All the Ways How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points in 2019!

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All the Ways How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points in 2019!

Jason StaufferAll the Ways How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points in 2019!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Currently, there are 5 Citi ThankYou points-earning cards you can apply for, each with different benefits and annual fees.  The Citi Premier℠ Card and Citi Prestige have the biggest sign-up bonuses, but that’s not the only thing you should consider before applying.

What you can do with your Citi ThankYou points will vary depending on which card you have.  And Citi also has very specific rules when it comes to qualifying for a sign-up bonus with their ThankYou cards.

So which ones are the best credit cards to earn Citi ThankYou points with?

There’s a lot to be aware of, so I’ll share with you the benefits and perks that make each card great for your situation.

With the best credit cards to earn Citi ThankYou points, you could be flying to Japan with ANA in no time!

How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points

Which Citi ThankYou card is the best for you depends a lot on your travel preferences and how you like to redeem credit card rewards.  But regardless of your situation or travel style, Citi has something for you with these options:

  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus:  Citi Prestige & Citi Premier
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel Perks & Discounts:  Citi Prestige
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card With No Annual Fee:  Citi Rewards+℠ Card & Citi AT&T Access
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel Flexibility:  Citi Prestige & Citi Premier
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Booking Travel Without Blackout Dates:  Citi Premier
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Cell Phone Bills:  Citi Prestige or AT&T Access
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel & Dining Purchases:  Citi Prestige
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Gift Card Redemptions & Small Purchases:  Citi Rewards+℠
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for College Students:  Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus:  Citi Prestige & Citi Premier

If you’re looking to quickly stock-up on Citi ThankYou points, then apply for either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier℠ Card.  With both of these cards, you’ll earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

None of the other ThankYou card intro bonuses come close to that.

The main difference between these 2 cards is their annual fees.  The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first 12 months, and the Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee.  That’s a $495 difference in annual fees the first year and a $400 difference every year after that!

That said, the Citi Prestige does come with a bunch of perks the Citi Premier doesn’t have.  So you’ll have to decide whether the benefits of those outweigh the cost of the annual fee, given your personal circumstances.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel Perks & Discounts:  Citi Prestige

If you’re looking for perks like lounge access and discounts like a TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement, then the Citi Prestige is the card for you.

As I said before, the Citi Prestige does have a $495 annual fee.  But as you’ll see, it’s got plenty of benefits that make it worth paying for, like:

  • $250 annual travel credit for a wide range of travel purchases, like airfare, hotels, and rental cars
  • Complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive night stay booked through either ThankYou.com or the Citi Prestige Concierge.  Starting September 1, 2019, you’ll be limited to using this perk twice per year and you’ll only be able to make bookings through the ThankYou.com website or by calling Citi ThankYou directly (not the concierge)
  • Up to $100 TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement once every 5 years
  • Complimentary Priority Pass lounge access with unlimited visits for the cardholder and 2 guests or immediate family members (spouse/domestic partner and children under 18 years of age)

Once you include the annual $250 travel credit, you’ll only need to get $245+ in value from the card’s other perks to make it worth keeping.  And that’s easy to do.

For starters, the Priority Pass membership you get with the Citi Prestige is one of the most generous out there.  You’ll get unlimited access for yourself and 2 guests, which is what a lot of other premium travel cards get you.  But with the Prestige card, you can bring more than 2 guests if they are immediate family members.  That makes this card the best option for families of 3+ people.

If you’ve got a large family, the Citi Prestige’s Priority Pass membership is perfect for you

Plus, there are lots of ways to save money with Priority Pass beside just visiting airport lounges.

And even though the card’s 4th-night-free perk is being stripped down from unlimited use to only twice per year, just using it 2 times could easily save you hundreds of dollars.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card With No Annual Fee:  Citi Rewards+ & Citi AT&T Access

Neither the Citi AT&T Access nor the Citi Rewards+℠ Card has an annual fee.  So they are great options for keeping year after year to help increase the age of your accounts, which can improve your credit score.

The Citi AT&T Access card is slightly more rewarding because it earns 2X Citi ThankYou points on eligible online travel and retail purchases.  This includes department store websites, specialty store websites, warehouse store websites, boutique websites, online travel agencies, and hotel and airline websites.

Plus, there is no yearly limit to that bonus.  So if you do a lot of shopping online, it’s a no brainer.

