How To Redeem Citi ThankYou Points?

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.

I’ve written extensively about Citi upping their game lately when it comes to personal credit cards, as they’ve greatly improved the value proposition of the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. These are both cards I’ve picked up in the past couple of months and have shifted a large portion of my credit card spend to.

Details of the two Citi offers

The Citi Prestige Card is the “premium” card (intended to compete more with the links of The Platinum Card® from American Express), and has a $450 annual fee. That being said, it has tons of perks which help offset that, including:

Meanwhile the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), and is intended to compete more with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card. What makes the card compelling is that it offers a great return on everyday spend, as I’ll cover in more detail below.

Comparing return on everyday spend

Not only do both these cards offer great perks, but they offer a really compelling return on everyday spend.

Specifically the Citi Prestige Card offers the following bonus categories:

  • 3x points on air travel and hotels
  • 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • 1x point for all other purchases

Meanwhile the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers the following bonus categories:

  • 3x points on travel
  • 3x points on gas
  • 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • 1x point on all other purchases

So the lower annual fee card actually offers more bonus categories, which is quite normal.

But what do you do with Citi ThankYou points?

Both of these cards offer great perks and among the most compelling bonus categories of any card. The elephant in the room is what you’re supposed to do with the points.

Transferrable points currencies are awesome, and a great way to hedge against devaluations. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways, Korean, Singapore, United, etc. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Air Canada, ANA, British Airways, Delta, etc. Those are some great transfer partners.

While Citi ThankYou has a good number of transfer partners, many of them just aren’t great programs. The funny thing is that Citi ThankYou partners with a lot of programs from airlines you’d want to fly, but not necessarily the frequent flyer programs through which you’d want to redeem miles for travel on those airlines (in other words, you’d rather redeem for travel on Qatar Airways through American AAdvantage than through Qatar’s own program, given that rates are better).

Citi-ThankYou-Points

So yeah, Citi ThankYou partners with Hilton HHonors and EVA Air Infinity MileageLands and Garuda Indonesia and Malaysia Airlines Enrich and Qantas Frequent Flyer… only none of those are especially compelling programs.

Yes, some of the programs have “sweet spot” redemptions. But they’re very niche redemptions, and not really a reason to pick up either card.

But all things considered I think I think there a couple of best ways to redeem ThankYou points, which is how I plan on using mine:

Transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer

Citi ThankYou is a 1:1 transfer partner with Singapore KrisFlyer, which is among my favorite frequent flyer programs. Singapore blocks a vast majority of their award space to members of partner frequent flyer programs, so for the most part the only way to book Suites Class is through their own program directly.

Citi-Prestige-Sign-Up-2

Not only are redemption rates on Singapore Airlines quite reasonable through KrisFlyer, but they’re also largely reasonable for travel on Star Alliance partner airlines.

Will the KrisFlyer program be devalued at some point? Probably. But you have to take at least somewhat of a short term approach in this hobby whenever possible. And as of now Singapore KrisFlyer is the program I use most for converting my transferrable points (since they partner with all four major transferrable points currencies).

Towards paid travel on American/US Airways

Citi ThankYou points can also be redeemed as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase. For a vast majority of transferrable points currencies that doesn’t represent a great value… but for Citi ThankYou it does, in my opinion.

What’s interesting is that the redemption rates differ based on the type of card you have.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has the following structure for redeeming ThankYou points towards the cost of travel purchases:

Citi-Premier

Meanwhile the Citi Prestige Card has the following structure for redeeming ThankYou points towards the cost of travel purchases:

Citi-Prestige-Points

As you can see, the Citi Prestige offers better value on redemptions in many cases, and the best part is that you can combine ThankYou points between accounts. So you can combine points between the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card pretty easily.

That means if you have both cards, all points can be redeemed for 1.6 cents towards the cost of a ticket purchase on American/US Airways. As an American flyer, that’s a fantastic redemption value.

That’s why I’m putting virtually all my credit card spend on these cards. I earn 3x points per dollar spent on a vast majority of travel purchases through the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. That’s the equivalent of earning 4.8% cash back towards travel on American with all my travel purchases, which is about as good of a return as I get on any card.

Other travel purchases can be a deal too

Even if you’re not redeeming towards travel on American/US Airways, this could still represent a better value than what’s offered by many other cards. For example, say you just have the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which has the lower annual fee of the two cards.

It offers 3x points on travel/gas and 2x points on dining. At a minimum each point can be redeemed for 1.25 towards the cost of a flight, hotel, car rental, or cruise. That’s like a return of 3.75% on travel/gas purchases and 2.5% on dining. That’s not the absolute best return out there, but also not half bad.

Bottom line

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t find Citi ThankYou Rewards points to be quite as valuable as Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points, as the number of good uses of them is somewhat limited. That being said, for the time being I’m still putting a vast majority of my spend on the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. I love using them for transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer, and as an American flyer getting 1.6 cents per point towards the cost of a ticket doesn’t suck either.

