Home Credit Cards What Should I Do With My Citi ThankYou Points?

What Should I Do With My Citi ThankYou Points?

by joeheg

On September 1, 2019, Citi changed the fourth-night free benefit on the Citi Prestige, where reservations need to be booked through the ThankYou portal or by calling a Thank You representative. On September 22, 2019, Citi removed most of their travel insurance and shopping protections from almost all of their cards.

These changes made me rethink our Citi card portfolio, and one of the possibilities was canceling our Citi Prestige card. With Citi, points associated with a card expire in 60 days after you cancel it, even if you’ve transferred those points to another Citi ThankYou card.

If I’m going to need to use these points, I’d need an exit strategy.

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

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

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 7.07.31 PM

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 Marshalls gift card.

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

Gap and Macy’s? 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 (until April 10, 2021, when all cards will give you one cent per point.)

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?

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Flying Blue
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • 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 several programs I don’t know a whole lot about. While I’m sure there’s 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 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 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 a Flying Blue co-brand credit card. You could always 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.

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 for shutting down accounts that are opened, have points transferred in, and redeemed in a short period of time. It doesn’t cost anything to open an account and leave it there with no points.

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.

The advantages of parking points with JetBlue are that the points will never expire and you can pool points with any other TrueBlue member to make an award booking.  The disadvantage is that points transfer to JetBlue at a 1000:800 ratio. There are occasional bonuses bringing things back to 1:1, which are worthwhile waiting for if you can.

Singapore KrisFlyer

Singapore is a Star Alliance member and you can redeem points for award flights on those airlines. However, Singapore’s award chart isn’t great for partners. The advantage of having Singapore points is that the airline releases more award space for their own flights to KrisFlyer members. If you have Singapore miles, you’ll be able to book award tickets while people with miles in partner programs, like United, will not. This is how I booked our flight on Singapore Airlines in business class from New York to Frankfurt.

The big downside of transferring points to Singapore KrisFlyer is that points 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 attention to this program because the taxes they charge on award tickets for their own flights are very high. However, I decided to give it another look because I’ve read articles about how Virgin Atlantic miles can be a great way to book flights on their partner, Delta.

Virgin Atlantic points expire if there’s no account activity in 36 months, but since they’re 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. There are some sweet spots in the program, like flying from the US mainland to Hawaii for 7,500 points.

It’s a shame we won’t find this award very useful because those flights are on 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’s post on Avianca LifeMiles 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.

After doing all of this research, I decided to hang on to my Citi Prestige card for another year. I have one hotel stay planned where the 4th-night free benefit will more than pay for the annual fee.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

12 comments

Jon July 18, 2019 - 3:26 pm

Will the points still expire after 60 days if you do a product change – perhaps to the Rewards + card? Thx

Reply
joeheg July 18, 2019 - 3:29 pm

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.

Reply
Jon July 18, 2019 - 3:37 pm

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.

Reply
joeheg July 18, 2019 - 4:02 pm

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.

Reply
George July 18, 2019 - 3:52 pm

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.

Reply
joeheg July 18, 2019 - 4:00 pm

I’ve updated the article to make it more clear about FB’s mileage expiration rules.

Reply
Ed July 19, 2019 - 9:05 am

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?

Reply
joeheg July 19, 2019 - 11:51 am

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.

Reply
Peggy December 26, 2020 - 8:40 pm

About 6 weeks ago, I tried booking a hotel with the measly 6,300 points I had. The points requirement for one hotel I found was good, but when I proceeded to the next step it required the quoted amount plus ALL my remaining points! I tried for another hotel and the same thing happened. I wanted to close my Premier card so I bought a Jiffy Lube gift card and pretty much wasted the remaining points.

Reply
Stephanie Woods December 26, 2020 - 9:36 pm

You can transfer the points to the Premier card, but they still expire after 60 days. I ‘ve had horrific repeated customer service on my Prestige card this year, so I am canceling it. I’ ve got a Sapphire Preferred and an AMEX Platinum, and Citi no longer has travel insurance and the 4th free night is of no use of me next year, so that card is gone. I like my Premier card, but the bloated fee for the Prestige goes not match the very limited return I get for it.

Reply
Gene December 26, 2020 - 9:39 pm

Transfer them to me. 🙂

Reply
Tee Pee December 27, 2020 - 8:33 am

As of Sept. 24 Virgin Atlantic points never expire.

Reply

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