How to Prevent Losing Citi ThankYou Points When Closing Your Card

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Million Mile Secrets reader John writes:

Now my wife and I both have the CitiGold checking account (40,000 points), Citi Forward (5% movies and restaurants), Citi ThankYou Preferred (20,000 points),  Citi ThankYou Premier (50,000 points), and the Citi Prestige (50,000 points).

I have no annual fee AMEX and Chase cards in place to prevent losing those points, when I cancel annual fee cards, but don’t have a Citi solution.  How do I keep the Citi ThankYou points alive, when I cancel an annual fee card?

A transfer only delays the forced redemption for 90 days.

John wants to cancel his Citi ThankYou cards to avoid paying the annual fee.  But when he closes his account, he only has 60 days to use his points before he’ll lose them.  How can he extend the life of his Citi ThankYou points?

How To Prevent Losing Citi ThankYou Points When Closing Your Card

When John Closes His Citi ThankYou Cards He Can Lose His Points If He Doesn’t Use Them Within 60 Days! And Those Points Are Worth a Lot of Big Travel!

Luckily, there are some steps he can take to prevent this from happening.

When you cancel airline and hotel credit cards, your miles and points stay in your frequent flyer or hotel rewards account.

However, the points you earn with bank credit cards, like John’s Citi Prestige, are different.

Note:   Bank credit cards don’t earn specific airline miles or hotel points.  Instead you earn “bank points” such American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points.

When you close your Citi Prestige account, you lose your points after 60 days.

But there are some ways around this!

1.   Combine Your Citi ThankYou Points With Another Citi ThankYou Card

John can combine his Citi ThankYou points with another Citi ThankYou card he plans on keeping.  But Citi ThankYou points work differently from Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points.

With Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points, you transfer your points to an active eligible card and they’re safe.  Not so with Citi ThankYou points!

While John can combine Citi ThankYou points from different cards into 1 Citi ThankYou account, once he cancels a card, any points he’s earned from that card must be redeemed within 60 days or else he’ll lose them.  Even if the points are sitting in a combined account.

How To Prevent Losing Citi ThankYou Points When Closing Your Card

You Can Combine Your Citi ThankYou Points, but You’ll Still Only Have 60 Days, After You Close the Original Card, to Use the Points Before They’re Gone!

And as he mentioned, he can transfer Citi ThankYou points to another Citi ThankYou account holder, like his spouse.  But they’ll expire 90 days after the transfer is made.

2.   Transfer Your Points to an Airline or Hotel Partner

John can keep his points safe longer by transferring his Citi ThankYou points to an airline…

 Citi ThankYou Points Airline Transfer Partners 
Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)EVA AirEtihad
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)Garuda Indonesia Malaysia Airlines
QantasQatar AirwaysSingapore Airlines
Thai AirwaysVirgin AmericaVirgin Atlantic

…or hotel partner,

 Citi ThankYou Points Hotel Transfer Partners 
Hilton Hotels

He still won’t be forced to redeem his points, but once they are in an airline or hotel account it’s easier to keep his points active.

For example, Virgin Atlantic miles don’t expire for 36 months.  And each time there’s new activity on your account, your miles are safe for another 36 months.  Ways to keep your Virgin Atlantic miles from expiring include:

How To Prevent Losing Citi ThankYou Points When Closing Your Card

With Virgin Atlantic Miles, John Can Get a Great Deal on Award Flights to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines

And Hilton points expire after 12 months of no activity.  But there are lots of simple ways to create activity on your account and keep your points another 12 months.

3.   Convert to a NO Annual Fee Card

Or John can convert to a no annual fee card instead of canceling, such as:

Because these cards don’t charge an annual fee, John never has to cancel.  This will keep the points from the card he converted safe and help him build a long-term relationship with Citi.

But he will NOT earn a sign-up bonus for his new card because he isn’t completing a new application.  So this may not be a good option if the sign-up bonus is worth more than the points currently in his account.

Bottom Line

When you close cards like the Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier, and Citi Prestige, you have 60 days to use your points before you lose them.

Your Citi ThankYou points can be worth Big Travel!  So fortunately, there are ways to keep them longer than 60 days.

You can combine your points with another Citi card you plan to keep or move the points to your spouse’s account.  But that will only extend the life of your points by a few more weeks.

Instead, to keep your Citi ThankYou points active much longer, transfer them to a partner airline or hotel chain.  Or convert to a card with no annual fee.

Just be sure to plan ahead before you cancel!

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8 responses to “How to Prevent Losing Citi ThankYou Points When Closing Your Card

  1. You missed the obvious answer, as long as the citigold checking account is open, the thank you account stays open

    • MarkTheMeanderer

      Darius is correct. I called 3 times already inquiring trying to leverage a better retention bonus and the CSR told me that if I cancel my premier card, I would need to use those points (or transfer them to a non-Citi account airline/hotel partner) within 60 days of cancellation or lose them all. I have a several citigold accounts and in hindsight, it was a mistake to combine them into one (especially since the points earned from the checking account can’t be used for the airline partners other than Jetblue). Should have known that most changes to the bank-affiliated redemption programs now are more to screw the consumer.

  2. I’d been wondering about how not to lose the points I recently earned with the Citi ThankYou Premier card in the event I don’t use them by the time the annual fee is due, so thanks for the timely article. Converting to a no annual fee card is a brilliant idea that had not occurred to me. Thank you.

  3. Glad I read up on the change. I remember that in the past, as long as you had an active Thank You Points earning card, your points would not expire. Either I remembered it wrong, or they made a change to the rules. Seeing how rule changes are becoming the norm, I’m guessing that the latter is the case. Now I’ll have to figure out what to do with my points before I cancel one of my cards.

  4. If I have used all of my CITI points to book a trip for next month is there any harm in closing the card now, before the actual trip takes place?

  5. I will transfer Citi ThankYou points to Flying Blue to keep them alive longer, but I’m weary of the horror stories I read last year. Flying Blue’s fraud department closed accounts of legitimate customers. Does anyone know if this program has fixed that issue?

  6. If I transfer my points to my Wife’s account and then close my account do I have 60 or 90 days
    before account expires.

  7. If I transfer my Citi TY pts to Virgin, how would I book a flight on Delta? (I’m also thinking about getting a Delta CC)