Now that Citi ThankYou points can be transferred 1 to 2 to Choice, I’ve personally doubled down on the program. I use my Citi Prestige card (no longer available to new applicants) to earn 5x for dining, my two Custom Cash cards to earn 5x at grocery stores, and (sometimes) my Double Cash card for 2x everywhere else. ThankYou Rewards points still aren’t my favorite points to earn (I’ll take Chase Ultimate Rewards points over Citi points for the ability to transfer to Hyatt) nor is it the easiest to earn in large numbers (thank you Amex Membership Rewards), but with the right cards, Citi offers great rewards for your spend and enough sweet-spot awards to keep me happy with this as my back-up transferable points program.
Citi ThankYou Rewards points can be transferred to airline partners, used to pay for travel or merchandise, redeemed to pay bills, or converted to cash back. Citi ThankYou Rewards competes directly with three other bank issued transferable points programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Capital One “Miles”…
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about ThankYou Rewards.
ThankYou Rewards Review
Citibank’s transferable points program is tantalizingly close to being a great competitor to Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. The program has some awesome things going for it. It offers excellent earnings for spend, very low annual fees, and good (but not quite great) transfer partners. The program’s biggest weaknesses are: 1) Limited options for earning welcome bonuses; 2) Missing popular transfer partners; and 3) The lack of any (any!) travel protections.
Strong earnings for spend
If you’re willing to juggle multiple cards, the number of points per dollar you can earn for spend in common categories (grocery, gas, dining, etc.) is unsurpassed, especially when you consider the price. For only $95 per year in total annual fees, you can earn 2x to 5x for all your spend, transfer points to airline and hotel partners, and receive a 10% rebate on rewards. Here’s the line-up of cards to get to earn great rewards on all of your spend:
- Premier: This $95 card is necessary if you want the power to transfer points to airline and hotel programs. Plus, it offers no foreign transaction fees and unlimited 3x rewards for grocery, dining, gas stations, flights, hotels, and travel agencies.
- Custom Cash: With this fee-free card you can earn 5X in whatever category you spend most each billing cycle, up to $500. Available categories are Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment. I recommend picking a single category and using the card only for that category each billing cycle until you use up the $500 in 5x spend.
- Double Cash: Earn 2X everywhere with this fee-free card. Use this card anytime another card in the collection doesn’t earn better rewards.
- Rewards+: This fee-free card rounds up rewards to the nearest 10 points (which means that it is great for low cost transactions) and, most interestingly, offers a 10% rebate on redeemed points, up to 10,000 back per year. When the card’s ThankYou account is combined with other ThankYou cards, you get 10% of your points back for any award redemption including transfers to airline miles! For more about this card, see: Citi Rewards+ is a great companion to Premier or Prestige.
You won’t get points-rich with welcome offers
Citi’s welcome standard bonus for the Premier card is 60,000 points after $4K spend in 3 months (and sometimes we’ve seen it increase to as high as 80,000 points). That’s excellent. But other cards that offer Citi ThankYou points usually have offers of only up to 20,000 points. While you can earn huge numbers of points with Chase welcome bonuses across multiple cards, or really huge numbers of points with Amex welcome bonuses across multiple cards, that game is limited with Citi.
Good transfer options
With regards to airline transfer partners, Citi is pretty strong. The biggest problem is that Citi is the only major transferable points program that doesn’t support transfers to Air Canada Aeroplan. For Star Alliance awards, though, Citi does support Avianca LifeMiles which can be a decent (and sometimes better) alternative. Citi used to also fall short because it lacks the ability to transfer to British Airways Avios, but now that Qatar uses Avios as their rewards system it’s possible to transfer points from Citi to Qatar and then to British Airways.
Citi’s biggest strength with regards to airline transfer partners is with their support for transfers to Turkish and EVA Air. The only other major program that supports both is Capital One, but Capital One’s transfer ratio to EVA Air is less than 1 to 1 (1000 to 750).
With regards to hotel transfer partners, Citi offers two excellent options. The best option is to transfer points 1 to 2 to Choice Privileges. For example, 50,000 Citi ThankYou become 100,000 Choice points. And while Choice is mostly known for very low end hotels, there are some great high-tier and above options. For examples, see our posts regarding Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Ascend Hotel Collection hotels, Cambria Hotels, and Nordic Choice Hotels.
Another excellent hotel option is to transfer Citi points 1 to 1 to Wyndham Rewards. While it’s sometimes possible to get great value by using points to book Wyndham properties, the best deal is to find great 1 bedroom Vacasa Vacation Rentals to book for only 15,000 points per night. For complete details about this option, see: Wyndham Vacasa: Great Value is Real!
