How to maximize your Citi ThankYou® Points

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In a Nutshell

Get the most out of your Citi ThankYou Points by selecting the best card for you and prioritizing travel.
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If you have a Citi credit card, you’ve probably wondered if you’re getting the most bang for your buck (or ThankYou® Points).

It can get pretty complicated: Which card will earn you the most points? Does it make more sense to redeem points for gift cards or travel? Should you book travel through the Citi portal? Or is it better to transfer points to a partner loyalty program like the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club?

Of course, there’s no one right answer for everyone — the best points redemption for you will depend on what you value most.

But in case you’re looking for inspiration on how to squeeze the most dollars and cents from your rewards, here are five tips to help you earn more Citi ThankYou Points and get more value out of them when you redeem.

  1. Hold out for a sign-up bonus
  2. Be smart about which card you choose
  3. Transfer points to your favorite loyalty program
  4. Book travel directly through Citi
  5. Save on hotel stays

1. Hold out for a sign-up bonus

If you’re thinking about signing up for a Citi rewards card that earns ThankYou Points, check out which one offers the most generous sign-up bonus.

Right now, the Citi Premier® Card is offering an 80,000-point sign-up bonus. You’ll get these bonus points if you use your new card to make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening.

Those 80,000 points are worth $800 if you redeem them for gift cards at If you redeem them for travel, booking directly through the ThankYou Travel Center, the value may be different.

Is it worth spending more than my budget to earn a sign-up bonus?

While sign-up bonuses are tempting, you’re better off making sure to pay off your card balance on time each month than overspending in order to get the bonus. When you don’t pay your full credit card bill on time each month, you’ll likely be charged interest on the unpaid portion of the bill. These interest charges can build up and quickly cost you more than you earned with the sign-up bonus.

2. Be smart about which card you choose

While several Citi credit cards earn ThankYou Points, not all of them come with the same earning and redemption perks.

For instance, the Citi Premier® Card, which has an annual fee of $95, earns you …

  • Three points for every $1 you spend on travel, including at gas stations
  • Three points for every $1 you spend on dining out and at supermarkets
  • One point per $1 on all other purchases

On the other hand, the Citi Prestige® Card can earn you five points per $1 spent on air travel and three points for every $1 spent on hotels and cruise lines (but gives just one point per $1 spent at gas stations). You can also earn five points per $1 on dining out and restaurants, and one point per $1 on all other purchases. But the card comes with a hefty $495 annual fee.

3. Transfer points to your favorite loyalty program

If you have one of the Citi cards that allows you to transfer your ThankYou Points, consider transferring them to one of Citi’s travel partners, such as …

  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Air France and KLM’s Flying Blue program
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

These mostly offer a 1-to-1 exchange: One Citi ThankYou point will grant you one point or one mile in the partner’s program. But there are some exclusions, so make sure to check the available rates before going through with a transfer.

If you’re already a member of one of Citi’s partner loyalty programs and are just shy of the number of points you need for a desirable redemption in a program, the ability to transfer points could give you the boost you need to get that rewards flight.

4. Book travel directly through Citi

Booking travel by transferring points to a travel partner could get you maximum value, but booking travel via the ThankYou Travel Center can still be a good option, particularly if you have the Citi Premier® Card.

With this card, your points are each worth 1.25 cents when redeemed toward airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center.

5. Save on hotel stays

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with a particular perk that can add up if you frequently stay at hotels. When you book a minimum four-night stay at a hotel through the ThankYou Travel Center, your fourth night is complimentary. But cardholders can only use this perk twice per year.

Depending on how lavish the hotels you frequent are, this could amount to a staggering amount of savings over time.

Note, though, that the Citi Prestige® Card does come with a $495 annual fee, so you’ll want to be sure to study up to make the most of the rewards. But between the fourth-night-free hotel perk and the annual $250 air travel statement credit for eligible flight-related expenses, frequent travelers may be able to recoup the fee quickly.

Bottom line

There are many ways to get value out of Citi ThankYou Points, and not all of these ways are created equal. With this program, it helps to do your homework if you want to get the most for your points.

Make sure to consider which card may be right for you. Ideally, the card you choose will come with an attainable sign-up bonus and the perks that matter most to you. And remember that you may get the most value for your points when redeeming for travel, either by transferring to a travel partner or by booking travel directly through the ThankYou Travel Center.

About the author: Ken Saathoff is a personal finance writer with a bachelor’s in English and American Literature from Harvard. In his free time, he likes to cook and play tennis. Read more.