Citi

Citi ThankYou Points now transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles at a 1:1 rate.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 2.09.20 AMThat makes one hotel and 10 airline partners for Citi ThankYou Points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card comes with 50,000 bonus points: 20,000 after spending $2,000 in the first three months and 30,000 more after spending $3,000 in the first three months of the second year. Its awesome category bonuses are changing April 19. The definition of travel is expanding, and gas is being added as a 3x category.

The Citi Prestige® Card has a healthy 30,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months and offers 3x points on air travel and hotels plus 2x points on dining and entertainment. But this card is really about the perks: American Airlines and Priority Pass lounge access including guests, $250 in airfare credits each calendar year, and free hotel nights.

Virgin Atlantic instantly becomes one of the top three transfer options for ThankYou points, along with Singapore miles for Singapore Suites or travel in the Western Hemisphere and Flying Blue miles for Promo awards to Europe and some awards on Delta.

There are three main uses for Virgin Atlantic miles:

1. Among the Cheapest Economy and Premium Economy Awards to Europe

Economy

Virgin Atlantic economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way flight to the United Kingdom. (Actually only 13,125 miles until January 22, 2015.)

There are modest fuel surcharges on the award, so taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are $135.

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 18,000 ThankYou Points plus $131 and return from a low tax country to the United States on a one way award with United, American, or Delta miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Transatlantic Award: 13,125 Miles One Way All Summer Long.

Premium Economy

You can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Considering most programs charge 30,000 miles one way in economy, this is a steal in my opinion even with the fuel surcharges.

2. Incredible Value Partner Awards

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

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Virgin Atlantic has a separate award chart for each, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

Last year I called Flying Club at (800) 365-9500 and priced out several awards.

The call was fairly smooth although the agent told me that Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta wasn’t bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles. When I pressed him to double check, he came back with the news that it indeed is bookable. As always, you may know more than the phone agents, so be polite but firm.

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip economy on Delta: 45k miles + $77.32
  • New York to London in roundtrip economy on Delta: 40k miles + $190.60
  • Atlanta to Los Angeles in roundtrip economy on Delta: 25k miles + $11.20
  • New York to Paris in roundtrip economy on Delta: 60k miles + $90.66
  • New York to Honolulu in roundtrip First on Hawaiian: 130k miles + $11.20

I learned a few key things about partner awards from the call:

  • Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles.
  • The Delta award chart is way underpriced to Southern South America. Buenos Aires for 45,000 ThankYou Points roundtrip is a steal. You’d need 60,000 Delta miles for the same award.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Hawaiian Airlines award flights.
  • The Hawaiian award chart says economy roundtrips are “from 40,000 miles” and first is “from 80,000 miles.” Those prices only refer to roundtrips from the western US. The roundtrip price to/from JFK is quite a bit higher.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America award flights.
  • Not all Virgin America flights have award space that Virgin Atlantic has access to. There’s no way to check without calling Virgin Atlantic that I know of.

3. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–features fully flat beds with direct aisle access.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability in Upper Class, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 80k miles roundtrip in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London roundtrip in Upper Class are only 100k miles.

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to right

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 125k miles plus taxes and no fuel surcharges. But Delta SkyMiles members don’t have access to the same award availability as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

4. Other Uses?

Did I miss any great uses of Virgin Atlantic miles? These small foreign programs get so few expert eyeballs on them, so I know that many have hidden gems. Hopefully I’ve exposed some with the partner flights in this post. If you know of others, share them in the comments please.

Getting the Miles

Citi ThankYou Points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card now transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic miles.

Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards both transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic miles. American Express ran transfer bonuses of 30% and 35% to Virgin Atlantic last year. Ultimate Rewards have never had a transfer bonus, and I like to use my Ultimate Rewards with United miles, so I strongly favor transferring Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles if you want Virgin Atlantic miles.

The Virgin Atlantic credit card offers “90,000 bonus miles” if you jump through a lot of hoops.

Bottom Line

Citi has added major value to its ThankYou program three times since I got my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. First by adding airline transfer partners including Singapore, then by adding Air France Flying Blue as a partner, and now by adding Virgin Atlantic Flyinc Club. These continuous additions of value are one reason I plan to get the Citi Prestige® Card very soon.

Virgin Atlantic miles offer super cheap economy awards to Europe (13,125 miles until tomorrow and 17,500 miles normally), Premium Economy awards to Europe (27,500 miles), and Upper Class awards to Europe (40,000 miles.) Unfortunately all of these awards have fuel surcharges, but the miles prices may be low enough to justify the out-of-pocket cost.

Virgin Atlantic miles can also be used to book awards on several partners. Delta, Hawaiian, and Virgin America flights booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have no fuel surcharges, and some of the Delta awards are steals, like 45,000 miles roundtrip to Buenos Aires.

My big wish is that Citi ThankYou Points will eventually add another transfer partner, one with which Citi has a very close relationship already, American Airlines miles.

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

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Many people can get a small business credit card. Opening small business cards roughly doubles the number of amazing miles and points cards available to you.

Every small business credit card I’ve gotten I opened by putting my social security number as the tax ID, and by saying that my business is a sole proprietorship. I got many of the cards when my business revenue was very low.

Check out my post on How to Be Approved for Business Cards.

