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Citi Thankyou Points – The Ultimate Guide

If you’re constantly traveling the world and are looking for simple travel hacks that agree with your wallet, then the Citibank ThankYou Rewards might be for you.

By utilizing the Citibank Rewards Points by using your Citibank credit card for your everyday purchases, you can collect points to put towards your flights and hotel stays.

Because I travel often, I’m always looking for ways to maximize my spending benefits. On previous trips, I’ve used my accumulated points to get some of the best deals on flights within Asia, and flights from the USA to Central America and within Central America. But before I purchased any flight, I conducted tons of research to see if the Citibank Travel Portal was giving me the best flight deal possible. I’ve ended up saving hundreds of dollars on flights, and it’s all thanks to my everyday purchases. 

In this guide, we’ll explore effective strategies you can use to maximize your travel benefits, or purchasing benefits in general, by using Citibank Rewards Points. As the Citibank ThankYou rewards website puts it, this is a great option for “The avid traveler, the gift card connoisseur, and the online shopper.”

If you’re in any or all of those categories, keep on reading!

Understanding the Rewards Program 

Simply put, through eligible transactions on hotels, car rentals, gas stations, and grocery stores, you can theoretically earn rewards points to put towards travel. Since I use my Citibank credit card for pretty much everything under the sun, collecting points isn’t an issue. Generally, Citi ThankYou points are worth $.01 per point, but they can sometimes be worth $.005 or up to $.03. This depends on the type of card you have and how you’re redeeming those points.  

My love for travel prevails, so I always use the points I’ve collected on everyday purchases on free flights. There are some limitations with certain Citibank credit card points, while others offer greater flexibility. We’ll take a look at the different types of credit cards and the pros and cons of each. 

Types of Credit Cards

Several Citibank credit cards have a $0 annual fee, while others range from $95 to $495. By adding a credit card to your wallet that doesn’t have an annual fee, you’re collecting travel points at no cost. 

One other perk of using Citibank is that you can earn more ThankYou points through your checking account, including Citibank Account, Citi Private Bank, Citigold, and Citi Priority. You’ll score the most points from Citi Priority and Citi Private Bank.

To do this, you have to complete one qualifying direct deposit and one qualifying bill payment each month.

Citi Rewards+® Card

This is the credit card I use to score those travel points. With a $0 annual fee, I don’t have to spend any extra money just to get points. With this card, you’ll earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 within the first three months of your account opening, redeemable for a $200 gift card.

With the first 100,000 points you redeem each year, you’ll get 10% back.

That could equal a domestic flight around the United States or an inexpensive flight to Central America! You’ll also get two ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations, and one ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases. For every purchase, rewards are rounded up to the nearest 10 points. The only downside is you can’t transfer your points to any Citibank flight partners and must use them within the Citibank Travel Portal. 

Citi Double Cash® Card

With a $0 annual fee, this credit card also seems like an attractive choice. After you spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months, you’ll get $200 cashback. 

This is an easy feat which translates to 20,000 ThankYou points. Otherwise, you’ll get 1% of points back for every dollar spent, and $1 for every dollar paid off. Similarly to the Citibank Rewards+ card, you can only use these points in the Citibank Travel Portal. 

Citi Custom Cash Card

When you spend $1,500 within the first six months of opening the account, you’ll get 20,000 bonus points. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll get 5% cash back on your top spending category with each billing cycle. And as with the others, you can only use points in the Citibank Travel Portal. 

Citi Premier® Card

Even though this credit card has a $95 annual fee, you’ll make it back in points. Because of how often I travel, this card is well worth the annual fee for my lifestyle. After spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points. 

Otherwise, you’ll get three ThankYou points for every $1 spent at the supermarket, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and flights. One other bonus is if you have a single hotel stay of $500 or more, purchased through the ThankYou site, you’ll have $100 annual hotel savings. That’s more than the annual fee! And because this credit card has an annual fee, you can transfer the points to flights outside of the Citibank Travel Portal.

Citi Prestige® Card

For the best bang for your buck and points for travel, I recommend the Citi Prestige Card. Even though it has a $495 annual fee, the points back make up for it. You’ll get three ThankYou points per dollar spent on hotels and cruise lines, and one ThankYou point for every dollar spent on other purchases, with up to $250 of annual travel credit. You’ll also get select airport lounge access. 

