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Citi ThankYou Points Review: Why smart travelers should earn them

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Citi ThankYou Points Review: Why smart travelers should earn them

Joseph HostetlerCiti ThankYou Points Review: Why smart travelers should earn themMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Of the three main bank points currencies, Citi ThankYou points get the least amount of attention.

I understand why — the program has only one domestic transfer partner (JetBlue), zero hotel transfer partners, and a limited number of cards that rack up the points. But miles and points enthusiasts love Citi ThankYou points. If you know a few useful tricks, you can easily get a ton of value from them. And they’re remarkably easy to earn!

The best travel credit cards that earn transferable Citi ThankYou points include Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi Premier℠ Card.  And you can add to your balance with the Citi Rewards+℠ Card or Citi® Double Cash Card.

I’ll share how to earn them, use them, and if they’re worth it for your travel goals. Here’s our Citi ThankYou points review.

The information for the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

I’ve used Citi ThankYou points to travel around the U.S. and all over the world. They’re not for everyone, but once you know how to use them, they offer amazing value. I’ll give you the official Citi ThankYou points review! (Photo by trust yamklin/Shutterstock)

How to earn Citi ThankYou points

There are several credit cards that earn Citi ThankYou points. Here are the most popular:

  • Citi Rewards+℠ Card – 2 points per dollar at gas stations and supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar), 1 point per dollar on everything else. Read our review of the Citi Rewards+ Card
  • Citi Premier℠ Card – 3 points per dollar on travel, 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment, 1 point per dollar on everything else. Some earning aspects on this card will change in August 2020 — read our Citi Premier review for all the details
  • Citi Prestige – 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly and dining, 3 points per dollar on hotels and cruises, 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Citi Double Cash (can be converted to Citi ThankYou points if you have an eligible card) – 1 point per dollar when making a purchase, and 1 point per dollar when paying off your balance, for an effective 2 points per dollar (or 2% cash back). Read our Citi Double Cash review

Of the available cards, only the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier℠ Card earn points you can transfer to airline partners. The others earn points you can redeem for gift cards, statement credits, and travel booked directly through Citi.

You’ll notice the Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier℠ Card earn bonus points in popular categories.

If you have multiple Citi ThankYou cards, you can keep them separate in your online account, or combine them into one place. If you have a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier℠ Card, I recommend combining them to make all the points you earn transferable to airline partners.

How to use Citi ThankYou points and what they’re worth

There are lots of ways to use Citi ThankYou points, including:

  • Points transfers to travel partners (only with Citi Prestige or Citi Premier℠ Card)
  • Travel booked through the Citi travel center (value varies based on card)
  • Gift cards (1 cent per point)
  • Cash back as a statement credit (1 cent per point if you have the Citi Prestige)
  • Shop with Points at Amazon or Best Buy ( ~.8 cents per point)

To view and redeem your points, navigate to ThankYou.com. If you have multiple cards, you can choose which account you’d like to view and use with the Citi ThankYou website.

In general, you’ll get the best deal transferring your points to partners, if your card has that ability. In that case, the value you get varies based every time you redeem them. And if you don’t transfer them, you can book travel with most cards at a rate of 1 cent per point. But there are a few nuances, which I’ll cover in a bit.

Transfer ThankYou Points to Partners

If you have a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier℠ Card, you can transfer your Citi ThankYou points to these airlines partners at a 1:1 ratio:

  • Avianca
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • Emirates
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Keep in mind, you must transfer in 1,000-point increments.

In my opinion, this is the best and highest-value way to use your Citi ThankYou points. There are some fantastic steals available if you know where to look.

For example, you can fly from anywhere in the U.S. to Honolulu round-trip in coach for just 15,000 Turkish Airlines miles — and it costs just 30,000 Turkish Airlines miles to fly the same round-trip in business class!

Fly to Hawaii in lie-flat seats for as little as 15,000 miles one-way (Photo by Melanie Lieberman)

On top of that, you can fly to Europe in business class for just 45,000 Turkish Airlines miles with Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa, United or Swiss. You will pay fuel surcharges on some of these flights, depending on the airline.