The main problem with Citi’s transfer partners is that they don’t support any of the most popular programs. They don’t support transfers to any of the most popular hotel programs like Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton or IHG. And you can’t transfer points directly to any North American airline programs except JetBlue. In 2021, Citi temporarily allowed transfers to American Airlines. If they were to bring this back as a permanent option, Citi transfer line-up would rise to the top of the pack.
No travel protections
One of the biggest weaknesses of Citi’s collection of ThankYou Rewards cards is that they don’t offer any travel protections. Every other major card issuer that I can think of offers some forms of trip delay and cancellation insurance, rental car coverage, etc. Not Citi! If you tend to buy your own travel insurance anyway, this might not matter to you. For me, though, I avoid using Citi cards to purchase travel.
Thank You Rewards Summary
ThankYou Rewards is a very good program but with some big holes. Its biggest strengths are the ability to earn 2x to 5x on all spend, and a few sweet-spot transfer partners. I’m especially a fan of the ability to transfer 1 to 2 to Choice Privileges. It’s biggest liabilities are are a dearth of options for earning huge numbers of points (such as multiple big welcome bonuses, refer-a-friend offers, portal rewards, etc.) and the lack of travel protections available through associated credit cards. For those who play the points and miles game, ThankYou Rewards is a great secondary or tertiary program. You can’t rely on it for all the best goodies, but it’s great to have for its sweet-spots. For those who simply want strong cash back rewards from their spend and who don’t mind juggling multiple cards, Citi is a great choice.
The easiest and quickest ways to earn ThankYou points is through Citi credit card welcome bonuses, credit card spend, and retention offers (call once per year to ask if any offers are loaded to your cards). Below are the currently available Citibank cards that earn ThankYou rewards. With a combination of cards it’s possible to earn 2x to 5x on all spend: earn 5x in whatever category you spend most each billing cycle, up to $500 with the Custom Cash card; earn 3x on all spend at grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, flights, hotels, and travel agencies; earn 2x everywhere else with the Double Cash card; and get a 10% rebate on rewards with the Rewards+ card.
Note that with most Citi cards, the welcome offer is not available if you have received a new account bonus for the same card in the past 48 months.
|Card Offer and Details|
60K Points + 10X Select Travel
60K points after $4K spend in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 10x on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.$95 Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: Very strong earnings for spend. Excellent bonus categories. Points transferable to select airlines. Recommend pairing this card with Citi Double Cash and Citi Rewards+. Sadly, this travel card doesn't provide any travel protections.
Earning rate: 3X grocery ⚬ 3X dining ⚬ 3X gas stations ⚬ 3X flights, hotels, travel agencies
Card Type: Mastercard World Elite
Noteworthy perks: Transfer points to airline partners ⚬ $100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
25K points after $1.5K spend in 3 months No Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: 10% points rebate (up to 10K rebate per year) make this a great choice to pool with ThankYou Premier, Prestige, and/or Double Cash
Earning rate: 5x on travel booked through Citi Travel Portal through June 30 2024 (excludes air travel) ⚬ 2X at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 per year ⚬ Round up to nearest 10 TY points on all purchases
Card Type: Mastercard World
Noteworthy perks: Round up to the nearest 10 points on all purchases with no cap. ⚬ get 10% of your points back on the first 100K redeemed each year
20K points after $1500 spend in the first 6 monthsNo Annual Fee
Recent better offer: Expired 9/13/22 - 20,000 points after $750 spend in first 3 months
FM Mini Review: This is a great card to have and hold for a single category where you spend no more than $500 per month as it represents an excellent return without rotating categories to track.
Earning rate: 5x on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1x thereafter. Eligible categories: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment. ⚬ 1x on all other purchases
Travel: 5X (7.25%)
Dine: 5X (7.25%)
Gas: 5X (7.25%)
Grocery: 5X (7.25%)
Other: 5X (7.25%)
Card Type: Mastercard
$100 statement credit
$100 statement credit after $1K Spend in 3 MonthsNo Annual Fee
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
FM Mini Review: This has a good gas station bonus for a no annual fee card, but there's not much else to make it a compelling card
Earning rate: ⚬ 3 points per $1 at gas stations ⚬ 2 points per $1 oat grocery stores ⚬ 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Card Type: Mastercard
Noteworthy perks: $20 statement credit every billing cycle you spend $1,000+ (for AT&T Wireless customers omly)
This card does not currently feature an introductory bonus.No Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: 2X rewards for all spend with no annual fee makes this card a winner. Earn 2X everywhere and redeem for the equivalent of 2% cash back or 2X ThankYou points. Pair with the Premier or Prestige card to make points transferrable to airlines.