You can stack up your rewards on Amazon purchases with the Citi AT&T Access Card

On the other hand, the Citi Rewards+℠ Card earns 2X Citi ThankYou points on supermarket and gas station purchases.  It’s a useful bonus category, but it only applies to the first $6,000 in purchases each year (after that you’ll earn 1X).

So, take a look at your spending patterns before you decide which card is right for you.  Personally, I just downgraded my Citi Premier card to a Citi Rewards+ card because I wanted to keep my account open and I like the card’s 10% points rebate (on up to 100,000 points per year) on redemptions.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel Flexibility:  Citi Prestige & Citi Premier

The best way to get outsized value with your Citi ThankYou points is to transfer them to one of their 15 airline partners:

  • 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

Citi ThankYou points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, in 1,000-point increments, with all of the above partners.  But here’s the catch – you can only transfer Citi ThankYou points to these partners if you have either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier card.

Note:  I currently have the Citi Rewards+ card and I am able to transfer my ThankYou points only to JetBlue, but at a reduced 5:4 transfer ratio.  So every 1,000 Citi ThankYou points converts into 800 JetBlue points.

Here’s one example of how transferring your Citi ThankYou points can drastically increase their value.

You can book round-trip Business Class award seats on ANA from the US to Japan for between 90,000 and 95,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  These same seats can easily run $8,000+.  So you’re getting 8.5 to 9 cents in travel per ThankYou point ($8,000 ticket / 90,000 to 95,000 points) by first transferring them to Virgin Atlantic.

When you compare that to redeeming ThankYou points for 1 cent each toward gift cards, there’s no contest!

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Booking Travel Without Blackout Dates:  Citi Premier

Now that you know why transferring Citi ThankYou points is such a powerful tool to have, I’ll share with you the downside of that option because…there’s always a downside isn’t there?

If you want to transfer points to an airline to book an award flight, first, you’ll need to make sure there is an available award flight that fits your schedule.  Airlines get to make up the rules for their loyalty programs, so they can limit the number of available award seats.  So, for example, if you want to fly to a popular destination during peak season you could be out of luck.

But your Citi ThankYou points can bail you out of this pickle.  And you can even use them to book free flights while earning frequent flyer miles at the same time.

All the Ways to Earn Marriott Points in 2018!
You can use your Citi ThankYou points to book cruises through the ThankYou site

The way you do this is by paying for your flight with Citi ThankYou points through the ThankYou travel site.  The trade off is that your ThankYou points won’t be worth as much when you use them to pay for travel this way (only 1 cent each).  But if you have the Citi Premier card, your ThankYou points are worth an increased 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through the ThankYou travel portal.

That’s a big boost.  I took advantage of this perk when I earned 60,000 Citi ThankYou points from a checking account bonus.  And because I had the Citi Premier card, I was able to book $750 in travel with my points.

I ended up using my points to book my wife a flight to Scotland because the taxes and fees on award flights to the UK are absurd.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Cell Phone Bills:  Citi Prestige or AT&T Access

The Citi AT&T Access card earns 2X Citi ThankYou points on products and services purchased directly from AT&T.  So if you’re an AT&T customer, it’s the best ThankYou credit card for earning points on your cell phone bill.

The rest of us are better off paying our cell phone bill with the Citi Prestige because soon (beginning May 1, 2019) the Citi Prestige card will be adding cell phone insurance as a benefit.  It will cover damage and theft for up to 5 phones when you pay your monthly phone bill with your Citi Prestige card.  There will be a $50 deductible per claim and the benefit will be capped at $1,000 per claim and $1,500 per year.

This is one of the better cell phone insurance coverages that comes as a credit card perk.  It’s not worth paying the card’s $495 annual fee just for the cell phone insurance.  But if you’re taking advantage of the card’s other perks, this is icing on the cake.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel & Dining Purchases:  Citi Prestige

If you spend a lot on travel and eating out, you’ll have a hard time finding a more rewarding card than the Citi Prestige.

It earns a whopping 5X Citi ThankYou points on air travel AND dining purchases.  That’s the highest earning rate, in any category, of all the Citi ThankYou points earning cards.

The card also earns 3X Citi ThankYou points on hotels and cruise lines.  Paying for cruises can get expensive, but getting 3X ThankYou points per $1 for those purchases matches the highest category bonus rate you’ll get for cruise spending with most other travel rewards credit cards.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Gift Card Redemptions & Small Purchases:  Citi Rewards+

Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a season of life where travel isn’t the main priority.  Or you might have a small balance of points that isn’t enough for a big travel redemption.

