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Citi Quadfecta: An effortless way to rack up AA miles (if you hurry)

July 30, 2021
8 min read
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You've heard of the Chase Trifecta and the Amex Trifecta, haven't you? They're specific three-card combinations that can make you a points-earning monster. With these strategies, you'll get the most possible points from every swipe of your credit card.

With a newly released credit card, Citi has now entered the ring with its own power-earning collection of cards. We're calling it the Citi Quadfecta -- and it's extremely relevant right now. Through Nov. 13, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

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Here's the magic combination:

  • Citi Premier® Card.
  • Citi Custom Cash℠ Card.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card.
  • Citi Rewards+® Card.

One of the best things about this combo is that it involves just one annual fee ($95 for the Citi Premier). Let's quickly look at the key virtues of each card that make it possible to rapidly earn Citi ThankYou points (and therefore American Airlines miles) from your plain ol' everyday spending.

Citi Premier

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Citi Premier is the center of the Citi Quadfecta's magic. That's because this card allows you to transfer Citi ThankYou points to American Airlines (and other valuable Citi transfer partners, too). Without it, you relegate the rewards you earn with the other cards on this list to cash back.

Annual fee: $95.

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Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. This is an all-time-high bonus. Per TPG valuations, this bonus is worth $1,360 in travel.

Rewards rate: You'll earn 3 points per dollar in the following categories

You'll earn 1 point per dollar on everything else.

This is an above-average return on an above-average number of bonus categories. Citi ThankYou points are worth 1.7 cents each, according to TPG valuations. Earning 3x points means you're getting a return of 5.1 cents per dollar!

APPLY HERE: Citi Premier

Citi Custom Cash

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 in cash back (20,000 Citi ThankYou points) after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. TPG valuations peg the value of 20,000 ThankYou points at $340 in travel.

Rewards rate: You'll earn 5% cash back (5x points) on purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent). Here are the eligible categories:

  • Restaurants.
  • Gas stations.
  • Grocery stores.
  • Select travel (airlines, hotels, cruise lines and travel agencies).
  • Select transit (car rentals, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, bus lines and motor home and recreational vehicle rentals).
  • Select streaming services (cable, satellite and streaming providers such as Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, CBS All Access, Disney+, AT&T TV Now, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV and Tidal).
  • Drugstores.
  • Home improvement stores.
  • Fitness clubs.
  • Live entertainment.

You're capped at 2,500 bonus points per billing cycle. You'll earn 1% (1x points) on everything else. In other words, this card is good only for 2,500 bonus points per month, and then you should throw it in the sock drawer.

APPLY HERE: Citi Custom Cash

Citi Double Cash

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Rewards rate: You'll earn 1% back when you make a purchase, and 1% back when you pay your bill. That's an effective 2% back (2x points) on all purchases. As TPG values Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, you'll get an effective 3.4% back on all purchases with this card. That's pretty great. Any purchases that don't fall into a bonus category of the above cards should go on your Citi Double Cash.

APPLY HERE: Citi Double Cash

Citi Rewards+

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within three months of account opening. That's worth $340 in travel, according to TPG valuations.

Rewards rate: You'll earn 2 points per dollar on the following purchases (for the first $6,000 in category spending per year, then 1x):

  • Supermarkets.
  • Gas stations.

All other spending earns 1 point per dollar.

This isn't a remarkable return, but the Citi Rewards+ has a couple of extremely valuable secrets.

  1. The card rounds up your points-earning to the nearest 10 points. For example, if you buy a quart of ice cream for $6, you'll earn 10 points instead of 6 points.
  2. You'll receive a 10% rebate on all Citi ThankYou points you redeem, up to 100,000 points per year.

That second point is hugely important to getting the most from your ThankYou points.

APPLY HERE: Citi Rewards+

How these cards work together

Below is a chart of possible returns with the Citi Quadfecta. Here's how you could use these cards to maximize every dollar you spend.

A couple of notes:

  • I've accounted for the fact that the Citi Custom Cash only earns 5x on up to $500 in spending each month. For the below example, I spread the $500 over multiple categories -- although you could probably max out the $500 in spending at the supermarket with ease.
  • You should never put spending on the Citi Rewards+ (except perhaps once every six months to ensure Citi doesn't close it for inactivity). The card only exists in your strategy for the 10% bonus.
CategoryMax earning rateCiti Rewards+ 10% bonus (up to 100K points annually)Effective return (per TPG valuations)Fictitious annual spending/earning figures
Supermarkets3x (Citi Premier)3.3x5.61%$6,000 ($336 in travel)
Restaurants5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%$4,200 ($392 in travel)
Gas stations3x (Citi Premier)3.3x5.61%$1,800 ($101 in travel)
Fitness clubs5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%$180 ($17 in travel)
Drugstores5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%$720 ($67 in travel)
Select streaming5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%$480 ($45 in travel)
Home improvement stores5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%$420 ($39 in travel)
Live entertainment5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%N/A
Select transit5x (Citi Custom Cash)5.5x9.35%N/A
Everything else2x (Citi Double Cash)2.2x3.74%$6,000 ($224 in travel)

Obviously, your strategy will shift with your unique monthly expenses. For example, if you had a large purchase in "live entertainment" one month, you'd use your Citi Custom Cash to pay for it and get your Citi Premier to cover your restaurant spending.

With this theoretical budget, you could earn around 72,000 Citi ThankYou points per year. That's more than $1,200 in travel each year -- or significantly more if you know how to maximize Citi ThankYou points. For example:

  • Reserve a one-way business-class flight to Europe for 57,500 points (transfer to American Airlines). This easily retails for over $2,000.
  • Reserve a one-way transcontinental business-class flight on United Airlines for as little as 12,500 points (transfer to Turkish Airlines). This retails for over $600.
  • Reserve a one-way first-class flight to Asia for 90,000 points (transfer to Avianca). This retails for over $8,000.

Bottom line

The Citi ThankYou program is batting with the big leagues for the next few months. Through Nov. 13, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

If Citi is able to acquire American Airlines as a permanent transfer partner, it will be a huge win for the miles and points community. With the Citi Quadfecta, you may find yourself earning 70,000-plus American Airlines miles per year just by making everyday purchases.

Let me know how you use the Citi Quadfecta to achieve your travel goals!

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023