Citi

Updated 9/21/16 with consideration of Citi’s new sign up bonus rule

If you’re just getting into the miles hobby or coming back after a break, it’s important to realize that there is an order in which to apply for credit cards that can help you maximize your award earning potential. Applying at random not only slows your award earning efficiency but can also result in unnecessary denials (and wastes of hard credit inquiries that affect your credit score), thanks to bank rules and sign-up bonus conditions.

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Where I’ve been through May 2016. You can do it too if you collect awards wisely!

There are numerous institutions that issue travel credit cards, but I’m going to talk about five them, as they issue the majority of cards that are worth signing up for:

  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • American Express
  • Barclaycard
  • Bank of America

This is the order I suggest applying for credit cards in:

  1. Look at all the cards offered by Chase, and pick up to five that you want.
  2. If there are five that interest you, get them all.
  3. If there are less than five Chase cards you want (we’ll call the number of Chase cards you want “X”), apply for 5-X Citi cards that interest you, and then X Chase cards.
  4. Over the course of time, apply for other Citi cards, Barclaycards, and Bank of America cards. At the same time, keep an eye out for the highest sign-up bonuses available from American Express cards and apply for them when you see them.
  5. Consider stopping or slowing down for 24+ months in order to re-up on Chase cards at some point.

The Best Order for Card Applications Step-by-Step

1. Look at all the cards offered by Chase, and pick up to five that you want. 

Chase has some of the best travel cards out there with incredible sign-up offers. If you have gotten any five credit cards total from any banks within the last 24 months, all Chase cards will be off limits to you– this is called the Chase 5/24 Rule.

The rule previously only applied to Chase branded cards specifically (like the Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Slate) but now it also applies to their co-branded and business cards (United Explorer, British Airways, Ink Plus).

2. If there are five Chase cards that interest you, get them all.

You can be approved for multiple Chase cards on the same day. I know people who have been approved for two personal and one business card from Chase on their first-ever credit card applications.

3. If there are less than five Chase cards you want (we’ll call the number of Chase cards you want “X”), apply for 5-X Citi cards that interest you, and then apply for X Chase cards. 

You are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus on a Citi card if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand/co-brand) within the last 24 months. By applying for the Citi cards you want first (ONLY if you want less than five Chase cards) you will start that 24 month clock sooner, therefore allowing you to get these Citi cards for a second time more quickly than you otherwise could. I would pick the ones you most want to repeat (or ones within the same co-brand of another card you want) with the highest sign-up bonuses. And make sure to pick the most valuable sign up bonus within a Citi card’s brand/co-brand since you won’t be able to get another Citi card within that co-brand for at least 24 months.

Confused about what I mean by brand/co-brand? Let’s say you opened a Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card seven months ago. That means for the next 17 months (a full 24 months after you opened it) you are not eligible for the sign up bonus from the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, the other Hilton co-branded card issued by Citi. If you close that Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, the 24 month clock will start over again and you won’t be eligible for any other Citi Hilton cards for 24 months past the date you closed it.

Citi’s behavior regarding application timing is as follows: You can be approved for no more than one card in a week or two Citi cards in a 65-day period. If you want three Citi cards, get them on Days 1, 9, and 66. This is the timeline that has worked best for other people.

Say you want two Citi and three Chase cards, get one Citi and three Chase cards on Day 1 and one Citi card on Day 9.

4. Over the course of time, apply for other Citi cards, Barclaycards, and Bank of America cards. At the same time, keep an eye out for the highest sign-up bonuses available for American Express cards and apply for them when you see them.

Here are American Express’ rules to consider:

  • You can only get the bonus on a American Express personal card or business card once per lifetime (with the exception of a possible targeted offer). This is why you should choose which offer you sign up with carefully. The American Express Platinum personal card and American Express Platinum Card Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz are separate cards, so you can get the bonus on each.
  • You are limited to holding four American Express credit cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit (Amex Gold, Everyday, Delta, and SPG are credit cards.)
  • Separately, you are limited to holding four American Express charge cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. (Amex Platinum is a charge card).

Here are Barclaycard’s rules and other tips to consider:

  • Applicants with zero Barclaycards may be able to get several at once.
  • Applicants who have a Barclaycard will not be approved for another for at least six months since the last Barclaycard application.
  • Barclaycard will deny people for having too many Barclaycards, not enough spending on existing Barclaycards, too much credit with Barclaycard, or too many accounts with other banks.

Here are Bank of America’s rules and other tips to consider:

  • As for the Alaska Airlines personal and business cards (the only Bank of America cards worth getting), you can get as many as you’d like at one time.
  • I usually get one of each every 91 days, but people have gotten multiple at once or waited less time between applications.

Putting these rules together, it is important to snipe Amex offers. You should always be on the lookout for very short term offers with huge bonuses like the 100,000 point offer on the Amex Platinum that lasted just hours. When these bonuses appear, jump on them. When Amex cards have their “normal” bonuses, skip them in favor of normal or elevated bonuses from Bank of America and Barclaycard.

5. Consider stopping or slowing down for 24+ months in order to re-up on Chase cards at some point.

Remember that pesky Chase 5/24 Rule? If you stop collecting cards for a 24 month period, then it stops applying to you. However there is another Chase rule that comes into play here if you want to open a repeat Chase card: You can only get the bonus on the same Chase card once every 24 months, and this 24-month clock starts when you received the last bonus (which may be several months after you opened the account). So the actual waiting period before you can get a repeat sign-up bonus is 24 months plus the amount of time it took you get the bonus the previous time.

Whether you should stop getting new cards to reset your Chase clock is just a math problem. How many points in future sign up bonuses will stopping unlock for you (and how much are they worth?) versus how many are you giving up during your hiatus (and how much are they worth?)

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Which Travel Credit Cards are the Best Right Now?

Listed below are the top three cards out of my top 10 choices for travel credit cards at the moment. Note that I update this post monthly, so these are my top three choices as of September 2016.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve

I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best credit card offer ever.

It offers an astounding 100,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

 

You get a $300 travel credit each calendar year, which can be applied twice within the first year of card membership for a total of $600 in travel credit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve holders also get a free Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you access to over 900 lounges around the world, and free unlimited guest access to those lounges for anyone you’re traveling with.

The Sapphire Reserve offers 3x Ultimate Rewards on travel and restaurants. Travel and restaurants are broad categories and include flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, tolls, parking, Uber, taxis, restaurants, bars, fast food, and night clubs.

The $450 annual fee is not waived, but you can see how the benefits more than make up for it.

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Ink Plus

The Ink Plus by Chase is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

For the reasons presented in this post, this is one of the first three cards I recommend you get if you can get a business card.

The Ink Plus earns 5x points on internet, phone, and cell phone bills; 5x points on purchases at office supply stores; 2x points on hotels and gas; and 1x points on everything else.

The $95 annual fee is not waived.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

For the reasons presented in this post, this is one of the first two cards I recommend everyone get.

You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 55k bonus point card. (Adding an authorized user does not prevent that person from getting the card at the same time or in the future as a primary account holder and getting the full sign up bonus.)

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

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Resources for Beginners

Bottom Line

Choose the order in which you apply for travel credit cards carefully as it makes a serious impact on your award earning potential over the course of a lifetime. Apply for five Chase cards if there are five that interest you. If you want less than five Chase cards, apply for Citi cards first, but not so many that it would put you over a total of five cards when counting your desired Chase cards. Then move on to collecting other Citi, Barclaycard, Bank of America, and American Express cards, remembering to cherry pick the highest sign-bonuses for Citi and American Express cards.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Reader Steve H wrote to MileValue recently, expressing interest in sharing his personal experience utilizing the Trip Delay Protection benefit of one of his Citi cards. It helped him save money, and he wants to help you save too. 

Take it away, Steve!

The Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi ThankYou Premier card includes up to $500 of coverage for expenses like lodging, ground transportation, meals, and personal necessities when your trip is delayed.

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When You Qualify for Trip Delay Protection

Depending on the specific card this coverage can kick in anywhere from 3 hours (Citi Prestige® Card) to 12 hours (Citi ThankYou Premier) of delay.  As long as a portion of the delayed service is purchased on your applicable Citi card you have coverage for you and your traveling companions.  Service is limited to a common carrier which is any licensed public transport vehicle– so planes, trains, cruise ships, etc.

You will need receipts for everything so be sure to keep every piece of paper from the delay and anything you purchase.  You will also need proof of the delay, which you should be able to request from the carrier.  For airlines this is commonly called a Flight Certificate and confirms that you were a passenger and the scheduled and delayed times of departure.  As with many insurance claims this is not meant to be the easiest process and requires some diligence and a lot of paperwork, but can be a nice form of compensation when you are delayed.

Filing a Claim

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To file a claim call Citi at 866-506-5222 or download the claim form under card benefits.  In order to have the best chance of getting the claim approved, and the most money back, provide as much backup as possible and label each item.  You will need copies of the statement showing the charge from the carrier, your itinerary, receipts for expenses occurred, and if possible proof of delay, the carriers claim report, and benefits from any other insurance that you received. After submitting everything it will take a month or two for them to process the claim and contact you but there isn’t any other action needed on your part.

You have 180 days after the time of the incident to file the claim.

Personal Experience

Steve in the Phillipines
Steve in the Phillipines

In May I was flying from Hong Kong through Manila to Tagbilaran, Philippines. My Cathay Pacific flight from HKG to MNL was delayed 90 minutes due to a crew issue which caused me to miss my next flight on Air Asia to Tagbilaran.  Since my next flight was on a separate carrier Cathay couldn’t do anything for me and as far as Air Asia was concerned it was my issue since I missed the flight which left on time.  Unfortunately both Air Asia and Philippine Airlines remaining flights were both fully booked so I had to book a ticket for the next day which meant overnighting in Manila.

Tagbilaran, Philippines
Tagbilaran, Philippines

Upon returning home I filed a trip delay claim with Citi since my Cathay flight had been booked with one of my Citi cards that had the trip delay protection.  I had to wait about a month as the Flight Certificate takes about three weeks from the time you request it on Cathay’s website, but you have 180 days to file the Citi Trip Delay Request so this is not a problem.

With my request I included my statement showing the charge for the delayed flight, my itinerary on Cathay, my itinerary on Air Asia, the Cathay Flight Certificate showing the delay, receipt for my hotel in Manila, and my receipt for the rebooked flight.  After about a month a got a call from Citi asking if I had receipts for the taxi charges or the meals which unfortunately I did not, I had included them on the claim form, but I didn’t have receipts for any of those charges.  Without receipts they couldn’t process any reimbursement and the flight isn’t eligible for reimbursement, but they would process a benefit for the cost of my hotel.  After another week the credit showed up on my statement for the full amount of the hotel.  The process was paper intensive but easy as long as you kept good records.

I also wrote polite emails to Cathay and Air Asia explaining what had happened and asked if anything could be done in the form of compensation.  Cathay’s service was amazing and responded in less than 48 hours with an apology and an offer of $150 credit. Unfortunately the credit can only be used in person which is difficult unless you live in Hong Kong so I asked for an alternative and they credited my Air Asia account with 15,000 miles as a courtesy.  Cathay may not be the cheapest airline out there but every time I have interacted with them the service is excellent.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Bottom Line

The Trip Delay benefit can really come in handy in the case that something in your travel plans goes awry.  With the Prestige card this can kick in after only 3 hours which is well within the window of delays that Southwest and Delta have experienced recently.  In the future I will certainly take this benefit into consideration when booking flights and I will be sure to keep every piece of paper until I return home as it might be applicable for reimbursement.

A note from Sarah Page: Thank you so much, Steve, for sharing your valuable experience with us. I have both the Prestige and Premier, so I will definitely keep these tips in mind:

  • keep all receipts when you experience delays
  • book tickets, especially those with more room for error, on your Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou Premier (which I would do anyways thanks to the 3x category bonus on travel purchases)
  • don’t be afraid to ask for compensation directly from the airline 
Application Quick Links (thanks for your support!):

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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11

As you might already know, the wording of the terms and conditions for Citi credit card sign up offers has changed and now you are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand or co-brand) within the last 24 months.

This is significantly different from the prior rule which only restricted you to earning a sign up bonus on a card 24 months after you opened or closed the same card.

In light of this new rule, I thought it would be helpful to know what kind of retention bonuses Citi customers are being offered, since you might not want to close a card you already have if doing so would render you ineligible for the sign up bonus on a card in that same family.

Wait… What’s a Retention Bonus?

Retention bonuses are basically benefits (often times extra miles triggered by more spending or a statement credit that somewhat or totally covers the annual fee) that reward a cardholder for remaining a customer.

They are not automatically offered by most Citi cards, but are still possible to get if you call and speak with a Citi representative. All it takes is a little of knowledge of what they want (or don’t want) to hear. Worst case, you’re right where you started, and best case you get statement credits and/or extra miles.

How to Extract a Retention Bonus

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When?

Call the number on the back of your card for a retention bonus 11 months after you get card. That’s the month before the annual fee is due, so your threat to cancel the card because the annual fee is coming up is the most credible.

What to say

Tell the first agent that you want to cancel the card. You will be transferred to a retention specialist who gets paid to stop you from canceling the card.

Transferred!

Tell the retention specialist you want to cancel the card because of its annual fee or because you want a card that earns more miles. This will provoke a retention offer.

If you get one related to a statement credit to offset the annual fee, ask if there is one to earn more miles. Or vice versa until you think they’ve offered you all the retention bonuses that they’re authorized to offer. The offers listed in the next section below are what your contemporaries are getting when they call in, so use that as a guide to work up to.

**In case you weren’t aware**

Here is a helpful tip from Flyertalk

“Be aware that Retention Specialists are compensated based on the number/percent of card holders they can retain and to some extent based on the offers they use. These are people with jobs who can be helpful but have little discretion in what is available although some discretion in which offers they tell you about. Unless the Retention Specialist is being a complete &#*@%, you should probably accept an offer and then close via SM so that you don’t ding the rep for something over which they have little control.”

SM is shorthand for secure messaging, which you can access online through your Citi account.

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Card Families and Common Retention Offers For Each Card

FlyerTalk is an online forum where travelers discuss miles, frequent flier programs, and every other possible aspect of travel and loyalty programs. Here is the FlyerTalk thread where people post their retention bonuses for Citi cards.

Take into account that every persons situation is going to be handled somewhat differently by the retention specialist, depending on your history with Citi and how valued of a customer you are. That being said, the offers below should give you an idea of what to aim for.

