How to use Citi ThankYou points to book travel (flights, hotels and more)
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Savvy travelers know that flexible points are some of the most valuable, because you can redeem them for award flights and hotels to travel for nearly free. But when you can’t find award flights or rooms, they’re even more handy to book paid travel with no blackout dates through a travel portal.
Citi ThankYou points are no exception. If you have a Citi ThankYou points earning card like the Citi Premier® Card, you can easily book travel through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, including flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and activities. There’s no fussing with award charts or searching for available dates, so it’s perfect for last-minute bookings or travel during peak times.
Plus, the Citi Premier has the highest welcome bonus of any of the Citi ThankYou points earning cards – 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. That’s by far the fastest way to earn Citi ThankYou points.
I’ll show you how to use Citi ThankYou points through the Citi ThankYou portal.
Redeeming points through the Citi ThankYou portal is simple. I’ll walk you through the process step by step!
How to use the Citi ThankYou points
The points you earn with cards like the Citi Premier are transferable, which gives you more flexibility by letting you access to Citi transfer partners.
You can also use the points to book travel through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, where they’re worth 1.25 cents each towards flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises (until April 10, 2021, when their value will reduce to 1 cent per point). That means this welcome bonus is worth – at a minimum – $750 in travel (60,000 points x 1.25 cents per point).
Most folks will get the highest value from their Citi ThankYou Points by transferring them to one of Citi ThankYou transfer partners:
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Transferring to partners like Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines or even Citi’s newest partner, Emirates, is usually the best way to use Citi ThankYou points. You can only transfer points to Citi airline partners if you have a “premium” Citi ThankYou card, like the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige® Card.
That said, award flights can sometimes be hard to come by, especially if you’re booking on short notice or traveling during popular times, like the holidays. That’s when booking through the Citi ThankYou travel portal can save the day. And you don’t need a premium Citi ThankYou card to use it. Plus, you’re not limited to booking flights. You can redeem your points for hotel stays (even at non-chain hotels), rental cars, cruises, and activities.
The value of your Citi ThankYou points when you book through the portal depends on which Citi ThankYou card you have (and Citi Premier cardholders get the best deal, as you’ll see below).
How much are your Citi ThankYou points worth?
If you have the Citi Premier, your Citi ThankYou points are automatically worth more when redeeming them for flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises through the Citi ThankYou Portal.
For example, you can redeem Citi ThankYou points at a rate of 1.25 cents each towards airfare hotels, rental cars and cruises if you have the Citi Premier. If you earn points with other cards, like the Citi Prestige or Citi® Double Cash Card, you can transfer them to the Citi Premier and receive the 25% improved redemption value. Jasmin booked the luxury Conrad Tokyo with Citi ThankYou points this way when they didn’t have any standard award rooms left!
How to use Citi ThankYou points through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
Redeeming your points through the Citi ThankYou travel portal is fairly straightforward. The portal operates much like any other online travel agency website (like Expedia or Orbitz) and allows you to book flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and other activities.
Keep in mind, you’ll still earn airline miles for flights when you book this way. But you won’t earn hotel points or elite credits, because it’s considered a third-party booking. And you may not have your elite status perks recognized (although Jasmin did receive Hilton Gold status perks at the Conrad Tokyo).
Here’s how it works
Step 1. Navigate to the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
To get started, log into your Citi account and navigate to the ThankYou travel portal from your Citi account homepage, or visit directly at ThankYou.com using your Citi banking log-in. You can read our post on how to setup a Citi ThankYou points account.
Personally, I prefer to go directly to ThankYou.com because it is the Citi ThankYou portal’s home screen and makes things a bit easier to navigate. Keep in mind that the ThankYou.com home screen is constantly changing to advertise new promotions or transfer partners, so check in often (and subscribe to our newsletter) to ensure you don’t miss out on any great deals or transfer bonuses.
Step 2. Find the “Travel” tab
Hover over “Travel” from the menu options along the top row. Then navigate to the section you want (flights, hotels, cars, activities, or cruises).
How to book flights through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
After clicking on “Flights“, you’ll be taken to the ThankYou portal booking engine. This operates much like other third-party travel sites you might be familiar with.
