Insider’s experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.
Citi ThankYou points aren’t the most valuable travel rewards you can earn, but they offer high upside thanks to Citi’s roster of 14 airline and two hotel transfer partners. These points also have a consistent value floor when you redeem directly with Citi for travel and gift cards. Citi is an Insider partner.
Citi ThankYou Rewards credit cards
80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Earn 3x ThankYou® points at restaurants and supermarkets. Earn 3x ThankYou® points at gas stations, air travel, and hotels. Earn 1x ThankYou® points on all other purchases
$200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
$200 in cash back, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in purchases in 3 months from account opening
Earn 5x ThankYou® Points restaurants (up to $6,000 for the first 12 months and then 1x ThankYou® Point). Earn 2x ThankYou® supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 per year and then 1x ThankYou® Point). Earn 1x ThankYou® points on all other purchases
As a result, ThankYou Rewards points have an average redemption value of 1.6 cents per point in Personal Finance Insider’s most recent valuations. Read on to learn which redemption options you should target and avoid in order to maximize your return.
We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.
Best ways to use Citi ThankYou points
18.24% – 26.24% Variable
Recommended Credit Score
Good to Excellent
18.24% – 26.24% Variable
Recommended Credit Score
Good to Excellent
- For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
- Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
- 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
- No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Citi ThankYou Rewards points are most valuable when you transfer them to airline and hotel partners like Virgin Atlantic or Choice Privileges. These and other programs enable you to redeem rewards for high-end travel experiences, such as first or business class flights and premium hotel rooms. Finding these exceptional redemption opportunities takes skill and patience, but you can crush the average redemption value when you do.
In order to transfer to all of Citi’s travel partners, you’ll need to have either the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card
(which is no longer available to new applicants). You can still earn ThankYou points with a no-annual-fee card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, but without one of those upper-tier cards, you’ll only have access to a handful of partners (and at a less-favorable transfer ratio).
Transfer Citi points to Virgin Atlantic for Delta one flights
For example, consider a round-trip flight from Boston to Paris in the spring of 2023. You could book non-stop service in Delta One business class for 100,000 points and $136 through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
At the time of writing, that same itinerary has a cash price of $3,580, yielding a redemption value of over 3.44 cents per point after accounting for the cash portion of the award. That’s 72% more than our high valuation of 2 cents apiece for ThankYou Rewards points.
Transfer Citi points to Choice Privileges at a 1:2 ratio
As another example, consider a weekend stay at the Hotel Blake in Chicago using Choice Privileges points. You can book a king-bed room for 16,000 points per night with free cancellation until the day before check-in. However, since Citi transfers to Choice at a favorable 1:2 ratio (if you have the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card), you only need 8,000 ThankYou Rewards points per night.
A comparable cash rate has a base of $209 per night at the time of writing, or $245 per night inclusive of all taxes and fees. That yields a redemption value of over 3 cents per ThankYou Rewards point when you transfer from Citi to book the stay.
Fair redemption options
The examples above showcase what’s possible with ThankYou Rewards points. Not all award redemptions will be so lucrative, but you can get a good return even without booking premium travel.
Transfer Citi points to JetBlue
Economy flights and standard hotel rooms provide more consistent and accessible value, like this JetBlue itinerary between New York and Aruba in January. A round-trip award ticket costs 21,200 TrueBlue points plus $85 in taxes and fees.
The cash cost for the same itinerary is $409. Accounting for the cash fees charged on the award yields a redemption value of 1.53 cents per point, which is very close to our average valuation of 1.6 cents per point for ThankYou Rewards.
Transfer Citi points to Wyndham
For another hotel example, consider a four-night weekend stay in April 2023 at the La Quinta Inn & Suites in downtown New Orleans. Using Wyndham Rewards points, you could book a king-bed room at the Go Free rate of 15,000 points per night.
An equivalent cash booking totals $277.72 per night inclusive of taxes and fees, yielding a redemption value of 1.85 cents per point. That’s below our high valuation but well above our average valuation.