If you have a business, make sure you are opening the right business credit cards to maximize your free, discounted, and luxury travel. Here are the top four cards, broken down by Best Sign Up Bonus, Best Category Bonuses, Best for Everyday Spending, and Best for Perks.

Best Sign Up Bonus

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

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American Airlines miles are currently the most valuable because United and Delta jacked up the number of miles needed for premium cabin awards last year, but American Airlines has not.

Just the sign up bonus on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® is enough miles for a roundtrip to Europe, South America, or Asia.

The card offers double miles at office supply merchants, telecommunications merchants, and car rental merchants and a 5% mileage bonus every year you renew.

The card also comes with a free checked bag and priority boarding on American Airlines flights.

The annual fee of $95 is waived the first 12 months.

Application Link: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard 

Best Category Bonuses

The Chase Ink Plus offers 5x Ultimate Rewards per dollar for purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services. The card also offers 2x points at gas stations and hotels.

The Ink Plus offers 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the card. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, and more.

The annual fee of $95 is waived the first 12 months.

(Note that Chase is split testing higher annual fees for the card, so make sure you get the best offer.)

Best for Everyday Spending

The Starwoord Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express OPEN earns 1 Starpoint per dollar on all purchases.

Starpoints transfer to over 30 airlines, most at a 1:1 ratio. Whenever Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio, you always get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred. That effectively means that you are earning 1.25 airline miles per dollar on all purchases with this card. Key 1:1 transfer partners:

  • American Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Many More, but NOT United

Here is how to transfer Starpoints to airline miles.

The card comes with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first six months. Points can also be used for free hotel nights, Cash & Points stays, and Nights & Flights awards.

The annual fee of $65 is waived the first 12 months.

Best for Perks

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is the king of perks for business cards. The card comes with:

Here is how to set up and maximize those benefits.

The card comes with 40,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. It earns 1 Membership Rewards per dollar on all purchases with no category bonuses.

The card has a $450 annual fee that is NOT waived.

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months of account opening. This is enough miles for two roundtrips within the mainland United States, Canada, and Alaska or one roundtrip to Europe, South America, or Asia.

I ranked the card #2 on my top ten list of the best cards for free travel this month because of

  • the massive sign up bonus
  • American Airlines’ cheap award chart
  • the fact that cardholders get a 10% rebate on the miles used to book American Airlines award tickets
  • the $95 annual fee being waived the first 12 months

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.47.29 PM

Beyond the benefits when award booking, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® also makes traveling American Airlines less stressful.

  • Cardholders are entitled to a free checked bag for themselves and up to four companions on the same ticket. That’s up to a $250 value per roundtrip.
  • Cardholders get Group 1 boarding, so they’ll never have to gate check bags after the overhead bin space fills up.
  • Cardholders get a 25% discount on purchases onboard (I recommend the pastrami sandwich!)

The American Airlines card is one of the best airline cards, but it is not right for everyone.

  • What types of people should get the American Airlines credit card and what types shouldn’t?
  • What are the best uses of American Airlines miles?
  • What about the American Airlines/US Airways merger?

Benefits of American Airlines Miles

Cheap Award Chart & Amazing Partners

American Airlines miles are the best miles for booking ultra-luxury trips because American Airlines miles can book:

  • Etihad First Class
  • Qantas First Class
  • Cathay Pacific First Class
  • Qatar First Class
  • British Airways First Class
  • Malaysia First Class
  • Japan Airlines First Class

Delta miles cannot book international First Class. United gutted its award chart for partner First Class, so that its prices are almost double what American Airlines charges to fly some of the nicest products in the world.

United would charge 120,000 miles one way to fly from the United States to Southeast Asia via Asiana First Class. American would charge 67,500 miles via Cathay Pacific First Class, which is a better product in my opinion.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 2.06.15 PM

On the opposite end of the spectrum, American Airlines miles are the best for economy awards too. American features off peak dates with super cheap economy awards to:

  • Japan & Korea
  • Europe
  • South America
  • Central America
  • Carribean
  • Hawaii

Delta charges 70,000 miles roundtrip to Japan. American charges as little as 50,000 miles.

United charges 60,000 miles roundtrip to Europe or Southern South America. American charges as little as 40,000 miles.

American is cheaper than its competitors because they both devalued their award charts in the last year. American will likely release a new award chart in 2015 when it combines its AAdvantage program with the US Airways Dividend Miles program. I expect award prices to go up somewhat in 2015, but we still have months to book at current prices for flights throughout 2015.

10% Rebate on Awards

Folks who have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® can do even better than the award prices I just quoted. One benefit of card membership is a 10% rebate on the miles used to book American Airlines awards up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

That means a 40,000 mile off peak roundtrip to Europe is only 36,000 miles net. A 67,500 mile treat in Cathay Pacific First Class is only 60,750 miles net.

A cardholder who redeems 100,000 American Airlines miles each year (very doable for most people) gets back 10,000 American Airlines miles.

The process is automatic and the rebate posts within a few weeks. Here’s a post I wrote about the benefit in 2012.

Benefits When Traveling

Free Checked Bag

Cardholders get a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines flights (everyone gets a free checked bag on international flights), and up to four companions on the same reservation get the same benefit. Since the first checked bag normally costs $25, a family of five could clean up with this benefit, saving $250 per roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 1.20.28 PM

I used this benefit this week to save $25 on a one way ticket from Atlanta to Los Angeles when I had to check a tennis bag.