Hopefully that’s a useful rundown of how I currently view the value of Citi ThankYou points. I’m curious to hear what your favorite redemptions of Citi ThankYou points are!

Comments

  1. Have you had success booking through the thank You portal (or calling) for American flights? From comparing the prices between AA and the Thank You travel center, the Thank You travel center is much more expensive…if you get someone on the phone do they price match the AA website, or come close?

  2. Just used the Thank You portal to book a flightom AA from NYC to Milan for 48k pts. Ticket was selling for about $760. I had been researching different dep/arr combinations for over a month using Google Flights and what I found is that in most cases the Citi portal was pretty close if not exactly what I was getting from other travel sites.

    I also booked a flight from Milan to Crete on Aegean which also was the same as elsewhere (around $83) and 6500 pts.

    I have combined the Premier and Prestige to get the 1.6 so that makes it an even better deal.

    Dont forget – sign up for Citigold checking and the AF on Prestige is only $350 and you may get an additional 40k TYP’s in the process.

  3. Interesting…I am looking at a flight from LAX to STT in March and it is almost $400 more through the Citi portal than on AA.com for a business class seat.

  4. Wow…I just looked up the specific flight I want.

    AA.Com – $1461
    Citi – $2143 …. or I can use my 53,000 points and pay an additional $1282!!

    I will need obviously need to call to figure it out.

  5. Any word on how TYP earned via credit card differ from the ones earned via their Citi Gold checking account?
    Also: Are insight into when they send out 1099s at the end of the year?

  6. I’ve used TY points to book 2 AA flights thru the Citi travel site, and they both priced out the same as they did on google flights and AA.com

  7. @Marc – can combine with other accounts to get a better redemption but if the 40k points gets you more than $600 worth of anything you will get a 1099 I believe… Ive never gotten one but that what I found out before getting the checking account.

  8. Some AA flights price higher in TYP site than on AA.com. I called and no luck either. I missed a super fare to LIR because of this. Same as with the hotel benefit, it is good, but it looks better on paper than in reality.

  9. Lucky,

    Although redeeming TY points for award travel on Qatar or Etihad certainly is costlier than using AAdvantage miles, is availability any better going through their reward programs than trying to find space through a partner program like AAdvantage? Qatar is notoriously difficult to find business award space through American, just wondering if it’s better through them, same for Etihad?

    Thanks!

    Rob

  10. Will I earn miles for AA trips booked with thank you points? I actually found a cheaper flight (cash price) through the thank you site than AA.com.. With the 60% cost, it was a no brainer.. However, I need EQM..

  11. Ben, you’ve missed one of the nicer perks of the card–trip interuption insurance. If your flight gets cancelled and rescheduled more than 12 hours after the original departure time, you can be reimbursed for hotel, meals and ground transportation up to $500 per occurrence. The benefit can be used up to 4 times per calendar year.

  12. You didn’t mention the conversion to Flying Blue? This seems to be an obvious error on your part because of the HUGE relationship between Air France/KLM and Delta?? I looked for some award space on FB and found some decent routing…

  13. I was going to ask about Flying Blue as well. If there’s any value there, it might be worth a follow-up post. If not, well, then forget it. Maybe the fuel charges are too high?

  14. if citi really wants to play ball, they should acquire at least one japanese or korean carrier as transfer partner.
    singapore may be of value for some routes, they charge twice as much for ANA’s jfk-hkg business award.

  15. Hi Tom

    FSC and fees were normal for the flights I checked in domestic US. I am not sure about international trips. Award space could have been better, as it ALWAYS is…lol

  16. Hi IHG Newbie

    Try EVA for your Asian trips…or maybe Cathay Pacific thru YVR, I hear they have the most excellent service.

  17. @hotshotcourier – Personally, I’d be reluctant to transfer to Flying Blue, unless I was already previously engaged in the program. Lately, they’ve been shutting down accounts of people who have transferred TYP/MR points in to redeem awards.

    @ihg newbie – “if citi really wants to play ball, they should acquire at least one japanese or korean carrier as transfer partner.”

    I think the bigger need for TYP is the addition of a program through which one can redeem for US domestic flights. AA would be the obvious choice for that, but they haven’t been added yet, and may not be added at all. QF may be good for that, depending on how long your flight is.

  18. Thanks for this post, I think I remember asking for it recently too. But no mention of fuel surcharges for KrisFlyer that you wrote about, or any other partners that you can transfer your Citi points to. I assume all of Citi’s transfer partners will add fuel surcharges to an award ticket? For example, if I transferred to KrisFlyer and used it to book an EVA award in J?

  19. @ Ken — It all depends which airline you actually fly. For example, if you redeem KrisFlyer for travel on United domestically, there won’t be any fuel surcharges. The same is true if you redeem through Air France FlyingBlue for travel on some Delta flights.

  20. @ hotshotcourier — There are certainly some niche redemptions through FlyingBlue, though all things considered I don’t think it’s a great program. Delta doesn’t actually make that much saver level award space available on their own flights.

