The Ultimate Guide to Citi ThankYou Rewards
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Official application link: Citi Premier℠ Card with a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Citi issues many different credit cards, including cobranded hotel and airline cards, but only five of them give you access to the company’s valuable ThankYou Rewards program and only two cards give you full access. Whether you’re applying for your first credit card, a seasoned pro looking to complement a Citi card already in your wallet, or a Chase/Amex loyalist exploring what Citi ThankYou Rewards has to offer, one or more of these cards might be right for you. So let’s take a deep look at the program, with an analysis of each card offering ThankYou Rewards points, what they offer, how to redeem the points and how it all fits together in the ThankYou Rewards universe.
Earning With Credit Cards
Not all ThankYou points are created equal. You can usually get the most value for your ThankYou points by transferring them to one of the program’s 15 travel partners, but in order to be able to transfer your points to most partners, you must hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier Card.
If you only have the Citi Rewards+ Card, the Citi Rewards+ Student Card or the AT&T Access Card from Citi, you’ll earn what we call “basic” ThankYou points. They’re worth a flat 1 cent each when redeemed toward gift cards and other rewards available on the thankyou.com website, but they can’t be transferred to most of the ThankYou travel partners. But if you hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier, you can combine your ThankYou points earned from one of the lower-tier cards in order to transfer those as well.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the sign-up bonus, rewards structure, annual fee and benefits for each of the Citi ThankYou Rewards credit cards. Remember that under Citi’s application rules, you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card in the same card family (such as the ThankYou Rewards family) if you haven’t received a sign-up bonus or closed a card in that family in the past 24 months.
|Sign-Up Bonus||Bonus Categories||Annual Fee||Perks|
|Citi Prestige||50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months||5x points on air travel and at restaurants; 3x points on hotels and cruise lines||$495||$250 annual travel credit; complimentary fourth night free at hotels; Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every five years; Priority Pass Select membership; no foreign transaction fees; Citi Concierge|
|Citi Premier Card||60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months||3x on travel (including gas/fuel); 2x points on restaurants and entertainment||$95||No foreign transaction fees; Citi Concierge|
|Citi Rewards+ Card||15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months||2x at supermarkets and gas stations (only on first $6,000 per year; then 1x)||$0||Earnings on each purchase are rounded up to the nearest 10 points; get 10% of the first 100,000 points you redeem each year back; 0% intro APR offer for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (after that a variable APR of 14.99% – 24.99% applies)|
|Citi Rewards+ Student Card||2,500 points after you spend $500 in the first three months||2x at supermarkets and gas stations (only on first $6,000 per year; then 1x)||$0||Earnings on each purchase are rounded up to the nearest 10 points; get 10% of the first 100,000 points you redeem each year back; 0% intro APR offer for 7 months on purchases (after that a variable APR of 15.99% – 25.99% applies)|
|AT&T Access Card from Citi||10,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months||2x points on purchases made online at eligible retail and travel websites; 2x points on products and services purchased directly from AT&T||$0||Citi Concierge|
The information for the Citi Prestige, Citi Premier, AT&T Access card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
That’s a lot of information, so let’s take a deeper dive into each card and what each one offers.
The Citi Prestige not only unlocks the capability to transfer ThankYou points to travel partners, but it also includes a perk that no other card anywhere on the planet can touch: the fourth-night-free benefit, which gives you one free night at virtually any hotel when booking four nights or more through ThankYou.com or the Citi Prestige Concierge. Read the full card review.
The Prestige relaunched in January and announced various changes. Most of the positive changes, such as improved earnings, have already taken effect, but the negative changes, which cap the fourth-night-free benefit to twice per year and require that these bookings be made through ThankYou.com, will be implemented in September 2019. Because some of the card details and benefits differ, depending on whether you’re a new or existing cardholder, for now, we’ll consider the bonus, earning and benefits available to new cardholders.
The Citi Prestige is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, 50,000 ThankYou points are worth approximately $850 thanks to factors like ease of use, transfer partners and more.