Group 1 Boarding

Since all the airlines started charging for checked bags, more people are carrying on big roll-a-boards that need to go in the overhead bin. When those fill up, you have to surrender your carry on for a dreaded “gate check.” I hate to gate check my carry ons because I have to wait around for 15 extra minutes to get the bag at baggage claim and because I lose access to everything in the bag during my flight.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® gets you Group 1 boarding on American Airlines flight, so you will definitely secure overhead bin space and avoid gate checking. This came in handy for me last week to keep my big backpack on the plane and not under the seat in front of me.

Best Uses of American Airlines Miles

Here are the basics of the AAdvantage program and the award booking rules.

American Airlines miles are best used for:

  • International Premium Cabins
  • Off Peak economy awards
  • Awards that are severely under-priced on the American Airlines award chart (here are five such awards)

American Airlines miles are almost never your best option for domestic economy awards.

Why not?

If there is MileSAAver award space on the flight you want, you can book it with British Airways Avios instead, almost certainly for fewer miles.

If there is not MileSAAver award space on the flight you want (only AAnytime space), you are almost certainly better off using Arrival miles to book the ticket.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Get This Card?

Look back at the previous section. Will you use the miles for a high value use? If so, this card with its 50,000 bonus miles and other benefits is a no-brainer.

Will you use the card for a low-value use? Skip the card and get the right card for your trip goal. (Fill out my Free Credit Card Consultation form.)

What about the US Airways Integration?

American Airlines and US Airways merged in December 2013, but they have not combined their frequent flyer programs.

A few days ago, I said I expected that an announcement about the integration of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles would come imminently and the combination would occur is 2015. I still believe that.

Hopefully we’ll know soon when American Airlines and US Airways miles will be combined and whether they will be freely transferable between the programs in advance of that date.

Citi issues the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and Barclaycard issues the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, so anyone can get both, which is a good idea if you are serious about collecting American Airlines miles.

Offer Details

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

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Citi ThankYou Points, which transfer to nine airlines plus Hilton, can be freely shared among ThankYou accounts.

Right now the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card offers up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points.

  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember

If you and your travel partner have both offered this card or if you have opened the ThankYou Premier and the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, you can freely combine balances before redeeming the points for airline miles or free flights.

  • What is the one big restriction on shared points?
  • What are the two best ways to redeem ThankYou Points?

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Citi has just released a new cash back card that is the best on the market:

Citi® Double Cash Card

You earn 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back as you make payments. You should, of course, pay in full every month to avoid interest. This has the added benefit of getting your cash back more quickly.

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The 1% + 1% cash back and no annual fee immediately make the Citi® Double Cash Card the best cash back card on the market.

This card is slightly better than the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express, which offers 2% back and no annual fee, for four reasons:

  1. The Citi Double Cash is a MasterCard, and the Fidelity card is an American Express. MasterCards are more widely accepted.
  2. The Citi Double Cash’s rewards can be redeemed in increments of $25 for statement credits. You have to wait until you have $50 in rewards on the Fidelity card.
  3. The Citi Double Cash offers 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers made in the first four months. (There is a 3% fee on balance transfers.)
  4. The Fidelity card requires you to have a Fidelity account. That’s one more step.

The Citi® Double Cash Card also clearly has a chip in its promotional images. I don’t see whether it’s chip and PIN (more useful) or chip and signature, so I’ll hold off on calling this a benefit.

  • How does the Citi Double Cash Card compare to the Arrival Plus and miles earning cards?
  • Who should not get the Citi Double Cash Card?

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Yesterday I wrote that Citi ThankYou Points had added Air France Flying Blue as a 1:1 transfer partner.

That’s big news because there are some amazing high value uses for Flying Blue miles, and ThankYou Points are so easy to earn from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card with its 50,000 point sign up bonus and 3x category bonuses.

  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment

When I was researching that post though, I couldn’t find Flying Blue’s complete award chart. All I could find was an award chart for awards originating in Europe:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.56.17 PM

I took it upon myself to compile an award chart for awards departing the United States, which I believe to be the only Air France/KLM Flying Blue award chart online for awards departing the United States. I priced out awards from the continental United States to every region on the Flying Blue award chart.

  • What is the award chart?
  • Where is it cheaper than Delta’s award chart?

Here is the award chart in thousands of Flying Blue miles each way from the United States to the listed region, flying on Classic Awards. I didn’t include Premium Economy awards, which are bookable with Flying Blue miles, because the airlines on which you can book them collect fuel surcharges.

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The first thing to notice is that awards in economy are often very cheap, but awards in business class are often 2.5x the price, which makes them extremely expensive.

Here’s the same award chart with awards that are cheaper in miles than the same Delta award in red. (I compare Flying Blue to Delta since both are members of SkyTeam.)

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Some of the black numbers are the same price as Delta awards, and some are more expensive. (Also Delta awards must be booked as roundtrips until January 1, 2015, and Flying Blue awards can be booked as one ways.)

The near international awards in economy are downright cheap with Flying Blue miles.

  • 15,000 Flying Blue miles each way to Hawaii vs. 45,000 Delta miles roundtrip
  • 15,000 Flying Blue miles each way to Central America/Caribbean vs. 35,000 Delta miles roundtrip
  • 25,000 Flying Blue miles each way to Europe or Southern South America vs. 60,000 Delta miles roundtrip

There’s nothing particularly sexy about flying economy, but paying 30,000 Flying Blue miles instead of $1,000 for a roundtrip to Hawaii–and then enjoying Hawaii–is an awesome deal!

