3 Easy-to-Avoid Mistakes When Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

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INSIDER SECRET: If you have both the Citi Premier® Card and Citi Rewards+® Card linked to the same ThankYou account, you can stack the card’s benefits. That means you’ll get a 10% rebate on transfers of Citi ThankYou points to airlines.

Even though Citi recently announced it is gutting the travel coverages and insurance on its cards, one thing that isn’t changing is the Citi ThankYou points program.

You can use Citi ThankYou points in all sorts of ways. They can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, merchandise purchases and statement credits, in addition to paying for travel or booking award flights.

There are a lot of options to sort through and to top it all off, the value of your points changes depending on which card you have. For example, the Citi Premier Card is better to have if you want to use Citi ThankYou points to pay for the travel you book through Citi’s travel center. But the Citi Rewards+® Card is better for redeeming ThankYou points for gift cards because you’ll get a 10% points rebate on the first 100,000 points redeemed each year.

It can get complicated. So to help you out, I’ll share three easily avoidable mistakes that can suck the value out of your ThankYou points.

Avoiding a few simple mistakes when redeeming your Citi ThankYou points isn’t hard. (Photo by iQoncept/Shutterstock)

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

Citi ThankYou points are Citibank’s transferrable rewards program.

You can earn them with cards like:

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

Almost always, the best way to use Citi ThankYou points is to transfer them to one of Citibank’s airline travel partners. This is especially true when there is a transfer bonus, like the current 25% bonus for Flying Blue transfers.

But you can only transfer ThankYou points to airlines if you have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card. These cards also make your ThankYou points worth more when you use them to pay for travel through the ThankYou travel site. With the Citi Premier Card, your ThankYou points are worth 1.25 cents toward travel — like flights, rental cars, hotels and cruises — booked through Citi’s website. And with the Citi Prestige card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each toward airfare booked through Citi’s travel center (on September 1, 2019 this will be reduced to 1 cent each for the Prestige card).

If you don’t have either of those cards, then you should aim to get at least 1 cent in value per Citi ThankYou point. You can do this by using your points to pay for travel through the ThankYou portal or by redeeming for gift cards. Keep in mind, that if you’re booking hotels through the Citi travel center, the prices can be higher than when you book directly with the hotel or through other sites. So always double-check that you’re getting the best price.

As easy as it is to get value from your Citi ThankYou points, there are some simple mistakes you’ll want to be sure to avoid.

1. Don’t Let Your Citi ThankYou Points Expire

You can transfer up to 100,000 Citi ThankYou points from one Citi ThankYou account to another for free each year. But once you transfer the points, they expire in 90 days and there is nothing you can do to extend the expiration date.

So don’t share points with another account until you’re ready to redeem them.

Also, if you have the Citi Rewards+ card, the 10% points rebate is not valid on transferred points. But you can get the 10% rebate on travel-partner points transfers if you also have a card that allows you to transfer to airline partners, like the Citi Premier.

2. Don’t Redeem Citi ThankYou Points for Cash Back or a Statement Credit

Some transferable points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, are worth 1 cent each as cash back. No other reward is as straightforward as cash back. No headaches, no wasting time trying to maximize the value of your points.

It’s low-hanging fruit, but it’s something you should avoid like the plague when it comes to redeeming your Citi ThankYou points because you’ll only get .5 cents per point in value when you redeem for cash back or a statement credit.

If you absolutely need to use your ThankYou points to pay your bills, you can use them to make payments on a student loan or a mortgage at 1 cent per point. However, if you happen to have a Citi Prestige card, you can redeem ThankYou points for cash back at a rate of 1 cent each. But of course, you’ll also have access to better options.

3. Thou Shalt Not Use Citi ThankYou Points for Merchandise Purchases

There are a slew of different types of points you can use to make purchases at Amazon, like Hilton points, Amex Membership Rewards points, and Citi ThankYou points. The one thing they all have in common is that it’s generally a terrible use of your points.

Your ThankYou points are worth around .8 cents toward merchandise at stores like Amazon, Best Buy, and 1-800-Flowers. But you can use ThankYou points, at rate of 1 cent each, to purchase Best Buy or 1-800-Flowers gift cards.

And the only time it makes sense to use Citi ThankYou points at Amazon is when there is a targeted offer to receive a big discount when using at least 1 ThankYou point.

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

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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