With the Citi Prestige, you’ll earn 5x points on all air travel and restaurant purchases, 3x points on all hotels and cruise line purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The 5x earning on air travel and restaurant purchases means the Prestige has dethroned the Platinum Card® from American Express for air travel purchases, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve for restaurant purchases. I also love that, when using the card’s fourth-night-free benefit, I still earn 3x points on the hotel purchase.
As for what counts as a restaurant purchase, Citi states that cafes, bars, lounges and fast-food restaurants qualify, but that bakeries, caterers, restaurants/cafes inside other establishments and purchases made through online dining delivery services don’t qualify. If a merchant classifies itself in a restaurant category when applying to accept credit cards, the purchase will qualify.
Until the fourth-night-free benefit is capped at two stays per year in September 2019, you can save thousands using the Citi Prestige if you frequently book four-night stays, or longer, in hotels. (Yes, this includes aspirational stays such as the Park Hyatt Maldives, where over-water bungalows can approach $2,000 per night.) The rate is based on your average night stay and doesn’t include taxes and fees.
If the Citi Prestige $495 annual fee feels a bit too steep, the Citi Premier is a great option for travel rewards. It will only set you back $95. Read the full card review.
The Citi Premier is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, 60,000 ThankYou points are worth approximately $1,020 thanks to factors like ease of use, transfer partners and more.
The Citi Premier’s earning structure is where the card really shines. Cardholders earn three points per dollar spent on travel, including (most) gas stations, 2x points on dining out and entertainment, including things like concerts, plays, museums and amusement parks, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Of note, the Citi Premier earns a 3x bonus on a wider array of travel purchases than Citi’s own higher-priced Prestige card (which limits travel bonus earnings to air travel, hotels and cruise lines).
Although the $0 annual fee is alluring, remember that Citi ThankYou points earned solely via this card are limited. In order to be able to transfer your points from the Rewards+ to a partner’s loyalty program, you must hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier. If you hold only the Rewards+, any earned ThankYou points will be worth a flat 1 cent each when redeemed for travel through the Citi portal, gift cards, statement credits and more. The one exception is with JetBlue; if you have the Rewards+, you can transfer points directly to the airline’s TrueBlue program at a 5:4 ratio. Read the full card review.
The Citi Rewards+ card offers a sign-up bonus of 15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. These points can be redeemed for $150 in gift cards, but TPG’s latest valuations peg the value of these points at $255 if you also have a premium Citi ThankYou card.
The card also offers 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases to new cardholders. After the introductory period ends, the interest rate increases to a variable APR of 14.99% – 24.99% based upon your creditworthiness — so you’ll want to make sure to pay off the balance during the introductory period. If you already hold a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier and need to finance a larger purchase, picking up a Rewards+ could be a great option — giving you access to an introductory APR, and the ThankYou points earned on those purchases can be transferred to travel partners because you already hold a premium Citi ThankYou card.
For a card with a $0 annual fee, Citi’s Rewards+ offers a fairly stout earning profile, which is detailed below:
- 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations, on the first $6,000 per year; then 1x
- 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases
You’ll be pleased to know that any earned ThankYou points are good for life (they won’t expire), and you can earn an unlimited number of them.
If you’re entering college and you’re looking to establish your credit history and maximize travel rewards, kudos to you. Be sure to read our collegiate guide for maximizing rewards, top starter cards for college students/graduates, and our guide to paying college tuition on a credit card. Citi’s Rewards+ Student Card largely mimics the conventional Rewards+, but includes a modest sign-up bonus and calls out features that are especially intriguing to those in school.
You’ll earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening, which TPG values at $42.50 if you have — or are planning to get — a premium Citi ThankYou card like the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier. Otherwise, the bonus is worth $25 in gift cards.
Additionally, depending on creditworthiness, you could score a 0% introductory APR for seven months on purchases (after the introductory period ends, the variable APR will be 15.99% – 25.99% based upon your creditworthiness). So if you plan on applying for a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier, down the road, and need to finance a larger purchase in the here and now, picking up a Rewards+ Student card could be a great option. By doing so, you’d not only have access to a 0% intro APR, but ThankYou points earned on those purchases could be transferred to travel partners if you also hold a premium Citi ThankYou card.