Citi American Airlines cards:

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  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: $100 statement credit + 5k bonus  miles for $1,500 spend for three months.
    • Recent common offers: $250 credit for spending anywhere from $3k to $5k a month for 3 months; $100 credit for spending $1500 a month for 3 months.
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage®Platinum ® World MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: $95 statement credit after spending $95
    • Recent common offers: 1k bonus for $1k in spending each month for 16 months; 10k bonus miles for spend $5k within 6 months
    • Personal data point: a few months ago, I was offered a $95 statement credit after spending $1,000 within 3 months.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: $95 statement credit for spending $95 within 30 days.
    • Recent common offers: $95 statement credit for spending $95 within 30 days; 7.5k bonus miles after spending $1k within 3 months
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: 3k bonus miles for spending $500
    • Recent common offers: Within the last year there haven’t been many data points, prior to that some people were offered $50 to $100 statement credits for small spending requirements (under $100)

Citi ThankYou Points cards:

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  • Citi Prestige® Card
    • Most recent data point: Was given three offers- $200 statement credit for spending $4k per month for 3 months; 1 additional point per dollar on all purchases for 6 months up to 50k points, or 4 additional points per dollar for travel purchases for 6 months up to 35k points
    • Recent common offer: $200 statement credit for spending $4k per month for 3 months
  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
    • Most recent data point: Was given four offers- $95 statement credit and 1k points after $1k spend each month for 3 months; 10k points after $3k spend over 6 months; 7,500 points after $1k spend over 3 months; 2 bonus points per dollar of spend up to 34k bonus points
    • Recent common offer: $95 statement credit and 1k points after $1k spend each month for 3 months
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
    • Most recent data point: Was given two offers – 2x bonus points on all purchases up to 35k bonus points or 15k points on $4.5k spend
    • Recent common offer: there are only three data points for retention bonuses received since March 2015.

Citi Hilton cards:

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  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
    • This card has no annual fee, so you might as well keep it open.
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
    • As an already included retention bonus (i.e. you don’t need to call in negotiate for it), the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card offers an additional free weekend night certificate after spending $10k within a cardmember year. Read more about this little known benefit of the Hilton Reserve that could makes continued use of the card worthwhile.
    • On top of the automatic bonus, the most common offer is 5k points for spending $1,500 within 3 months. Although that might not be likely anymore, as the last two data points report being offered nothing at all.

Bottom Line

Prior advice was to keep the card open if the retention bonus you are offered is worth more than the annual fee (and if you have enough spending power, if not then rebate percentage came into play).

But now that closing a card re-starts the 24 month clock for Citi’s new sign up bonus eligibility rule, you may want to consider keeping your card open if it’s in the same card family as another Citi card you want– even if the retention bonus doesn’t negate the annual fee. It depends on how much you value the sign up bonus of the new card.

If you decide to cancel, you don’t really have to cancel. Downgrading to a different no annual fee card is an option as well to avoid annual fees and retain the age of your account for your credit score. I don’t think downgrading will make any difference in regards to the Citi sign up bonus eligibility rule (it should still restart the 24 month clock). If anyone has any data points to the contrary please let us know.

Have any of you gotten a retention bonus for a Citi card lately? If so, help other MileValue readers by sharing your experiences in the comments.

Application Quick Links (thanks for your support!):

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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All these offers have expired. For the current top offers, click here.

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Today (Wednesday August 31) is the last day to get 75,000 bonus points with the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, 60,000 bonus miles with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, and American Airlines lounge access through 7/23/17 with the Citi Prestige® Card.

  • What’s changing with each offer?
  • Which one should you get?
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card Quick Facts
  • Sign Up Bonus: 75,000 Hilton HHonors Points after $2,000 in spending in the first three months
  • Normal Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 Bonus Points
  • Category Bonuses: 6x at Hilton hotels; 3x at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations, 2x on all other purchases
  • Spending Bonus: Any year in which you spend $1,000 at Hilton hotels, you will get 10,000 more Hilton points
  • Value of Hilton Points: Free nights are available for 5,000 to 95,000 points, depending on the hotel’s category. I focus on the 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 point hotels.
  • Perks: Free Hilton Silver Status, and Gold Status if you make four paid Hilton stays in 90 days
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology, 3% foreign transaction fee (do not use the card abroad!)
  • Annual Fee: None

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

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Quick Facts
  • Sign Up Bonus: 60,000 American Airlines miles after $5,000 in spending in the first three months
  • Normal Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 miles
  • Admirals Club Membership: Full access to 90+ affiliated clubs and free guest access for two people each time you go. Plus authorized users get their own lounge access and free guests.
  • Enhanced Airport Experience: Enjoy free checked bag, priority check-in, airport screening, and early boarding when flying American Airlines
  • $100 Statement Credit: Receive one statement credit per account, every five years up to $100, for either the Global Entry or the TSA Pre✓® application fee.
  • Category Bonuses: 2x on American Airlines purchases
  • Value of American Airlines miles: Depends on the redemption, on the new American Airlines award chart, I expect to get 1.5 cents of value per mile
  • Elite Qualifying Miles: Get 10,000 elite qualifying miles each year you spend $40,000 on January to December statements
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Citi Prestige® Card Quick Facts
  • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou Points after $4,000 in spending
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on air travel and hotels, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Air Travel Credit:  $250 statement credit per calendar year ($500 during first year of cardmembership)
  • Global Entry: $100 application fee credit
  • Lounge access if you get card by 8/31: Priority Pass lounges worldwide for you and two guests, American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access for you and two guests on days you fly American Airlines through 7/23/17
  • Lounge access if you get card 9/1 or later: Priority Pass lounges worldwide for you and two guests
  • Free hotel nights: Get your 4th night free on all paid hotel stays (no blackout dates)
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Which Card Is Most Urgent to Get

All three of these offers are from Citi, and conventional wisdom is that you can only get one Citi card in a day, so which one is most urgent to get?

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card’s standard offer is 40,000 bonus points. It’s increased offer is often only 50,000 points, so this is 50% better than its good offer. You can use the 75,000 bonus points plus the points you earn from meeting the minimum spending requirement for 20 free nights at Hiltons worldwide.

That’s an insane haul for a card with only a $2,000 minimum spending requirement and no annual fee.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s standard offer is 50,000 bonus miles, so the 60,000 bonus miles is about $150 better at my valuation of 1.5 cents per American Airlines mile.

This sign up bonus is big enough for a roundtrip to Asia, Europe, or South America, and the card comes with full Admirals Club membership, worth $500 in the first year.

The Citi Prestige® Card loses a benefit that’s harder to quantify. If you get the card today, you get 10.5 months of Admirals Club access for yourself every time you fly American Airlines. Plus when you go in, you can bring in any two guests or your spouse and all your kids under 18. For some people, that lounge access is worth about the $500-per-year sticker price. For others, who would use it only once or twice, it’s worth under $100.

I’d rank the urgency of the expiring offers this way:

  1. Hilton card dropping from 75k to 40k
  2. AA Executive card dropping from 60k to 50k
  3. Prestige losing AA lounge access

If you use Hilton points wisely, 40k Hilton points is 10 free nights and 80k is 20 free nights. What are those 10 extra hotel nights worth to you?

For some people, though, the order could be exactly reversed. If you really value American Airlines lounge access, you should probably get the Prestige today. In about a year, when you lose American Airlines lounge access with the Prestige, you can always get the American Airlines Executive card to maintain lounge access.

As with many things in the miles world, there is no general right answer, only a right answer for you. I can say that more MileValue readers have gotten the 75,000 point Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card offer this week than the other two expiring offers.

Which card are you getting today?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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The Hilton 75k offer has expired. For the current top offers, click here.

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Hotel cards offer a variety of perks like free night, hotel points (that can be used for free nights), hotel status, and increasingly other benefits like statement credits.

There are tons of hotel cards out there, but I think you can focus on these five cards first.

#1 Chase Sapphire Reserve

While not strictly a hotel card, this is still the clear #1 hotel card because the 100,000 bonus points can transfer to 100,000 Hyatt points, which are worth 3-20 free nights in Hyatts depending on category or 2-12 nights in suites.

Plus the $600 in travel credits you can get in the first 12 months of having the card can be used to offset another $600 in hotel stays.

  • Sign Up Bonus: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in spending in the first three months, can transfer to four types of hotel points
  • Statement Credits: First $300 in travel purchases each calendar year are offset; $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck Credit
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on travel and restaurants
  • Value of Ultimate Rewards: Worth 1.5 cents toward the cash booking of any hotel OR can be transferred to seven airlines and four hotels for higher value
  • Lounge Access: Priority Pass Select Membership means free access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Eligibility: Chase 5/24 Rule
  • Full MileValue Analysis of Chase Sapphire Reserve

Apply: Chase Sapphire Reserve

#2 Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

This is another card with a mega annual fee and mega benefits. (Don’t worry cards #3-#4 have low annual fees, and #5 has no annual fee.)

