Citi ThankYou® Rewards are kind of like the middle child… outshined by the older “star athlete” sibling and lost in the shadows of the younger socialite sibling.
But Citi, being the middle child, shines in its own way. It has solid perks and solid cards even though they aren’t often viewed as the sexiest ones in the biz.
I have personally owned one of Citi’s cards for years and have found great value in it! In fact, I used the Citi Premier® Card to book a business class seat on Emirates earlier this year (which is still one of the best flights of my life to this day).
Though you may know the least about Citi points, I want to try and change your mind today and let you in on why joining this credit card family could help you reach your travel goals!
What are Citi ThankYou® Rewards?
Citi ThankYou® Rewards are the point currency for eligible Citi credit cards that you earn from making purchases with one of their cards.
Their points may not be as popular as some other banks, but they still offer quite a bit of value. Their rewards program can be a little more challenging to navigate, and sometimes that will put people off from getting involved.
However, Citi points are still quite flexible and versatile, and they will help you get that free travel!
What are Citi ThankYou® Rewards Worth?
As with other point currencies, their value can depend on how you use them. In general, most sources online tend to think that Citi points are valued around 1.5 cents per point when transferred.
This could be more or less, depending on each situation.
Just remember that if you are redeeming points at all for free or cheap travel, you should consider it a win in your book! That’s a flight or hotel or something else that you didn’t have to pay face value for.
For instance, if you’re looking at booking a flight or some other travel expense via a transfer partner, and you are unsure if you are getting a good value for your points, we have a simple calculation that can help you decide:
(cash price) - (taxes and fees) / (points cost) = value per points
What’s great about this is you can use this for all point programs, and not just Citi.
If we look at an example of this airline booking via Air France/KLM FlyingBlue, and I’m not sure if I should pay cash for the flight or use some of my Citi points, I can plug the numbers into this equation and get a better idea 👇
Booking with points vs. cash
The result gives us 7.3 cents per point, WHICH IS FANTASTIC. You could be satisfied if you got two cents per point, which would be pretty standard. But you can see here how you can do MUCH better depending on the particular booking you find.
In this case, I would want to transfer the necessary Citi points over to my FlyingBlue account immediately to secure this booking, but we will get into more detail about that later on.
In order to find an amazing point redemption like this and actually use points to book it, you need some Citi points in your account to start with…
How to Earn Citi ThankYou® Rewards
This is perhaps one of the most important questions to ask… because you need points to spend points 🙃
You can get pretty creative with how you earn points, but these are a few examples of our go-to methods.
1. Sign up for a Citi credit card
I hope the days of viewing credit cards in a negative light are slowly fading. A lot of it is misinformation, as long as you are responsible with your spending.
However, if you are prone to carrying debt and not making payments on time, then yes, a credit card is probably not a good idea for you…
But if you can manage a card or two, this is going to be the fastest way to build a stash of points that you can then redeem at a later date for a free or significantly discounted travel experience!
Allow me to introduce some of our favorites, starting with the Citi Premier® Card. This is your solid, straightforward starter card that costs less than $100 a year to hold.
It’s got one of the highest—3x points per dollar—earning rates for categories like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, air travel, and hotels. This is honestly amazing and super generous for such a low-annual-fee card.
Citi is also home to the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard which is a no-brainer premium card for any American Airlines loyalists.
2. Optimize your spending with certain cards
If you want to go all in with Citi and create a portfolio of two cards, let me suggest pairing the Premier (with its 3x points on groceries, restaurants, gas, air travel, and hotels) with the Citi® Double Cash Card which gives you the option of earning 2% cash back (e.g. 2x points per dollar) on all purchases.
If you are regularly making purchases outside of the Premier’s main categories, you could be earning 2x points with the Double Cash instead of just 1x with the Premier.
Getting groceries and filling up the tank? Put it on the Premier for 3x points. Ordering from Amazon? Use the Double Cash to earn 2x points 👌
Plus, if you want to take full advantage of the Double Cash benefits, you will unlock the most value if you have the Premier card for the ability to transfer points to Citi’s entire transfer parter list.
3. Refer a friend (occasionally)
Citi’s referral program is not the best or most predictable. I’ll be upfront about that.
But on occasion, you can get a referral bonus (points or cash back) by having someone sign up (and get approved for) a card using a uniquely generated referral link that comes from you.
It’s a bit confusing because these referral bonuses aren’t widely stated. You may get selected and offered a referral link on your account at times, or it may be a targeted offer that you see come through in an email.
This can be nice when it is available, but don’t count on it being a regular means of earning tons of points.
4. Add an authorized user to your account
If generating a referral link is not an option, and you are in a position where you would like to add someone else to your account, you can do so by selecting that person to be an authorized user.
You probably want to at least know this person, and you definitely want to trust them. You will reap the rewards of earning double the points by having them also make purchases using your card, but if they don’t pay it off… you are on the line for it.
It can be an excellent way to earn additional points, but it does come with the risk of being responsible for another person’s spending and payoff habits.
How to Redeem Citi ThankYou® Rewards
I’m all ears… or… eyes?
There are technically a handful of ways to use Citi points, but for me, I only consider two of them options. And of those two, there is one option which is king.
Some of the less valuable redemption options include using points to purchase gift cards, reduce the balance on your Citi card, or convert those points into a check or direct deposit to go into your savings or checking account.
I don’t recommend these. The two main redemptions you should consider are:
1. Book flights, hotels, and car rentals through Citi TravelSM
It’s easy, convenient, and stress-free, and those are the reasons most people would opt to use their points in this way.
However, you won’t be getting the best value for your points by using the travel portal. If that’s what you want to do, then that’s fine! Enjoy that flight that you paid next to nothing for.
But if you want to squeeze the most value out of your hard-earned points, you will want to transfer them to one of Citi’s travel partners.
2. Transfer your points to a travel partner
This is the option where you will maximize your points’ value (whoo!).
Citi may not have the most transfer partners, but they have some of the biggest airline names on the list 👇
And a handful of those airlines have some of the best business class seats in the sky… like Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, and Singapore.
Don’t temp me, Citi… or maybe do tempt me 😬
If you want to get started in transferring your points over to one of these partners, here iss a step-by-step guide to give you the deets:
STEP 1: Log in to your Citi ThankYou home page, navigate to More Ways to Redeem in the top menu, then select Points Transfer.
STEP 2: You will be taken to the transfer partners page where you can select which program you want to transfer to. Choose Continue to start the transfer process.
If you need to link your Citi account with your frequent flyer account, you will be asked to do that here. Otherwise, you can input the number of points you would like to transfer and consider it done!
Head over to your frequent flyer account and be sure to check for when those points make it over before you attempt to book.
Citi’s program may not be as robust or well-known as some of the others, but you can see how it does offer quite comparable value when it comes to its transfer partners and redemption options.
There are a few cards that are part of this program that I would consider quite valuable, so if you are looking for a more simplistic and straightforward program and card-structure, Citi might be your perfect match!