What’s your favorite deal on the award chart?

How to Get ThankYou Points

The easiest way to earn a bundle of ThankYou Points is with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

 

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

To get the full 50,000 point bonus, you do have to pay part of one annual fee of $125 (the annual fee is waived the first year, but you have to hold the card a second year.) Those 50,000 points would also transfer to Singapore Airlines and be enough for a roundtrip to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii!

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Citi ThankYou Points now transfer 1:1 to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue miles.

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This is huge news because:

  • Flying Blue Promo Awards to Europe cost only 12,500 miles each way
  • Flying Blue miles can book one way awards on Delta flights, with no fuel surcharges
  • Flying Blue miles can book award flights on any of the 20 SkyTeam member airlines, a few with no fuel surcharges
  • Flying Blue charges only 15,000 miles each way between the continental United States and Hawaii

You can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to nine airlines across all three alliances plus Hilton points. Singapore KrisFlyer miles are still my favorite transfer partner, and Flying Blue miles are now my second favorite transfer partner.

Right now the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card is offering 50,000 bonus points: 20,000 after spending $2,000 in the first three months and 30,000 more after spending $3,000 in the first three months of year two.

  • What airlines can you book with Flying Blue miles?
  • What are the best value awards with Flying Blue miles?
  • How can you book Flying Blue awards?

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Should you buy Citi ThankYou Points for 2.5 cents each?

ThankYou Points got a whole lot more valuable and more interesting last month when Citi announced that people with a Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points.

There are some amazing redemptions with Singapore miles like booking Singapore Suites, booking United flights to Central America with free one ways to Hawaii, and booking United flights to South America with free one ways to Hawaii.

  • How can you buy ThankYou Points?
  • Are they a good deal for 2.5 cents?
  • How can you get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier?

How to Buy ThankYou Points

At thankyou.com, select Ways to Earn Points from the About menu.

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One of the options will be to Buy Points.

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After signing in, you’ll be offered the chance to buy up to 5,000 points in 1,000 point increments for 2.5 cents per points.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 3.26.06 PMTo purchase more than 5,000 points, call 800-THANKYOU. You can buy up to 100,000 points per calendar year.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.37.10 PMAre ThankYou Points a good deal for 2.5 cent each?

The short answer is that there are very few awards for which you’d get good value from buying all the points for 2.5 cents each. Topping off an account with a few thousand points when you’re just short of the miles you need is more likely to be a good deal.

Let’s run through some examples.

Hilton Category 1 & 2 Redemptions

ThankYou Points transfer 1:1.5 to Hilton points. Category 1 Hiltons cost 5,000 points per night at Category 2s are 10,000 points. These hotels are adequate and great value for so few points.

Buying 10,000 ThankYou Points for $250 would transfer to 15,000 Hilton points, which is enough for three nights at a Category 1 hotel. While there are some Category 1 hotels for more than $83 per night, this would be a tiny savings if a savings at all.

You’d need to pay $500 for three nights at a Category 2 hotel, and $167 per night for those hotels is probably more than just paying the going rate online.

For more info on Category 1 & 2 Hilton stays and Category 9 & 10 too, see The Only Two Good Hilton Strategies.

Singapore Awards on United Flights

The best economy deal is a roundtrip to Central America in economy plus two one ways to Hawaii (or vice versa) for 35,000 Singapore miles + taxes + $100. Buying points for 2.5 cents each would make this award cost about $1,000 all in.

That is a probably cheaper than paid tickets, but again, not by much.

The best business class deal is a roundtrip to Southern South America in flat bed business plus two one ways to Hawaii in First Class for 80,000 Singapore miles + taxes + $100. Buying points for 2.5 cents each would make this award cost about $2,200 all in.

This is almost certainly a steep discount on the price of similar paid tickets, but it isn’t exactly cheap.

If the best deals with ThankYou Points transfer partners are, at best, marginal deals when you buy the ThankYou Points for 2.5 cents each, that rules out buying huge quantities of ThankYou Points to get cheap travel.

Buying Points to Top Off the Account

The only way to get really great value from buying ThankYou Points for 2.5 cents each is to buy very small quantities, like 1,000, when you just need a tiny top off to book a fantastic high-value award from the account of a transfer partner.

Imagine you had 79,000 Singapore miles and wanted to book roundtrip to Southern South America in flat bed business plus two one ways to Hawaii in First Class for 80,000 Singapore miles + taxes + $100. Paying $25 more to get the last 1,000 miles would be fantastic.

Getting Bonus ThankYou Points

The easiest way to earn a bundle of ThankYou Points is with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

 

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

To get the full 50,000 point bonus, you do have to pay at least part of one $125 annual fee.

Those 50,000 points would now transfer to Singapore Airlines and be enough for a roundtrip to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii!

Bottom Line

You can buy up to 100,000 ThankYou Points per year for 2.5 cents each. You probably shouldn’t buy more than a few thousand as a way to top off your account for a specific redemption if you buy any at all.

You can get 50,000 bonus points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card.

ThankYou Points transfer to seven airlines and one hotel.

