What is the value of Citi’s Thankyou Points Rewards Program?

What is the value of Citi’s Thankyou Points Rewards Program

The Thankyou points network is Citibank’s primary rewards vehicle for its credit card portfolio (and points can also be earned just by opening accounts with Citi). Thankyou points can be redeemed in a variety of manners, including:

  • Gift cards
  • Cash back
  • Student loan payments
  • Mortgage payments
  • Flights, hotels, travel packages
  • And more…

Maximizing the value of your Citi Thankyou Points

In order to maximize the value of your hard-earned Thankyou points, you need to follow very specific redemption strategies. Take a look at the table below to get a sense of how stupid versus smart redemption behavior could greatly impact your financial life.

Dollar Value of Thankyou Points for Various Redemption Strategies (Best to Worst)
Redemption Method Amount Redeemed Points Required Value of Points
Flights (w/ Citi Premier Card Only!) $100 7,518 $0.0133
Flights (all other Citi Cards) $100 10,000 $0.0100
Mortgage payment $25 2,500 $0.0100
Student Loan Rebates $25 2,500 $0.0100
Various restaurant gift cards $100 10,000 $0.0100
Best Buy gift card $50 6,000 $0.0083
Various restaurant gift cards $100 10,000 $0.0100
Statement Credit $250 35,000 $0.0071
Cash $50 8,000 $0.0062

For Cashback, Thankyou more like F-you

As you can see, for straight cash-back addicts, the Thankyou network doesn’t pull its weight. Cashback cards offering $0.01 per dollar spent are a dime-a-dozen, and this card is only operating at around $0.0062 per dollar spent. Yikes! On a bright note, many Citi cards allow you to earn multiple points for each dollar spent, so that’s why some Citi cards can rank quite high on PIQ’s engine.

Travel: The Way to Go

There was some concern that when the Citi ThankYou program and Expedia went separate ways, that the value of Citi’s travel rewards would head south. But, after reviewing ThankYou’s new travel provider (the succinctly named “Connexions Loyalty Travel Solutions”) PlasticIQ has come to the definitive conclusion that performance is almost exactly on par with Expedia, and that redemptions for airline travel are worth $0.01 per ThankYou Point. Assuming you do any level of travel, this will be your best redemption route.  Also note that if you have the Citi Premier Card, the value of your Citi TY points actually levels up to $0.0133 per point–pretty sweet!

To prove this out, dozens of PIQ staff members (yeh, ok, just I) did some quick spot-checking, comparing the cost of randomly selected routes between the TY program and Expedia. As the table below shows, there’s just no difference in pricing.

Comparison of Lowest Cost Direct Flights: Citi ThankYou Versus Expedia.com
From To Lowest Cost Flight (Citi) Points Req’d $ value of pts Lowest Cost Flight (Expedia) Price ($) Diff
BOS SFO Jetblue 32,000 $320 Jetblue $320 $0
BOS LHR (London) Virgin Atl or BA 58,700 $587 Virgin Atl or BA $570 $0
LAX NRT (Tokyo) Singapore Air 67,300 $673 Singapore Air $673 $0

* For flights departing 2/15/2011 and returning on 2/22/2011

Student Loan Rebates and Mortgages Oh My!  Another Way To Achieve 1% Cash Back

While being burdened by a mortgage or student loan (or both?!) is not much fun, here’s some silver lining (a very tiny amount of lining, enough for a flea’s bed):  you can redeem your ThankYou points at a $0.01 per point rate and apply them against either of these debts.  Hey, we’ll take what we can get:)

The Final Word on the Thankyou Rewards Program

PlasticIQ values Citi Thankyou points at $0.0100 per point when you redeem for travel (most people travel enough to make this a viable option).  If you are looking for pure cash-back, then do yourself a favor and avoid the Citi ThankYou Program.  However, if you have either a mortgage or student loan, then ThankYou points do perform at a decent 1% cashback rate.  While many of their gift cards will yield a value of $0.01 per ThankYou Point, PIQ sees this as a poor substitute for cash, since gift cards are routinely lost, expire, remain partially used, etc.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

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  • Matt

    The Thankyou Reward redemption options are now much poorer.

    The aforementioned Student Loan redemption value is now between $0.0075 and $0.0080 per point (depending on the amount of points redeemed). They have added a Mortgage Payment option at the same scale.

    The only 1-1 redemption option left at Thankyou Rewards is in Charitable Gifts (American Red Cross International Response Fund) at $50 for 5000 points.

  • admin

    Matt,
    Your comment is spot on, they have indeed devalued their student rebate redemption, and based on your heads-up I’ve updated the post–thanks! One caveat, though, is that there still is *one* method of obtaining the $0.01 redemption value per point, and that’s to redeem for travel. I spot-checked a couple of flight routes, and the pricing is exactly on par with Kayak (per post).

