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How Citi Thank You Rewards Works?
Citi Thank You Rewards is Citi’s loyalty program. Once you’re approved for a Citi Thank You credit card, you can sign up for the program. While not all Citi cards are included in this reward scheme, there are a number of options that we will discuss in more detail below.
With a Thank You card, you will start earning reward points when you make a purchase. The specific number of points depends on your card and which category applies to your purchase. Many of the cards have a tiered reward structure, so you may earn three points per dollar in a primary category, two points in a second category and one point per dollar on all other purchases. In most cases, you will earn a minimum of one point per dollar.
You don’t need to worry about calculating the points, since each time a purchase is applied to your account, Citi will calculate the number of points and add them to your account. Your points will continue to accumulate until you decide you would like to redeem them.
Citi ThankYou Rewards Benefits & Drawbacks
The Citi Thank You Rewards program has a number of great benefits that will appeal to customers. These include:
Unlike many credit card reward programs where you need to be a bit of a math genius to work out the best deal, the Citi Thank You Rewards program has easy to understand redemption values, with the exception of a couple of cards, most redemption methods have a rate of one cent per point.
We touched on this above, but it is worth reiterating as a major plus point for this rewards scheme. Citi allows you to share your Thank You points with other Citi customers.
This means that you can pool your points for a specific purpose. Whether you want to plan a vacation with friends or make a significant family purchase, you can all chip in without needing to worry about any hidden fees or charges.
Currently, Citi has 15 airline and two hotel travel partners. This allows you to make the most of your Thank You points with the appropriate brand loyalty program.
So, if you enjoy Choice resorts and venues or always fly Cathay Pacific, you’ll appreciate the relationship Citi has with them.
While the search results are quick to load, the Citi Travel Center has a very basic layout that is not particularly pretty to look at.
When you compare it with others, such as the Capital One Travel Portal, you can immediately see that it lacks many of the features and functions of its counterparts. This could make it more difficult to find the best deal for your points.
Other credit card reward programs have a number of hotel partners, but Citi has just two.
So, if you’re looking to spend your points with Hyatt or Marriott programs, you’ll be out of luck.
While the redemption rates tend to be universal, there are some cards that offer lower rates.
This means that you need to be very familiar with the specifics of your card redemptions to ensure that you are actually getting the best possible deals.
How to Redeem Thank You Points?
Citi offers a number of ways to redeem your Thank You points with a different redemption rate for each method.
- The Citi Travel Center: This is similar to many credit card reward programs and it represents the best value for your points. You can use the Travel Center to book flights, hotels and other travel related purchases.
- Transfer to Airline or Hotel Partners: Citi has a number of travel partners that will allow you to exchange your Thank You points for miles or points in an airline or hotel loyalty scheme. Generally, there is a minimum number of points to transfer and the transfer rates can vary, but this can be a good way to boost your miles balance with an airline or hotel program.
- Shopping: Citi has a relationship with a number of retailers including Best Buy, Amazon, and CVS, so you can use your points at checkout when you make a purchase. PayPal is also included in this scheme. You can pay for your purchase with points or a combination of points and card with a typical rate of one cent per point.
- Gift Cards: Citi offers a number of gift card options with a variety of popular merchants in increments of $25, $50 and $100. However, once you are signed into your account, it is possible that you may be able to access different gift card values and options depending on your current points balance. You will typically get a redemption rate of one cent per point, but Citi does occasionally run sales with specific merchants that represent better value.
- Cash Rewards: You can choose to use your points as a check, direct deposit into your checking account, or statement credit applied to your account. You can select this option via the Redeem points link and you can expect a redemption rate of one cent per point. It is also possible to have points applied to your mortgage or student loan at the same rate, but this needs to be done by calling Citi.
- Sharing Points: Unlike many other programs, Citi allows you to share your Thank You points with other Citi customers. This will allow you to gift points or pool them with other customers if you’re planning a large purchase together. The shared points are only valid for 90 days and you can only share up to 100,000 points per calendar year.
- Charitable Donations: Finally, you can use your points to make a charitable donation. The donations start at 2,500 points or $25. Just bear in mind that you won’t get the tax deduction if you make a points donation to charity as you would if you donated cash.
