What Should I Do With My Citi ThankYou Points?

On September 1, 2019, Citi is going to change the fourth-night free benefit on the Citi Prestige to make reservations only bookable through the ThankYou portal or by calling a Thank You representative. Then on September 22, 2019, Citi will remove most of their travel insurance and shopping protections from almost all of their card portfolio.

These changes made me rethink our Citi card portfolio and one of the possibilities was canceling our Citi Prestige card. With Citi’s rules, if I cancel a card the points associated with that card expire in 60 days, even if you’ve transferred those points to another Citi ThankYou card which you are keeping open.

If I’m going to need to cash these points out, I better explore my options.

I went to the ThankYou website to find out what options are available to redeem our ThankYou points.

When logging in, one of the first options offered to me was to use my points to pay for recent purchases.

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Using ThankYou points this way only gets 0.5 cents of value for each point. This is a horrible deal. Next.

Wow, I can get a Kohl’s gift card.

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While this will give me 1 cent of value per point, I’m not a huge Kohl’s shopper. Um, no thanks.

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TJ Maxx and Dominos? There has to be something else. What about travel? Isn’t that why I earned these points?

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If you want to pay for travel with your points, you can use the ThankYou portal to make your reservations. You’ll get from 1 to 1.25 cent per point value depending on which Citi card you have to make the redemption.

It’s a better value but I’d prefer not to book directly through the Citi portal. What about transferring points to partners?

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Ah-ha. There’s the points transfer option. What are my options?

  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Flying Blue
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • JetPrivilege (currently unavailable)
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

That’s a number of programs I don’t know a whole lot about. While I’m sure there is plenty of value in these programs, It takes a bunch of time to learn about just one program and there are several I know nothing about. I’m going to stick to the ones I somewhat know.

Flying Blue

For me, Flying Blue is a useful program to book flights with SkyTeam airline partners. I’ve transferred Citi ThankYou points to FlyingBlue to book our flight in Delta One from Frankfurt to Detroit.

You can also use Flying Blue points to book promo awards that are for trips within the upcoming three months. While these are last-minute redemptions, they often offer awards at up to 50% off the number of miles needed.

Points transferred into Flying Blue will expire if you have no qualifying account activity within a 24 month period. According to Flying Blue, that would be earning points by flying on KLM/Air France or any of their SkyTeam partners and crediting the flight to Flying Blue or spending on Flying Blue co-brand credit card (which aren’t available in the US). You could always just credit a low-cost Delta flight to Flying Blue (you wouldn’t get many SkyMiles anyway) to keep your account active. Just don’t transfer in your points and plan to leave them there forever.

Also, if you’re thinking about using the Flying Blue program, I’d suggest making an account now. Even if you don’t plan on using it. Flying Blue has a reputation of shutting down new accounts that are opened, have points transferred in and redeemed in a short period of time so you might as well open the account now. It doesn’t cost anything.

JetBlue TrueBlue

You’re not going to get exceptional value when transferring points to JetBlue but you do know what your points are going to be worth when you redeem them. While some of the awards will give better or worse value, you can expect to get around 1.4 cents per point for your TrueBlue points.

That’s still better than any of the redemptions for gift cards, statement credits or booking travel directly through the Citi portal.

Advantages of parking points with JetBlue is that the points will never expire and you are able to pool points with any other TrueBlue member to make an award booking.

Singapore KrisFlyer

While Singapore is a Star Alliance member and you are able to redeem your points for award flights on those airlines, the Singapore award chart isn’t great for partners. The advantage of having Singapore points is that they release more award space for their own flights for KrisFlyer members than they do to partners. So if you have Singapore miles, you’ll be able to book award tickets when those with miles in partner programs, like United, will not. This is how I booked our flights on Singapore business class from New York to Frankfurt.

The big downside of transferring points to Singapore KrisFlyer is that points will expire three years after being added to the account. So this isn’t the best place to park points unless you know that you’ll be able to redeem them rather quickly.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

I never paid much attention to this program because the taxes they charge on award tickets on their own flights are very high. Over time, I’ve read multiple articles about how Virgin Atlantic miles can be a great way to book flights on their partner, Delta. Here’s a post from Miles to Memories showing how to book these partner awards.

Virgin Atlantic points will expire if there’s no account activity in 36 months but since they are partners with all the major banks it shouldn’t be hard to add some miles to your account to keep it active.

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

Turkish’s program is one that I know very little about. The only reason I’m including it is because of Nick from Frequent Miler’s discovery that flights on United from the US to Hawaii are bookable for 7,500 miles each way if you can find the award space.

It’s a shame we won’t find this award very useful, because United, but I’d imagine there’s a bunch of people who’d want to take a bucket list trip to Hawaii and that’s possible with the 15,000 sign up bonus from the Citi Rewards+ card.

Other Programs

There is a load of information out there about how to use points in other programs. There’s a great post from God Save The Points about Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles sweet spots and Nick from Frequent Miler recently reported on Avianca LifeMiles secret award chart.

Final Thoughts

While at first, second and thirty-fourth glance, the Citi ThankYou transfer partners might seem limited, I assure you there is value to be found in these programs. It might not be as easy to find your award flight with these points as it is with ones that transfer directly to Delta or United, those flights are bookable if saver space exists, and in most instances, that’s when you want to be using your miles anyway.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

8 thoughts on “What Should I Do With My Citi ThankYou Points?”

    1. If you product change, the points should stay alive. However, if you PC to the Rewards+ and you don’t have either the Prestige or Premier, you’ll lose the ability to transfer points to partners altogether.

      1. Sorry, I should have mentioned that I already have the Premier and will likely keep it (for now…). Unfortunately, we (Prestige holders) have suffered death by a thousand cuts since the time when the Prestige card was right up there at or near the top of the heap.

      2. You could also transfer the points to the premier before downgrading the Prestige just to be safe. As long as you keep both of the cards open, you should be fine.

  1. I think you have to fly or earn on a co-branded CC to keep your Flying Blue account active. So it’s not just “any account activity.”

    My closest airport is Newark, I mostly fly domestic or to Europe, and I’ve never booked a premium cabin flight. So it’d be between:
    – Turkish (domestic Economy; need all the points, but it doesn’t take a lot)
    – Avianca (domestic Economy, or Business to Europe for like 126k+$100 RT; has transfer bonus, top off with cheap mile purchases or MR transfers)
    – Singapore (Economy to Europe on UA; easy to top off with transfers from everywhere)
    – Virgin Atlantic (Economy to London; easy to top off with transfers from everywhere)
    – Flying Blue (intra-Europe Promo Awards)

    I’m more likely to fly to Europe on UA than intra-Europe on SkyTeam, so I’d take the 3 year expiration of SQ over the 2 year expiration of FB.

  2. If you have booked hotels with TY points but haven’t stayed at the hotel yet. Can you still cancel the Premier card and have that reservation stay until it is used up?

    1. Once you’ve booked a room with points, you can cancel the card and the booking will remain with the hotel. I don’t have experience as to what would happen if you cancel the room (saying it’s not a non-refundable booking) as the points would usually get redeposited into your account.

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