For a card with a $0 annual fee, Citi’s Rewards+ Student card offers a fairly stout earning profile, mirroring the Rewards+ card:
- 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations, on the first $6,000 per year; then 1x
- 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases
You’ll be pleased to know that any earned ThankYou points are good for life (they won’t expire), and you can earn an unlimited amount of them.
Citi’s perks for the Rewards+ Student card follow the Rewards+ card. However, the following benefits are specially highlighted for students:
- Citi Concierge: A direct line to experts who can assist with reservations, bookings and other inquiries across travel, shopping, dining and entertainment.
- Choose your payment due date: Choose to pay your bill on any available due date at the beginning, middle or end of the month.
- $0 liability on unauthorized charges: You’re protected against unauthorized charges on your account, online or otherwise.
- Citi Private Pass: Citi customers enjoy access to purchase tickets to thousands of events annually, including presale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more, at citiprivatepass.com
- Citi Quick Lock: Although this is available on all cards registered with the Citi Mobile app, Citi clearly expects college students to be the most likely to use it. You can tap once to instantly lock your card, then tap again to request a new card, track it and activate it if you’re unable to locate the original.
AT&T Access Card from Citi
If you’re looking for a Citi ThankYou card that’ll cause a fair amount of head-scratching, this is it. The AT&T Access Card is the remaining cousin of the previously offered AT&T Access More card, which is no longer open for applications. It offers an average sign-up bonus given the $0 annual fee, and it does offer 2x points on AT&T purchases, but it’s certainly not the strongest of the pack. In fact, we created a guide for the best credit cards to pay your cellphone bill regardless of carrier, and Citi’s AT&T Access card didn’t make the cut.
You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening, which TPG values at around $170 if you have — or are planning to get — a premium Citi ThankYou card like the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier.
Even though the card doesn’t have much of a sign-up bonus to speak of, Citi’s AT&T Access card offers an intriguing earning profile covering many online purchases:
- 2x ThankYou points per $1 spent on eligible retail websites (department stores, specialty stores, warehouse stores and boutiques), and travel websites (including online travel agencies, hotels and airlines)
- 2x ThankYou points for each $1 spent on products and services purchased directly from AT&T, including payment of monthly phone, cable or internet bills
- 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases
You’ll be pleased to know that any earned ThankYou Points are good for life (they won’t expire), and you can earn an unlimited amount of them.
Redeeming at the Travel Center
Although all of these credit cards can redeem ThankYou points for statement credits, cash rewards, third-party gift cards and more at a flat rate of 1 cent per point, the options available through the two premium cards offer far more value for travel redemptions in two separate ways.
First, if you don’t want to worry about learning award charts and chasing award availability, you can redeem points directly through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center. If you hold the Citi Premier card, you can redeem for airfare at a rate of 1.25 cents per point and at a rate of 1 cent per point for hotels, car rentals and cruises. All of the other ThankYou points cards allow Travel Center redemptions at a flat 1 cent across the board, unless you combine points from lower-tier Citi cards with the Citi Premier before spending. We’ve assembled a complete guide to transferring ThankYou Rewards, which also takes a look at Citi’s unique point-sharing feature.
The 1.25 cents per point on airfare provided by the Citi Premier doesn’t represent a stellar deal at first blush, but it’s worth noting that airlines will treat tickets purchased this way as paid fares, which earn both redeemable and elite qualifying miles. This also allows you to sidestep one of the biggest hurdles to award travel bookings: availability.
Transferring to Partners
The second way of redeeming ThankYou Rewards for travel is through a growing list of airline partners. With some time and effort, that’s where you can get the very best value, such as premium-cabin redemptions to international destinations that normally cost thousands of dollars.