How to Redeem Cash Back Rewards?
Redemption of cashback is very convenient because you can do it through your online credit card account or by getting in touch with your card issuer.
Card issuers would often set a redemption minimum and $25 seems to be the most common. The method for redemptions vary but they fall more or less into one or more of the following choices:
- Statement credit. This is probably the easiest cashback redemption method. With this, you can get a statement credit that effectively lowers your credit card bill. To illustrate, let’s say you have built up a $400 in cashback bonus and have a current $1,000 bill on your card, you can redeem the $400 and apply it to your bill. That means you’d only have $600 left on your balance. It’s so simple and the reward value is very straightforward – that’s what makes it a very popular option.
- Paper check or direct deposit. You can log in to your issuer’s website and pick this option to get your cash back rewards in the form of a paper check that the issuer will mail to you. Or, another option is to have them deposit the cash directly to your checking or savings account.
- Gift cards. There are card companies that will give you additional value for your cashback by giving you gift cards or eCertificates that you can use with popular merchants.
- Charitable donations. Some card issuers will let you use all or some of your cashback as a donation to a charity of your choice.
How to Maximize Your Cashback Rewards
Maximizing your cash back benefits doesn't mean to spend more. However, you should understand how your card works, track your expenses and leverage the relevant categories. Here are some tips:
What Are the Most Attractive Redemption Options?
Since most Citi Thank You point redemptions offer a rate of one cent per point, finding the most attractive options can be a little challenging. If you want the best possible value for your points, you should consider:
- Paying Down Your Mortgage: Although a mortgage payment direct to your lender will provide the same redemption rate as a direct deposit into your checking account, in the long term it could be a far better way to use your points. If you earn 50,000 points per year and apply them to your mortgage, this would be the equivalent of making an additional $500 payment per year. With a $200,000 mortgage at 3.5 percent, you could save over $10,000 in interest payments and shave over two years off your mortgage term.
- Statement Credit: Depending on your card, you typically get a redemption rate of one cent per point when you opt for statement credit. This can be a good way to save on interest charges on your account and to pay down any card balances.
- Sales Shopping: Another effective way to use your points is to accumulate them for big sales events. The Citi Thank You Rewards platform has an Amazon partnership. This retailer is well known for its Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals. So, you could accumulate your points to spend when the retail prices are at their lowest.
Which Redemption Options It's Better to Skip?
IN some options, you'll get less compared to what you can achieve by choosing different redemption types. With the option below, you'll get less for your points:
- Statement Credit: Although we highlighted it above as one of the most attractive redemption methods, if you have certain Citi cards, you’ll only get 0.5 cents per point when you redeem as statement credit. So, check the term for your specific card to make sure you get the best rate.
- Charity Donations: We’re not saying that you shouldn’t donate to charity, but using your points in this way does not represent the best value. Although you can get a one cent per point redemption rate, you’ll not get the tax deduction for your donation. So, if you want to give money to charity, you are better using another redemption method and giving a cash donation instead.
- Gift Cards: While in theory, it could be a good idea to get a gift card for your favorite retailer, Citi Thank You Rewards are a little inflexible about the gift card amounts. In many cases, you’ll be stuck with $25 or $50 increments, so you’ll need to save up to get the next largest gift card. However, if you took statement credit or used your points for purchases, you could be making use of your points in the meantime.
How to Sign Up for Citi Thank You Rewards?
Signing up for Citi Thank You Rewards is quite easy and straightforward. If you have an eligible card, you can create an online log in for your account. This makes account management such as viewing transactions or downloading statements simple. If this is your first Citi credit card, you’ll need to create an account using your new card details.
Once you have gone through the steps for online banking, you’ll already be signed up for Citi Thank You Rewards. On the main screen, you’ll see a Rewards link on the left hand side. If you click this, you’ll be taken to the rewards page, which details your current points balance and redemption options.
You can also go directly to the ThankYou.com website. This site is specifically for this reward program and you can use the same log in details to access your dashboard.
How to Book A Flight With Thank You Points?
There are two ways that you can book a flight using your Citi Thank You Points. The first is to use the Citi Travel Portal.
