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How to Use 75k Citi ThankYou Points Without Transfer Partners

Aug. 30, 2017
11 min read
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One of the top sign-up bonuses out there right now is on the Citi Prestige Card, which was recently updated with a bonus of 75,000 ThankYou Rewards points after $7,500 in purchases within three months of account opening. I've already provided suggestions of how to use this haul for both business and first-class flights as well as some more off-the-beaten-path redemptions through the program's 14 transfer partners. However, there are a plethora of other ways to utilize this sign-up bonus, so today I want to go through some alternate ways to spend 75,000 ThankYou points — without transferring them.

Before getting into this list, it's important to note that all of the redemptions I'm about to cover will give you a value below that of TPG's most recent valuations, which peg ThankYou points at 1.5 cents apiece. The reason for the difference is that transferring ThankYou points to travel partners tends to be the best way to redeem your points for maximum value. As you may have seen in my post on top premium redemptions, you can sometimes get 10 or even 12 cents of value per point in value. Generally speaking, the options below are fixed and don't come anywhere near that level.

That being said, I have many friends and family members who crave simplicity in a program and don't want to learn the ins and outs of an award chart and routing rules to make the most of every single point or mile they earn. The redemptions I highlight in this post will appeal to those individuals, as they don't require any advanced knowledge of an obscure program like EVA Air Infinity MileageLands.

So what are some options for redeeming 75,000 ThankYou points besides transfer partners? Here's a rundown:

Booking Flights Directly

Booking flights directly using ThankYou points on airlines like American can be a solid redemption.

One of the first redemptions that will get you somewhat close to TPG's valuation is booking flights directly through the Citi Travel Center. This used to be a much better option before the recent changes to the Prestige Card, but it can still represent a good value. Every ThankYou point is worth 1.25 cents toward these redemptions, and since the itineraries are treated as paid fares, you should still earn redeemable and elite-qualifying miles on the flights. 75,000 points can thus get you $937.50 worth of airfare plus the miles you'd earn in the given carrier's program.

To see how far your points will take you, log in to your account and click on the ThankYou Rewards link at the right-hand side. From the program's homepage, hover over the Travel drop-down at the top and click on Flights. Input your search criteria and click Search. The results will include the cost in both points and miles so you can decide which works best (and you'll also be able to adjust the number of points later once you've selected an itinerary). Just keep in mind that the value is consistent: 1.25 cents per point.

Here's a quick example. Let's say you wanted to book a one-way flight from Miami (MIA) to New York-LaGuardia (LGA). You search for the itinerary on your desired dates and see the following flight option:

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Notice that you have the option of paying $109.20 or redeeming 8,736 points. As you can see, this gives a flat value of 1.25 cents per point. In addition, even though this flight books into Delta's basic economy (as the restrictions above indicate), you're still eligible to earn miles. Based on the base fare and assuming you don't have Medallion status, you'd take home 445 SkyMiles on the flight, worth $5.34 based on TPG's most recent valuations. This technically ups the value of this particular redemption to 1.31 cents per ThankYou point, a nice little bump that would be even higher with other airlines' currencies.

Of course, flights aren't the only travel options available...

Booking 4th Night Free Hotels

You can also book free hotel stays using your ThankYou points, and the process is quite similar. When you hover over Travel on the program's landing page, simply click Hotels to be redirected to the hotel search page. Put in your location, dates and other requested details and click search. The results will display like flights, with both cash and point costs.

Unfortunately, redeeming your ThankYou points for hotels usually only gives you a flat value of 1 cent per point, and to make matters worse, most hotel programs don't award points or elite credit for stays booked through a third-party site (Citi Travel Center included). However, there is a way to boost this value: booking 4th Night Free stays.

We've written extensively about the 4th Night Free benefit on the Citi Prestige Card, a perk that some members used to save literally thousands of dollars on a single hotel stay. I took advantage of this benefit during stays at the Andaz Maui and Andaz San Diego, saving several hundred dollars in the process. One of the interesting changes on the card's recent refresh was the fact that you can now use points for this perk, and the discount is displayed right on the search results page.

