Citi Backward

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UPDATE: NerdWallet has issued a retraction.  Read below 

NerdWallet reports that the Citi Forward card no longer gives 5X points for Amazon.com purchases.  Here’s an excerpt from NerdWallet’s post:

The Citi Forward gives 5 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on movies, music, restaurants and bookstores – the last of which used to include Amazon. However, as NerdWallet has confirmed, this is no longer the case.

This is bad news for Forward fans.  However, since this card has no annual fee and still gives 5X for several popular categories, I still think this is a great card for spend within those categories.

UPDATE: NerdWallet has issued the following retraction:

Retraction: After hearing reports that the Citi Forward no longer gave 5x points on Amazon.com, NerdWallet contacted their customer services representatives to find out more. While we heard from multiple CSRs that Amazon no longer counts, our readers have told us that they still receive 5x points. We strive to provide the best content for our readers, but we jumped the gun on this one, and we sincerely apologize to our readers.

Thankless ThankYou Points?

How hard is it to get good value from ThankYou points?  If you have the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you can get excellent value by using the points to buy airfare.  This will give you about 1.33 cents per point value.  As far as I know, though, all other ThankYou redemptions are worth a penny per point or less.  Here are some examples:

  • $100 Visa card costs 14,000 points (.71 cents per point value)
  • $100 Sunoco gift card costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)
  • $100 Statement credit costs 20,000 points (.5 cents per point value)
  • $100 Mortgage payment reward costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)
  • $100 Student loan rebate costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)
  • $100 travel gift card (Marriott, Hyatt, Avis, etc.) costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)

As you can see above, the value you can get from your points varies dramatically depending on how you use them.  Clearly, if you have the Premier card, the best use is to buy airfare.  Otherwise, I think the best bets are to get Mortgage payments or Student loan rebates in order to get exactly 1 cent per point value.  Gift cards are an OK value, but since it is often possible to get those at a discount (or to earn extra points) elsewhere, I’d argue that you’re better off with the mortgage or student loan credits.

Transfer to Airline miles?

Early in the year, there were many rumors of Citi adding the ability to transfer ThankYou points to British Airways Avios and Singapore Airlines miles.  In fact, Dan of Dan’s Deals spoke with several Citi representatives who confirmed that this was going to happen in April.  But, it didn’t happen.  It seems that Citi planned to roll out this capability, but never did.  Will it happen in the future?  We can only hope!  When transferring points to airline programs, it is often possible to get much more than 1 cent per point value.  If/when this happens, I still won’t value ThankYou points as highly as Ultimate Rewards or SPG points, but they could close in on the value of American Express Membership Rewards.  If they also added the ability to transfer to American Airlines miles, though, the value of ThankYou points would closely rival Ultimate Rewards.

Making changes for the better?

Last week, Citi sent out a special memo to customers in which they said “Thanks to your feedback, we’re making changes for the better.”  Specifically, with regards to ThankYou rewards, they wrote:

…when it comes to rewards, you told us you wanted more value for your points. We listened. Now, members can take advantage of frequent, limited-time promotions on top rewards items. By linking your ThankYou® Rewards account on LiveNation.com, you can now use points to purchase tickets to exciting concerts.

I suppose this is good news for frequent concert-goers (has anyone checked to see the value of points for this redemption?), but it doesn’t excite me much.  Come on Citi, bring us what we really asked for: allow us to transfer to airline miles, especially to American Airlines!

What do you think?

Do you like the ThankYou program?  What would you do to make it better?

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