Should You Redeem Citi ThankYou Points For Gift Cards?

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The beauty of transferrable points currencies (Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, etc.) is how flexible they are, and that they in many ways hedge you against devaluations, since there are so many ways to redeem the points. As a general rule of thumb I like to redeem these points by transferring them to airline partners, since that’s how I get the most value (there are exceptions, as I’ll explain below).

A majority of people don’t redeem their points that way, however. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing:

  • Not everyone values travel rewards as much as we do
  • Ultimately the reason we’re able to get such good value is because we’re in the minority with the type of redemptions we try to make

Redeem Citi ThankYou points for e-gift cards

Citi announced a new way you can redeem ThankYou points, which is worth examining. Citi ThankYou Rewards points can now be used to purchase e-gift cards through the Wonder app.

This app (which can be found in the app store under “Wonder Digital Gift Cards”) lets you purchase a variety of gift cards, ranging from local restaurants to national chains. It’s location based, so let’s you see the places nearby where you can instantly purchase e-gift cards through the app.

Here’s how ThankYou points can be redeemed through the Wonder app:

  1. Download and open the Wonder app for iOS or Android
  2. Choose your favorite local store or national brand
  3. Select the amount of points you want to use for a statement credit
  4. Your eligible Citi credit card will be charged for the full purchase amount
  5. The selected amount of points will be deducted from your ThankYou member account and you will receive a corresponding statement credit to your Citi credit card account in 24-48 hours

I downloaded the app to have a look at the possible redemption values. Once you get the app, you’ll have to register for an account and link a credit card. To see the possible redemption of Citi ThankYou points, you’ll want to link a card which accrues these points, like the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

You’ll then get a message allowing you to enroll in the program.

Citi-ThankYou-Gift-Cards-1

On the main page of the app you can search possible places you can buy gift cards by location, category, etc.

Citi-ThankYou-Gift-Cards-2

When you select a retailer you’ll be given the option of selecting a gift card amount.

Citi-ThankYou-Gift-Cards-3

And then on the next page you’ll be given an option to select how many Citi ThankYou points you want to redeem towards the purchase. For example, a $50 gift card would cost 6,250 Citi ThankYou points.

Citi-ThankYou-Gift-Cards-4

That’s a redemption value of 0.8 cents per Citi ThankYou point, which is not a good deal.

Why Wonder app gift cards aren’t a good use of points

If you’re going for cash redemptions like that, I’d instead recommend going with a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers the equivalent of 2% cash back (1% on your purchase, and then 1% when you pay for the purchase). The card doesn’t have an annual fee, and is a card most people should be using, in my opinion.

Even if you do want to redeem your points for gift cards, points earned on the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card can be redeemed for one cent each towards gift card purchases directly through Citi’s website.

WalMart-Gift-Card

The only advantage of going through Wonder app is that you have access to a wider variety of local stores. But given that most people also make purchases at national retailers, restaurants, etc., there’s no reason to redeem points for 0.8 cents each when you can redeem them for 1.0 cent each.

The best ways to redeem Citi ThankYou points

But even gift card purchases through Citi’s website is a sub-par redemption of ThankYou points. Points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a hotel, car rental, cruise, or flight, which is 25% better than a gift card redemption.

On top of that, keep in mind that you can pool points between the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

Still, a lot of people will consider the best use of ThankYou points to be for transfers to one of their airline partners, which include the following:

Air France/KLM | Flying BlueGaruda Indonesia | Frequent FlyerQantas | Frequent FlyerTurkish Airways | Miles & Smiles
Cathay Pacific | Asia MilesJet Airways | JetPrivilegeQatar Airways | Privilege ClubVirgin Atlantic | Flying Club
EVA Air | Infinity MileageLandsJetBlue | TrueBlueSingapore Airlines | KrisFlyerHilton | HHonors
Etihad | Etihad GuestMalaysia Airlines | EnrichThai Airways | Royal Orchid Plus

For transfers to airlines like Air France/KLM FlyingBlue and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, you can potentially get a lot more than one cent per point of value.

Singapore-Suites-1
Redeem just 57,375 points for Singapore Airlines Suites Class from New York to Frankfurt

Bottom line

Redeeming points earned on the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card towards gift cards through the Wonder app isn’t a good value, at just 0.8 cents per point. If you do want to purchase a gift card using ThankYou points, you’re much better off using them for gift cards from national retailers, where you can redeem points for one cent each.

But even that isn’t how I would redeem these points. I’d be transferring them to Singapore KrisFlyer, Air France FlyingBlue, etc.

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Comments

  1. What’s up with all the Citi TY posts within the last day on BA?

    Raised affiliate payout or new quotas?

  2. Today I realized that you can’t no longer transfer points to airline partners if you only have the non-AF variant of the card (ThankYou Preferred) – is this a recent development or has it alway been this way?

  3. I like better the option of transferring to KrisFlyer and booking UA J for 20k domestic (or 30k to Hawaii). Maybe not for complete novices but not terribly difficult either and great bang for the buck when UA/AA/DL all charge at least 12500.

  4. Hey Ben, just got this card. So far, not that impressed (they gave me a very low credit line and card took over 2 weeks to arrive). I’m hoping the user experience will be better though.

    Besides Krisflyer, what other airline partners do you like? I never see you talking about them so I assume they suck?

  5. Lucky you’re right! And thanks for the info.

    I checked my Thank You points and getting an airline ticket is worth about 67% more than getting an Amazon gift card and 77% more than applying the points towards purchases made on the credit card.

    For a:
    KLM ticket – you need only 75 points to get one dollar
    Amazon = you need 125 points to get one dollar
    Apply to Purchases = you need 133 points to get one dollar

    Cheers.

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