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On Monday, Citi announced that ThankYou Points are now transferable to seven airlines. You can transfer Citi ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card a 1:1 ratio to:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points.

I singled out Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles as the best of the bunch on Monday for these reasons. (Give me a little time to look further into the other programs to find some sweet spots.)

I wanted to test the transfer time from ThankYou Points to Singapore miles, so folks can plan ahead for future Singapore redemptions.

My transfer took less than 36 hours to post to my Singapore Airlines account.

  • What was the process to transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles?
  • What time did I transfer the points and when did they arrive as Singapore miles?
  • How does the ThankYou Points transfer compare to Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards transfers to Singapore miles?

At 7:15 PM ET on July 21, I transferred 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,000 KrisFlyer miles at thankyou.com.

I got this confirmation screen, saying it could take up to 14 days for my miles to post in my Singapore account.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.16.04 PM

Immediately I received an email acknowledging my transfer request.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.30.58 PM

I checked regularly to see if the points posted. The miles posted some time between 5:45 PM ET on July 22 and 7:15 AM ET on July 23.

That means it took between 22 and 36 hours for the transfer to be completed. It’s possible that instead of an amount of time, the transfer happens at a time of day, which seems to be overnight on the east coast.

The transfer showed up like this in my Singapore account.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 1.26.13 AM

Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards transfers to Singapore miles also take in the neighborhood of 24-48 hours.

That lag can be annoying, but I am always willing to risk award space disappearing because:

  1. Award space does change frequently, but I haven’t missed out yet on a Singapore award because space disappeared while a miles transfer was in progress.
  2. If one award falls through, the transferred miles are hardly worthless. You can use them for your Plan B award.

Getting ThankYou Points

The easiest way to earn a bundle of ThankYou Points is with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

 

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

To get the full 50,000 point bonus, you do have to pay one annual fee of $125 (the annual fee is waived the first year, but you have to hold the card a second year.) Those 50,000 points would now transfer to Singapore Airlines and be enough for a roundtrip to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii!

Further Reading

  1. 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles in First between the continental United States and Hawaii on United flights (Get the flat bed in First!)
  2. Two free one ways to Hawaii plus a roundtrip to South America for 50,000 miles total in economy and 80,000 miles in Business/First.
  3. Two free one ways to Hawaii plus a roundtrip to Central America or two free one ways to Central America plus a roundtrip to Hawaii for 35,000 miles total in economy and 60,000 miles in Business/First.
  4. Booking Singapore Suites
  5. Citi ThankYou Points Now Transferable to Seven Airlines

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Citi ThankYou Points are now transferable to one hotel and 10 airline programs. Folks who have a Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points.

This is an incredible step forward for Citi ThankYou Points and puts them in the ranks of the big three transferable points programs.

Certainly I would like to see more and better partners added to the transfer possibilities, specifically Citi’s partner American Airlines, but this is a great start and there is value with Citi’s current transfer partners.

  • What is the best Citi ThankYou Points transfer partner?
  • How can you get ThankYou Points?
  • How can you transfer ThankYou Points?
  • What are the other ThankYou Points redemption options?

Best Transfer Partners

Singapore KrisFlyer

The best Citi ThankYou points transfer partner is Singapore KrisFlyer. Singapore was already a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Now it is even easier to get the most useful Star Alliance miles for travel in the Western Hemisphere.

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so its miles can be used to book flights on any of the 27 member airlines. Singapore miles are also the only miles that can be used to book the ultra-luxurious Singapore Suites.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.10.43 AM

Singapore Airlines collects fuel surcharges on all award flights, except those flown by United. Here are some of my favorite Singapore Airlines awards (click the links for full posts on them):

  1. Between the continental United States and Hawaii on United flights for 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles in First with no fuel surcharges. United charges 22,500 and 40,000 miles respectively for the same flights! (Get the flat bed in first!)
  2. Two free one ways to Hawaii plus a roundtrip to South America for 50,000 miles total in economy and 80,000 miles in Business/First with no fuel surcharges. United would charge a ton more miles.
  3. Two free one ways to Hawaii plus a roundtrip to Central America or two free one ways to Central America plus a roundtrip to Hawaii for 35,000 miles total in economy and 60,000 miles in Business/First with no fuel surcharges. United would charge a ton more miles.
  4. Booking Singapore Suites, one of the world’s nicest First Class products on the A380. Singapore miles are the only way to book the award, which is pricey in miles and includes a fuel surcharge, but is worth it for lovers of luxury.

Air France Flying Blue

Flying Blue miles are the key to booking Promo awards: 12,500 mile awards to anywhere in Europe or Israel. Flying Blue miles can be used to book any SkyTeam award space, and Flying Blue has a very cheap award chart to many places including Hawaii (15,000 miles one way.)

Here is my full post on the best options to book with Flying Blue miles.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic miles can book super cheap one way awards to London:

  • 17,500 miles in economy
  • 27,500 miles in Premium Economy
  • 40,000 miles in Upper Class (flat bed Business Class)

These awards have fuel surcharges, but they are so much cheaper in miles than other airlines charge that fuel surcharges may be worth paying.

Virgin Atlantic miles can also be used to book awards on partners like Delta, Virgin America, Virgin Australia, and Hawaiian. You can book a roundtrip to Buenos Aires on Delta for only 45,000 miles and no fuel surcharges!

