Get $750 In Airfare (With The First Year’s Annual Fee Waived)!

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Update: These offers for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard®, the Citi Premier℠ Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

Yesterday I wrote about how the Citi Premier℠ Card has its best-ever welcome bonus at the moment. The card is offering 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months.

This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, and beyond that, it’s an all around very compelling card. It offers triple points on travel and gas, and double points on dining and entertainment, which are some very well rounded bonus categories.

Nowadays there are three major transferable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou. Generally I do consider Amex and Chase points to be marginally more valuable due to their transfer partners, but the differences really are minimal.

Some readers have said something along the lines of “well that bonus sounds great, but I wouldn’t even know how to redeem those points.”

Personally I think their airline partners are incredibly useful (in particular Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Etihad Guest, and Singapore KrisFlyer), though I think it’s worth remembering that at a minimum, ThankYou points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of airfare through Citi’s travel portal. You can book virtually any flight with no blackout dates. When you book through Citi’s website your ticket is still typically eligible for mileage accrual, upgrades, etc.

You also have so much flexibility in the ways in which you can redeem points as cash towards the cost of airfare. You could cover the entire cost of a ticket with ThankYou points, if you wanted to.

Or if you prefer, you could just pay for a portion of the ticket cost with ThankYou points, and pay cash for the rest (and since you’d be charging it to your Citi Premier℠ Card, you’d earn 3x points for the amount you’re spending, since this is categorized as travel).

Put another way, the 60,000 point welcome bonus on the Citi Premier℠ Card is worth a minimum of $750 of airfare, which is exceptional.

Even if you’re not someone who wants to learn the ins and outs of maximizing miles, this bonus is still so worthwhile. I can’t think of another mid-range card that offers a welcome bonus that gives you cash towards travel at that good of a rate. For example, to look at some of the other excellent mid-range cards out there:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ($95 annual fee) offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months; points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each, meaning that gets you $625 worth of travel
  • The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® ($89 annual fee, see terms) offers 60,000 miles after spending $5,000 within the first 90 days; miles can be redeemed for one cent each towards airfare, meaning that gets you $600 worth of travel, and then you have to subtract the $89 annual fee
  • The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card ($95 annual fee, waived the first year) offers 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months; miles can be redeemed for one cent each towards airfare, meaning that gets you $500 worth of travel

Don’t get me wrong, those are all excellent bonuses as well, but earning $750 worth of travel with the first year’s annual fee waived on the Citi Premier℠ Card is especially exceptional.

I’ll have a separate post with what I consider to be the best uses of Citi ThankYou points, but I feel like it’s worth establishing this as a baseline redemption option.

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  1. Lucky but this is in the only Citi card offering sign up TY bonus pts right? Meaning, I would have to spend a lot to earn enough to redeem for premium cabins!

  2. Don’t see a lot written about Etihad’s program, can you go over sweetspots (if any) for partner awards?

    Curious why you view that as more valuable than Avianca given its low redemption rates.

  3. Just got this card yesterday and very excited – I really want to try out the Qsuites from Houston. I know this card transfers to Qatar Airways? Any advice on redemptions? I’d ideally want to build this into my quarterly trip to HK. Houston>Doha>HKG. Thoughts?

  4. I used literally all my ThankYou points accumulated over many years for only one solid redemption: last year transferred 264k points to Malaysia Airlines and booked two roundtrip tickets JFK-DXB in Emirates Business on the A380.

    Sadly, that option is a lot more expensive after the Malaysia devaluation…but then again, it would take me a while to get another 264k points.

  5. Is the 1.25 cents per point redemption option available only for airfare (no other travel purchases like hotels or car rental)? I’d definitely prefer to transfer to partners as well, but having some flexibility helps too.

  6. @ Jason — The rate of 1.25 cents is just for airfare. For other travel purchases you get only one cent per point, so I’d definitely try to redeem for airfare.

  7. FYI, yesterday I received a targeted mailing for a 60k bonus on only $3k spend valid through October 15. Definitely be on the look out for those before signing up online.

  8. Lucky if I use the link and open this card can I buy up to $750 of airfare 2 tickets also using the Alaska Companion voucher as well? Thanks Jay

  9. @ Jay — The Alaska companion voucher needs to be booked directly through Alaska, while Citi points need to be redeemed through Citi’s travel portal. So unfortunately you couldn’t use a companion voucher while also redeeming ThankYou points (but hopefully there’s still lots of value to be had there).

  10. TY points are the only ones that transfer to Turkish Airlines. They may not be the most popular redemption partner, but Steph recently did a *great* post on TK sweet spots, and their product is great.

  11. Is is just me, or does this card leave the Prestige card in a weird spot? Taking out the $250 airfare credit from the annual fee, it pretty much comes down to $250 for the 4th night benefit (and Priority Pass, and Global Entry, which aren’t differentiators in the premium card market), versus $95 (after a free year) for this card, with the same points structure. At least Chase differentiates the CSP and CSR in this regard.

    Unless you use the 4th night for a relatively expensive night (meaning paying for 3 nights at an expensive place, which we all try not to do!), or you pay for multiple 4-night trips per year, it’s getting pretty hard to justify the Citi Prestige.

    Am I missing something?

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