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Citi ThankYou Points: How to Earn, Redeem, and Maximize Them

Updated Sep 09, 2021 | Published Aug 04, 20206 min read

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At a glance

Citi ThankYou is one of the three main credit card rewards programs. ThankYou points can be redeemed for things like gift cards, travel, and cash — but cardholders will find the most value by transferring their points directly to one of Citi’s airline partners.

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When it comes to major credit card rewards systems, you’ve got Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points.

While the first two receive a lot of buzz, the latter is often overlooked. It shouldn’t be, though — here’s why Citi ThankYou points deserve your attention (plus info on how to earn and redeem them!).

What Are Citi ThankYou Points?

Citi ThankYou is the rewards program for Citibank, one of the biggest banks in the world. Its points work similarly to other rewards currencies: You earn them mostly by using eligible Citi credit cards, and can redeem them for things like travel, gift cards, statement credits, and more.

One thing that sets this program apart? Citi allows you to share ThankYou points with other members. There’s no transfer fee or minimum number of points, though the maximum you can give or receive is 100,000 points in a single year. The points are valid for 90 days from the date they are received.

Insider tip

As long as you keep your credit card open, your Citi ThankYou rewards will not expire. But if you cancel your card, your points will expire 60 days later. If you don’t want to pay an annual fee on your Citi card anymore, downgrade your account rather than closing it. While you may lose some perks and privileges, you’ll at least get to keep your points.

How Can I Earn Citi ThankYou Points?

As with most rewards programs, the easiest way to earn ThankYou points is by embracing affiliated credit cards. Several come with generous introductory bonuses that allow you to earn a boatload of points in just a few months.

At the moment, only four cards officially earn ThankYou points — and only two come with full features.

  • Citi Premier® Card & Citi Prestige® Card: These full-featured cards earn ThankYou points redeemable for gift cards, travel, and other rewards. Notably, they are the only cards that allow point transfers to all of Citi’s air partners (which is, by far, the best redemption option).
  • Citi Rewards+® Card & AT&T Access Card from Citi: These cards earn “basic” ThankYou points that can be redeemed for rewards at a maximum rate of 1 cent/point. With the exception of the Citi Rewards+ card and JetBlue, these cards’ points cannot be transferred to Citi’s travel partners — unless you have one of the full-featured cards above, in which case you can pool your points together.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Though not an official part of the ThankYou program, the cash back earned with this card can be converted into ThankYou points. These points can then be transferred to JetBlue, or to the full breadth of travel partners if you have the Premier or Prestige cards.

You can also earn ThankYou points with your Citibank checking account. According to this calculator, you could earn 5,400 points per year for triggering at least one direct deposit and one bill pay from your Citibank account each month. You’ll get additional rewards points for linking savings accounts or loans to your bank account, too.

Insider tip

When it comes to the following cards, Citi states you can’t receive an introductory bonus if you’ve A) received a bonus for any of the other cards or B) closed an account for any of the other cards within the past 24 months: Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier/Citi Premier or Citi Prestige. So, before applying, check the calendar and make sure you’ll actually be eligible for your chosen card’s bonus!

How Do I Redeem Citi ThankYou Points?

You can redeem ThankYou points from Citi credit cards in a multitude of ways — some better than others. Here are your options, in order from least to greatest potential redemption value.

As you can see from the list above, you should always try to get at least 1 cent/point when redeeming your ThankYou rewards. Anything less just isn’t worth it!

The Citi Premier formerly got an elevated redemption rate of 1.25 cents/point for airfare at the Travel Center, but that benefit was removed in April 2021.

How to Maximize Your Citi ThankYou Points

Though redeeming your points for gift cards or flights at thankyou.com will nab you the rewards industry standard of 1 cent/point, there’s another way to make your ThankYou points really shine: transferring them directly to one of Citi’s many airline partners — a strategy that is, for the most part, only available to Premier and Prestige cardholders.

(As of publication, if you’re a Rewards+ or Double Cash cardholder, you can only transfer your points to JetBlue — and 1,000 ThankYou points will only be worth 800 TrueBlue points.)

For those with Premier and Prestige cards, your points will transfer at a 1:1 ratio, so 1,000 ThankYou points will, for example, become 1,000 Qantas points. Most transfers occur instantaneously or within a few days, but some take as long as a week. So be sure to check your chosen airline’s transfer time to avoid getting stuck in a time crunch.