Here is my full post on the best options to book with Virgin Atlantic miles.

How to Get ThankYou Points

The easiest way to earn a bundle of ThankYou Points is with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

 

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

To get the full 50,000 point bonus, you do have to pay part of one annual fee of $125 (the annual fee is waived the first year, but you have to hold the card a second year.) Those 50,000 points would now transfer to Singapore Airlines and be enough for a roundtrip to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii!

For better perks, check out the Citi Prestige® Card:

  • Sign Up Bonus: 30,000 ThankYou Points after $2,000 in spending
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on air travel and hotels, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Air travel fee credit:  $250 annual credit ($500 first year of cardmembership)
  • Lounge access: Admirals Clubs lounges and Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Free hotel nights: Get your 4th night free on all paid hotel stays (no blackout dates)
  • Global Entry: $100 application fee credit
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450 not waived, well worth it for some

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

How to Transfer

From thankyou.com, look for the Points Transfer on the Do More tab.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.33.25 AM

You’ll see the redemption options. I initiated a transfer to Singapore Airlines to see how the process works.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.59.25 AM

As with Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards transfers, you must send increments of 1,000. Interestingly the name on the Singapore Airlines account is already pre-set to the cardholder’s name, so it doesn’t look like you can transfer to anyone else’s account. (Of course, I can book anyone an award from my Singapore Airlines account.)

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.35.07 AM

Other Redemption Options

Before the transfer option to airlines, the best redemption option for Citi ThankYou Points was to redeem for any flight on any airline for 1.25 cents of value per point. Most flights could be booked on thankyou.com and other flights by calling 800-THANKYOU.

That option is still around, but I don’t plan on taking advantage because I know I can get far more than 1.25 cents of value from the points as Singapore miles.

For free economy flights, I’ll continue to use my Arrival miles, since the 40,000 bonus miles earned on the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® can also be used for free flights on any airline but cannot be transferred to any airlines.

There are other redemption options for ThankYou Points, like merchandise. Avoid these options like the plague for their low return on ThankYou Points.

Two Final Thoughts

1. This transferability is really nice if you ever want to close the ThankYou card.

With cards that earn bank points, those points disappear when you close the card. (Not so for cards that earn airline miles or points.)

It would have been tough to redeem your balance close to zero before closing the card with the prior redemption options. Now you can always transfer out points until your balance is under 1,000.

2. I really, really hope Citi adds American Airlines as a transfer partner.

Citi has purchased billions of American Airlines miles as part of their partnership with the co-branded American Airlines cards, so it is strange that American Airlines isn’t on the transfer list. Making it stranger: it’s not as if the only way to earn American Airlines miles from a credit card is with the co-branded American Airlines cards. American Airlines miles are a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest points, which you can get from the SPG credit cards.

Bottom Line

Citi added nine airlines as 1:1 transfer partners of ThankYou Points today. This is a huge addition to the program, but I really want to see American Airlines added also.

You can get over 50,000 ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

The best transfer partner for those ThankYou points is Singapore KrisFlyer. The Singapore Airlines program allows redemption on all 27 Star Alliance airlines including United flights with no fuel surcharges.

There are some amazing gems on the Singapore Airlines award chart, and Singapore miles are the only way to book Singapore Suites, one of the world’s nicest First Class products.

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Why are you collecting miles and points?

  • For free luxury hotel stays and first class flights?
  • To travel to more countries than you’d otherwise be able to?
  • To take a family vacation?
  • For a free trip home for the holidays?
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending?

Whatever your reason for being here, there is a rewards card that suits your needs.

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to 25 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Playing bilingual basketball games with the expats and locals in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand and Soweto, Jo’burg, South Africa
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open (tennis tournament) in Melbourne, Australia
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
  • Getting to travel with my brother in Australia and using miles to make his dream of seeing the Australian Open a reality
  • Flying a friend to Thailand to spend a week together
  • Seeing Angkor Wat
  • Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
  • Following my favorite basketball team for six games in three cities
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 2.14.12 AM
2013 Flights

How can you earn rewards for the trips of your dreams? What are the best credit card offers for June 2014?

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Expired! The current offer is identical except it doesn’t contain the $100 statement credit.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card with Two Free Nights worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months

  • o   Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • o   Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*  
  • o   Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases* 
  • o   Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases* 
  • o   Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • o   No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • o   Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card

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The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card released a limited time offer today:

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening
  • $100 statement credit after $100 or more on your first hotel stay in the Hilton HHonors Portfolio within 3 months of account opening
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember

Free Nights

The two free nights at Hiltons and Conrads worldwide are good on any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. You can use both nights together or use one at a time.

These free nights can be used at amazing $1,000-a-night, aspirational properties where I wouldn’t otherwise ever be able to afford to stay.

Last year, Hilton put its top-tier Category 9 and 10 hotels nearly out of reach with points. They now cost up to 95,000 points for one night, so these two free nights could be worth up to 190,000 points if you use them strategically.

Luckily using the free nights strategically just got a lot easier when super reader Jeremy made a spreadsheet with all the Category 9 and 10 properties in one place.

Download it for free here.

Then super reader Dave made a custom map of all the Category 9 and 10 properties worldwide to make the visualization easier.

See it for free here.

Both those resources also show Category 1 and 2 hotels for a totally different reason. More in that on my post about the two best strategies for the Hilton program.

