6 Hacks for Using the Citi ThankYou Points Program

Here's how to get the most out of your Citi rewards credit card points.

If you surveyed a group of people about credit cards, it’s likely they would say pretty much the same thing: Their favorite cards are part of a transferable points program. That’s because these cards tend to have the most flexibility when it comes to redeeming rewards. One of these programs is Citi ThankYou. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Over the past several years, Citi has made several changes to the ThankYou program to help it keep up with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. Two of the most noticeable changes are the selection of credit cards that allow you to earn ThankYou points and the airline transfer partners. Let’s take a look at how you can hack your Citi ThankYou points for maximum value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One area where the Citi ThankYou program has improved over the past couple of years is with the quality of transfer partners. Unless noted below all partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Jetblue (1,000:500)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • Eva Air
  • Air France/KLM
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Quantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hilton (1,000:1,500)

While the list of partners continues to grow, not all of them are a good use of your points. To get the most value, you could redeem points for one of these rewards:

Continental U.S. to Hawaii on Singapore Airlines

From the United States, one of the best uses for Singapore Airlines miles is to fly to Hawaii. One-way flights in coach, business class, and first class cost 17,500, 30,000 and 40,000 miles, respectively. Compare this to United Airlines, which charges 22,500, 40,000 and 50,000 miles.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards

One of the best ways to use Flying Blue miles is to book their promo awards. Each month, they release new promo routes and you can save 20% to 50% off normal redemption rates.

Continental U.S. to Mexico on Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue includes Mexico in the same flight region as the United States, which means flights cost only 12,500 miles each way in coach.

TransAtlantic in Singapore Suites

If you’re tired of always flying coach, you can splurge and spend 57,375 Singapore Krisflyer Miles to fly Singapore Suites from New York to Frankfurt, Germany. If you’d like to continue, you can go all the way to Singapore for a total of 93,500 miles. But be warned: Flying in coach might never be the same.

Use Etihad Guest Miles from New York to Brussels in Business Class

Most airlines are part of large alliances or have partner airlines. This is great for consumers because it opens up a lot of options when using your miles. If you know where to look, you can find a lot of value when flying. One of the best ways to fly to Europe is to use Etihad Guest miles to fly Brussels Airlines from New York to Brussels. Traveling round-trip in economy will cost you 21,972 miles and business class will be 36,620 miles. If you want a card that earns you direct airline miles, here are our picks for some of the best airline miles credit cards out there.

2. Book Travel on Citi Travel Center

Another way to use your ThankYou points is to book your travel through the Citi Travel Center. This is where the specific card you have will dictate the value you receive. If you have a Citi ThankYou Premier card you can redeem your points for 1.25 cents each. Through July 23, those with a Citi ThankYou Prestige card can redeem points on American Airlines for 1.6 cents each and on all other airlines for 1.33 cents. Afterward, redemptions are 1.33 cents on all airlines. For any card that is not Premier or Prestige, you can book travel at just 1 cent per point.

3. Redeem for Cash

You can redeem your points for cash, but this is a pretty weak valuation. You will only receive 0.5 cents per point, but…

4. Pay Your Mortgage or Student Loans

You’ll receive 1 cent of value when you use your points to pay off your mortgage or student loans.

5. Shopping With Points

Citi has partnered with several retailers, making it possible to shop with your points. However, values fluctuate from 0.6 cents to around 1 cent per point, so unless it’s necessary for you to redeem through shopping, there are better ways to redeem points.

6. Gift Cards

Finally, you can also redeem your points for gift cards for select retailers and restaurants. Most of the time you will be able to receive 1 cent per point with this method.

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

Earning Citi ThankYou points is fairly simple. You can use one of a few different Citi credit cards or have select Citi banking products.

Citi Prestige

When you sign up for the Citi Prestige card, you receive 40,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Then, when you use your card for airfare or hotels, you receive 3 points per dollar. You will also receive 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and on entertainment. Any other purchase made will earn 1 points per dollar. This card has a steep $450 annual fee, but you will receive several travel benefits, including a $250 air travel credit, which you can use for airfare, upgrades, baggage fees and more. You will also receive a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. If that’s not enough, you also receive your fourth night free when booking hotels through Citi Prestige Concierge. Plus, you can travel in comfort knowing you have complimentary access to more than 900 Priority Pass Select airport lounges.