  21. @ Rob — Nope, the “saver” space is similar through both carriers. So unless you want to pay more miles for a “standard” award on Etihad, for example, I’d say you’re not much better off going through them directly. And for what it’s worth, I’ve found award availability to often be quite good on Qatar through AAdvantage.

  22. @ mario — You get the first $250 credit this year, and then usually the credit posts within several days. The second credit would be in 2016.

  23. @ Richard — Not for my own travel, but I have helped others with it. For simple itineraries I’ve found pricing to be the same, at least in my experience.

  24. Do you have a list somewhere (or could you make one) that shows airlines that will pass on fuel charges to their partner who you’re using to book the award? I know it would be a huge help for me since I’m out of United points and they didn’t charge YQ for any partner awards.

  25. Lucky, quick question – can I book AA codeshares (operated by BA, QR etc.) on the ThankYou travel website and use points towards the purchase? Or is this benefit only valid for AA/US marketed, AA/US operated flights? Also, is it possible to input a BA frequent flyer number on an AA booking through the ThankYou travel website?

  26. Hi Ben!

    I booked flights directly on AA using the Prestige. It’s been a little over a week and $250 credit has not posted. Is it worth a call or should I wait a bit longer?

    Thanks!

  27. @ Lucky … American Business Class
    March 8, 2016 LAX > STT – Flight 1592 to Miami – Flight 943 to STT
    March 18, 2016 STT > LAX – Flight 943 to Miami – Flight 1238 to LAX

    The AA site has this fare for $1461. I have never used the Citi portal so any tips would be greatly appreciated. I have both Prestige and Thank You cards.

    Richard

  28. @David W – When I asked Citi, I was told it could take up to two statements for the credit to appear.

  29. It wouldn’t be a great redemption but I am saving Citi TY pts along with MR pts as a backup to use Asia miles for 1st class seat with CX for JFK to HKG. I have a business seat booked with AA miles, but want to be able to move up to 1st class should a seat open up. I want the backup option in case of any Cathay – AA shenanigans regarding award seat availability

  30. @ David W — It can take a bit longer than that, so I’d hold off. Might be up to a few weeks sometimes, in practice.

  31. I am looking to book a flight on Singapore Suites and have approximately the same amount of Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, Starwood Points and ThankYou Points. Would you recommend using TY points since they are otherwise the “least useful”?

  32. If I use Thank You points to book a room at a Hilton, will I get my elite benefits? The HHonors T&Cs allow on-property benefits for reservations made “Through an IATA accredited retail travel agent professional (“Travel Agent”) booking through a Hilton Worldwide channel or the following Global Distribution Systems: Amadeus, Apollo/Galileo, Worldspan and SABRE” but not for “Reservations booked through a non-Hilton Worldwide-direct booking channel or a non-designated GDS, third party website or any other channel.” Which one would a TYP reservation be?

  33. @ Richard H — I believe that would still qualify, since I believe it’s done through Carlson Wagonlit, which is a qualified agent.

  34. @Richard
    “Have you had success booking through the thank You portal (or calling) for American flights? From comparing the prices between AA and the Thank You travel center, the Thank You travel center is much more expensive…if you get someone on the phone do they price match the AA website, or come close?”

    Did you ever find out if Citi ThankYou travel center matches the AA website prices? Or in fact any other prices you find online to be cheaper?

  35. @jp01…I did speak with someone at the Thank You travel center regarding my flight and it got escalated to that persons supervisor…unfortunately, nothing changed for me as I was told the fare I was seeing on AA must have been an internet only AA fare and that fare was not released to other sites (or at least to Thank You) as they did not have it in their system.

    This was for a business class fare which was different. The economy class fares on Thank you for the same flights were the exact same on AA.

    Since this upcoming trip is for my honeymoon and my dates were not flexible, I ultimately booked two economy fare tickets through Thank You with points (1.6 / mile). I then called AA and upgraded my outbound flights to 1st class for 15,000 miles and $75 per ticket. The $150 charge I charged to my Citi Prestige card and will get that back as a statement credit. On the way home, I am just hoping that my AA upgrade requests go through…I have 22 on file and that would cost me 16 if we both get upgraded for both flights.

    Sorry, I don’t have better news but that was my experience.

    Richard

  36. wonder what will show on the airticket invoice if use the thankyou points to purchase the AA/US tickets?
    Knowing we will get mileage for the tickets, not sure the tickets can be used for company refund with the normal price shown?

  37. @ Lucky – I plan on getting both the Prestige and Premier card for the combined 100k bonus. I know that if you have both, they can be combined for the more valuable points, but is there a proper sequence in getting these cards?

    For instance, should I get the lower value bonus card FIRST, and then the high value one so that the points don’t expire as quick?

  38. Had an experience where even going calling the Thank You travel center they couldn’t find the flight I easily found on the AA website. The alternative, with a +2 hour layover, was over $150 more expensive than the one I located. This was booking several months out so I know it’s not an issue of inventory.

    Buyer beware on this card if you are looking to redeem for AA points. I feel like a victim of bait and switch.

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