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At first, I didn’t like this offer because you have to jump through a few hoops to get the full sign-up bonus. But after crunching the numbers, it does make sense to get because I’ll get $500 in free flights with no black-out days!
To be clear, there are better deals if you’re new to miles and points, such as the Southwest or American Airlines 50,000 point cards, but for some folks this could be worth considering.
Citi ThankYou Premier
Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
Last year when Citi offered 50,000 points on the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you got the full 50,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months.
But this time, you have to keep the card for 1 year (and pay the annual fee for the 2nd year), to get an additional 30,000 Thank You Points.
This is part of a trend where we will see large credit card sign-up bonuses return, but they will either have large minimum spending requirement to get the full bonus (like the 100,000 point British Airways offer) or will require you to keep the card for some time to get the full bonus.
Here’s how you get the full 50,000 points on the Citi ThankYou Premier card:
- You get 20,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
- You get an additional 30,000 after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of the second year of having your card
How to Get $500 in Flights With No Blackout Days
At first glance, it seems like the card is really a 20,000 point card, because you only get 20,000 points the first year.
You get the full 50,000 points only if you keep the card for the 2nd year and pay the high $125 annual fee. The $125 annual fee is waived for the 1st year, but not for the 2nd year.
But paying the $125 annual fee is worth it if you can get a net benefit of $500 in free flights with no black-out dates. You also may be able to get a statement credit or extra points if you are a good customer and call Citi at the end of the 1st year and ask if they could help out with the annual fee.
Each Citi Thank You point is worth 1.25 cents towards airfare, so 50,000 points gets you $625 in free flights. But you have to pay the annual fee for the 2nd year, so your net benefit is $500 in free flights ($625 in flights less the $125 annual fee for the 2nd year).
Citi markets this by saying that you need 20% fewer points when you redeem for flights. Which means that 1 Thank You Point gets you 1.25 cents towards airfare.
Yes, you do have to keep the card for the 2nd year and pay the fee, but this is a great way to get $500 in flights which you can then redeem for flights on any airline with no black-out days.
That said, it does seem like a bit of work to get the full benefit from the card. If you do decide to get the card, I’d immediately put a calendar reminder on your phone or computer to remind you about the minimum spending during the 2nd year.
Other Card Perks
- 3X points on every $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
- 2X points on every $1 spent on airfare and hotels
- No foreign transaction fees
- $125 annual fee is waived the first year
It looks like Citi has changed the card perks to closely match or beat the Chase Sapphire Preferred which gets you 2x points on travel and dining.
The Citi Thank You Premier gets you 3X points on restaurants and entertainment, so you’re earning 3.75 cents (3 Thank You points X 1.25 cents towards airfare) towards air tickets for every $1 you spend at restaurants or for entertainment.
Entertainment includes everything from theater to museums to video rental stores.
You get 2X Thank You points or 2.50 cents (2 Thank You points X 1.25 cents towards airfare) towards air tickets for every $1 you spend on airfare or hotels.
However, you can’t transfer Citi Thank You points to airline miles, but you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel points.
So if your goal is first class or business class tickets, you’re better off spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of the Citi Thank You Premier card. That’s because you can transfer you points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred to airlines such as United and British Airways and to hotels such as Hyatt and Marriott.
Note that you can transfer Thank You points to Hilton in a 1:1.5 ratio, so 50,000 Thank You points gets you 75,000 Hilton points. I wouldn’t personally transfer my Thank You points to Hilton (I’d rather use them for flights!), but this could be worth it for some folks
Redeem For Airfare, Hotels, Car Rentals & Gift Cards
1 Citi Thank You point (as long as you have the Citi Thank You Premier) can be redeemed for 1.25 cents towards airfare with no blackout dates.
So 50,000 points are worth $625 in airfare (50,000 Thank You Points X 1.25 cents towards airfare).
You can use these points to buy flights up to any value, just as you would if you pay cash. This is great for those occasions where you can’t use miles and points (inter-island flights in French Polynesia) or where you have no flexibility with your travel plans (school schedule, sick family members, etc.).
It is very easy to redeem Citi Thank You points by going to the Thank You portal.
You can also redeem 1 Citi Thank You point for 1 cent towards hotels or car rentals, so 50,000 points is worth ~$500 in hotels or car rentals. But you’ll pay $125 in the 2nd year, so your net benefit is $375 ($500 in benefits – $125 in annual fees) in hotels or car rentals.
The Citi Thank You portal has the same great rates on car rentals as the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal! These are some of the best rates on rental cars.
And you can redeem 1 Thank You point for 1 cent towards gift cards such as Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx, etc.
So 50,000 points is worth ~$500 in gift cards. But you’ll pay $125 in the 2nd year, so your net benefit is $375 ($500 in benefits – $125 in annual fees) in gift cards.
Points Don’t Expire
Your Citi ThankYou Points don’t expire, as long as you don’t cancel the card.
See this post for more details on how to prevent your Thank You points from expiring if you cancel your Citi Thank You card.
You get up to 50,000 ThankYou points on the Citi ThankYou Premier card but you have to spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of the 1st year and an additional $3,000 in the first 3 months of the 2nd year to get the full bonus.
But you will get $500 in free flights on ANY airline with NO blackout dates with 50,000 Citi Thank You points even after paying the $125 annual fee for the 2nd year.
$500 in free flights could be worth the trouble of remembering to spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of your 2nd year of having the card!