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 GetDebit’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”) GetDebit 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 GetDebit 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

GetDebit 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, GetDebit sees this as a poor substitute for cash, since gift cards are routinely lost, expire, remain partially used, etc.

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