Updated February 1st, 2020
Citi ThankYou Points are something of a red-headed stepchild in the points and miles world. They’re not as sought after, or useful, as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards. However, despite not quite making the varsity cut, there is a lot of value that one can glean from their redemption. After all transfer partners were evaluated, we assigned an ACRV of 1.41¢ per Citi ThankYou Point.
It’s worth pointing out, that like Chase and American Express’ programs, our valuation is based purely on the assumption that they will inevitably be used for travel via a transfer partner.
Let’s Start With Transfer Partners[wpdatatable id=24 table_view=regular]
As is the case with all transferable point programs, one’s best value is going to come from utilizing the issuer’s partner network. Sadly, Citi ThankYou Points is the only major transferable program that does not partner with one of the major US airlines.
Below, we can see Avianca, Turkish, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic all provide the opportunity to redeem for more than 5¢ per mile. Sadly, those represent the carriers’ best redemptions, so finding them will require a bit of work. To translate those to usable awards, lets consider the Citi ThankYou Premier card, which commonly has a signup bonus of 50,000 points. If one were to transfer this to one of the aforementioned airlines, redeem for 5¢ each, that bonus would be world $2,500!
Let’s Talk Realistic Expectations
Of course, most in the points and miles community view international premium cabin travel, at redemption levels sometimes exceeding 8¢ as something of a goal. And while these ultra-lofty redemption opportunities do exist, they’re far outnumbered by low-value ones. Taking a look at the normal distribution below, we see the average of all partners non-zero values is 0.53¢, with a standard deviation of 0.78¢. This means that, theoretically, 68% of all partner award redemptions should fall in the range of 0(excluding negative) and 1.31¢.
Other Ways to Redeem
After transferring to an airline partner, the next best option is to book via Citi’s ThankYou Travel Center. Here, those holding ThankYou points are able to redeem at 1.25(Airfare – Preferred Cardholders) or 1¢ each(Other ThankYou Points earning cards). Actually not a terrible option, but we think one can do better. The big draw here, is convenience. Theoretically no more hassle than searching via Google Flights and booking with a carrier. Furthermore, the resulting itinerary is a full revenue fare, itself earning miles and status credit.
If One Want’s to Throw Value Away
Looking past travel options, we start to get into the lower-value redemption choices. Similar to many other transferable point programs, one can redeem for cash. $50 and $100 certificates are available at a rate of 1¢ per point, so 5,000 or 10,000 miles. Weirdly, statement credits only cash out at 0.5¢.
Gift cards commonly redeem at 1¢, though we have seen specials on some merchants. Commonly, these are the ones you wouldn’t want anyway. Probably why we’ve seen discounts.
If one really wants some goods, but does not want to go through the hassle of purchasing a gift card first, one can use their ThankYou points directly on Amazon. What Citi is selling here is convenience. Link your Amazon and eligible ThankYou Point earning Citi card and shop at the world’s largest online merchant. The downside? Redemption value. Expect to redeem for only 0.8¢ per point.
Citi ThankYou Points are a potentially high-value award program, with some low-value traps if one is not careful. While they do offer a wide array of redemption options, they are frequently not all that valuable. We consider the program a step below Chase’s Ultimate Rewards and Amex’s Membership Rewards in term of predicted value. In the future, we’d really like to see Citi partner with American Airlines and bring them on as a transfer partner. This alone would do much to bring them in parity with the other two majors.
Below is a quick summary, in order, of how we would use Citi ThankYou Points.
|Value of ThankYou Points Redemptions|
|Transfer to a Travel Partner||>1.4¢|
|Book using Citi’s Travel Portal||1.25¢|
|Buy a Gift Card||1¢|
|ThankYou Cash Reward||1¢|
|Use Points on Amazon||.8¢|
|Select and Credit||.5¢|