1. Citi Travel Portal
This is a platform that resembles mainstream online travel agencies such as Expedia. You can enter your destination and travel dates to see the flight options.
You can sort your search results by a variety of criteria including fare class, departure time, arrival time and number of stops. Your points balance is displayed and each point is worth one cent. This means that if you want to pay for a $100 flight fully with your points, you’ll need 10,000 points.
The flight options will depend on your travel dates and destination, but Citi does not have any blackout dates to use your points. So, if you find a flight you want, you can simply book it. Just click on the “Select” button to finalize your booking.
On the next screen, if eligible, you will see a prompt with upgrade options. This is similar to what you would see on airline websites, so you can upgrade your seat or add extras, where appropriate. After you confirm your selection, there is a Review and Book page. This will show the flight details and your current points balance.
Despite being a rewards travel portal, you have the option to use your points, pay with your Citi credit card or a combination of the two. You can use as few or as many points as you would like, with any remaining balance to be charged to your card. If you carry an airline credit card, you may want to compare the rewards and cost and see if it's attractive to order via the Citi Travel Portal.
Once you complete the passenger information, you just need to click on “Complete Booking” and your flight is confirmed and your ticket will be issued.
2. Points Transfer
Similar to other portals such as the Amex membership or the Chase Ultimate rewards, the other option to book a flight using your Citi Thank You point is to transfer your points to one of Citi’s airline partners. The Citi travel partners can offer the greatest redemption value for your points, as you can boost the balance on your airline loyalty plan at an attractive rate.
The list of Citi travel partners includes Air France, Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic. In most cases, the transfer rate is 1:1, which means you’ll get one airline mile or point for each Thank You point. You can then use your airline points to book your flight as usual.
However, don’t be tempted to just stick with the well known travel partners. There are some companies that fly under the radar and offer great value for your Thank You points. For example, the Etihad Guest program offers flights to almost anywhere in the world at very reasonable prices. You can discover new destinations and bucket list vacations, like flying from New York JFK to Casablanca in business class for just 44,000 miles each way.
How to Book a Hotel With Citi Thank You Points?
You can book a hotel in the same way as you would a flight, using the Citi Travel Center or exchanging your Thank You points for points with hotel partners including Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards. Both these hotel chains have thousands of locations globally.
This can represent the best way to use your points as you can use the Choice or Wyndham programs to book hotel stays that are typically pricey, such as in Japan or Scandinavia.
As with flights, you’ll need to enter the destination city and your travel dates. You can then filter your results with criteria including price, hotel name, property class, distance and recommended results. There are also filters for amenities and current deals. However, you can quickly identify any hotels with a discounted rate, as the portal displays a sale flag in the corner of appropriate hotel listings.
As with flights, once you find a hotel that you’d like to book, you just need to click select and proceed with the booking. You’ll see different bed options, packages and rate types along with the cancelation policies. As mentioned previously, if you already have a specific hotel card – you may want to use it instead of ordering on the portal.
Again, you’ll have the option to use as many or as few points as you would like, making up the balance with your Citi card.
How to Maximize Your Thank You Rewards?
When it comes to maximizing the points you can get, there are some ways that can help you get more points:
- Explore Partner Loyalty Programs: One of the best ways to maximize your Citi Thank You rewards is to consider the airline and hotel partner relationships. While the travel center is a good way to explore a variety of flights, hotels, cruises and other travel products, you’ll only get a rate of one cent per point. If you transfer your points to airline loyalty programs, you can get a far better redemption rate. In many cases, your points will be worth two cents each, depending on the program and the specific flight deal.
- Share Your Points: Another way to maximize your rewards is to pool your points. Citi has one of the only rewards programs that allows you to share points without a fee or needing to be an authorized user on the account. This means that you can get together with family members or friends who also have a Citi card and pool your points to book a trip or plan a vacation. Just be sure to arrange your approximate plans beforehand, as the points will only be valid for 90 days after you share them.
- Be Flexible: This applies to most travel portals, but if you can be flexible about your travel dates, you can browse for the best deals. Flights and hotel stays can fluctuate a great deal, particularly around holidays or high demand periods. So, if you have some wiggle room on when you travel, you can get the best deal for your points.