Here, you’ll enter your departure city, destination, travel dates, and number of passengers. If you click “More Options” you can add filters for preferred airline, class of service, departure time, arrival time, and number of stops. Click “Search Flights” to view your results.
The results page will automatically list flights in order of least expensive to most expensive. By default, it will include Basic Economy fares, but you can filter those out if you want. You can also filter by airline or stops (in case you want to avoid flying Spirit or another low cost airline).
In the example below (using the Citi Premier), points are worth 1.25 cents each towards airfare.
On the right side of the screen, you can view the price for each available flight and how many Citi ThankYou points you’ll need to book it. To continue your booking, click “Select“.
You’ll have an option choose if you want to use Citi ThankYou points to fully or partially pay for your flight. Then click “Continue to My Itinerary“.
You’ll then be brought to a series of booking screens where you can enter your passenger details similar to other online booking sites.
How to book hotels through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
The process for booking hotel stays through the ThankYou portal is very similar.
To start, navigate back to the “Travel” screen and click on “Hotels“.
Once again, the booking portal is easy to use and looks very similar to other online travel agencies. Enter your destination, dates, and number of adults and children and click on “Search Hotels“.
The hotel results screen will look very similar to the flight results, offering you a chance to filter by price range, amenities, or the hotel’s rating (in this case, from 3 to 5 stars). Sometimes, hotels will have special offers or discounts as well.
If you’ve found a hotel you like, click “Choose Room” and decide if you want to book the cheapest room or splurge for a suite. Then, you can once again customize how many points you want to redeem (or you can redeem all of your points!) and choose to pay the rest of your stay in cash.
Once you’ve picked a room, you’ll be taken to a checkout screen where you can enter your personal details. Always be careful to check the cancellation policy for your booking.
How to book rental cars through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
Find the “Cars” tab under “Travel” and enter your pick-up and drop-off points, dates and times and the driver’s age.
The results list is similar to the flight and hotel search, with the least expensive presented first. You can filter by rental company, car type, and car options. When you find the car you want, click “Book This Car“.
Again, you can customize your payment options. And you’ll be brought to a similar screen to enter your personal details before you confirm the booking.
How to book cruises through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
While you can browse for different cruise deals through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, you can’t actually book them online. Find the “Cruise” tab to browse cruise offers and special deals. You’ll see featured cruise offers at the bottom of the screen.
Unlike searching for flights, hotels, and cars, you can’t specify certain travel dates from the search screen — but you can specify a cruise line (like Norwegian) or destination (like the Bahamas). Then, you can click on “View Cruise Details” and decide if any of the cruises are a good fit.
If you find a cruise you like, call Citi at 800-842-6596 to book.
How to book activities through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal
The “Activities” booking option is a little simpler from a booking perspective, because you can read the details of each specific activity and choose the one that works best for you or your family.
To search for activities, just click the “Activities” heading and enter your desired destination and dates.
I like that the activities search tab will show you all available activities across a range of dates. This can be especially helpful for families or for folks who want to get to know an area, but don’t know what fun events might be offered.
The results screen of your activities search will give you more details about each option and allow you to customize that date you want.
Note: Even with the Citi Premier, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per Citi ThankYou point when you book activities.
Keep in mind that for any booking through the Citi ThankYou Portal, you can always call Citi at 800-842-6596 with any travel or booking related questions. In my experience, the ThankYou Rewards team is friendly and efficient, and sometimes calling in is even easier than booking online.
If you prefer simplicity or don’t want to deal with blackout dates or searching for hard-to-find award flights, booking travel through the Citi ThankYou travel portal can be a very good deal. You can redeem points for flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and activities – and you’ll even earn frequent flyer miles for your flights!
The best card for booking through the Citi ThankYou travel portal is the Citi Premier, because your points are worth 1.25 cents each towards airfare, hotels, rental cars, and cruises. It’s got a welcome bonus of 60,000 Citi ThankYou points (worth $750 in travel) after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Keep in mind, it’s possible to get more value from your points when you transfer them to airline partners. So always compare to see which is a better deal before you pull the trigger.
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