  • http://www.expedia.com/daily/highlights/rewards/Thank-You-Network-Exit-FAQ.asp Patrick

    Did you notice that Citi’s Thank you rewards are no longer associated to Expedia – does that kill all value of the $.01 redemption? On second read it sounds like you can still redeem – but if the value changes they have not yet said.

    Love the site – please update the posting if appropriate.

    On December 1, 2010, Expedia and Citi® ThankYou® Rewards discontinued their relationship, and Expedia will start a new travel rewards program (look for more details in 2011!). This means you’ll no longer earn ThankYou Points from Expedia for booking travel on Expedia, but when you use your Citi PremierPass® / Expedia® World MasterCard® credit card to book eligible travel on Expedia, you can earn ThankYou Points on your card (subject to applicable terms and conditions). ThankYou Rewards continues to exist and your ThankYou Points are available for redemption on ThankYou.com.


    Can I convert my ThankYou Points into the new Expedia Rewards™ program points? We are working on this and should have an answer in the coming months. Please check back soon for further information.
    Can I still redeem ThankYou Points for travel? Definitely! Travel offerings Powered by Expedia are available either online at http://www.ThankYou.com or through the ThankYou Service Center.

  • admin

    Patrick, thanks for the question. Actually, you are indeed right that Citi TY and Expedia are no more. Citi uses a more obscure provider now (Connexions Loyalty Travel Solutions). I had done some spot checking before and their pricing (in points) appeared on par with Kayak. But now I’ve added a table into the post which shows a comparison of 3 randomly selected routes between the Citi program and Expedia. It turns out pricing is identical. I think there may still be some edge cases where Expedia outperforms (possibly due to having more airlines in its network), but I suspect, based on this spot check analysis, that 95% plus of travel will be at identical pricing. Therefore, it’s safe to assume you can still get $0.01 per TY point if you redeem via travel (at least airline travel, I haven’t yet spot-checked rental cars, etc.) Hope this helps!

  • Chuck

    Folks,

    I was pleasantly surprised to see recently that the value of a ThankYou point was approx. 1.33 cents! I purchased 4 tickets from EWR to TPA. The price was $277 for each ticket but I was able to purchase them for approx. 20900 ThankYou points each!

    On the other hand, Citi recently sent me a replacement card for my Citi Premier Pass Elite where, instead of earning 2 points per dollar for gas and groceries, I believe I will earn 1.3 points per dollar.

    So it looks like the value of your existing points have increased but the value of future points have gone down.

    Chuck

  • Marc

    Chuck,
    Want to be sure we don’t confuse the value of ThankYou points with how many TY points you earn. They are different things.

    So the value of Citi TY points when redeemed for travel is generally around $0.01 per TY point (see the table in the post above). One exception: certain Citi cards inflate the value of your points when you redeem for travel (my ThankYou Premier card, for example, gives me a 33% bump in point value), so it is possible to achieve point value of $0.0133 in that case. The majority of cards and offers, though, don’t bump the value of your points.

    Now, on to your question of points earned. Not sure why you are only earning 1.3 points on special purchases. I went to the Citi site and pasted in (right below) the rewards available to anyone who applies. As you can see, it’s still 2x points on special purchases. You may want to give them a call!

    With your Citi® PremierPass® / Expedia Card – Elite Level you’ll earn:
    2x ThankYou® Points when you book on Expedia.com2
    1 ThankYou® Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases2
    2 ThankYou® Points for every $1 spent on select purchases at supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, commuter transportation and parking merchants2
    1 ThankYou® Point for every mile flown with any airline on tickets you buy for anyone2

    Hope this helps:)

  • John

    Connexions is much worse than Expedia when trying to redeem points for hotel stays. Expedia was simple to use, had great selection and worked well. In comparison, Connexions has very few hotel choices, many cities have absolutely no hotels in Connexions, and it is not nearly as good a system. This switch is a big negative for the Citi customers.

  • admin

    John, thanks for the info–yeh, I confess I didn’t do a deep analysis on the hotel side of the equation, I usually focus on the airfare component, for which it seems to be more or less at parity. But if users plan on redeeming rewards for hotels, they may want to reconsider or dig deeper. Great insight:)

  • John

    So is Chuck correct? Is the value, as far as travel is concerned, $0.0133?

  • Marc

    Well, the actual value of a Citi ThankYou point (when redeemed for travel) is right around $0.01 (it can work out to be slightly less or more in certain cases, but I’d say the average is right there).

    *However*, certain Citi Cards, such as the ThankYou Premier Card, give you a 33% bump in the value of your points when you redeem for travel. It’s not every card whatsoever (I verified this with customer service), only certain cards.

    So, if you have the “right” card (one that bumps your point value by 33%), then yes Chuck would be correct. But in the absence of such a card, you’re still looking at around $0.01 of value per TY point.

    Hope that helps!