Citi Discontinues ThankYou Shopping Portal Earning Bonuses

by on January 28, 2014 · 15 comments

in Citi, Shopping

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You don’t have to be a shopaholic to earn thousands of bonus miles or points through airline, hotel and credit card online shopping portals where you can earn multiple points or miles per dollar simply by logging in with your account and then clicking through to the merchant of your choice. While most US airlines and hotel chains still offer their online shopping portals, early last year, American Express officially closed its bonus points mall. That was bad news, but at least there were two other major credit card portals – Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou.

You'll only be able to redeem points (not earn them) through now.

You’ll only be able to redeem points (not earn them) through now.

However, as of January 19, 2014, Citi ended the opportunity to earn bonus points through its online shopping portal. Folks with eligible cards like the Citi ThankYou Premier or Citi ThankYou Preferred can still redeem their points for travel and merchandise through the ThankYou portal, but they can no longer earn multiple points per $1 on everyday purchases.

Citi notified cardholders late in 2013 and the changes went into effect last week, as many of you no doubt have noticed. Citi reps offered the following explanation:

“We are focused on offering our ThankYou members ways to earn and redeem rewards that fit their lifestyle and needs. Due to limited usage, we have closed the ThankYou Bonus center. ThankYou members can continue to earn points through their eligible Citi credit card purchases and enrolled Citibank checking account. We also are focused on delivering new ways that members redeem their points for rewards that are personally meaningful to them, including Rewards Account Number, which enables members to use points for purchases anywhere Visa and MasterCard are accepted online.”

Although I tend to focus on transferable points and miles with specific airlines like American or hotel points like SPG and Hyatt, it’s important to keep fixed-value point like Citi ThankYou in your points portfolio for specific redemption opportunities, and the fact that Citi has removed a major way of racking up bonus points is just plain bad news.

Barclaycard still offers points bonuses on purchases through its RewardsBoost portal.

Barclaycard still offers points bonuses on purchases through its RewardsBoost portal.

Like with Amex, I wish Citi would have considered improving their mall – asking for consumer feedback about how it could be better and more effective – rather than just shutting it down. In my opinion, this change is another big blow to the ThankYou program (including the fact that the Citi ThankYou Premier now only offers 1.25 cents per point on travel redemptions instead of the former 1.33 cents per point), and has me thinking more and more about other fixed-value programs like Barclaycard Arrival miles, which you can redeem for 1 cent apiece for travel and get a 10% refund while earning 2X miles per $1 on spend. Plus, Barclaycard offers its Barclaycard RewardsBoost portal, so you can still earn multiple points per dollar at tons of major merchants.

However, while this is bad news, it’s not terrible, since other cards offer higher bonuses at various categories of merchants on everyday, non-portal spend, and if you’re set on using your Citi ThankYou card to earn points, you can still go through other online shopping portals to earn other bonus miles and points while still racking up ThankYou points. However, it’s just one more reason I’ll be concentrating most of my spend on other cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Premier Rewards Gold rather than banking on Citi.

For handy reference, here’s a list of still active online shopping portals:

Air Canada: Aeroplan EStore
Alaska: MileagePlan Shopping
Amtrak: Amtrak Guest Rewards
British Airways: BA Miles Estore
Chase: Ultimate Rewards Shopping
Choice Rewards: Choice Privileges Mall
Discover: ShopDiscover
Frontier: Early Returns Mall
Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian Airlines eMarket
Hilton HHonors: Hilton HHonors Shop to Earn Mall
Marriott Rewards: Shop My Way
Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping
US Airways: Dividend Miles Shopping Mall
Virgin Atlantic: ShopsAway

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • lapsang

    Capital One also closed theirs last year. Now their Venture card isn’t worth the annual fee. You also should have included Discover as a major credit card portal, and not just in the list at the end. It gives the impression that it is just a hotel or airline portal and not a bank portal.

  • dee seiffer

    I disagree. I think the Venture card is still great for running Vanilla/Bluebird points and reimbursing myself for things like taxis, trains, etc. and the cash part of Hyatt’s “Cash + Points.” Since Barclay doesn’t like to give new cards to people like us, Cap 1 is a pretty good alternative to the Arrival.

  • bobbyb

    Discover has annual spend of $3500 before you even get the full 1% cash back. Also there customer service for disputed transactions is horrible.

  • lapsang

    I obviously cannot speak for everyone’s situation. In order to make back the annual fee, I would have to run through $2,950, which isn’t awful. On the other hand, this is contingent on having travel expenses to redeem your cashback at this rate, and the earn rate is now capped at 2%. The Sapphire and the Arrival have obviously better earn rates, but have higher annual fees. Sapphire also has a host of transfer partners. I just don’t see what Capital One’s advantage is now. If it’s your first card that requires “Excellent Credit,” it could still be valuable, but they are definitely less competitive in the market, any way you slice it.

  • boobyb

    I agree also. Venture card is super simple to redeem rewards even if it somehow shows a transaction does not post as a travel expense one call to Cap 1 and they credit the rewards to it.

  • lapsang

    I’m not plugging Discover (I don’t even have their card), just saying it should be listed as a bank portal, because that’s what it is.

  • bobbyb

    Advantage is flexability. Cap 1 points can be used for anything travel related. Chase has a better point earning system but limited as to where those points can go. So if you need to take a flight you don’t have to worry about award availability. Cap 1 program is very easy to redeem points for anything travel related. Rental Car parking hotel etc…

  • dee seiffer

    Agreed. Cap1 has been useful as my filler miles for several years. I LOVE Chase Sapphire, Ink, etc (and AA, Amex & SPG). UR’s are my biggest points bucket this year. Each person has different strategies that works for them that can change from year to year.

    I wish I could get an Arrival card for the 10% back, but Barclay won’t give me another card since I opened so many accounts last year.

  • Miah Cottrell
  • lapsang

    I don’t see how you can say Capital One offers flexibility as an advantage. Chase allows you to get a statement credit or a check, which I think is pretty generous. You can get a check from Capital One, but at half the earn rate (i.e., 1%). I can even use a free card, (Chase Freedom) and accumulate points a lot faster than the Venture. There may be niche uses for the card; I don’t argue that. I am just saying that they shot themselves in the foot by getting rid of their portal, and I think the same thing of Citi.

  • Scottrick

    Deciphering the marketing speak: It’s not bad news because people weren’t using it because it was a bad deal to begin with.

  • iahphx

    Who cares? With a few exceptions (particularly related to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards) the “independent” cashback sites are always more lucrative. Topcashback, fatwallet, Mr. Rebates, etc. I’m guessing that’s why the credit card sites haven’t attracted a lot of customers.

  • FlyingJoey

    Agree with you… Right now I only use my CitiThankYou when I go out to dinner. Right now my focus is AA/USAir miles.

  • Michael

    FYI, the Frontier EarlyReturns mall was shut down Dec. 31, 2013. The options are becoming fewer and fewer.

  • Brandon

    I think it was also a “bad deal” because when you did shop through it, about half the time you never got your points anyway. Going to ebates was a better value proposition.

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