Executive/Platinum cards? Was it due to points vs miles or spending limits?
    2) As I said earlier, I have just started into the hobby. If we want to fly in First or Business class (atleast, when visiting Europe; Paris, for example), is there a way we can do this just by churning various cards for miles/points? I know this is an open question, and by the way discussion, may be I can glean something more.

    Thanks,
    Akshat

  36. this may be a newbie question (which I am to this), but if I apply for 2 cards within 9 days, is that 2 hard inquiries on my credit or just 1? will that approach lower my credit badly? thanks in advance!

  37. Why would i Pay $450 Annual Fee? I travel once Every Few Years,and am just trying to accumulate miles for that. If i wanted to fly AA, I would (and did) get AA Platinum Card, for 50k miles, then Business Citi AA for another 50k, both with no Annual Fee, First Year. I dont need to get $250 Airline Credit because im not flying This Year anyway. I can MS miles cheaper than Paying $450. Come on.

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