Earning rate: 2% cash back everywhere (1% cash back for each purchase + 1% when paying your credit card bill for that purchase)
Base: 2X (2.9%)
Card Type: Mastercard World Elite
Noteworthy perks: 1X when you make a purchase + 1X when you pay for those purchases
There are existing Citi banking products that earn ThankYou Rewards points, but Citi no longer allows this capability for new accounts. Points earned through banking are taxable and these points cannot be transferred to airline partners (not even if you move the points to a friend’s account or combine with a premium Citi card).
The best use of ThankYou points is to strategically transfer points to airline and hotel partners in order to book high value awards. Your best bet is usually to wait until you find a great hotel or flight award before transferring points. If you have at least one premium card such as the Citi Premier or Prestige card, most points transfer at a ratio of 1:1, but Citi regularly runs promotions where they offer a transfer bonus to a specific program. For example, we’ve frequently seen 25% bonuses for transfers to Avianca LifeMiles and to Air France / KLM Flying Blue.
- Wait to transfer points: Don’t transfer points until high value awards are available and you are ready to book them. Transfers are one-way only. Citi ThankYou points are valuable for their flexibility. Once you transfer, you are locked into a single program that may or may not have awards available.
- Watch for transfer bonuses: Citi sometimes offers improved transfer ratios through limited time transfer bonuses.
- Move points from one account to another (even to friends’ accounts): You can freely move up to 100,000 points per year to any other Citi ThankYou Rewards account. The catch is that once points are moved, they expire within 90 days. Make sure you have immediate plans for those points before moving them. Exception: The Custom Cash card does not allow moving points.
- Always have at least one transferable account: With a few exceptions, ThankYou Rewards are transferable only from Citi Premier and Citi Prestige accounts. If you or a friend has such an account, you can move points to that account from any other account before transferring to an airline or hotel program, but you are limited to moving 100,000 points per year this way. Another option is to pool points among your own accounts. For example, if you have the Citi Rewards+ card and the Citi Premier card, you can pool points between them in order to make all of the points transferable.
Current transfer bonuses
If there are any current transfer bonuses from Citi ThankYou Rewards, details will appear here:
|Transfer Bonus Details||End Date|
|30% transfer bonus from Citi to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||2023/10/14|
Transfer points to airlines
For flight awards, our post “Citi ThankYou points sweet spots for high value redemptions” details the best value uses of Citi ThankYou points.
Best overall airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Best Uses||Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards. Air France often offers very good business class award pricing between the US and Europe & Israel.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Avianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Cathay Pacific has a decent distance based award chart, but they no longer allow stopovers longer than 24 hours. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available. For long distance flights, it is possible to reduce the cost of a premium cabin award by adding on a lower cabin segment. See this post for details.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
Useful airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Best Uses||Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|British Airways Avios||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Excellent value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.||1 to 1 via Qatar (1 to 2 days)|
|Emirates Skywards||The best use of Emirates miles has been to fly Emirates itself. Unfortunately fuel surcharges can be steep. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Etihad Guest||Etihad offers a distance based award chart for flying Etihad and another for its partners. Points may offer good value for expensive but short-distance flights.||1 to 1 (~1 hour)|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||If you want to fly one of the best business class products in the sky, the best way to snag EVA flights is with their own miles since they release more award space to their own members. One-way business class flights from the US to Taipei cost 75K to 80K miles. Fuel surcharges are very low on these routes.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Iberia Avios||Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights and a very reasonable 25 Euro cancellation fee. Partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well, but these are usually nonrefundable. Fuel surcharges are sometimes lower when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Qatar. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.||1 to 1 via Qatar, BA (1 to 2 days)|
|JetBlue||JetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one of these cards.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||Best use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Also useful for short AA flights. Qantas offers distance based award charts similar to Cathay Pacific. Both are OneWorld Alliance members. I recommend comparing award prices across both programs before transferring to either. Qantas offers round the world business class awards for only 280,000 points (but with many restrictions)||1 to 1 (~1 day)|
|Qatar Privilege Club Avios||Qatar has reasonable award prices for flying Qatar itself. Points are now transferable 1 to 1 to British Airways (and from there to Aer Lingus or Iberia)||1 to 1 (1 to 2 days)|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members), Alaska Airlines economy awards, or for Star Alliance awards (including United Airlines).||1 to 1 (~1 day)|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||Miles & Smiles offers a number of awesome sweet-spot awards including 7.5K one-way anywhere within the US, even to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online but can be booked via phone or email. See: Turkish Miles & Smiles Complete Guide and Turkish business class sweet spots from the US.||1 to 1 (~1 day)|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Virgin Atlantic offers a few great sweet spot awards including US to Europe on Delta One business class for 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).||1 to 1 (Instant)|