Check out our post on the best ways to use Citi ThankYou points to learn the smartest ways to use your points for travel.

Book travel through Citi Travel Portal

If you have Citi Premier, you can book travel directly through Citi, and each point is worth 1.25 cents toward travel (flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises) until April 10, 2021. At that time the redemption rate will be lowered to 1 cent per point, in line with all other Citi ThankYou points earning cards.

Booking your airfare through the portal still net you redeemable miles and elite status credit when you fly. But for hotels, you won’t earn elite status credit when you use points to book a hotel stay.

Combine or transfer points between accounts

Each card will get a new ThankYou membership number, and its own sub-account. This way, you can keep your points separate, and transfer them to the account where they’ll be worth more, or become transferable. The advantage of combining is all your points will take on the characteristics of the most “powerful” card account. For example:

  • If you want to use points to book a hotel, you can transfer the points you’ve accrued via your Citi Prestige to your Citi Premier, since the Citi Premier offers 25% more value through the portal
  • If you want to transfer points to an airline,  you can transfer points from the Citi Double Cash to the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier (the card doesn’t have the ability to transfer to partners by itself)

Or, you can request to pool them in one spot automatically. Just note that once you combine accounts, you can’t break them apart again.  They will stay combined.

There’s not much of a downside to combining, unless you like to keep things separate. You need to call Citi at the number on the back of your card and request for them to combine your card accounts, if you’re interested.

Share your points with anyone else

If you like, you can share your Citi ThankYou points with anyone else who also has a Citi ThankYou member account.

Keep in mind:

  • You can transfer up to 100,000 Citi ThankYou points per calendar year from your account
  • You can receive up to 100,000 Citi ThankYou points from transfers per calendar year
  • Transferred Citi ThankYou points expire after 90 days
  • Citi ThankYou points transferred to you cannot then be transferred to another account

This is useful if you need extra points to book a trip.  Here’s our guide on how to share Citi ThankYou points with more information.

Do Citi ThankYou points expire?

So when do Citi ThankYou points expire?

Fortunately, they’ll never expire as long as you keep your card open — unless, as just mentioned, they’re points transferred into your account, in which case, they expire 90 days after you receive them.

If you close a Citi ThankYou points-earning card, you have 30 days to use them before they’re gone, unless you have another Citi ThankYou card to keep them alive. And you can always check if you have points expiring after you log into your account at ThankYou.com if you have any uncertainty.

The big pro and con of Citi ThankYou points

Pro: Access to every airline alliance

Despite only having 1 domestic airline on the list, you can still access airlines in every major alliance with Citi’s partners:

  • oneworld – Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways (for now)
  • SkyTeam – Flying Blue, Garuda Indonesia
  • Star Alliance – EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines

Plus, there are other partners that give you additional access to useful airlines, like:

  • Etihad Guest for flights on American Airlines and Brussels Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic for flights on Delta and Hawaiian Airlines

So even if it appears at first glance that Citi ThankYou points are limited without domestic partnerships, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one of my favorite ways to use Citi ThankYou points is for short flights on American Airlines via Qantas miles.

Con: Not all transfers are instant

Data points show that some transfers are nearly instant, like Flying Blue and JetBlue — but others could take a couple of days to over a week.

And there’s really no good way to gauge how long your transfer will take. For example, when I’ve transferred Citi ThankYou points to Qantas, it takes between two and three days. And it took six or seven days for points to appear in my Etihad loyalty account.

As it stands, this is the most salient negative. If you find a great award flight to book, because by the time the points make it to your account, the award could be gone. We don’t recommend transferring speculatively based on an award flight that may or may not be available by the time the points show up. In my opinion, this is biggest downside of Citi ThankYou points, and the reason I can’t recommend them as enthusiastically as Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If transfer were instant – or even a couple of days – across the board, it would be a different story.

Who should collect Citi ThankYou points?