For more info on the free nights, and the $1,000-a-night hotels see:

Free Gold Status

As long as you have the Hilton Reserve, you get automatic Hilton Gold status, which earns a 25% points bonus on Hilton stays plus free breakfast and free internet.

On your two free nights and future paid stays, these perks will save you quite a bit of money.

$100 Statement Credit

The limited time offer includes a $100 statement credit after $100 or more charge to the card during a Hilton stay in the first 90 days.

That’s in addition to the 10x points per dollar you already earn at Hilton properties.

This is $100 free if you have a Hilton stay planned. If you don’t, it makes a Hilton stay potentially worth it, since you’ll get $100 off.

Bottom Line

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card was already the best card out there for luxury hotel stays.

You have always gotten two free nights at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months, some of which are $1,000-per-night or 95,000-points-per-night properties.

You have always gotten Hilton Gold Status to enjoy stays more with free internet and breakfast.

Now, for a limited time, you get a $100 statement credit after making a $100+ charge at a Hilton within 90 days of getting the card.

  • Earn a $100 statement credit after spending $100 or more on your first hotel stay in the Hilton HHonors Portfolio within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card

There is a $95 annual fee that is not waived.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

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4 137

Why are you collecting miles and points?

  • For free luxury hotel stays and first class flights?
  • To travel to more countries than you’d otherwise be able to?
  • To take a family vacation?
  • For a free trip home for the holidays?
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending?

Whatever your reason for being here, there is a rewards card that suits your needs.

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to 25 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Playing bilingual basketball games with the expats and locals in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand and Soweto, Jo’burg, South Africa
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open (tennis tournament) in Melbourne, Australia
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
  • Getting to travel with my brother in Australia and using miles to make his dream of seeing the Australian Open a reality
  • Flying a friend to Thailand to spend a week together
  • Seeing Angkor Wat
  • Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
  • Following my favorite basketball team for six games across seven countries
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 2.14.12 AM
2013 Flights

How can you earn rewards for the trips of your dreams? What are the best credit card offers for May 2014?

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Update 4/18/14: The current offer on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card is 40,000 Hilton Points after spending $1k in the first three months.

  • Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton Portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No annual fee.*

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

A lot of people will love the benefits and sign up bonus on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card.

The card comes with automatic Hilton Silver status, which earns a 15% points bonus on Hilton stays, late checkout, and free access to fitness centers. Better yet, if you complete four Hilton stays in the first 90 days of card membership, you get bumped up to Hilton Gold status, which earns a 25% points bonus on Hilton stays and free internet in addition to the benefits of Silver.

The 40k bonus points are enough for 8 free nights in a Category 1 Hiltons and 4 free nights in Category 2 Hiltons. I stayed at an awesome DoubleTree in Kuala Lumpur that was a Category 2 Hilton.

The last big benefit of the card is that it has no annual fee. Very few rewards cards with no annual fee offer so much.

But many people will be better off getting the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card with Two Free Weekend Nights worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months.

Comparison of Hilton Reserve and Hilton Cards

Sign Up Bonus

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card comes with two free weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night) at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in four months on the card. There are some incredible (and incredibly expensive) Hilton properties at which this benefit could approach $2,000 in retail value.

Check out this post looking at the best properties.

Hilton’s award chart charges up to 95,000 points for a single night in a category 10 hotel, so two free nights could be worth up to 190k points.

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card has a sign up bonus of 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in four months on the card.

Forty thousand points won’t get you two (or even one) night at a top tier Hilton. But it will get you 5-10 nights at the bottom categories, which have some gems.

The “regular” Hilton card also has a much small spending requirement.

Advantage: Depends on whether you want more nights or fancier nights and how much of a spending requirement you can meet.

Perks

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card comes with Gold Status.

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card comes with Silver Status and the chance to earn Gold Status with four paid Hilton stays in the first 90 days.

Advantage: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Spending

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card:

  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.*

Advantage: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Annual Fee

The Hilton Reserve has a $95 annual fee, and the “regular” Hilton card has no annual fee.

Advantage: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

Full Offer

The “regular” card is ideal for folks who want a no-annual-fee card that rewards their loyalty to Hilton.

  • Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton Portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No annual fee.*

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card————————————————————————————————————

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In February, I opened several credit cards. I am writing posts explaining my logic for opening each one. See previously “Why I Got the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard” and “Why I Got the American Express SimplyCash Card.”

I got the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card because of its sign up bonus…

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember

…and category bonuses:

  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for airfare and hotels
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card is one of the top bank point earning cards. The 50k point sign up bonus is worth $625 in free flights on any flight, any time, on any airline with no blackout dates.

 

And when you fly those $625 in free flights, you will earn miles as if you were flying tickets you had paid for! So getting this card earns points, which lead to free travel, which leads to earning miles, which leads to free travel. The technical term for this is “a virtuous cycle.” :)

Why did I get the Citi ThankYou Premier card? Who would benefit most from this card? How does the sign up bonus work? What are my experiences with the card?

Sign Up Bonus

The sign up bonus is broken into two parts, presumably to get you into the habit of using the card over a long time period.

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember

For people who need the rewards right away, the split sign up bonus is a drawback. For me, the split sign up bonus was actually a nice feature. Only having to spend $2,000 in the first three months to get the first tranche of the sign up bonus has been helpful for me because I also opened several other cards, and I don’t actually spend a ton of money per month.