How to Choose the Right Citi Card For You?
You can access the Citi Thank You Rewards program with a number of cards, so it is important to be aware of the features of each to decide which is the best card for you.
Citi Premier Credit Card
The Premier card has an annual fee, but this is offset by the generous reward structure, where you can earn up to three points per dollar. There are no foreign transaction fees or limits to how many points you can earn with your card. This makes it a great option for those who want a reward card for everyday spending.
You won’t need to watch the spending categories or caps, so you can just use your card and earn rewards with all your purchases. There are also some nice benefits for travelers including $100 off a single hotel stay per cardmember year. This makes it ideal for also using with your travel purchases.
Citi Rewards+ Credit Card
As you would expect from a card called Rewards+, this card offers generous rewards, yet there is no annual fee. The card also has some excellent benefits for new customers, with a limited time offer for up to five points per dollar and a 0% on balance transfers and purchases.
Citi also rounds up to the nearest 10 points on each purchase with no caps, which can be a great way to boost your Thank You points balance. Even if you just use your card for a $2 cup of coffee, you’ll still earn 10 points!
This makes the Rewards+ a great card option for those who tend to make smaller purchases. While it can still be used for a major purchase or making your travel plans, if you prefer using a card for those little errands and expenses, you can really maximize your points balance.
Citi Custom CashSM Card
While the Citi Custom Cash card not traditionally classified as a Thank You points earning card, you can convert your cash back into Thank You points if you hold a premium Thank You card.
This is similar to how it works if you hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Flex. This card is an ideal companion card, since it has no annual fee and you can earn up to 5% or 5 points on the highest spend category each billing cycle with a cap of $500.
You can choose your primary category from a fairly comprehensive list, so you can tailor it to where you spend the most each month. You can also enjoy a 0% introductory rate and welcome bonus, which can help your finances and boost your Thank You points balance.
Citi Double Cash Credit Card
This is a popular Citi rewards card that as of March 2022 will also offer Thank You points. As the name suggests, you earn double cash back; 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay for your purchases. You only need to make the minimum payment due on time to earn your additional cash back. But, this is one example where the Thank You point redemptions can get a little confusing.
While you don’t need to worry about offsetting an annual fee, since the card doesn’t have one, you won’t get the standard one point equals one cent redemption rate in many categories. So, check the details carefully.
What is the Citi Bonus Cash Center?
The Citi Bonus Cash Center is a shopping portal that allows eligible cardholders to earn additional cash back when they shop with participating stores. There is additional cash back available with over 400 online merchants, but you need to shop through the link on the Bonus Cash Center website.
If you’re familiar with Rakuten or other shopping portals, the Bonus Cash Center works in a similar way. It doesn’t impact your shopping experience and you can still use the retailer’s website as normal. However, since you used the Citi link, you’ll automatically get the additional cash back.
Citi Thank you Rewards Program vs Citi Bonus Cash Center
These two programs are quite separate and available to different cardholders. While the Thank You points are available when you apply for a number of new Citi cards, the Citi Bonus Cash Center is only available for existing customers with a Dividend or Simplicity Cash card.
It was previously available for those with Double Cash, but this could change in the future, since Double Cash offers Thank You rewards from March 2022. So, you cannot pick and choose which program you want to use.
There is an impressive list of gift card options from popular retailers including AirBnB, Applebees, Best Buy, Burger King, Home Depot, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s and Gap. You can find a full list of retailers and gift card options on the ThankYou.com website.
Citi has relationships with 15 airlines and two hotel loyalty programs, so you can transfer your Thank You points into miles or points with the appropriate program. There is a full list on the website, but the list includes Wyndham, Choices, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and JetBlue
Amazon is included in the Shop with Points redemption category. To shop on Amazon, simply select this retailer on the ThankYou.com website. You can then shop online as normal and at check out, you can opt to use your points to cover the entire purchase or just part of it.
Citi does have a sale section for gift cards and other rewards. You’ll find this on the ThankYou.com website under the Gift Cards tab in the category “Sale”. There are not always sale options available, but it is worth checking in periodically to see if you can get a better redemption value for your Thank You points.