The Ritz-Carlton offers three free nights at Tier 1-4 properties after spending $5,000. There are only five tiers, so you can stay in some very fancy hotels that go for $500+ per night.

Adding an authorized user and meeting the minimum spending requirement gets you at least halfway to another free night.

The statement credits are not nearly as valuable as those offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

  • Sign Up Bonus: Three free nights at Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carltons after $5,000 in spending in the first three months
  • Authorized User Bonus: Get 10,000 bonus points for adding one when signing up for the card
  • Statement Credits: First $300 in spending on “airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice; airline seat upgrades; airline baggage fees; in-flight Internet/entertainment; in-flight meals” are offset each calendar year; $100 Global Entry Credit
  • Category Bonuses: 5x at Ritz-Carlton; 2x on airlines, car rentals, and restaurants
  • Value of Ritz-Carlton Points: Need 30k to 70k for a free night
  • Lounge Access: Priority Pass Select Membership means free access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide
  • Discounted Flights: $100 discount on domestic flight bookings for 2+ passengers
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • EligibilityChase 5/24 Rule

Apply: Ritz-Carlton Card

#3 Starwood Preferred Guest Card

This has a sign up bonus more valuable than other hotel cards, but I’d still hold off for the once or twice per year increase of the bonus to 30,000 or 35,000 Starpoints, since American Express only lets you get one bonus per product. That means if you get a 25,000 point bonus now, you can never get the bonus again, even if it increases to 30,000 or 35,000 points.

Apply: SPG Card

#4 Hilton Reserve

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is the best card for giving you free luxury hotel nights. The card comes with two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months. The free nights are best spent at top-tier Hiltons and Conrads that can go for $1,000 or more per night.

This card is perfect to get aspirational stays at top tier properties like the Conrad Koh Samui that goes for 95,000 Hilton points per night and costs more than $1k per night.

The card also comes with Hilton Gold Status, so you can enjoy free internet and breakfast on those free stays.

The card earns 10x points on Hilton stays, 5x on airlines and car rentals, and 3x on all other purchases.

There card has no foreign transaction fee. The annual fee is $95.

  • Sign Up Bonus: Two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide after $2,500 in spending in the first four months
  • Annual Spending Bonus: One free weekend night any calendar year you spend $10,000
  • Category Bonuses: 10x at Hiltons, 5x at airlines and car rental agencies, 3x on everyday spending
  • Value of Hilton Points: Worth 0.4 cents to me. Should be used at Category 1-3 Hiltons for free nights from 5,000 to 20,000 points per night instead of Category 10 Hiltons which cost 95,000 points per night
  • Automatic Status: Hilton Gold Status as long as you hold the card
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Eligibility: You can get the bonus again as long as your last Citi Hilton has been closed for 24 months.
  • Where to use free night certificates

Apply: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

#5 75,000 Point Hilton No Annual Fee Card (Expires Wed)

Until Wednesday August 31, 2016, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card comes with 75,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, automatic Hilton Silver status, and no annual fee.

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This is a huge sign up bonus for a card with no annual fee.

The card offers 6x points at Hilton hotels; 3x at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations; and 2x on all other purchases. Plus any year you spend $1,000 at Hiltons, you get 10,000 bonus points.

Free night awards start at 5,000 points per night and because the card gives you free Silver status, cardholders get the fifth night free on all awards.

Spending $2,500 on the card (of which at least $2,000 is in the first three months) will give you 80,000 Hilton points, enough for 4 five-night stays at Category 1 hotels, 20 total nights!

  • Sign Up Bonus: 75,000 Bonus Hilton Points after spending $2,000 in the first three months
  • Spending Bonus: Any year you spend $1,000 at Hiltons, you get 10,000 bonus points
  • Category Bonuses: 6x at Hiltons; 3x at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations; 2x on everyday spending
  • Value of Hilton Points: Worth 0.4 cents to me, but you can get a lot more value. Should be used for five night stays at Category 1-3 Hiltons to take advantage of cheap award prices and the fifth night free. 80,000 Hilton points = 20 free nights at Category 1, 10 at Category 2, and five at Category 3
  • Automatic Status: Hilton Silver Status as long as you hold the card
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, but 3% foreign transaction fee. Do not use abroad
  • Annual Fee: none
  • Eligibility: You can get the bonus again as long as your last Citi Hilton has been closed for 24 months.
  • Full card breakdown and analysis

Apply: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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5

Citi offers Price Rewind as a free feature on its personal cards like the:

It’s not a highly publicized benefit, but it can save you a lot of money each year, as proven by our reader success stories in this post.

Basically you register purchases online and if the price drops within 60 days of the purchase, Citi refunds you the difference up to $2,500 per year with a maximum of $500 per item.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 4.07.38 AM

The process is explained clearly in this video.

Or, if you prefer, this infographic.

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Citi Price Rewind has saved cardholders $3,022,232 in January through June of 2016 alone at an average of $24.42 per refund.

How to Access Price Rewind

There are two ways:

1. Go to citipricerewind.com and sign in with your Citi card’s online account info (click on either sign on option)

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2. Go to Citi’s website, sign in, and click card benefits. You can find it from there.
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How to Register a Product

Enter your product name to search Citi’s inventory on citipricerewind.com

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When registering a product, be as specific as possible since Citi has quite a large inventory. Details that can help specify aside from the product name are model number and/or UPC code (try Amazon if you can’t find them elsewhere).

For example, when I searched a very general term like “macbook”, it turned up 29,959 results.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 8.34.44 AM

Once you’ve narrowed down your product, click Track This Item and you will be brought to a page where you need to fill in the purchase price, date of purchase, and where you bought it:

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.59.51 PMThen you Start the Price Rewind.
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Quick Facts About the Process

  • Citi will search for lower prices for a 60 day period of time post-purchase (not from when you registered the purchase, but from when the purchase was actually made)
  • The most you can get refunded for one item is $500.
  • The most you can get refunded in one year is $2,500.
  • You will receive an email alert if a lower price is found within the 60 day post-purchase time period
  • If you receive the email alert, sign in to citipricerewind.com and request a refund. Remember to keep your original, itemized receipt for this as they will likely ask you to upload it.
    • If your refund is $25.01 or more, you can choose between a statement credit or a check through the mail. If you request a check Citi says it will take 10 to 14 business days.
    • If your refund is less than $25.01, it will automatically be issued as a statement credit (processing time of two to three days)
  • Requests for a refund must be done within 180 days of the original purchase.

Which Purchases You Can Register and When You Should

Anything you buy with your Citi card within the United States qualifies, as long as it’s not in the list in the next section (Which Purchases You Can’t Register).

When you make any large purchase on your Citi card, the likelihood for bigger savings via Price Rewind increases. So register all your expensive purchases.

It would also be wise to register any purchases around the holidays, as sales are common post-holiday season to get rid of access inventory. Here’s a good hack: avoid getting trampled by Black Friday crowds by doing all your holiday shopping the week before on your Citi card. Register all the products on Price Rewind, watch the savings role in the next week, and laugh at your friends who wake up at 5 am to wait at doorbuster sales.

Which Purchases You Can’t Register

Items purchased with reward points, miles, gift cards or store credits do not count (the entire purchase must have been made on a Citi card).

