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Can I Transfer ThankYou Points from a Citi Checking Account?

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TPG reader Ryan sent me a message on Facebook to ask about redeeming Citi ThankYou points:

“I was planning to redeem 40,000 bonus points from my Citigold account to book a flight on Singapore Suites, but I was told points from checking don’t transfer to airline partners. What are my options?”

Many credit card issuers also provide incentives for other banking relationships. In particular, Citi occasionally offers large bonuses for checking accounts that can earn you as much as 50,000 ThankYou points or AAdvantage miles. That’s on par with what you’ll get from many of the top credit card offers, but as Ryan learned the hard way, there are some important differences.

Citi makes some unusual distinctions between points based on where they come from. You can earn “ThankYou points” from both Citi checking accounts and credit cards in the ThankYou Rewards program, but those points are equal in name only — the award options, redemption rates and expiration policy all depend on the source.

Points earned from Citi checking accounts are referred to as “taxable” points, and taxable points are ineligible for transfer to airline and hotel partners. These points also can’t be shared with other ThankYou Rewards members, and they expire three years after you earn them (regardless of ongoing account activity). You can redeem them directly for travel and statement credits, but you’ll get less than one cent per point that way, so those options are unattractive.

The good news is that you can combine taxable ThankYou points with normal ThankYou points earned from the Citi ThankYou Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card. Weirdly, Citi still considers those taxable points inferior even once they’ve been combined, so the transfer option remains unavailable. However, you can redeem them directly for travel at the higher rates offered by those cards (1.25 cents per point for Premier, or up to 1.6 cents per point for Prestige).

Want to fly Singapore Airlines' First Class Suites? You'll need to look and book on SingaporeAir.com.
Singapore is one of two airlines that partners with all four major transerable points programs.

Unfortunately, redeeming 40,000 points through the ThankYou Travel Center isn’t likely to help Ryan book a flight in Singapore Suites, since those tickets cost thousands of dollars. My advice would be to use those points toward other trip expenses (like hotels, positioning flights, etc.), and look for another solution to get points into your Singapore KrisFlyer account.

Singapore Airlines is a partner of all four major transferable points programs, so you have plenty of options. Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest all transfer to KrisFlyer at 1:1, so even if you don’t have a large balance in any one of those programs, you could combine points from each of them to book your award. If you don’t already have the points you need, there are plenty of opportunities to earn them. Depending on when you plan to travel, you may still be able to find availability.

Citi’s system of classifying ThankYou points is unintuitive, and I’d love to see them change it for the sake of all ThankYou Rewards members. Until that happens, make sure you know the policies governing your own points so you can avoid unpleasant surprises.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Citi Prestige® Card

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  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
  • 4th night hotel benefit for any hotel stay at hotels booked through the Citi Prestige® Concierge.
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 15.49%* (Variable) $450 0% Excellent Credit