A Complete Guide to Citi ThankYou Points

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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For savvy travelers, the Citi ThankYou Rewards program has a lot to offer. The program features several ways to use points, including flat-rate redemptions and transfers to many travel partners. To make it even better, the Citi credit cards you use to earn those points offer some of the best rewards rates you'll find, plus useful extra perks.

Just like with other types of rewards credit cards, you'll get the most out of Citi ThankYou points when you know how they work. This complete guide will go over the finer details of this valuable rewards currency, from what it's worth to how you can use your points.

What are Citi ThankYou points worth?

You can always get a minimum value of $0.01 per point with Citi ThankYou points, but it's also possible to get over $0.03 per point with transfers to travel partners.

It can be tricky to assign a value to ThankYou points, because your redemption options depend on which Citi card you have. All Citi ThankYou cards let you redeem points towards travel purchases at $0.01 per point, making that a reliable minimum value to expect.

Some Citi ThankYou cards also let you transfer points to travel partners and book award travel. With this type of redemption, the value of your points depends on the travel you book.

How do you earn Citi ThankYou points?

You earn Citi ThankYou points, of course, by using a credit card in that rewards program. The complicated part is that only certain Citi ThankYou cards let you transfer points to all the program's travel partners. Others have more limited options.

The following Citi cards let you transfer your points to any of Citi's travel partners:

These Citi cards earn ThankYou points, but don't offer transfers to most travel partners:

With these, you can redeem your points through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center to purchase travel at $0.01 per point. The Citi Rewards+℠ Card and the student version both let you transfer points to JetBlue at a 5:4 ratio, worse than the 1:1 ratio you'd get with the Citi Prestige® Card or the Citi Premier℠ Card. You also can't transfer points to any other partner.

Here's the good news -- if you have multiple Citi cards, you can move your ThankYou points around to unlock more redemptions. Let's say you have the Citi Rewards+℠ Card and the Citi Prestige® Card. By moving your points from the Citi Rewards+℠ Card to the Citi Prestige® Card, you'd be able to transfer them to a wider range of partners.

This also works if you have the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, although that's technically a cash-back card. Citi lets you transfer the cash back you earn on that card to any ThankYou Rewards card. You get 100 ThankYou points per $1 of cash back. Since the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns a high flat rate on all spending, combining it with a Citi ThankYou card is a smart way to accumulate credit card rewards faster.

Can you buy points?

You can buy Citi ThankYou points at $0.025 per point. Points must be purchased in increments of 1,000 for $25. If you need additional points for a redemption, you can purchase points online during the redemption process. You can also call the Citi ThankYou Service Center to buy points.

In most cases, it's not a good deal to buy points. The high price means you'll be lucky to break even on the purchase, and it's more likely that you'll end up losing money. The only time buying ThankYou points makes sense is when you have a redemption ready that will get you more than $0.025 per point, and you don't quite have enough points to cover it.

Do points expire?

Citi ThankYou points expire, and the expiration date depends on how you obtained them. If you earn points by using a Citi credit card, the points remain active as long as your card is open. Points you purchase expire at the end of the calendar year in which you purchased them.

The easiest way to know when your points will expire is through your online account. To find this information, go to the Citi ThankYou Rewards site and log in. Go to the Points Summary page. This page lists any points you have with an expiration date. If there's nothing listed, then none of your points are set to expire.

Where can you redeem ThankYou points?

You can redeem ThankYou points on the Citi ThankYou Rewards site, which you can visit directly, or through the link in your Citi credit card online account. You can also redeem by calling the ThankYou Rewards Service Center.

Redemption options include travel (through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center and via transfers to travel partners), gift cards, shopping with points through select retailers, and cash back. It's most effective to stick to travel redemptions. With most travel rewards credit cards, your points are worth much more when used for travel, and Citi's cards are the same way.

These are the Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • JetPrivilege
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Sears Shop Your Way
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

If you transfer points from the Citi Prestige® Card or the Citi Premier℠ Card, you'll usually get a 1:1 ratio, as in 1,000 points in the partner's loyalty program for every 1,000 ThankYou points you transfer. With the Sears Shop Your Way program, however, you get 12 Sears points for every 1 ThankYou point you transfer.

There are certain redemptions that you can only accomplish by phone, including:

  • Cruises
  • Travel packages
  • All-inclusive vacations
  • Student loan rebate rewards
  • Monthly mortgage payment rewards

How do you redeem points?

Here's how to redeem Citi ThankYou points online:

  1. Go to the Citi ThankYou Rewards site and log in.
  2. Click the redemption you want. Citi provides a few options on this page, but you can view more by clicking "See All Ways to Redeem," or placing the cursor on one of the following items on the upper navigation menu: Gift Cards, Shop With Points, Travel, or More Ways to Redeem.
  3. Proceed through the rest of the process.

The process varies depending on how you're redeeming your points, but Citi makes everything straightforward and easy to understand on its site.

What is the best way to use Citi ThankYou points?

The most effective way to use Citi ThankYou points is transferring them to a partner airline to book award airfare, so you need a Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card to get the most out of your points.

With all the airline partners available, there are a lot of ways to use ThankYou points. Here are a few tips to find high-value transfer opportunities:

  • Prioritize more expensive airfare, such as international flights and seats in business or first class. ThankYou partners that often have good award-ticket deals for these types of seats include Avianca, Cathay Pacific (bookable using Asia Miles), Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
  • Start your search as far in advance as possible -- at three to six months before your trip, you'll likely have more options available.
  • Try to be flexible about travel dates.
  • Don't transfer points to a partner until you've picked out the airfare you want.

Paying for trips with your ThankYou points

Citi ThankYou points offer plenty of redemption options that can save you serious cash on your travels. They're particularly useful if you like to travel internationally, thanks to the diverse collection of airline transfer partners. If you spend a little time checking out all the available redemptions, you're sure to find a good use for your points.

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