If you’re looking to maximize your credit card rewards for travel, I always recommend doing what you can to collect transferable points currencies. These points currencies protect you from the risk of devaluation in one particular airline frequent flyer program, not to mention you can often rack up points at a faster pace with these kinds of programs.
Among the transferable points currencies, people seem to be largely focused on Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, both of which are great. However, I think the Citi ThankYou program is often overlooked. In this post I wanted to share seven reasons you should consider the Citi ThankYou program, if you’re not already engaged in it.
A welcome bonus of 60K points
One reason to consider getting involved in the Citi ThankYou ecosystem is the Citi Premier® Card (review) is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months.
There are lots of reasons to get this card beyond the initial offer, including the card offering excellent bonus categories of 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, airfare, and hotels, plus the card offering a $100 annual hotel credit. If you don’t yet have this card and are eligible, picking it up should be a no-brainer. What a fantastic way to jumpstart your points earning potential with Citi.
Earn 2x points on everyday spending
In general I think it makes sense to use points currencies where you can earn the most points per dollar spent, and the good news is that there are several cards that can help you maximize your Citi ThankYou points.
When it comes to being able to maximize your points for everyday spending, one compelling option is to also get the no annual fee Citi® Double Cash Card (review). The card offers 1x ThankYou points when you make a purchase, and 1x ThankYou points when you pay for that purchase. In other words, after making a purchase and paying your bill, you’ll have earned two ThankYou points for each dollar spent.
If you have the Citi Double Cash in conjunction with the Citi Premier, then rewards can be transferred to Citi’s airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio.
Overlapping Citi ThankYou points transfer partners
Some people might think “I already earn Amex and Chase points, and also earning Citi points complicates things too much.” If that’s how you view things, there’s some good news — Citi has several transfer partners in common with both Amex and Chase.
Specifically, all three programs partner with Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Those are some useful partners that I consistently use.
The reason this matters is because it makes it easy to redeem these points toward a common redemption, even if you don’t build up that huge of a points balance with Citi ThankYou. For example, if you wanted to book an Emirates first class ticket with miles, you could transfer both Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points to the Skywards program, for the purposes of securing a single redemption.
Unique Citi ThankYou transfer partners
Just as some people might appreciate the overlap between transfer partners of Amex, Chase, and Citi, I also think there’s value in pointing out the unique transfer partners that Citi has. The reason transferable points are so valuable is because of the variety of redemptions that are possible, and the more unique partners there are, the more redemption opportunities and sweet spots there are.
In particular, there are a couple of transfer partners of Citi’s that you won’t find at Amex or Chase, which I consider to be quite valuable:
- Citi ThankYou points can be converted into Choice Privileges points at a 1:2 ratio, which could be a great deal for hotel redemptions
- Citi ThankYou points can be converted into Turkish Miles&Smiles miles at a 1:1 ratio; the program has some exceptional redemption values, like being able to travel from the United States to Europe in business class for 45,000 miles one-way, or being able to travel within the United States (including Hawaii) for 7,500 miles in economy or 12,500 miles in business class one-way
Valuable transfer bonuses
We often see transferable points currencies offer transfer bonuses, and historically the Citi ThankYou program has been one of the most aggressive with offering these. The idea is that you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to over a dozen airline partners, and sometimes the transfer ratio is better than 1:1 for a limited time.
If you can take advantage of transfer bonuses strategically, you can stretch your points even further. In the past we’ve seen transfer bonuses to Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca LifeMiles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and more.
Transfer points to other members easily
There are pros and cons to each of the major transferable points currencies when it comes to the ability to transfer points to others. The Citi ThankYou program has generous rules surrounding transferring points to non-family and non-household members.
Citi ThankYou lets you transfer up to 100,000 ThankYou points to another member each calendar year. Shared points do expire 90 days after they’re received, though this is great in terms of being able to pool the points earned across multiple accounts toward a single redemption.
Redeem points for one cent each toward airfare
While this isn’t personally how I’d choose to redeem my ThankYou points, if you have the Citi Premier Card then you can redeem points for one cent each toward airfare purchases.
This is generally better than the “cash out” value you’d get on airfare with Amex Membership Rewards cards, though it’s not as good as the rate at which you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for airfare.
All too often people overlook the Citi ThankYou program, instead focusing on Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Personally, I think it’s worth getting involved in all three programs, especially given the overlap between transfer partners.
How do you feel about the value of ThankYou points compared to other currencies? Do you collect Citi ThankYou points?