The following list about which purchases don’t qualify is from the terms and conditions page of citipricerewind.com:

  • Any motorized land or air vehicles or their permanently attached parts, such as tires.
  • Boats.
  • Products that can spoil or be used up, such as food, fuel, perfume, printer cartridges and cosmetics.
  • Jewelry including loose gems, precious stones, metals and pearls. Watches are covered.
  • Antiques, art objects or stamps.
  • Tickets.
  • Land, buildings or fixtures meant for installation, such as windows, wallpaper or wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Cash (including rare or precious coins), checks, promissory notes, gift cards or any other financial document that represents money.
  • Items purchased for resale, professional or commercial use.
  • Plants or animals, including stuffed or mounted animals or fish.
  • Advice or services for a purchased item, such as product installation, labor, maintenance or repair.
  • Firearms or ammunition.

What if I Find a Lower Price than Price Rewind?

If you find a lower price than Price Rewind does, you can file a claim manually. You have a 180 day window to find and claim the lower price.

You can download a claim form by logging on to citipricerewind.com and clicking on “My Price Rewinds”:

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In the bottom right hand corner of every one of your Price Rewinds, there is a link to download a claim form.

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These are the documents you will need to send in with the claim form according to Price Rewind’s FAQ’s:

  • A copy of the itemized receipt for the item purchased.
  • A copy of the merchant’s advertisement with the lower price for the same item by the same manufacturer. The advertisement must state; Item
  • Effective date of sale (within 60 days of purchase)
  • Sale price
  • Model number and model year
  • Authorized dealer or merchant name (in US only)

Send everything to:

Citi® Price Rewind
P.O. Box 901024
Fort Worth, TX 76101
Call Toll Free 1-855-569-7366
Fax: 817-820-5917

Peoples’ Experiences with Price Rewind

Flyertalk

There isn’t a whole lot of buzz on Flyertalk about Citi Price Rewind, but what talk has gone on is nearly all positive. This Flyertalker dropped some useful knowledge that the refund per year limit is not person, but per account. So he’s saying if you have the Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card for example, you could apparently get up to $5,000 refunded from Citi per year. Anyone have any personal experience with this? Let us know in the comments if so.

Reader Success Story

Reader Amy C saved at least $59.20 on a dress she bought at Nordstrom for $148 thanks to Price Rewind:

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She sent us the following screenshot of one of her Citi Price Rewind account page (the whole 60 day post-purchase period had not elapsed yet, this was only partially through it):

dress

More recently Amy C sent me another great illustration of how Price Rewind is saving her another $50.

image

Price Rewind found a cheaper bluetooth speaker than the one she bought on Amazon in June.

image (1)

Thanks for continuing to share these data points, Amy C!

Dissatisfied Reader

Reader Gina had a less than satisfactory experience when she did not receive the refund due to her:Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.34.22 PM

Any update on this, Gina?

Tips From Readers Who Have Used Citi Price Rewind

  • If you plan on buying multiple of the same item you want to register on Price Rewind, be sure to buy them in separate transactions:

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 3.51.15 PM

  • Use it to save on high shipping costs and to get your desired item sooner when the online price is cheaper than the store:

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Bottom Line

The next time I buy something expensive, I’ll give Citi Price Rewind a whirl if I’m not meeting minimum spending requirements on other cards. It’s a great way to save yourself time and money on big purchases since Citi Bank does the market research for you– and nearly all the reviews I’ve read have been happy customers.

Have you ever used Citi Price Rewind? Did you get a refund?

If you haven’t used it yet, and you have one of these cards, give it a shot and let us know how it turns out.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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The Hilton 75k offer has expired. For the current top offers, click here.

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The wording of the terms and conditions for Citi credit card sign up offers has changed. Now you are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand or co-brand) within the last 24 months.  This is significantly different from the prior rule which only restricted you to earning a sign up bonus on a card 24 months after you opened or closed the same card.

Example of New Rule

Let’s say you opened a Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card seven months ago. That means for the next 17 months (a full 24 months after you opened it) you are not eligible for the sign up bonus from the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, the other Hilton co-branded card issued by Citi. If you close that Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, the 24 month clock will start over again and you won’t be eligible for any other Citi Hilton cards for 24 months past the date you closed it.

Take a look at the following screenshots from the terms for the various reward earning Citi cards to see further examples of the new rule. If a card earns the same kind of reward currency as another card, then they’re the same type. Click on the screenshots to see any of them enlarged.

Hilton HHonors Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.40.52 AM

Citi Hilton cards:

American Airlines (AAdvantage)Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.42.53 AM

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Citi American Airlines cards:

ThankYou PointsScreen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.44.36 AM

Citi ThankYou Points cards:

What about business cards?

Thankfully business cards are treated differently by the new rule, at least for now. When you last opened or closed a personal Citi card doesn’t have an impact on your eligibility for the sign up bonus on a business card. When you last opened or closed the same business card does follow the 24 month rule though.

Example: even if you have opened or closed a Citi AAdvantage personal card in the last 24 months, you can still get the sign up bonus on the Citi AAdvantage business card– as long as you haven’t opened or closed the Citi AAdvantage Business card in the last 24 months.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.48.39 AM

Bottom Line

This is not good news for churners, albeit not too surprising considering the tightening of rules across the board. Citi changed its 18 month clock for repeat sign up bonuses to 24 months back in April, Chase has 5/24, and Amex has the once in a lifetime bonus rule.

If you have signed up for or closed a Citi card in the last 24 months and were considering another, beware if they share the same brand or co-brand. You must wait 24 months after opening or closing a Citi card to be eligible for another Citi card of the same type’s sign up bonus.

Feel free to share your questions and comments below.

Hat Tip Doctor of Credit

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® 60,000 mile offer and Hilton 75k point offer have expired. Check out the current best credit card offers here.

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This is the fourth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

There are currently some huge sign up bonuses that folks new to the miles game can pick up.

I’ve categorized some of the best offers below, but before applying for any cards, I recommend checking out my Introduction to Travel Credit Cards.

Make sure you sign up for a card that earns points or miles that are useful for your specific travel goals (i.e. the corresponding award charts for redeeming them have reasonable prices to where you want to go, and there is also award space). It breaks my heart when people come to my Award Booking Service with the wrong miles for the trip they want. There’s no reason to Make the Biggest Mistake in Our Hobby.

  • What are the best cards for beginners?

Best Card for the Benefits Within the First Year

Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. My review of the Citi Prestige Card explains its other benefits like access to 900 Priority Pass lounges, the fourth night free on hotel stays, $100 global entry free credit, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and 2x points on dining and entertainment.

You also get $250 in Air Travel Credit each calendar year. So the first $250 in plane tickets/award taxes & fees/in-flight purchases/etc. in 2016 and the first $250 in plane tickets in 2017 are free. That’s another $500 in free tickets before you pay the annual fee again in 12 months.

ThankYou Points can be transferred to 12 airline partners for high value redemptions. I recently transferred ThankYou Points to Singapore Airlines miles to fly from Atlanta to Honolulu in a flat bed for 30,000 miles. I’ve also used Singapore miles to fly from Colombia to Argentina in Business Class for half the price it would have been with United miles. Singapore miles are also the only way to fly Singapore Suites, cheaper than United miles to book United flights to Europe, and offer two stopovers in addition to your destination on roundtrip awards. I also love Air France Flying Blue as a transfer partner because of its cheap awards to Europe, Israel,Hawaii and South America.

ThankYou Points can also be used like cash toward the purchase of any airline ticket with no blackouts. You get 1.33 cents off any flight. That means 40,000 bonus points are worth $532 in flights.

The card comes with a $450 annual fee that is not waived for the first year, but the myriad of benefits and the $500 in air travel credit during the period covered by the $450 annual fee more than make up for it.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Best Card for Awards to Central & South America

 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. 

American Airlines miles are some of the most valuable miles to get you to Central and South America. American Airlines flies more routes from the United States to Central and South America than any other carrier–by far!

