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TPG reader Chad emailed me to ask about a new Citi ThankYou Rewards partnership:
“Is there a way to maximize the value of ThankYou points by booking hotels with Expedia, or are there better options?”
Citi’s partnership with Expedia extends back nearly a decade. For most of that time, the partnership has been defined by various co-branded credit cards, but it expanded earlier this year when Citi began allowing ThankYou Rewards members to redeem points for hotels on Expedia. Linking your ThankYou account and choosing to pay with points is pretty easy, and it doesn’t hurt to have more options for booking award travel. However, this new feature offers a terrible redemption value, and there are definitely better ways to maximize your rewards.
ThankYou points are worth just 0.8 cents apiece when you use them to book hotels on Expedia. That’s less than what you’ll get by redeeming for gift cards, and much less than what you can get by transferring to airline and hotel partners. Furthermore, you can get a better return by skipping Expedia altogether and booking travel through ThankYou Rewards directly (including hotels, flights, rental cars and more).
For example, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card offers 1.25 cents per point when you redeem through the ThankYou Travel Center. The Citi Prestige Card gives you even higher rates of 1.33 cents per point on most travel, or 1.6 cents per point on American Airlines flights. Even no-fee options like the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card give you 1 cent per point when you book through Citi — 25% better than what you’ll get by using Expedia.
The one advantage of this partnership is that Expedia gives you access to a wider selection of properties. When I searched for a hotel in Boston for one night in August, Citi gave me 189 options and Expedia gave me 331, even though the ThankYou Rewards site appeared to be searching a larger area. Still, even if you’re targeting a specific property that’s only available as an award on Expedia, you’re probably better off just paying cash and saving your ThankYou points for another time.
For more on how to maximize Citi ThankYou Rewards points, check out these posts:
- Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points for Maximum Value
- Is the Citi ThankYou Travel Center Worth Using?
- Which Citi ThankYou Rewards Transfer Partner Is Best?
Featured image courtesy of the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii.
While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.