And for every dollar you spend at restaurants or on air travel, which is likely a lot if you’re an avid traveler, you’ll get five ThankYou points back. Similarly to the Citi Premier card, because this card has an annual fee, you can transfer the points to Citibank flight partners. 

AT&T Points Plus Card

If you use AT&T as your phone plan, this might be the right card for you. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll earn three ThankYou Points for every $1 spent at gas stations, two ThankYou points for every $1 spent at grocery stores, and one ThankYou point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Best of all, you can use your points to pay for your AT&T wireless bill.

Citi ThankYou Points Explained

Redeeming points might seem a little confusing, but I’ll break it down. Different credit cards will give you access to different points. As the Points Guy calls it, there are simple, basic ThankYou points, which simply means you can’t redeem them for as many things as you can with the more flexible ThankYou points. 

For example, with the Citi Rewards+ Card, you can only use the points to book flights through the Citibank portal, as opposed to transferring them over to Citibank Travel Partners. Simply put, you can only book flights through the Citibank portal with cards with no annual fee. You can transfer the points to travel partners with cards with an annual fee. 

How to Earn Points

I’m strategic about the way I earn points. I always use my Citi Rewards+ card at the supermarket, and if I’m ever renting a car, I make sure to put it on my Citi Rewards+ card. It’s also the same for restaurants and any purchases I make on Amazon. Whenever I book flights, I use the Citibank Travel Portal to search for flight options and point redemptions to see what the best available options are. 

I always make sure to first compare it to flights I find on other sites like Skyscanner and Google Flights. And I can gladly say, that most of the time, Citibank provides decent deals. And with every flight purchase, I earn more points! 

Another way to earn points is through credit card sign-up bonuses. As I mentioned above, you’ll earn a set number of points if you spend over a certain amount of money on your credit card within a few months of opening the account. 

Citibank Flight Partners

Keep in mind that there are some caveats when it comes to using Citibank points for travel. It’s all dependent on the type of credit card you have. The Citi Rewards+ Card and Citi Custom Cash cards do not transfer to Citi Flight Partners and only earn basic ThankYou points, which can only be used through the Citibank portal. 

Some of the more popular Citibank flight partners include Air France, EVA Air, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Asia Miles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and JetBlue True Blue. You can enhance the value of your points by looking for promotions or bonuses. 

Point Transfers For Flights

Asia Miles uses a distance-based award chart, where you can use a flight that ranges from 5,001 miles to 7,500 miles for just 30,000 miles. There’s no reward chart with JetBlue True Blue, but you can typically fly round-trip domestic flights for 20,000 points or less. 

You can fly round-trip to Europe with Air France for 50,000 miles. When you book your flights early, you’ll get more benefits, cheaper prices, and award seats. This is ideal if you’re traveling with your partner or family. 

To do this, simply go on the Citi ThankYou website, click on “more ways to redeem,” and “Points Transfer.” If you know your hotel or air loyalty information, this is where you’d enter it to use it on that airline or for that hotel.

The transfer is not always immediate and might take some time, though it shouldn’t take more than a week. It’s a good idea to plan ahead of time when using flight partners to make sure the purchase and point transfer goes through.

How to Redeem Points on the Citi Travel Portal

When I collected more than 20,000 points, I went to the Citi Travel Portal, which gave me the option to choose which credit card I wanted to use, with the number of points I had accumulated listed. Because this card has no annual fee, I could only book a flight through the travel portal on the Citibank website. 

Then it gave me an option to choose hotels, flights, cars, or attractions. I put in where I was flying from and where I was flying to and the date I wanted. It then gave me the full price of the flight, and then how much I would owe if I used all of my points (which was $0). 

The only downside to purchasing a flight through the Citibank Travel Portal is that they’re usually a bit more expensive than a flight I could find on Skyscanner. For example, I could find a flight for $100 on Skyscanner, and that same flight would be $150 on Citibank. But the plus side is that I can use my points towards this flight, and then get more points through the purchase. 

After finding my flight, I clicked select and entered the number of points I wanted to put towards my flight (in this case, all of them, but I could have chosen to use a third, half, or any random amount), and then I purchased my flight. 

The Flights I Bought 

I used my Citi Rewards+ card to purchase a flight from Delhi, India, to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan with Air Astana. The 20,000 points I had accumulated over time covered the cost of my entire flight ($200), which I booked through the Citibank Travel Portal. They provided plenty of options and I chose the most cost-effective flight, with the shortest travel time. 