You can also stretch your American Airlines miles to last a long time if you redeem them on economy Off Peak awards.

American Airlines miles also open up a ton of economy award space to Australia, but Business and First Class award space is much harder to come by.

The card has a $450 annual fee is that is not waived the first year. While this card won’t be appropriate for everyone, read my review of the AAdvantage Executive card that explains how the benefits and of this card can help out outweigh the hefty annual fee.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Best Business Card

Ink Plus

The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonuses after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

The Ink Plus earns 5x points on internet, phone, and cell phone bills; 5x points on purchases at office supply stores; 2x points on hotels and gas; and 1x points on everything else.

The Ink Plus has no annual fee the first 12 months, $95 thereafter.

While I can not directly link to the Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Best All-Around Card

Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 50k Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 55k bonus point card. (Adding an authorized user does not prevent that person from getting the card at the same time or in the future as a primary account holder and getting the full sign up bonus.)

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

While I can not directly link to the offer for the Sapphire Preferred, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

**For the reasons described in this post, the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus are two of the first cards I recommend for beginners just starting out in the miles hobby**

Best Hotel Credit Card (Limited Time Offer)

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

For a limited time, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card come with 75,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, automatic Hilton Silver status, and no annual fee.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.06.33 AM

This is a huge sign up bonus for a card with no annual fee.

The card offers 6x points at Hilton hotels; 3x at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations; and 2x on all other purchases. Plus any year you spend $1,000 at Hiltons, you get 10,000 bonus points.

Free night awards start at 5,000 points per night and because the card gives you free Silver status, cardholders get the fifth night free on all awards.

Spending $2,500 on the card (of which at least $2,000 is in the first three months) will give you 80,000 Hilton points, enough for:

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

Bottom Line

Above are some of the top travel credit cards to consider if you’re just beginning to collect miles and points. Here are some more links to posts I have written recently that will be a big help to beginners:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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The Citi Prestige® Card offers the fourth night free on paid hotel stays if you book through its designated travel agent. This benefit can save you a lot more than 25% on your next hotel stay.

4th Night Free on Hotel Stays

From the terms and conditions of the benefits of the Prestige Card:

You will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates, when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel booked by a personal travel advisor designated by MasterCard (the “designated travel advisor” is Carlson Wagonlit Travel). Bookings made through other methods such as, travel agents, websites or directly with a hotel will not qualify.

To receive your complimentary night (via a statement credit) you must:

  • Make a reservation for a minimum, consecutive four-night stay by contacting the Citi Prestige Concierge, to book directly with a designated travel advisor
  • Fully pay for your stay with a Citi Prestige Card

If you book the award through the Citi Prestige’s travel agent, you will get the actual cost of the fourth night plus taxes credited back to your Citi Prestige statement.

You don’t get 25% of the cost of the stay credited back; you get the actual fourth night’s cost credited back. That means that if you book a four-night stay such that the last night is the most expensive night, you can save a lot more than 25% on your stay.

Examples (New Year’s Eve in Times Square & Las Vegas)

My first thought was New Year’s Eve in Times Square as a time when prices probably spike from one night to the next. If you search for a December 28 to January 1 stay on hyatt.com, the Hyatt Times Square New York shows an average daily rate of $652.Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.59.04 PM

On the payment page, you can get a nightly breakdown. The rate jumps from $449.10 to $1260 (WHOA) per night on the last night.Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 9.22.12 PM

If you booked this stay with a Citi Prestige® Card, you would save $1,260 of the $2,607.30 subtotal, which is almost 50%. The total saved after taxes would be roughly the same percentage, so you’d be looking at a savings of about $1,360 on a $3,005.88 bill.

Similarly, though on a smaller scale, room rates in Las Vegas seem to spike on Tuesdays. A Tuesday through Saturday stay at the Bellagio in Las Vegas would have an average nightly price of $219.

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But in fact, the last night costs $279, which is about 31% of the subtotal.

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The Bellagio charges a resort fee. I am not sure if that is refunded for the fourth night. Unfortunately the words “resort fee” do not appear in the definitive FlyerTalk thread on the fourth-night-free benefit.

FAQ About Fourth Night Free

How does it work?

To receive your complimentary night (via a statement credit) you must:

  • Make a reservation for a minimum, consecutive four-night stay by contacting the Citi Prestige Concierge by calling the number on the back of your card
  • Fully pay for your stay with a Citi Prestige Card

Does the rate through the Citi Concierge match the hotel’s rate online?

Yes. If it doesn’t, point that out to your Citi travel agent.

Do you get your status benefits for the stay? Do you get earn points and status for the stay?

In all the cases I’ve seen reported, yes.

When do you get the statement credit?

It can take several weeks after your stay. It took the Frequent Miler’s credit about four weeks to show up.

Do you earn 3x points on the rest of the hotel purchase?

The Citi Prestige® Card offers 3 points per dollar for airfare and hotel purchases. You get 3x points on your hotel stay on top of the fourth night free by taking advantage of this benefit of the Prestige.

What hotels can I book at that qualify for the fourth night free?

The following excerpt is taken from my own Prestige accounts’ explanations of benefits:

Screen-Shot-2016-06-23-at-12.04.59-PM-e1466693861975

So, pretty much any publicly available rate for any hotel should work except for the type of accommodations listed in the exclusions in #7.

What about those promotions hotels often run for a “fifth night free”? Could I also get the fourth night of my hotel stay reimbursed if I put the reservation on my Citi Prestige® Card?

YES! The key is finding a reservation that will be billed in a way that shows a full rate for the first four nights and the fifth night as costing $0 (instead of five nights averaged down to the cost of four). To check this, you have to follow the reservation past the front-end advertisement– often times there it looks like it’s priced per night– and go through all the steps of booking you can without actually paying for it. You should be able to see the itemized pricing in the final steps.

Read get your fourth AND fifth night free with the Citi Prestige to learn the specifics of how to do it.

Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige® Card offers the fourth night free on all paid hotel stays that you book by calling the number on the back of your card.

Instead of rebating the average cost of one room night, you get the fourth night free. If you time your stays, so the fourth night is the most expensive, you can save well over 25% with this benefit.

Stays earn points and status, and you can use your status in the stays.

This benefit is an amazing throw in for some people. If the fourth night free on hotel stays isn’t worth much to you, the Citi Prestige® Card is a must have because it offers 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to Priority Pass lounges, and 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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The Hilton 75k offer has expired. For the current top offers, click here.

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Every time you spend $5 or more dining out on your registered Citi credit card through December 1, 2016, Citi will donate $1 to help fight hunger. It takes just a few seconds to register your card, so why not?

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What To Do

  1. Fill in the last eight numbers of your Citi credit card, billing zip code, and last name here.
  2. Use that Citi card when you eat at restaurants for purchases that are $5 or more.

That’s it.

For every purchase of $5 or more spent dining out through December 1 of this year, Citi gives $1 to No Kid Hungry, a campaign run by Share Our Strength, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The mission is to provide healthy food to hungry kids in the United States and raise awareness about the crisis of child hunger.

For every dollar No Kid Hungry receives, they claim to be able to provide 10 healthy meals to a child. The maximum amount Citi will donate is $1 million. If we all register our cards and use those cards when dining out, we have the potential to provide 10 million healthy meals to hungry kids around the United States.

Good work Citi.

This Only Works for Credit Cards

The terms and conditions of the promotion state that you can only register Citi branded credit cards and CitiBusiness Cards. The Points Guy tried registering a debit card to be sure, but it was rejected.

Have any of these cards?

If not, now you have another very legitimate reason to get one. Read more about their fantastic sign-up offers here.

I enrolled my Citi Prestige card since I normally use that card anyways when dining out (you earn two ThankYou Points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment).

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Bottom Line

Register your Citi credit card here and for every purchase you make of $5 or more at restaurants, Citi will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry up to $1 million dollars.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Citi ThankYou Points are transferable to one hotel and 12 airline programs. Folks who have a Citi Prestige® Card, Citi ThankYou Premier, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to (click links for posts on basics and sweetspots of that program):

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points, and 1,000 ThankYou Points to 500 Virgin America Elevate points.

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This incredible step forward for Citi ThankYou Points puts them in the ranks of the big four 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 are the best Citi ThankYou Points transfer partners?
  • 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 28 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 most award flights, but not those flown by United, Taca, Avianca, and Copa. 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.

See “Sweet Spots on Singapore, Suites Class from 32,000 Miles” and “Awards on United and Partner Flights Booked with Singapore Miles.”

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 Prestige® Card, which has a huge sign up bonuses and big category bonuses. Like I mentioned in the update at the top of this post, this sign-up offer is scheduled to change very shortly (in five days), and while I don’t know exactly what those changes will be yet, the bonus most likely will drop like the Citi ThankYou Premier’s did in January of this year (hopefully not to zero, like the Premier).

Citi Prestige® Card:

  • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou Points after $4,000 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: 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

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

How to Transfer

You can read the step-by-step detailed instructions of how to transfer Citi ThankYou Points here.

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.

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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.

You can still redeem ThankYou Points earned by the Citi ThankYou® Premier for 1.25 cents each on any airline. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi Prestige® Card can be redeemed on any airline for 1.33 cents each. I don’t plan on using ThankYou Points for 1.25 or 1.33 cents each 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.

While I can not directly link to Arrival Plus’ current offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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.

  1. 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 has 12 airlines to which you can transfer ThankYou points at a 1:1 rate.

You can get 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige® Card after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

The best transfer partner for those ThankYou points is Singapore KrisFlyer. The Singapore Airlines program allows redemption on all 28 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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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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This offer is expired. See the new offer and analysis here.

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The Citi Prestige® Card is one of the best cards on the market. I change my rankings of the top credit cards monthly, but the Prestige has remained at the beginning/towards the beginning of the list for a while now.

It’s got an impressive array of benefits that easily outweigh the hefty annual fee–you can read my review of the Citi Prestige Card to learn more. One of it’s most touted benefits is getting your fourth hotel night free when you book a four night stay and pay for it with the card. All you have to do is call the Citi Prestige Concierge service (1-561-922-0158) to book it for you.

Getting your Fourth AND Fifth Night Free

But what about stacking promotions? It’s common for hotels to run promotions with a third, fourth, or fifth night free (etc.), so could you hypothetically book a hotel running a promotion of this type with the Prestige and still get the fourth night free? 

One Mile at a Time just proved that it’s not hypothetical– you can actually stack a fifth free hotel night promotion with the fourth night free benefit to get two nights out of a five night stay for free.

The key is that you have to find a hotel running a fifth night free promotion, and that you will be billed in a way that shows a full rate for the first four nights and the fifth night as costing $0 (instead of five nights averaged down to the cost of four). To check this, you have to follow the reservation past the front-end advertisement– often times there it looks like it’s priced per night– and go through all the steps of booking you can without actually paying for it. You should be able to see the itemized pricing in the final steps.

Example of When Stacking Works

I found a fifth night free promotion at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa, and Casino by doing a simple search of “fifth night free hotel night promotions”.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 12.39.24 PM

I selected the Garden View room with a king bed, and took me to the following page to process payment info. There was a summary of charges listed as well, which is what we want to see.

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The first four nights each have a fill rate price $360 and the fifth night costs $0, not $288 per night like the averaged advertisement read. This is the way it needs to price out in order to get the fourth and fifth night free. By booking this reservation with your Prestige, you’d save not only $360 from the hotel promotion, but an additional $382.50 for the total cost of the fourth night ($360 + 1/5 of the taxes & fees) from the fourth night free benefit. You could stay five nights at this lovely property for only $1,420.60!

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Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa, and Casino

That’s a total savings of $742.50, about a 35% discount!

When Stacking Probably Won’t Work

Unfortunately, you probably won’t be eligible for the Prestige’s fourth night free benefit if the hotel promotion you’re trying to stack it with is also a fourth night free promotion– since the hotel’s wording actually says “fourth night free”. One Mile at a Time tried it out, and two Prestige Concierges that he spoke with didn’t think you could still get the fourth night free in that case, even if the line item pricing of the room rate was averaged down to show a cost for each of the four nights.

What Hotels Does the Prestige’s Fourth Night Free Benefit Apply to?

I checked in the benefits section of my own Prestige account to nail down exactly what hotels this benefit applies for, and the most specific information there was the following: Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 12.04.59 PM

Pretty much, the fourth night free benefit can apply to any publicly available rate.

Bottom Line

You can get the fourth and fifth nights of your hotel reservation for free by combining a hotel’s fifth night free promotion with the Citi Prestige® Card‘s fourth night free benefit, as long as the hotel prices the reservation in a way that Citi sees four nights charged at a full rate. It’s a truism of miles, points, and rewards that outsized value does not last forever, and this is some seriously outsized value, so take advantage while you can to save thousands of dollars.

Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Citi ThankYou Points are transferable to one hotel and 12 airline programs. Folks who have a Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige® Card, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to (click links for posts on basics and sweetspots of that program):

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

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Other Redemption Options

ThankYou Points earned from the Premier can be redeemed for 1.25 cents on any airline. ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige can be redeemed for 1.33 cents each on any airline, or for 1.6 cents each on American Airlines flights and any of the 25 airlines that American has a codeshare agreement with:

ThankYou Points earned solely from the Citi ThankYou® Premier cannot be redeemed for 1.6 cents on American and codeshare partners, but if you also have the Citi Prestige® Card along with the Premier, you can pool the points and redeem them like you would ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige.

However, if if you transfer ThankYou Points to one of their partner airlines wisely, you can find a lot more value than 1.6 cents per point. Below are the directions of how to make the actual transfers between your Citi account and their partners.

How to Transfer ThankYou Points Step-by-Step

1. Log in to your Citi account on either citi.com or thankyou.com. Either will take you to the right place.

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2. Scroll to the account details for either the Prestige or Premier, and click on Points Summary on the right side of the screen.

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3. If you have multiple cards that earn ThankYou Points, you will be asked to designate which account’s points you want to view.

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4. On the following screen, hover your mouse over Travel in the tool bar at the top of the page, and click Points Transfer from the drop-down menu.

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5. You will then be directed to a page that lists all of the airline and hotel transfer partners.

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6. Choose whichever partner you wish to transfer to, and click Transfer Now. Note that you must already have an account open with the loyalty program you are transferring to.

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7. Type in the number of miles you want to transfer. You have to transfer in increments of 1,000 to all partners.

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8. Enter your frequent flyer number, accept the terms and conditions….

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9. …and you’re done. You should receive a confirmation email that looks like this:

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10. The last step is to wait. Transfers are not usually instant. You can check on the status of transfer times to specific partners in this FlyerTalk thread about Citi ThankYou Points.

If possible, put the award on hold with the loyalty program you are redeeming with to decrease your chance of missing out on your desired award space.

I transferred some ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest last year and it took about one week for the miles to show up in my account. I recently made the same transfer again, and this time the ThankYou Points took five days to show up in my Etihad Guest account. I transferred Thursday afternoon, and the miles posted the next Tuesday afternoon. It varies on the airline, but evidence points towards transfer times decreasing.

How to Get ThankYou Points

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

Citi Prestige® Card:

  • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou Points after $4,000 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

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Bottom Line

Follow the steps outlined above to transfer your ThankYou Points to one of their 12 partner airlines or partner hotel. Read more about the sweetspots with ThankYou Point transfer partners to learn how to get the most value out of your ThankYou Points.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Today Costco switched over from only accepting American Express cards to only accepting Visa cards. Its new co-branded cards are the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi, which offer 4% back on gas, 3% back on travel and restaurants, and 2% back at Costco with no annual fee.

