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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
Know before you go.
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With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards