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Citi ThankYou Points Review: An Overlooked Program With a Lot of Potential & Why Smart Travelers Should Earn Them

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Citi ThankYou Points Review: An Overlooked Program With a Lot of Potential & Why Smart Travelers Should Earn Them

Harlan VaughnCiti ThankYou Points Review: An Overlooked Program With a Lot of Potential & Why Smart Travelers Should Earn ThemMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Citi ThankYou points only partner with one US airline. But you can transfer points to other international airlines that partner with American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and more! So they’re great points to collect for domestic flights.

Of the 3 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), NO hotel transfer partners, and a limited number of cards that rack up the points.

But savvy travelers love Citi ThankYou points.  Because if you know a few useful tricks, you can easily get outsized value.  And they’re remarkably easy to earn!

In fact, I’m focusing on Citi ThankYou cards this year.  And regularly use my points for incredible travel experiences domestically and abroad.

Cards that earn transferable Citi ThankYou points include Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier℠ Card.  And you can add to your balance with the Citi Rewards+℠ Card or Citi Rewards+℠ Student 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.

I use Citi ThankYou points to travel around the US 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)

Citi ThankYou Points Review

Citi ThankYou points don’t get enough attention.  And they’re surprisingly useful, despite their limitations.  I’m using them more than any other points program this year!

Here are answers to common questions about Citi ThankYou points.

How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points

There are seven credit cards that earn Citi ThankYou points:

  • Citi Premier℠ Card – 3 points per dollar on travel, 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment, 1 point per dollar on everything else.  Read our review of the Citi Premier
  • 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 Rewards+℠ Student Card – 2 points per dollar at gas stations and supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar), and 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • 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
  • AT&T Access Card From Citi – 2 points per dollar on AT&T purchases, travel, and online retail, 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • AT&T Access More Card From Citi (no longer available to new applicants)
  • Citi ThankYou Preferred (no longer available to new applicants)

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.

Only the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier earn transferable points. The others earn points that boost your account balance, and become transferable when combined with either one. (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

You’ll notice the Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier℠ Card earn bonus points in popular categories.  I love earning 5 Citi ThankYou points per dollar on airfare and dining with Citi Prestige.  And Jasmin loves her Citi Premier for 3 points per dollar on travel (including gas!), and 2 points per dollar for entertainment.

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)
  • Shop with Points at Amazon or Best Buy ( ~.8 cents per point)
  • ThankYou Select & Credit (~.75 cents per point toward certain purchases)
It’s easy to redeem your points on ThankYou.com

To view and redeem your points, navigate to ThankYou.com.

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)
  • 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.

Bruges, Belgium, is such a cute village! I redeemed Citi ThankYou points to fly to Belgium on Brussels Airlines. (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

In my opinion, this is the best and highest-value way to use your Citi ThankYou points.  In a future post, I’ll share the smartest ways to use your Citi ThankYou points for travel.

Book Travel Through Citi Travel Portal

If you have Citi Prestige, you can book travel directly through Citi, and each point is worth:

  • 1.25 cents toward flights (until September 1, 2019, then 1 cent per point)
  • 1 cent toward all other travel (hotels, car rentals, cruises, activities, etc.)

Whereas if you have the Citi Premier℠ Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each toward other travel redemptions, including hotels, rental cars, and cruises.

If you book a lot of airfare this way, either card gets you the same rate.  And you’ll still earn miles and elite status credit when you fly!

But for hotels and other travel, the Citi Premier℠ Card makes your points worth 25% more.  Just note 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.

Keep your points separated or combine them in one place – it’s up to you.

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

The advantage of combining is all your points will take on the characteristics of the most “powerful” card account.  For example, points earned with the Citi Rewards+℠ Card, but combined with Citi Prestige, become transferable to airline partners – whereas you can NOT do this when they’re on their own.

Or if you have a Citi Premier℠ Card, then all your points are worth 1.25 cents each toward travel, which makes them worth more.

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

Link: How to Share Citi ThankYou Points & What You Need to Be Aware Of to Ensure Your Points Don’t Expire

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 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.

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 & Con of Citi ThankYou Points

Pro:  Access to Every 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 – Avianca, 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

Folks report 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.

This is NOT handy 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.  And it’s hard to transfer 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.

As it stands, this is the most salient negative.  Your points may take their time getting into airline partner accounts.

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.  Actually, I’m focusing my efforts on Citi ThankYou points.  And you might too 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

My strategy is to use Citi ThankYou points for flights, and save my Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotel rooms.  It’s an easy and effective plan that covers the 2 biggest aspects of award travel.

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 7 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.

Check out our other articles about Citi ThankYou points:

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!

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

Author

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.

Author

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).

Author

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?

Author

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!

I thought ThankYou points expire if you close the card that those points are associated with, regardless if you have another ThankYou point earning card. Is that not the case? Do those points get transferred to your other ThankYou points earning card?

Author

That hasn’t been my experience. When I closed my Citi Premier card, I was able to keep the points I’d earned from it by having other TY cards linked to the same account number.

YMMV, and you may want to transfer your points out of the account before you close the card – or call Citi to make sure. I’ve always had every TY card linked to one account.

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