Furthermore the total sign up bonus on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card is now the best on the market for free domestic travel, edging out the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, which has a sign up bonus worth $456.

Category Bonuses

In addition to the sign up bonus, the card has killer category bonuses:

  • 3x ThankYou points on dining out and entertainment (including sports promoters, theatrical promoters, movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions and museums, record stores, and video rental stores)
  • 2x ThankYou points on airfare and hotels
  • 1x ThankYou points on all other purchases

The 3x points on entertainment is unmatched by any other card. As far as I know, all the sub-categories considered entertainment by Citi are 1x categories on all other cards. Since the top 1x card is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and I value 1 Starpoint less than 3.75 cents–the value of 3 ThankYou points–the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card is the clear best choice for entertainment.

The 3x on dining is a great category for me, since I eat out a lot and recently cancelled my Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2x Ultimate Rewards on dining, which I value at 4 cents. If you have a Sapphire Preferred and ThankYou Premier, you should dine with the Sapphire Preferred if you are collecting points for international premium travel and ThankYou Premier if you are collecting points for domestic economy.

The 2x points on airfare and hotel are a nice feature, but not one I’ll take advantage of. I’d rather get 3x Membership Rewards on airfare on my American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and 2x Ultimate Rewards on my hotel stays with my Ink Bold.

Expiration and Limit

There is no limit to how many ThankYou points you can earn.

The points never expire as long as you have the account open. If you plan to close your account, use the points first. (This expiration policy is common among cards that earn bank points. The expiration policy of airline miles earned from credit cards is totally different. See The Complete Guide to Miles and Points Expiration for more info.)

I’ll have this account open at least 24 months and possibly longer, so I know I have plenty of time to redeem for my free flights.

Redemption

You can use your ThankYou points to book any flight, on any airline, in any cabin for anybody as long as a seat is for sale. (Open jaws are OK. One ways are OK. Roundtrips are OK. Etc. Etc.)

Most flights are available at thankyou.com. If the flight is not available, you can call 800-THANKYOU from 8 AM to 1 AM ET Monday through Friday and 9 AM to 9 PM on weekends.

The only restriction I see is that you have to book at least 24 hours before travel.

You get 1.25 cents per point in value on all flight redemptions, and the price of the ticket on thankyou.com should approximately match the price you find on kayak.com or the airline’s website.

The airline will see your flight as a paid flight because Citi is buying you a cash ticket for your ThankYou point award redemption. That means that you can input your frequent flyer number and earn miles for the flights as usual including any bonus miles you get for having status!

For instance, a recent paid flight of mine was a $129 one way flight from Chicago to Los Angeles on United, with which I had Silver status. Instead of paying cash, I could have booked the flight with just over 10k ThankYou points, and I would have still earned 2,181 miles for flying it, including my 25% status bonus.

Most of my Citi ThankYou redemptions will probably be on similar flights. I’ll use the points when traditional miles are a poor value like on most domestic economy flights, including Hawaii interisland, and on low-cost carriers in Asia and Europe.

You can also redeem ThankYou points at a value of 1 cent per point for gift cards to a huge variety of stores, restaurants, and gas stations. I would only do this if I were closing the account and had some leftover points that I hadn’t spent on flights where you get 1.25 cents per point.

Who is this card best for?

This card–like all fixed-value bank point cards–is best for people who fly economy class flights at least some of the time.

If you find a $200 roundtrip from your home airport to Orlando, Florida, you can book it with 16,000 ThankYou points and earn airlines miles for flying the segments. That’s a great deal compared to traditional airline miles, since the same roundtrip would cost 25k American, United, or Delta miles–if they even released Saver award space on the flights–plus taxes and you wouldn’t earn any miles.

Some of the cheapest international fares, like $750 to Europe or Asia would also be far better deals with ThankYou points than traditional miles.

I tend to fly international first and business class on longhauls, but economy on short hauls. International first and business class maximize my traditional airline miles, and using ThankYou points for domestic economy will maximize my ThankYou points.

Who is this card totally wrong for?

Please, please, please do not come to my Award Booking Service with 200k ThankYou points and ask me to book you a roundtrip First Class ticket to Southeast Asia.

First Class tickets cost up to $10,000, and a $10,000 ticket would cost 800,000 ThankYou points.

International premium cabin tickets are best obtained with traditional airline miles. American Airlines would let you fly Cathay Pacific First Class for only 135,000 miles plus taxes and fees.

My Experience with the Citi ThankYou Premier

Since getting the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, I’ve been working on spending $2,000 on the card by next month to earn 20,000 bonus ThankYou points.

Most of my spending on the card so far has been at restaurants and bars, which has earned me 3x points per dollar on most purchases. Once I meet the minimum spending requirement, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card will still be my go-to card for dining and entertainment.

If I spend $5,000 on the card this year and next year at restaurants, that’s 15k ThankYou points plus 50,000 bonus ThankYou points for 65,000 ThankYou points total. That would be enough points for over $800 in free flights.

Bottom Line

Citi is finally providing competition to the existing king of flexible cards that earn points that can be used on any flight: the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, with its 50k point sign up bonus, is a great card for anyone who wants $625 in free flights to go on vacation, visit family, or save money in case of emergency.

I myself have been know to enjoy free travel, so I got this card in February.  ;)

Offer details:

Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

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