Note that you could instead book a Go Fast cash and points award for 3,000 points and $167.30 per night, effectively saving $110.42 per night with the points portion. That yields a much higher redemption value of 3.68 cents per point, and would be a great option if you were more interested in maximizing points than in lowering out-of-pocket costs.
Low-value ways to use Citi points
Transfer Citi points to Emirates for economy flights
Transfers to travel partners aren’t always worthwhile. For example, this round-trip Emirates itinerary between New York and Dubai costs $930 if you buy it outright.
In contrast, booking an award would cost 125,000 miles plus approximately $462 in fees. That yields an astoundingly poor redemption value of just 0.37 cents per point. This illustrates the importance of calculating redemption value, since just because you can book an award doesn’t mean you should.
Book flights, hotels, and more through the Citi Travel Portal
Beyond transfers, Citi offers a variety of ways to redeem points directly, most of which yield 1 cent per point or less. You can use the Citi Travel Portal to book flights, hotels, and other travel purchases, like this stay at the Kimpton Riverplace Hotel in Portland, Oregon:
Use Citi points to buy gift cards
You can also redeem points for a variety of gift cards, which are sometimes available at a discount. For example, at the time of writing, Citi was offering a 10% points discount on Yay You gift cards, which can be used to shop with eight different retailers. The discount improves the redemption value to just over 1.1 cents per point.
Citi also lets you apply ThankYou Rewards points toward statement credits and online shopping, but those redemptions return 1 cent per point or less. Given how easily you can surpass that value with transfer partners or other direct redemptions, these less valuable options should be ignored.
Redemption rates aren’t the only variable we use to assess the value of points and miles. Here’s how ThankYou Rewards performs across other facets of the program we take into consideration:
- Expiration policy (+) — ThankYou Rewards points earned with a credit card don’t expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. However, points earned through banking expire after three years, and points shared between accounts expire after 90 days. Apart from having to track how points were earned, these policies are friendly to ThankYou Rewards members.
- Strength of transfer partners (+) — Citi’s roster of transfer partners has several throwaway options that are unlikely to be useful. The remaining partners are a little less valuable on average than what Chase and Amex offer, but ThankYou Rewards provides access to all three major airline alliances and two underrated hotel programs, including a favorable 1:2 transfer ratio to Choice Privileges.
- Transfer bonuses (+) — Citi offers a handful of transfer bonuses each year, mostly in the range of 20-30%. Unfortunately, these promotions have been limited to only a few partners, as 15 of the 19 bonuses offered since the start of 2019 have involved just four programs. Nonetheless, these bonuses are highly valuable when they align with your travel plans, and provide speculative upside even when they don’t.
- Transfer times (+) — Transfers to most of Citi’s travel partners typically go through right away, and rarely take more than a day. Only three partners (Thai Airways, EVA Air, and Qatar Airways) have transfer times that are consistently longer than 48 hours. Slower transfer times increase the risk of award inventory disappearing while you wait for points to arrive, but fortunately, these are three of the least useful partners on Citi’s roster anyway.
- Sharing/pooling (+) — You can share points with any ThankYou Rewards member, with caps of 100,000 points sent and received annually per account. This policy allows you to use points more efficiently, but you should only take advantage of it when you’re ready to redeem, since shared points expire after 90 days.
- Ease of accumulation (Neutral) — You can earn ThankYou Rewards points with several Citi credit cards, including some with bonus spending categories that make it easy to accumulate points quickly. The problem is that Citi has just one publicly available credit card that enables transfers to all travel partners. Without the ability to transfer, any ThankYou Rewards points you earn will have limited redemption options.
These features mostly support the value of ThankYou Rewards, in particular, the policy for sharing points freely with other members. However, while Citi doesn’t get marked down for any of these miscellaneous factors, the program’s positive features are generally a little less positive than corresponding features among competitors.
Citi ThankYou Rewards is average among transferable points programs, lacking both notable strengths and glaring weaknesses. Citi’s roster of transfer partners is less valuable than others, but still offers opportunities to book high-end awards at a bargain rate.
With a reliable value floor via direct redemptions, these points also offer an easy outlet for award travel novices to get an acceptable return.