TPG settled into an A380 suite with Singapore Airlines, bookable with ThankYou points transferred to the Singapore’s KrisFlyer program. Again, in order to be able to transfer your points to most ThankYou partner loyalty programs, you must hold either the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier. As long as you hold one of those two cards, you can even combine your ThankYou points earned from one of the lower-tier cards in order to transfer those as well.
Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, which mostly (with a few exceptions) transfer instantly across its airline and hotel partners, ThankYou transfer times are hit and miss. While some transfer instantly, more than a few require one or more days, so be sure to plan those awards carefully. Also, keep a check on Citi’s ThankYou hub, where you’ll occasionally find transfer bonuses available for a limited time.
|Program||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1:1||Instantaneous|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1||< 24 hours|
|Etihad Guest||1:1||7 days|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1:1||3 days|
|Garuda Indonesia Miles||1:1||2 days|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||1:1||Instantaneous|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1:1 (5:4 for non-premium cards)||Instantaneous|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1:1||Varies|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1:1||2 days|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||1:1||2 days|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1||1 day|
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus||1:1||7 days|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||1:1||1 day|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||Instantaneous|
With so many transfer partners, your options are plentiful when it comes to maximizing ThankYou points. Here’s a sampling of what you can do with them:
- Transfer 100,000 points to Etihad Guest for round-trip business-class flights to Europe on American Airlines-operated flights. Or, you can fly one-way in first class on American’s 777-300ER between Los Angeles (LAX) and Hong Kong (HKG) for only 67,500 Etihad Guest miles.
- Transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer and book United-operated flights from North America to Hawaii for just 35,000 miles round-trip in economy. Or, book a Star Alliance award in business class to southern South America for only 50,000 miles each way. Beware of fuel surcharges when booking KrisFlyer awards though.
- Maximize Avianca’s strange method of splitting the US into three different award zones by booking a one-way United-operated economy award for just 7,500 miles. For example, one zone contains both Florida and North Dakota so you could fly between them for just 7,500 Avianca miles.
- Use Virgin Atlantic to fly nonstop on some Delta routes. For example, you can fly one-way from JFK to Milan (MXP) for 30,000 miles and $5.60 on a Delta-operated flight when booking through Virgin Atlantic.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of the Citi ThankYou Rewards program, you’ll find more advanced information in our multitude of guides on the subject. Here our some of our favorites:
- Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points for Maximum Value
- How Long Do Citi ThankYou Points Take to Transfer?
- Best Sweet Spots With Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Best Ways to Use 60,000 Citi ThankYou Points
- How to Make the Most of Your Citi Points When Flying Coach
- How to Use 100,000 Citi ThankYou Rewards Points
- 5 Innovative Ways to Use 75k Points Through Citi Transfer Partners
- 6 Top Business and First-Class Redemptions With Citi Transfer Partners
- How to Transfer Citi ThankYou Points Between Accounts
- Credit Card Review: Is the Citi Prestige Worth It?
- Credit Card Review: Citi Premier
- Credit Card Review: Citi Rewards+ Card
- Battle of the Premium Travel Rewards Cards: Which Is the Best?
Citi’s ThankYou points are perhaps the most underrated of the major points and miles currencies. Despite some negatives, they remain a valuable transferable asset, especially for those looking to book award flights on international carriers. It’s vital to have a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier in the mix, as those two enable transfers to partners, which unlock a multitude of aspirational booking opportunities.
If you’re a heavy traveler who tends to book a few expensive stays each year of four nights or longer, the Citi Prestige may be worth the high annual fee — especially now that it has relaunched with 5x earning on air travel and restaurants. But if long hotel stays aren’t your thing, the Citi Premier also offers solid bonus earning categories with a comparably low $95 annual fee.
Featured image by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
This new card has no annual fee, 2x bonus categories capped at $6,000 per year, and a unique "rounding up" feature to boost your points earnings. So if you spend $2 on a coffee or water bottle, you'll earn 10 points for the transaction plus you'll also get 10% of your points back on the first 100,000 you redeem per year, so up to 10,000 points back per year.
- The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
- Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
- 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
- Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.