Keep in mind before signing up for this or any rewards card that your credit will need to be in very good shape to qualify. If you’re not sure where your credit stands you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Citi ThankYou Premier

With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you receive 30,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $3,000 in the first three months. You then earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel expenses, which includes gas. Plus, you can earn 2x points when you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment. All other purchases will earn 1x points. There is a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

Citi ThankYou Preferred

If you prefer a card with no annual fee, then the Citi ThankYou Preferred card might be the best fit. You will earn 15,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use this card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases earn 1x points. This card also has an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

If you’re a college student you can also earn ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou Preferred card for College Students. With this card, you will earn 2,500 ThankYou points after spending $500 within the first three months. When you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases receive 1x points. After signing up for this card you receive an introductory 0% APR for the first seven months on purchases. There is no annual fee to carry this card.

Citi Banking Accounts

While you won’t be able to earn a huge number of points through this method, you can take advantage of the banking relationships you have with Citi. Depending on the product, you could earn up to 19,200 points per year.

Image: freemixer

At publishing time, the Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

 

 

The post 6 Hacks for Using the Citi ThankYou Points Program appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Airline Credit Cards With Big Sign-Up Bonuses Right Now

airplane

Would you like a bunch of frequent flyer miles to book an award ticket? If you are into earning frequent flyer miles, then you can get a head start on your next big award trip by signing up for the right credit card and earning a sign-up bonus.

How Sign-Up Bonuses Work

The credit card industry is intensely competitive, and credit card issuers are willing to go to great lengths to attract new customers. What banks have learned over the years is that there are few incentives that are as attractive as large sums of frequent flyer miles that can be redeemed for award travel.

To receive one of these large sign-up bonuses, you have to apply for a new credit card and be approved. Then, most credit cards require you to complete a minimum spending requirement within a specified period of time, often three months. In most cases, once you’ve completed the minimum spending requirements, and your next statement is generated, then you should receive your sign-up bonus within a day or two.

Many people worry that applying for a new credit card and receiving a sign-up bonus will hurt their credit score. Although there are many factors that make up your credit score, including new applications, applying for a single credit card should have a negligible effect on your credit score and it may even improve it slightly as your credit history is extended.

Here are four airline credit cards that are currently offering big sign-up bonuses. 

1. American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi

This card is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after new applicants make $5,000 in purchases within three months of account opening, which is enough for two round-trip domestic award tickets in economy class, or a single first class ticket. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Chase and American Express advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) Other benefits include membership in the American Airlines Admiral’s Club airport lounge program for yourself and all authorized cardholders. You also receive priority service at check-in, airport screening and boarding. In addition, you receive your first bag checked free and a $100 statement credit towards the Global Entry application fee. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

2. British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase

This card is offering new applicants 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 miles after spending a total of $15,000 within a calendar year. Other benefits include 3x miles for British Airways purchases, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. Finally, those who spend $30,000 in a calendar year can earn a Travel Together Ticket good for a companion ticket on a British Airways award flight, although you do have to pay any tax, fees and carrier charges imposed by British Airways. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

3. United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase

This card is offering new applicants 30,000 bonus miles after spending just $1,000 within three months of account opening. In addition, you can also receive an additional 5,000 bonus miles after you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within three months of account opening. Finally, you can earn 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000 in net purchases on your card. Other benefits include a free checked bag for yourself and a companion when you purchase tickets on United using this card. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

4. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express

This card (you can see a full review here) is offering new applicants a $50 statement credit after their first purchase and 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Other benefits include priority boarding, a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, and a free checked bag for up to four people traveling on the same reservation. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

All of these cards require applicants to have excellent credit. If you’re not sure of your credit standing, you may want to check your credit before you apply. You can view two of your scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.

If your credit standing doesn’t yet meet the card issuer’s requirements, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score, and apply once you do.

At publishing time, the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from ChaseAAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi, and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: stevecoleimages

The post 4 Airline Credit Cards With Big Sign-Up Bonuses Right Now appeared first on Credit.com.

How Much Do I Have to Spend to Get VIP Credit Card Perks?

vip-credit-card-perks

Don’t you love it when you get VIP treatment? It’s especially appreciated when you’re traveling and you can enjoy perks like priority service and upgrades to a better airplane seat or hotel room.