I have also used my Citi Rewards+ card to purchase a flight from Denver, Colorado, to Belize City, Belize with Delta Airlines. Because I had accumulated so many points, I used 18,000 points to pay for the $180 flight. When I bought my flight from Belize City, Belize to San Jose, Costa Rica on American Airlines, I used around 11,000 points ($110) to cover the majority of the flight. I put the remaining $75 on my credit card. 

How I Saved Money

By using my credit card points, I’ve saved a total of $490 on flights. This is a great way to reduce the cost of a very expensive flight or to get a flight for free. I had a free trip to several foreign countries all thanks to my grocery store, restaurant, and gas station purchases! 

Other Ways To Use Points

If you’re not an avid traveler, there are myriad other ways you can use your points that are not just for flights. This includes using points for gift cards, merchandise, hotels, and Amazon purchases.

Partner Hotels 

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts is another Citibank partner that takes Citibank ThankYou points. This is a great option if you have the Citi Prestige or Citi Premiere card since the points-to-dollar ratio is 1,000:1,000. 

But for the other cards like Citi Rewards+ and Citi Double Cash card, the ratio is 1,000:800. In this case redeeming your points for cash or a gift card might make more sense if you have the credit card with no annual fee, since you’ll get more value for your points. 

Citibank Points also transfer to Choice Hotels, like Quality Inn and Comfort Hotels, which is convenient if you’re traveling around the USA or elsewhere for work or family visits. The Citi Rewards+ Card and Citi Double Cash card have a rate of 1,000:1,500 with points, while the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige have a better rate of 1,000:2,000. This is another example of when having a Citibank credit card with an annual fee is a good idea. 

Shopping Online

If you’re an avid online shopper, then you’ll love to hear how much you can redeem with your points when you shop online. With the Citibank ThankYou Points, you can redeem rewards for TVs, kitchen appliances, and new luggage sets, according to their website. The more you spend on your credit card, the more points you will accumulate and can use towards everyday items. 

Gift Cards

If you’re looking for something more flexible and don’t want to feel locked into using your points for a specific hotel or flight, you can redeem your ThankYou points as a gift card to use anytime. You can use this gift card at retail shops, hotels, restaurants, and department stores. 

Use It Towards Charity

You can also put your points towards charity, like UNICEF, No Kid Hungry, World Central Kitchen, and the American Red Cross. This minimum amount for a donation is $10, which is equal to 1,000 points.

You can also select from $25 (25,000 points) and $50 (50,000 points) as donations. The downside to using points towards charity is there’s a limited amount to how much you can donate.

Cash Back

Finally, if you want to stick to simple cash and don’t want to purchase a flight, or hotel, or use it on Amazon, you can use your points for cashback.

This will appear on your credit card statement towards your bill, as a check in the mail, or as a direct deposit. Unfortunately, with some cards, this won’t equal $.01 per point and is more likely to be $.005 per point, making it a less appealing option.

Combine Cash And Points

As I mentioned earlier, you can use your points to purchase a flight in its entirety, or you can combine cash and points. While I’ve used my points to cover the entire flight from India to Kyrgyzstan and another flight from Denver, USA to Belize, I’ve partially used my points to pay for half a flight, like from Belize to San Jose, Costa Rica. This is at your discretion, as you can choose to use a combination of cash and points or use the points alone. 

Since Citibank ThankYou points equate to $.01 per point, you can decide if using the points is equal to this. If the booking you’re doing equates to less than $.01 per point, then you could consider redeeming it for cash. 

Be Mindful Of Restrictions And Plan Ahead

Luckily, Citibank ThankYou points don’t expire unless you close the account. By keeping your account open, or using all of your points before closing an account, you won’t lose all of those benefits from your purchases. 

Summing Up

There are many pros to the Citibank ThankYou Rewards Points. Whether you have a card without an annual fee, like I have, or a card that has a $495 annual fee, you’ll have perks that come with each card. Paying an annual fee will give you more freedom with using your points, for example, with flight partners. 

Cards without an annual fee are more restricted with the use of points, but you’re still able to put them towards flights. Be mindful of how much your points are transferring to, and try to stay away from redeeming points that are equal to half their value. 

To reap the most benefits, consider combining two different Citibank credit cards, for example, the Citi Rewards+ and the Citi Prestige Card. This will help maximize your earnings and provide ultimate freedom when it comes to purchasing flights and other travel perks. 

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