Updated: Jan 2, 2022
In the world of credit card sign-up bonuses, and Award Travel redemptions, what normally comes to mind? Chase. American Express. There is one issuer who is trying to change everyone's perception of who the prized pony really is—Citi!
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Citi Premier® Card
In July 2021, Citi launched a welcome bonus for the Citi Premier® Card that still stands—80,000 ThankYou® Points. Although a 1 cent per point value transforms 80,000 points into $800, strategically using Citi's transfer partners can yield a much better redemption. For example, it is possible to get a value of 1.4 cents per point—or more—which would turn the sign-up bonus into a value worth at least $1,120! This is the highest welcome bonus ever offered for this card! You can apply for this card here!
The Citi Premier® Card is in direct competition with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Although I am of the opinion that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a must-have for anyone entering the Award Travel arena, an argument could be made in favor of starting with the Citi Premier® Card. Chase is currently offering their cardmembers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points whereas Citi is offering 20,000 more and better category multipliers. In any event, to get a more in-depth review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card please see the following post: Chase Sapphire Preferred—The Best Credit Card Just Got Better! You can also apply for this card here!
Citi has a Travel Portal with options to book flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises. Your ThankYou® Points are worth 1 cent per point going this route. Although redeeming your points in this manner may be less desirable than using one of Citi's 17 airline transfer partners, there are benefits to be had.
One benefit is the ease of booking through the Travel Portal; you do not need to understand loyalty programs and the process of transferring your points to a transferrable partner. Another benefit is there are no blackout dates when booking your travel. You will also earn airlines miles and elite-qualifying miles when booking flights—although you won't earn points or status for hotel stays. (Your hotel loyalty program will classify Citi's Travel Portal as an Online Travel Agency, like Expedia.)
Citi currently has 17 airline transfer partners—although American Airlines is only a temporary partner until November 13, 2021. Perhaps the least understood but, often, the most valuable method of utilizing your existing points is to transfer your existing points to a transferrable partner. Basically, you are transferring your points to a partner of Citi, and redeeming those points with that partner for an award flight.
"Citi's transfer partners make them a major player in the Award Travel space."
Although the transfer rate is fixed—1:1 point transfer to any airline partner—the end value is not. When done strategically, it is possible to get a value of MORE than 1.4 cents per point! Partners such as Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and Avianca Airlines LifeMiles can be leveraged for some amazing redemptions!
Not all Citi credit cards allow you to transfer your ThankYou® Points to a transferrable partner. For example, you need to have the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card. However, the Citi Prestige® Card has been removed from the products offered by Citi; they are, however, servicing existing cardmembers.
You are able to earn ThankYou® Points from other Citi credit cards and pool your points together. This includes the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, and the Citi Rewards+® Card. You can combine all of your ThankYou® Points earned using the aforementioned credit cards and have one large "pot" to store your points. You can compare and apply for one of these credit cards here!
Citi has an interesting policy when it comes to being able to "share" your ThankYou® Points with other ThankYou® members. Not only are you able to transfer your ThankYou® Points to family members living within your own household—aka Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points—but you can transfer them to just about anyone else who also has a ThankYou® account with Citi.
There are stipulations that are important to understand before you make this move. For example, the most ThankYou® Points you are allowed to transfer to another ThankYou® member per calendar year is 100,000. Shared ThankYou® Points expire 90 days after they are received. It also is against Citi's policy to sell or barter your ThankYou® Points.
The Citi Premier® Card shines when it comes to the rewards it earns on purchases. Not only does it earn 3X points at restaurants, air travel, and hotels, but it also includes this same rate at supermarkets and gas stations! This creates an opportunity to turn this card into a real workhorse for everyday expenses; it is not your typical travel card. When used in conjunction with other Citi cards that earn ThankYou® Points, it is easy to rack up a lot of points!
Do you want to determine the value of the Citi Premier® Card based on your spending habits? Feel free to use our Credit Card Selector Calculator for FREE! It uses our proprietary algorithm which determines the best credit card in our database based on your spending habits. You will be able to determine the value of the Citi Premier® Card in your first year of use. You can also apply for this card here!
Annual Benefits & Annual Fee
An intriguing perk about this card is the $100 annual hotel savings benefit. Just book your hotel stay of $500 or more through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU to receive this benefit. It pays for the $95 annual fee!
Travel Benefits and Purchase Protection
With all of the hype over the Citi Premier® Card, it does fall far short when it comes to travel benefits and purchase protection compared to other premium travel credit cards—such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It no longer has Worldwide Car Rental Insurance, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection, Trip Delay Protection, Baggage Delay Protection, and Lost Baggage Protection, just to name a few.
You will want to be cognizant of this fact when preparing your trip—and have other travel insurance options at your disposal.
Welcome Bonus Stipulations
The current 80,000 ThankYou® Points welcome bonus does come with some stipulations. One requirement is that you will need to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Additionally, you aren't eligible for the welcome bonus if you've opened or closed certain Citi cards in the last 24 months. Citi states:
"Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+®, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier® or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months."
This rule is important to understand; the timing of when you apply along with what product you select first can mean the difference between a large welcome bonus and a goose egg. You don't want to miss out on the 80,000 ThankYou® Points welcome bonus of the Citi Premier® Card; this could happen if you apply and previously received a welcome bonus from another card in the ThankYou® Points family—except the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card—within the past 24 months. If your timing is right, apply for the card here!
Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant
Do you feel overwhelmed with all the options available when it comes to redeeming your miles & points? Would you like some assistance to get you started in the right direction? You will benefit from the services of a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant. You will be assisted with regards to earning miles & points through credit card use and redeeming those miles & points for Award Travel. Or, feel free to use any of our Award Travel Tools online. Get started today!