And as some frequent travelers know, the key to earning VIP treatment can be holding the right credit cards. Some credit cards offer elite status in hotel and rental car programs to all cardholders, regardless of how much they spend, and there are several cards that allow you to earn elite status with airlines and hotel programs when you reach specified annual spending thresholds. In addition, there are some cards that offer credits towards elite status when you spend a certain amount.

The Cards That Offer Elite Status to All Cardholders from Day One

Many credits only require you to open an account in order to earn elite status with a travel provider. For example, the American Express Platinum card (reviewed here) offers all cardholders both Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program and the Hilton HHonors program, as well as elite status with Avis, Hertz and National car rental companies. However, cardholders will need to request these status upgrades individually. Mid-level elite status in hotel programs is also a feature of credit cards such as the IHG, Hyatt and Marriott Rewards card from Chase, as well as the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (reviewed here) and the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as American Express, Barclaycard & Chase advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) 

The Cards That Offer Elite Status to High Spenders

Other credit cards only offer elite status to their highest spenders. For example, the new JetBlue Plus personal and business cards from Barclaycard offer Mosaic elite status in the TrueBlue frequent flier program to those who spend $50,000 on their cards with a calendar year.

According to Kristen Bowdoin, director of the JetBlue partnership, Barclaycard US: “The ability for cardmembers to earn Mosaic status solely from the spend on their credit card is a great example of how we’re trying to help loyal JetBlue customers get even more out of their JetBlue experience. Not every cardmember who loves JetBlue is an avid flier and this benefit offers them a new opportunity to earn Mosaic status beyond the required segments and flight points.”

Once earned, Mosaic status offers priority check-in, security screening and boarding as well as two free checked bags and free alcoholic beverages. In addition, Mosaic members have the ability to upgrade to Even More Space seats with extra legroom for as little as 200 points.

Holders of the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express (reviewed here) can receive Gold status by spending $30,000 within a calendar year. Gold status offers perks such as priority check-in, 4 p.m. late checkouts and room upgrades.

The Hilton HHonors Surpass card from American Express offers instant Gold status, but cardholders can be upgraded to Diamond status when they use their card to spend $40,000 in a calendar year. Diamond status offers late checkouts, room upgrades and even free breakfast.

The Hilton HHonors card from American Express has no annual fee, but offers Gold status after cardholders spend $20,000 in a calendar year. Gold status also offers late checkouts, room upgrades, and even free breakfast.

The Ritz-Carlton rewards credit card from Chase offers cardholders automatic Gold status in their first year, which they can maintain by using their card to spend $10,000 each account member year. Gold status offers guests complimentary room upgrades, late checkouts and exclusive point bonuses. Furthermore, you can reach their Platinum Elite status when you use your card to spend $75,000 per account year, which offers cardholders bonus points, an arrival gift, room guarantees and two complimentary nights at The Ritz-Carlton.

The Cards That Speed Up Your Path Elite Status

Finally, there are several cards that don’t necessarily offer elite status for spending alone, but offer points, miles or night-stay credits towards elite status that can be combined with other qualifications to help you reach elite status sooner. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express offers 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) after cardholders spend $30,000 in a calendar year, and another 15,000 MQMs after reaching $60,000 of spending in a year. Likewise, the American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi offers 10,000 elite qualifying miles after spending $40,000 within a calendar year. Finally, the Hyatt credit card from Chase offers two stay credits and five night credits toward Diamond status upon spending $20,000 in a calendar year, and an additional three stay credits and five night credits toward Diamond status upon spending $40,000 total in each calendar year.

By choosing the right credit card for your purchases, you can receive VIP treatment when you travel even sooner that you might have thought you could. But before you set your heart on a credit card and its potential travel benefits, remember that rewards cards are often only available to consumers with good credit. Take a few minutes to check your credit (you can get two free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com) and research credit cards that may suit you best before applying for anything.

At publishing time, the Hilton HHonors card from American ExpressAmerican Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from CitiCiti Hilton HHonors Reserve CardAmerican Express PlatinumJetBlue Plus and Starwood Preferred Guest card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: Digital Vision

The post How Much Do I Have to Spend to Get VIP Credit Card Perks? appeared first on Credit.com.