In these cases, gift cards can be a solid no-nonsense way to redeem your points, and having the Citi Rewards+℠ Card can make it even more rewarding.  With the card, you’ll get a 10% points rebate on the first 100,000 ThankYou points redeemed per calendar year.

This is a great perk to combine with Citi’s frequent gift card sales.

Stack the Citi Rewards+ card’s 10% rebate with a gift card sale to maximize your savings

The Citi Rewards+℠ Card is also the perfect card for making small purchases because of a unique perk.  The points you earn with the card on every purchase get rounded up to the nearest increment of ten.  So a $0.25 piece of candy and a $5 latte both earn 10 ThankYou points.

Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for College Students:  Citi Rewards+ Student

I opened my first credit card when I was in college.  Doing that can be a good way to establish a credit history, as long as you’re responsible for paying off your balance each month and not overspending.  But unfortunately, I wasn’t earning any rewards with the card.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card, which earns:

  • 2X Citi ThankYou points on purchases at gas stations and supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1X afterward
  • 1X Citi ThankYou point on all other purchases

Also, you’ll never earn less than 10 points on a purchase because every purchase will automatically be rounded up to the nearest increment of ten, just like with the regular Citi Rewards+ card.

Plus, you’ll get 10% back on all your redemptions (on the first 100,000 points you redeem per year).  So the ThankYou points you earn will actually be worth slightly more than normal.

Citi ThankYou Points Earning Credit Card Application Rules

In general, you won’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus on a Citi ThankYou points earning card if you’ve opened or closed a card within the same brand of cards (i.e. another ThankYou points card) within the past 24 months.  But the exact terms vary for each card, so be sure to read the fine print on the application before you submit it.

Here is a quick breakdown of the sign-up bonus restrictions for each of the Citi ThankYou credit cards.

Citi Prestige

You won’t be eligible for the Citi Prestige card’s sign-up bonus if in the past 24 months you’ve earned a sign-up bonus with or opened or closed any of these cards:

  • Citi Rewards+℠
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card  (no longer available)
  • Citi Premier℠
  • Citi Prestige®

Citi Premier Card

You won’t be eligible for the Citi Premier℠ Card’s sign-up bonus if in the past 24 months you’ve earned a sign-up bonus with or opened or closed any of these cards:

  • Citi Rewards+℠
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card  (no longer available)
  • Citi Premier℠
  • Citi Prestige®

Citi Rewards+ Card

You won’t be eligible for the Citi Rewards+℠ Card’s sign-up bonus if in the past 24 months you’ve earned a sign-up bonus with or opened or closed any of these cards:

  • Citi Rewards+℠
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card (no longer available)
  • Citi Premier℠
  • Citi Prestige®

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

You won’t be eligible for the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card’s sign-up bonus if in the past 24 months you’ve earned a sign-up bonus with or opened or closed any of these cards:

  • Citi Rewards+℠
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card (no longer available)
  • Citi Premier℠
  • Citi Prestige®

You are eligible for this card if you are 18+ years old and a college or graduate student with a valid social security number.

AT&T Access Card From Citi

You won’t be eligible for the AT&T Access Card’s sign-up bonus if in the past 24 months you’ve opened or closed any of these cards:

  • AT&T Access
  • AT&T Access More

Bottom Line

When it comes to earning Citi ThankYou points, there’s a credit card for just about every type of spender.  The card that’s best for you depends a lot on your individual situation.

Here’s a list of the best credit cards to earn Citi ThankYou points with:

  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus:  Citi Prestige & Citi Premier
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel Perks & Discounts:  Citi Prestige
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card With No Annual Fee:  Citi Rewards+℠ & Citi AT&T Access
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel Flexibility:  Citi Prestige & Citi Premier
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Booking Travel Without Blackout Dates:  Citi Premier
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Cell Phone Bills:  Citi Prestige or AT&T Access
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Travel & Dining Purchases:  Citi Prestige
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Gift Card Redemptions & Small Purchases:  Citi Rewards+℠
  • Best Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for College Students:  Citi Rewards+ Student

Check out our other articles about Citi ThankYou points:

 

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Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 50,000 Points are redeemable for $625 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

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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So I can’t get the signup bonus on most of these cards if I’ve opened or closed another Thank You card in the past 24 months – what if I simply have had the other card during that time? Do I need to close the existing card and then wait 24 months in order to be eligible for the bonus?

Author

No, you can hold more than one ThankYou card at the same time. You just can’t have more than one of the same card.
So if you earned the bonus on a Citi Premier card 24 months ago and the card is still open, you could open a Citi Rewards+ card, for example.