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Guide to basic ThankYou points

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Once you find a card issuer that has a few great rewards credit cards, it only makes sense that you want to learn more about how the rewards work — especially if you’re interested in pairing credit cards to get the most out of your rewards. Citi is one such credit card issuer with plenty of ways to earn rewards, including cash back as a statement credit, direct deposit, check or the option to receive, then redeem, ThankYou points.

However, you may not know that not all ThankYou points are not created equal. Some points have more redemption options than others. But, thankfully, you’ve also got the option to combine ThankYou points accounts or even pool them with certain Citi cards.

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry, it can be a lot to take in. Here’s a guide that will help you understand your Citi ThankYou points once and for all.

What are Citi ThankYou points?

Citi ThankYou points are rewards points that you can earn with several different Citi credit cards. Depending on the Citi card you have, you can redeem these points for rewards ranging from statement credits to travel and gift cards. Some cards even allow you to transfer ThankYou points to airline partners.

Most of the time, Citi ThankYou points are worth about 1 cent each. However, depending on how you redeem your points, they can be worth slightly more or less than 1 cent.

And what are “basic” Citi ThankYou points?

Citi doesn’t really use the word “basic” to describe the type of points that don’t have as much flexibility as “full-fledged” ThankYou points. However, our colleagues over at The Points Guy, a credit card and travel site, have coined the terms “basic” and “full-fledged” to distinguish between the types of ThankYou points and make things easier to understand. Just know you won’t find these designations in any of Citi’s card terms and conditions.

You can’t transfer basic ThankYou points to travel partners, although you can still use them to book travel through Citi at a 1 cent value. If you have trouble remembering which of your Citi cards award basic or full ThankYou points, the rule of thumb is that Citi cards with no annual fee allow you to earn basic ThankYou points.

Here’s a list of no-annual-fee Citi credits cards that earn basic ThankYou points:

  • Citi® Double Cash Card
  • Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
  • Citi Rewards+® Card

What are “full-fledged” Citi ThankYou points?

In essence, full-fledged ThankYou points are transferable to airline partners through Citi ThankYou Travel. According to recent valuations from The Points Guy, ThankYou points can be worth up to around 1.8 cents with certain transfer partners. Cards that allow you to earn full-fledged points include:

  • Citi Prestige® Card* (no longer available)
  • Citi Premier® Card

Even though your ThankYou points could be worth slightly more in some redemption scenarios with these cards, you’ll pay an annual fee. The Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee while the Citi Premier has a $95 fee. Note, of course, the Prestige is no longer available to new applicants, so keep this in mind if you don’t already own it.

If you spend and travel enough to take advantage of the Premier’s perks, you shouldn’t have any trouble justifying the cost of its annual fee. And since owning the Premier grants you the ability to redeem points toward airline and hotel partner travel, here’s a list of Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partners:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • Choice Privileges Rewards
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Wyndham Rewards

How can I earn both types of ThankYou points?

Here is a list of available credit cards currently issued by Citi that allow cardholders to earn both basic and full ThankYou points:

Card ThankYou points Rewards rate Best for
Citi Premier Card Full ThankYou points 3X points on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases; 1X points on all other purchases Transfer partner travel
Citi Custom Cash Basic ThankYou points 5% cash back (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1%) on your top spending category each billing cycle Flexible rewards
Citi Double Cash Card Earn cash back that can be converted to basic ThankYou points Unlimited 1% as you buy, plus another 1% when you pay for your purchases Flat-rate cash back
Citi Rewards+ Card Basic ThankYou points 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points); 1X points on all other purchases; 5X points at restaurants during the first 12 months (on up to $6,000 in purchases, then 1X points) Grocery and gas spending

How can I get the most value from basic ThankYou points?

To get the most value from your ThankYou points (basic and full-fledged), you should pair Citi cards — or even build a Citi ThankYou trifecta — to maximize your rewards. In either scenario, you’ll essentially use a combination of cards that will help you earn the most rewards based on your spending, then move points around for boosted redemption values.

Ideally, you’d pool your basic ThankYou points with full-fledged ThankYou points (Citi Prestige or Citi Premier required). Then, you’d transfer this lot of combined ThankYou points to any of the Citi ThankYou travel partners listed above.

You should also know about expiration dates and other limitations for your ThankYou points. As long as you keep the card that you earned your points on open, the points do not expire. However, points that you transfer expire within 90 days.

Is earning basic ThankYou points worth it?

Any rewards you earn from a credit card can give you some value — whether it’s in the form of cash back, statement credits or discounted travel. If you’re loyal to the Citi brand of cards, there’s plenty to take advantage of in terms of rewards, but the real value will come down to your preferences and lifestyle.

If you’ve got a penchant for discounted travel, a pairing of the right Citi cards could help you satisfy your wanderlust. However, if you’d rather earn rewards on everyday spending, basic ThankYou points still have solid value (even if they can’t be transferred to travel partners).

The information about the Citi Prestige® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
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