Though Citi ThankYou points aren’t as user-friendly as other types of points, they’re far from being worthless. You might focus your energy on Citi ThankYou points if you:

  • Like the 5x and 3x earning categories on cards like Citi Prestige and Citi Premier℠ Card
  • Know how to make use of airline transfer partners
  • Book travel through ThankYou.com, and like the points value there
  • Can work with transfers that may or may not be instant
  • Find ThankYou points easy to collect
  • Want to diversify your points
  • Have a good use in mind for the points you earn

If you like to book travel directly through the bank, you can do well with the Citi Premier℠ Card, which offers the best of everything the Citi ThankYou program has to offer. I’ve been surprised at how many points I earn – and how valuable they’ve become to my overall approach to points.

Bottom line

Citi ThankYou points aren’t as immediately approachable or expansive as other points programs. But the reward lies in using the list of airline partners, and earning extra points in excellent bonus categories, like 5 points per dollar on airfare and dining with Citi Prestige, and 3 points per dollar on travel and gas with the  Citi Premier℠ Card.

The biggest pro to the program is access to every major airline alliance, and other airlines through non-alliance partners.  And the big downside is points transfers aren’t always instant. That said, if you rake in points with any of the Citi ThankYou cards, it’s easy to earn travel rewards. This is currently my go-to program because I use a few award options all the time.

If you can find a valuable way to use Citi ThankYou points, I’d say they’re worth collecting. And knowing the quirks and limitations will help you navigate to the best uses.

Do you like Citi ThankYou points?  I’d love to hear what you think of the program! And subscribe to our newsletter for more comprehensive how-to miles & points tips delivered to your inbox once per day!

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Do not make car reservations using Thank You Points. The arrangement is essentially a prepaid situation so one may not cancel the reservation 48 hours before the pick up time. I made my car reservation about 18 hours ago, and they told me I cannot cancel without a penalty. When I made the reservation, it was not apparent that I could not cancel it. When I called Citi Travel, they told me there was a statement at the end of the terms. It wasn’t clear to me. Rather there was a cancel button on the screen, and if there was such a term, it wasn’t obvious until after the reservation was confirmed.

One better make car reservations via AAA or Costco. Cheaper and can cancel without any penalty.

Hi – Which hotel is the cover pic of this article? Looks really good!

That would be the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta!

I love to use Citi Thank You points to for airlines that I might have to pay out-of-pocket. It’s not always the best use of points, but my goal is to never pay for a flight especially pricey non-alliance planes. Receiving 25% off is an additional perk. For me, having a portfolio of points at my disposal minimizes my cash spend. My biggest gripe with the program is that I cannot book on many small airlines like Air Senegal.

Hey Janice! Completely agree with you on all points. For smaller airlines, you may luck calling Citi directly – it’s not like Chase where WYSIWYG. Worth a shot.

Glad to hear you’re saving cash on flights by using your points. It’s certainly a nice perk!

Thank you for reading and commenting, hope you are well!

I fly United Economy almost exclusively, so the Avianca and Singapore partnerships are great. MR has them too, so I use the Amex and Citi cards in tandem, divvying up my spending for maximum earnings.

The only time I need to use United miles to book is on the rare occasion when I’m looking for extra availability. The United Explorer gives me the availability, and I can supplement my small stash of United miles with Bonvoy (big stash there).

There ya go! That’s an excellent plan you have there! Love hearing how you’re using flexible points and airline partnerships to get the award seats you want. High five, George!

Is there a limit if want to transfer (not combine permanently) ThankYou points between my own accounts?
Example: transfer my AT&T Access More ThankYou points to my Citi Prestige ThankYou points account?

Hey Audrey! Nope, no limit between your own accounts (100K limit on both sending and receiving to/from accounts that aren’t yours, though).

Transfer away!

FYI. I just called Citi Thankyou to move points around my own accounts. The system let the representative transfer only 100,000 points. I’m not sure if there is another to move points other than the “Points sharing” tab.

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