The Citi Prestige offer mentioned in this post is expired. See the new offer and analysis here.
Getting both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers about $2,600 in free American Airlines flights. This isn’t a deal that should just get some ink. This is one that should be shouted from the roof top.
The path is easy:
- Get the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card eight days apart with a 50,000 and 40,000 point bonus respectively.
- Combine the two ThankYou accounts into one, and meet their minimum spending requirements.
- Spend the 96,000+ points you have on about $1,500 in American Airlines flights.
- Use the Citi Prestige® Card‘s $250 Air Travel Credit in 2015 and in 2016 for $500 in American Airlines flights.
- Use the 25,000+ American Airlines miles you’ve earned from flying $2,000 in paid flights for an award ticket worth $600.
That’s $2,200 worth of American Airlines flights from opening two credit cards and using their benefits. This is the kind of deal you should be telling your friends about who are jealous of your free travel and want a fast start in this hobby.
As an added bonus, you can visit American Airlines lounges for free during all these trips, and you can earn American Airlines Gold Status.
Let’s look at the steps in turn.
1. Get the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card eight days apart.
You can have both cards at once–I have them both right now–but you cannot be approved for two Citi cards on the same day.
Once you get the Citi Prestige® Card, wait 8+ days before applying for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.
2. Combine the two ThankYou accounts into one, and meet their minimum spending requirements.
Getting both cards will automatically open two separate ThankYou accounts. Points earned on the Prestige are more valuable for American Airlines flights than those earned on the Premier, so you’ll want to spend the five minutes to combine the two accounts into one account that has the redemption power of Prestige. Here’s how.
That way when you’ve spent $3,000 in the first three months after opening the account on each card, your 96,000+ points will be in one ThankYou account where they are worth 1.6 cents each toward American Airlines flights.
3. Spend the 96,000+ points you have on about $1,500 in American Airlines flights.
To spend ThankYou Points, select Flights under Shop on thankyou.com.
ThankYou Points are worth the same 1.6 cents toward any American Airlines flight with no blackouts, so learning how to find cheap flights is an essential skill in order to stretch your points.
- If you have flexible dates and want to book now, learn how to search ITA Matrix to find the cheapest fares.
- If you have fixed dates, learn how to use Kayak Price Alerts to track airfare and buy when the price drops.
I searched for roundtrips to Los Angeles and San Francisco from New York on ITA Matrix and found them for just under $400 for much of the year.
I could recreate the same price on thankyou.com’s search easily.
The 96,000 points are worth $1,516 in free American Airlines flights. When you no longer have enough points for a free redemption, you can do partial points + cash redemptions with any amount of points and still get the full 1.6 cents of value per point.
American Airlines will see tickets purchased with ThankYou Points as cash tickets and award you miles and status based on the distance flown.
4. Use the Citi Prestige® Card‘s $250 Air Travel Credit in 2015 and in 2016 for $500 in American Airlines flights.
The Citi Prestige® Card offers an unrivaled $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year. The credit will offset the first $250 you spend on airfare, airline fees, award taxes, and pretty much anything else that codes as a purchase from an airline each calendar year.
In 2015, use the $250 as the cash part of a cash + points redemption of ThankYou Points (pictured above) for American Airlines flights. In 2016, before your next annual fee, do the same. That’s another $500 worth of American Airlines flights.
American Airlines will see tickets purchased with the Air Travel Credit as cash tickets and award you miles and status based on the distance flown.
In the last two steps, with almost $2,200 worth of American Airlines tickets purchased, you will likely earn 25,000+ redeemable miles.
For instance, $2,200 is easily enough for five roundtrips between New York and California, which are about 5,000 miles each.
5. Use the 25,000+ American Airlines miles you’ve earned from flying $2,000 in paid flights for an award ticket worth $600.
The final step is to redeem those 25,000+ American Airlines miles for more free flights. You have enough for one domestic roundtrip or one way in Business Class (or two-cabin First Class) within the continental United States. Or you have enough for one way to Europe, Southern South America, Japan, or Korea at off peak prices.
Of those options, I think the most fun redemption would be using the 25,000 miles for one flat bed Business Class flight between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco.
These seats cost about $600 with advance purchase, which is frankly cheaper than I was expecting.
Or you can book them for 25,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60.
- ~$1,700 from the 106,000 ThankYou Points from meeting the two cards’ minimum spending requirements
- $500 from using the Prestige’s $250 Air Travel Credit two times before the next annual fee in calendar years 2015 and 2016
- ~$600 from the 25,000 American Airlines miles you’d earn from flying the other $2,200 worth of American Airlines flights
That’s ~$2,800 in American Airlines flights from opening two credit cards and using them well.
Bonus #1: American Airlines Status
If you fly the approximately $2,200 in free flights that American Airlines sees as paid flights in the same calendar year, you may fly 25,000+ miles, which would earn you American Airlines Gold Status.
You’d get benefits like upgrades, better seats, priority boarding, and a higher mileage earning rate on future American Airlines flights.
Bonus #2: American Airlines Lounge Access
The Citi Prestige® Card offers American Airlines lounge access every time you fly American Airlines or US Airways, which would mean that every flight in this article would come with American Airlines lounge access.
The comfortable place to relax, free drinks, free snacks, and free wifi will make the trips much less stressful.
My review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.