Other airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Best Uses||Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|Aer Lingus Avios||Fuel surcharges are sometimes lower when booking with Aer Lingus (Avios.com) rather than British Airways, Qatar, or Iberia. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.||1 to 1 via Qatar, BA (1 to 2 days)|
|AeroMexico ClubPremier||AeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. Club Premier points can be used to book flights on AeroMexico, SkyTeam alliance members (such as Delta or Korean Air), or on select partner airlines. Unfortunately many have reported that awards are extremely difficult to book through AeroMexico so we do not recommend transferring points to this program. If you want to fly AeroMexico, look to transfer points to another SkyTeam partner (such as Air France) and then book AeroMexico with that program.||1 to 1 (~6 days)|
|Jet Airways Inter Miles||JetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Malaysia Enrich||Given Malaysia's award chart devaluation in June 2017, I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles.||1 to 1 (1 to 2 days)|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles||1 to 1 (3 to 7 days)|
Transfer points to hotel programs
One fantastic option is to transfer points 1 to 2 to Choice Privileges in order to get great value when booking Ascend Hotel Collection hotels, Cambria Hotels, Nordic Choice Hotels and Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Another great option is to transfer 1 to 1 to Wyndham to book Vacasa Vacation rentals for 15,000 points per bedroom per night. See: Wyndham Vacasa – Great Value is Real. Recently, Citi also added Accor Live Limitless (ALL), but there’s nothing exciting about this right now unless there are future transfer bonuses.
Combine Points Across CardsIf you are the primary account holder with multiple cards, you can combine ThankYou Rewards accounts. When your points are combined, they can then automatically be redeemed at the same value as your best card. For example, if one of your cards is the Premier card, you will be able to transfer points to airline partners even if the points were earned on a card other than the Premier card. Similarly, if you combine other cards with the Rewards+ card, you’ll get a 10% rebate on all award redemptions (up to 10,000 rebated points per year) even if the points originated from a different card. If you have both the Premier and the Rewards+ card combined together and you transfer 100K points to a partner program, you'll get 10,000 points back.
There are some disadvantages to combining points:
- You lose the ability to pick and choose which points are used when you redeem awards.
- You lose visibility into how many points remain with each card.
Share Points Across CardholdersCiti generously allows people to transfer ThankYou points to anyone else, for free. There are a couple of “catches” to this and an exception:
- Shared points expire after 90 days. Make sure you have a specific near-term use in mind before transferring points.
- 100K limit: Each member may share up to 100,000 points per calendar year. Each member may receive up to 100,000 points per calendar year.
- Exception: The Custom Cash card does not have the capability to share points (but you can combine points with other cards that you have). Yes, it's extremely weird that all other Citi ThankYou Rewards cards allow sharing points, but not Custom Cash. I have no idea why this is.
- If you don't have the Premier or Prestige card (the two cards in Citi's lineup that allow full value transfers to partners), you can move your points to a friend who has one of those cards and then they can transfer the points to an airline or hotel program in order to book high value awards.
- If a friend has airline elite status with one of Citi’s transfer partners with which you want to book an award, you may be better off transferring points to your friend who can then transfer the points to the airline partner and book the award for you (to get free award changes, for example).
How to Keep Points AliveThere are several situations in which you may have Citi ThankYou Rewards points that will expire:
- Points earned by a credit card account expire 60 days after cancelling that account.
- Points transferred to your account expire after 90 days.
- Points earned from some older and no longer available credit cards expire in a set amount of time after points were earned (e.g. 3 or 5 years after December 31 of the year in which the points were earned).
- Points earned from some credit cards expire if your credit card account has no purchase activity in 18 months.
- Points earned from Citibank banking products expire 3 years after December 31 of the year in which the points were earned.
Credit card points: how to keep points aliveWith most credit card points (except with some older credit cards which are no longer available), points remain alive until you cancel the card from which they were earned. Once you cancel the card, points expire after 60 days.
Combining accounts does not solve the problem. When you combine multiple ThankYou accounts, it’s natural to assume that as long as you keep any ThankYou Rewards credit card open, your points will be safe. That’s simply not the case. Citi keeps track of where each ThankYou point came from. If you cancel a card, the points earned on that card expire after 60 days. Period. They are not known to reinstate points.
The best way to preserve your ThankYou points is to keep your credit card account alive. If you don’t want an annual fee, then call to downgrade to a no-fee ThankYou card. There is a side benefit to this approach too: Your no fee card may be eligible for occasional lucrative retention offers. See: How one call led to a points bonanza and rethought plans.