Home Points & Miles This Was The Perfect Way For Us To Use All Our Citi ThankYou Points

This Was The Perfect Way For Us To Use All Our Citi ThankYou Points

by joeheg

I’ve been hoarding Citi ThankYou points for a while. They’re rather easy to earn with theCiti Prestige‘s 5x points on dining and travel expenses and the Citi Premier earning 3x for most everyday expenses.

The one thing I dislike about the Citi ThankYou program is that points earned with a card are linked to only that card. If you want to close a card, you have to make sure you’ve used up all the points because points expire 60 days after closing an account.

Unlike Chase and American Express, transferring points to another ThankYou card doesn’t extend the lifespan of your points. Transferred points only are good for 90 days but if you cancel the card the points came from, they’ll still expire in 60 days from cancellation or 90 days from the transfer (whichever comes first.)

My dilemma is that our ThankYou card with the most points attached to it is the Citi Prestige. Citi has destroyed much of the value of this card (no travel insurance, limited usefulness of the 4th night free) and I’ve been thinking of ditching it for a while but I couldn’t find a good use for the points. I could transfer to one of their partners but I had no idea where I’d be able to use them first.

And then came the perfect way to use the points.

Our postponed Virgin Voyages cruise from 2020 was canceled again in 2021. We rebooked for 2022 and it better be a great cruise since we’re waiting almost 3 years to go on it. That left me with a block of PTO and nowhere to go. I’ve said in the past that this is a dangerous thing for me. I started to think about places to visit but everywhere we could go in the US will be hot and crowded in the summer.

It was Sharon who said out of nowhere, “How about Iceland?”

Huh? We’ve not been on a plane for over a year and it took a while for us to feel comfortable enough to book a flight to Texas as our return to the skies later this year. Now we’re going to book a flight to Iceland before that trip?

I can only speak for us but it’s a dramatic change, looking at travel after getting vaccinated. I searched to find out which countries are welcoming vaccinated travelers and Iceland was the one that stood out.

It was one day later when I saw a post on Twitter about cheap flights to Iceland.  While I don’t write about fare sales, I follow several sites that do. By the time I got home from work, the cheapest flights were gone, but I could find a low fare on Icelandair from NYC-KEF. I looked at Sharon and asked, “You want to go to Iceland?”

There’s no good way to pay for flights on Icelandair with points, so I’d have to pay for the ticket. Then I remembered the ThankYou points sitting in my account.

I transferred the points from Sharon’s Prestige card to my Citi Rewards+ account. The transfer was instant and I went to the Citi ThankYou travel portal to look for the flights. (I was upset that I just missed out on getting 25% more value from the Citi Premier that ended earlier this month.)

The process wasn’t without some glitches (which I’ll talk about later), but I could find the flights I wanted. I was a few points short so I needed to pay an additional $3.77.

Almost instantly after the booking was complete, I received this email from Citi.

Because I have the Citi Rewards+ card and paid with my account, I received 10% of the redeemed points back. Actually, I received 10,000 points because that’s the max rebate per year. The good thing is that the rebate went on my Rewards+ card and not the Prestige, which now has a 0 point balance.

I was able to burn all of the ThankYou points on our Prestige card and we’re going to Iceland. We’re excited and a bit terrified because we’ve done no research and all we have is the flight booked. I’ve said before why I’m not good at spontaneous travel and that was going to London, a city we’ve been to before.

There’s no going back now.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

5 comments

Ben April 22, 2021 - 6:31 pm

Good for you! Was there in 2017 and going back in a month as well. Some recs:

1) Highly recommend an Airbnb with a full kitchen if you are doing Reykjavik, they are fairly inexpensive and allow you to cook 1-2 meals/day there rather than eat out, which can get a bit expensive
2) I know what I just posted, but eating out is not as expensive in Iceland as people make it out to be, assuming your typical meals out aren’t the dollar menu at McDonalds. VAT is built into the price, and because they pay their servers a living wage, tipping is generally only for truly exceptional service. I find normal meals in Iceland are about what you’d expect at a good local restaurant in the downtown of most US cities.
3) While I did Reykjavik and the Golden Circle the first time, this time we are doing the Ring Road (aka route 1 in Iceland) with a Campervan and excited for it as I’ve never rented that or an RV before. If you don’t mind ‘roughing it’ (more like glamping depending on the model you rent), it seems like a lot of fun. Alternatively, rent a car and drive it, but then you are stuck on your itinerary and can’t stay somewhere longer as you have hotels to get to (and you are constantly unpacking and repacking).

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Tom April 22, 2021 - 6:50 pm

That’s awesome. My wife and I are returning to Germany this summer to visit our families with our son. We will spend a month going through the Black Forest region and Bavaria. We have been hoarding Amex Membership Rewards unintentionally — we just haven’t been able to use this in a meaningful way that works for us (not even for our flights to Germany as the scheduling didn’t work). We now have +300k Amex points, about 70k ThankYou points, and 97k Singapore miles (from a refunded trip we couldn’t take last year)…I’m really starting to wonder how I’m going to burn all these on good redemptions.

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Watt April 22, 2021 - 8:50 pm

Now this strikes me as a perfect vacation. Cool place, safe place, great use of points, and country that offers so much neat stuff outdoors.

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Sammy April 23, 2021 - 11:03 am

If you want to drop the Prestige card but keep your Thank You points indefinitely, you can product change to the Rewards+ card. No need to prematurely your points if you don’t have a good use for them.

(Side note as to the Rewards+ 10,000 point rebate – I had travel plans booked using TY points both this year and last which qualified for and received the max rebate. Both were Covid-canceled and my points were returned to my account. However, there was no clawback of the rebated points so I ended with 20K bonus points for my trouble.)

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Using Points to Fly to Iceland, Capital One Transfer Analysis and More - Miles For Family April 23, 2021 - 11:03 am

[…] earn them). After all, the whole point is to actually use miles and points for travel! Check out this post by Your Mileage May Vary about how they spent their stash of Citi ThankYou points. I’m looking forward to hearing […]

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