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Update: The Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou® Premier now offer 1.25¢ per point towards travel on any airline, versus the previous enhanced redemption rate on American Airlines. The Citi Prestige no longer offers lounge access to American Admirals Clubs. Learn more about the current offers 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:
- A sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months — those points can be transferred to one of their airline transfer partners, or be redeemed for $800+ worth of flights on American/US Airways
- A $250 annual airline credit (with your first year’s annual fee you actually get two of those — that’s $500 of airline credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee)
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
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).
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.
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
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.
Meanwhile the Citi Prestige Card has the following structure for redeeming ThankYou points towards the cost of travel purchases.
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, 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.
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 getting 1.25 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!