Here’s a full list of Citi’s transfer partners:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege (now InterMiles)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Why is this the most valuable redemption option for Citi ThankYou points? When you transfer points to a travel partner, they could be worth much more than 1 cent each.

Let’s say you transfer 67,500 points at a 1:1 ratio to Etihad Guest. You could, potentially, then use your 67,500 Etihad miles to fly first class on American Airlines (which is in the same alliance) from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. If you paid in cash, that ticket could cost a whopping $9,761. At that rate, you’d be getting a value of more than 14 cents/point!

Hong Kong

Fancy a trip to Hong Kong? Image credit: Nextvoyage from Pexels

If redeeming for airline miles seems too complicated, however, don’t sweat. Redeeming 67,500 ThankYou points for $675 in free airfare isn’t a bad deal either.

Insider tip

In 2019, Citi removed travel and purchase protections from many of its rewards credit cards. Because of that, we might recommend putting plane tickets or electronics purchases on a travel rewards card from a different issuer, such as Chase or Amex.

What Credit Cards Earn Citi ThankYou Points?

Here’s where to get your hands on some ThankYou points:

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Citi Premier® Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$95
  • Purchase APR15.99% - 23.99% Variable

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This card’s benefits changed a lot during the summer of 2020 — and that’s a good thing. Beginning on August 31, 2020, you’ll earn 3X points/dollar on air travel, hotels, gas, and groceries, plus $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees). For a $95 annual fee, that’s a pretty sweet offer.

Its intro bonus is also the best of any ThankYou card: 80,000 ThankYou points for spending $4,000 in first 3 months (worth $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com). Even if you just redeemed that for cash rewards, that’d pay for many years of the annual fee!

Citi Prestige® Card
  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$495
  • Purchase APR16.99%–23.99% Variable

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This cream-of-the-crop Citi card is for true travel junkies who will get enough value to make up for its hefty annual fee. The 5X points on air travel and restaurants are really nice, as is the 3X on hotels. For this price, though, we wish it had better travel protections and insurance.

Offsetting the annual fee is a complimentary fourth night free on two hotel stays each year, a $250 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, and cell phone protection worth up to $1,500 per year.

The previous two cards are quite similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) and Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review), respectively. Both of the Chase cards feature much better travel insurance — but the former has fewer bonus categories and the latter lacks the fourth-night-free benefit and cell phone protection.
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Citi Rewards+® Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 15 months, then 13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)

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Looking for a basic card with no annual fee? This one offers a respectable 2X points at grocery stores and gas stations on the first $6,000 per year (then 1X point). And, uniquely, each purchase you make will also be rounded up to the nearest 10 points, meaning a $2 coffee will earn 10 points rather than two. Lastly, you’ll get a 10% redemption bonus on the first 100,000 ThankYou points redeemed each year — so if you redeem 15,000 points, you’ll get 1,500 back.

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AT&T Access Card from Citi
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR14.99%–23.99% Variable

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This card isn’t too exciting. It earns 10,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening, and its 2X bonus categories are limited to “eligible retail and travel websites” and AT&T purchases. All other purchases earn 1X point/dollar. We don’t see any real reason to apply for this card, especially when considering the next one earns 2% cash back (the equivalent of 2X points/dollar) on everything.

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Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

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As noted earlier, this doesn’t qualify as an official “ThankYou card” — but it does earn cash back that can be converted to ThankYou points at a rate of $1 for 100 points. Generally speaking, this is one of our favorite cash back credit cards because of its simple, high rewards rate: 1% when you make a purchase, and 1% when you pay your bill (you must pay at least the minimum due on time to earn rewards). That’s about the highest flat rewards rate on the block.

Creating Your ThankYou Points Strategy

Interested in earning a lot of ThankYou points in a short amount of time? Then the Citi Premier® Card is a good bet. Its annual fee is essentially offset by its hotel benefit, and its earning capability is rock solid.

If you already have a premium travel card, or simply want to take your ThankYou points a little further, consider throwing the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer into the mix. With no annual fee and 2% cash back on everything, it’s a great card to use in any categories for which your other cards don’t earn a bonus.

Plus, if you already have the Premier or Prestige card, you’ll be able to pool your points together — potentially earning serious returns by transferring your ThankYou points to Citi’s travel partners.

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Written by

Susan Shain

Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.

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