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I’ll take a look at the cards and compare how their category bonuses stack up against other cards’.

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Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: None
  • Category Bonuses: 4% back on gas (including at Costco) up to $7,000 spent per year, 3% back on travel and restaurants, and 2% back at Costco or costco.com
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and 3% foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: no annual fee

Sign Up Bonus

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi have no sign up bonus. That’s standard for cash back cards with no annual fees. (And that’s one reason why the 17,500 point or $175 sign up bonuses on the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are so good.)

Category Bonuses

Both cards offer:

  • 4% back on gas (including at Costco) up to $7,000 spent per year
  • 3% back on travel and restaurants
  • 2% back at Costco or costco.com

All other spending earns 1% back.

Gas: 4%

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offer the best cash back percentage at all gas stations for a cash back card that anyone can get. (The PenFed Ultimate Cash Rewards Plus offers 5% back at gas stations, but you have to have another PenFed account to qualify.)

The Ink Plus Business Card offers 2x Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations up to $50,000 per year. I value Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each, so that is comparable to 4% cash back from the CostCo cards and better if you spend more than $583 per month on gas ($7,000 per year, the cap on the Costco cards’ gas category.)

The Freedom offers 1x Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations normally, but gas stations were the 5x category from January through March this year, up to $1,500 spent that quarter.

Travel and Restaurants: 3%

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offer 3% cash back “on restaurant (including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants) and eligible travel purchases worldwide, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, travel agencies, cruise lines and Costco Travel.”

For dining, the Citi Prestige® Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred offer 2x points per dollar, which I value at 3.8% and 4% back respectively.

The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x on travel also, including all the travel expenses bonused by the Costco cards and several others. Even better, the Citi Prestige® Card offers 3x points on airfare and hotels.

Costco: 2%

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offer 2% cash back  at Costco and on costco.com.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% back at grocery stores. Warehouse clubs, like Costco, do not earn the 6% back, and Costco doesn’t accept Amex anyways.

The Chase Freedom is a Visa that offers 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar up to $1,500 per quarter at warehouse clubs for the last three quarters of 2016. You can cash that in for 5% back or for 5 United/Korean/British Airways/Southwest/Virgin Atlantic miles per dollar if you know the Freedom Two Step.

Other: 1%

Don’t use these cards for 1% cash back. Almost any card offers a better return.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Don’t use these cards abroad. They have a 3% foreign transaction fee. Use your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus abroad, both of which have no foreign transaction fee.

No Annual Fee

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi have no annual fee.

Costco Cash Back Annually

Unfortunately the mechanism for receiving the cash back on these cards is not as straightforward as with other cards (my summary below):

Redeeming Costco Cash Rewards: Your reward is distributed annually via U.S. Mail in the form of a reward coupon included in your February billing statement, and is redeemable through December 31 of the year issued in a single transaction at any U.S. Costco warehouse, including in Puerto Rico, for merchandise or cash back. The reward coupon will contain your Costco Cash Rewards balance based on your eligible purchases during the annual reward period. The annual reward period is based on January through December billing statements. Should you choose to redeem only a portion of the coupon for merchandise, you will receive the remaining balance in cash at the Costco warehouse register upon checkout. Some warehouses may not permit the reward coupon to be redeemed for alcohol purchases. Requests for cash may be fulfilled in the form of a check at Costco’s discretion. If you are enrolled in Paperless Statements, a paper billing statement will be provided to you in February if you earned a reward coupon during the previous annual reward period. Coupon must be redeemed in person on or prior to its expiration date of December 31 in the year in which it is issued. Any Costco Cash Rewards you have earned on purchases made by authorized users on your Card Account will be added to your Costco Cash Rewards Total. Only you, the primary cardmember, are eligible to receive the annual reward coupon, however, you or any authorized user on your Card Account may redeem your coupon. You may not transfer it to anyone else. You will not receive a reward coupon if your reward is less than $1 or your account is closed at the time it is scheduled to be sent; any Costco Cash Rewards that had been accrued at that time will be forfeited. You must maintain your Costco Membership to receive and redeem the reward coupon.

Basically:

  • Every February, you get all of the cash back from the previous January to December statements in the form of Costco Cash
  • You have to go to a Costco to use the Costco Cash for purchases (why would you do that?) or cash it out (smarter since that means you can use your Costco credit card for purchases and get another 2% back.)
  • Your Costco credit card must be open in February or you forfeit the last year’s earning.

This is an annoying procedure. The better cards give you cash back monthly, redeemable automatically or at least online. This procedure means you are offering Costco an interest-free loan of your cash back, which you forfeit if you cancel your credit card. And to redeem, you have to go to a Costco store.

Those burdens are not too cumbersome, but they are frustrating.

Business vs. Personal

There’s not much reason to get the personal card over the business card or vice versa.

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One reason to get the business card is that Citi may no report it on your personal credit report, so Chase may not see it, so you may be able to get around the Chase 5/24 rule.

If You Have the American Express Costco Credit Card

You should have already received a Citi card as a replacement. If not, contact Citi.

Bottom Line

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offer 4% back on gas, 3% back on travel and restaurants, and 2% back at Costco with no annual fee.

I wouldn’t get either as my only credit card, but they are very valuable for 4% back on gas purchases (up to $7,000 per year) and 2% back at Costco if you have used up your quarterly 5x on the Freedom.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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10

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. It is a premium American Airlines credit card with a $450 annual fee that grants the cardholder Admirals Club membership.

Until 2015, adding authorized users didn’t get your friends and family access to American Airlines clubs, but that has changed.

You can now add up to 10 authorized users to your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® account, and each one will get access to American Airlines lounges for himself and two guests. They get the lounge access no matter what airline they’re flying, and even if you, the accountholder, are not present.

With you plus your two guests, that means a total of 33 people can access the same Admirals Club for free in the unlikely event that you, your 10 authorized users, and your 22 combined guests were all together.

Members?

The primary cardholder is an Admirals Club member. The authorized users are not.

That means the primary cardholder can enter not just the 50 American Airlines lounges, but also the 40 partners lounges that are affiliated with the Admirals Club including Alaska Airlines and Qantas lounges. The authorized users can only access the 50 American Airlines lounges, not the 40 partner lounges.

American Airlines Lounge Information

Check out the list of American Airlines lounges here.

American Airlines lounges have greatly improved in the last year or two. You can now get free soup, fruit, cheese and crackers, crudités, desserts, alcohol, and soft drinks. In Phoenix recently, I made a meal of chicken noodle soup, tomato bisque, cheddar cheese and crackers, celery and hummus, and brownie bites. I saved $10 by not getting Chinese food in the terminal.

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You can also get free wifi and a comfortable chair.

My favorite American Airlines lounge is at Honolulu International Airport. It is shared with Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand Business Class passengers, so its offerings are slightly upgraded. You also can’t beat its garden views.

Here is a review of a typical American Airlines lounge in Miami.

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Comparison with Prestige Lounge Access

The Citi Prestige® Card is the other premium Citi card that offers big time lounge access. It offers American Airlines lounge access when flying American Airlines that day, Priority Pass lounge access always, and great guest access. Authorized users cost $50. They do NOT get the American Airlines lounge access, but do get the Priority Pass access.

For a full comparison of the two cards, see Citi Prestige vs. AA Executive AAdvantage.

Bottom Line

The value proposition of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is more than just the miles. For $450 per year, the primary account holder gets Admirals Club membership, and up to 10 authorized users get Admirals Club access. Every time they enter an American Airlines club, each of these 11 people can bring in any two guests OR his spouse and children under 18.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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