Here's an example of how this works. Let's say you're wanting to book a four-night stay at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel in New Jersey. When you log in and search for your ideal rates, you see the following option for a superior room:

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As you can see, the average nightly rate is $178.16 per night (which includes taxes), so with the standard 1 cent per point redemption rate, you'd pay 17,816 points per night. However, by booking a four-night stay with your ThankYou points, you'd save 15,509 points (based on the base room rate of $155.09). While this technically is still a value of 1 cent per point, since paying for the stay with the Citi Prestige would receive the same discount, you're getting a hotel stay that would cost non-cardholders $712.64, a redemption that boosts the value of your points to 1.28 apiece.

Additionally, some readers have reported success redeeming points for 4th Night Free stays booked through the Citi Concierge over the phone, so that's an option worth exploring if you'd like to earn hotel points and have access to your loyalty program perks during a stay.

Gift Cards

If you simply want to redeem your 75,000 points for gift cards, the ThankYou Rewards program has you covered. At the time of writing, I counted more than 60 different brands that partner with Citi to offer gift cards as a redemption, including many restaurant chains (like Cheesecake Factory and Ruth's Chris Steak House), department stores (like Bloomingdale's and Macy's) and travel companies (like Avis and Royal Caribbean). You could keep the gift card for yourself or consider saving it as a present. The holidays are quickly approaching, after all!

To see a full list of the brands available for redemption, hover over the Gift Cards menu at the top right of the ThankYou rewards homepage and then select SEE ALL BRANDS:

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Once you've found one you like, click on it and you'll see the full details of what denominations are being offered:

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Many will offer both a mail and email option, but unfortunately your redemption value across all brands is limited to 1 cent per ThankYou point. This means that your 75,000-point sign-up bonus from the Citi Prestige Card would be worth just $750.

Cash Back/Statement Credit

If you'd rather not be locked into a gift card for a specific merchant, you also have the option of redeeming points for simple cash back or a statement credit to offset purchases you've charged to the card. Both of these options provide the same value of 1 cent per point but are offered in different increments and are fulfilled a bit differently. Here's a chart with details on these two redemptions:

Cash Rewards$50 or $100Check sent to billing address 1-3 weeks after redemption
Statement Credit$10, $15, $25, $50, $100, $175 or $250Credit should appear within 2 billing cycles after redemption

As you can see, you have significantly more options with the statement credit, but either option results in the same value: 1 cent per point. You'd thus get $750 of value by redeeming your sign-up bonus from the Prestige Card in this fashion. Additionally, you're limited to redeeming statement credits to cover purchases in the Dining, Entertainment, Utility, Gas, Grocery, Clothing and Department stores, and Drugstore categories.

Additional Benefits

Of course, the 75,000-point sign-up bonus isn't the only perk on the Citi Prestige Card that makes it a great choice to add (and potentially keep) in your wallet. I've included details on one such benefit above (getting the fourth night free on hotel stays), but here's an overview of the others:

Important Reminder

Anytime I write about the current sign-up bonus on the Citi Prestige Card, it's essential to point out the language on the application that clearly defines who is (and is not) eligible for the sign-up bonus:

"Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months."

If you've had the Citi Prestige Card, Citi Premier® Card or Citi ThankYou Preferred Card at any time in the last 24 months, I'd strongly consider waiting to apply until that clock has run out. You'd hate to waste a hard inquiry and pay a $450 annual fee only to miss out on the sign-up bonus because you weren't eligible.

Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige Card is currently offering an enhanced sign-up bonus of 75,000 ThankYou points after $7,500 in purchases within three months of account opening. While you'll probably get the most value from these points by transferring them to one of the program's 14 travel partners, there are other ways to use this haul, many of which are quite simple. Hopefully this post has given you some suggestions for how to do just that!

How would you redeem 75,000 ThankYou points without transferring to partners?

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