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Our newbie question of the week comes from TPG reader Justin, who sent a message on Facebook to ask about the Citi ThankYou Rewards program:
“Is there a way to use ThankYou points to book flights on any of the US airlines, like United, American, Delta and others?”
One of the greatest benefits of transferable points programs is flexibility. You’ll usually get the best value by transferring your rewards to airline and hotel partners, but you can also redeem directly for flights and more via the travel portals run by the major card issuers. That can come in handy when transferring isn’t an option, when rates are low (so you’re not getting a good return on normal award redemptions) or when transfer times are too long. Overall, the option to redeem directly is one of the reasons transferable points rate so highly in my monthly valuations.
The Citi ThankYou Travel Center lets you redeem points for flights on major airlines (including the US legacy carriers) at a base rate of 1 cent apiece, though higher redemption rates are available to certain cardholders. For example, the Citi Premier Card gives you a 25% bonus, so you can redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece. The Citi Prestige Card does even better, offering a standard redemption rate of 1.33 cents apiece, or 1.6 cents apiece for flights on American Airlines. That last option is one of the best ways to redeem ThankYou points
One great feature of direct redemptions is that flights booked through these portals count as revenue fares, so they’re generally eligible to earn miles and elite credits. That gives you a better return on each point you spend, which can help compensate for any value you might be sacrificing otherwise.
Keep in mind that these travel portals don’t always have the best prices, so it’s worth shopping around. For a better sense of how each one performs, check out Richard Kerr’s posts on pricing through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal and American Express Membership Rewards Travel.
For more info about ThankYou Rewards and other programs, check out these posts:
- Should I Use Citi ThankYou Points for Hotels and Rental Cars?
- Do Citi ThankYou Rewards Transfer to American Airlines?
- Redeeming Amex Membership Rewards for Maximum Value
- Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for Maximum Value
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees