Citi ThankYou Points

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Citi ThankYou Points may or may not be worth your time. Whether you should subscribe to this program depends on how you would like to redeem rewards. Some categories have decent redemption value, while others are a bit of a disappointment. As a general rule of thumb, do not settle for points worth less than 1 cent each.

We’ll make this easy for you. Citi ThankYou points provide a good penny-per-point value on gift cards, music downloads, student loan and mortgage payments, charitable donations and travel certificates. They do not yield a good value when exchanged for merchandise, cash or prepaid debit cards.

The value of ThankYou Points varies widely and is contingent on how you redeem. Take a gander at our comprehensive table below for value according to category. For more information, check out our take on how to get the most out of your Citi Thank You Points.

Redemption Option Fewest Points Needed Estimated Value
Gift cards 1,000 1 cent
Merchandise 800 0.5-0.8 cents
Music downloads 100 1 cent
Prepaid debit 4,000 0.625-0.71 cents
Cash 8,000 0.625 cents
Charity 1,900 1 cent
Mortgage/student loan payment 2,500 1 cent
Travel certificates 3,500 1 cent

 

Gift cards: ThankYou Points are great for gift cards. At a rate of 1 penny per point, you can swap as few as 2,500 points for a $25 gift card. Retailers and restaurants include big names like Ann Taylor, Chili’s, Best Buy and Barnes and Noble. Gift cards don’t offer the same versatility as cash, but if you don’t mind committing rewards to a particular business, this is a great way to redeem.

Merchandise: The Citi ThankYou Points online mall allows you to redeem for books, electronics, clothes, CDs, DVDs and more. It’s like an Amazon-type marketplace but with fewer deals and a smaller inventory. The value of your points depends on the item and vendor.

Generally speaking, you won’t get a whole lot of bang for your buck here. For example, the Underworld: Awakening Blu-ray costs 3,700 ThankYou points. You can get the same item on Amazon for $19.99. In this situation, your points are only worth .54 cents each. You’re better off redeeming for an Amazon gift card and shopping on Amazon instead.

Also, keep in mind, the more expensive your item, the more your points will be worth (usually). Look elsewhere for small purchases.

Music downloads: You can redeem at a flat 1-cent-per-point value for a promo codes to Sony Music Entertainment that lets you download MP3′s. This is a good deal, but remember, unless you download a LOT of music, you”ll want to make sure you’ll also make use of one or two of the other redemption options.

Prepaid debit: Don’t redeem for prepaid debit. It’s a pretty big waste of your hard-earned rewards. Here are your miserable prepaid redemption options and their corresponding values:

  • $25 for 4,000 points. Value: 0.625 cents
  • $50 for 7,500 points. Value: 0.66 cents
  • $100 for 14,000 points. Value: 0.71 cents

Cash: This is another sub-par option. You can opt redeem 8,000 points for $50 or 16,000 for $100. The redemption value works out to a paltry 0.625 cents per point. Meh. Stick with gift cards.

Charity: If you don’t need the rewards, Citi makes it easy to pass them on to someone else. They have list of charities to choose from, including the Red Cross. If you’d prefer to give to an unlisted charity, the GiftBack Card option allows you to donate to virtually any cause. All donations hold a penny-per-point value.

Mortgage or student loan payments: This is a pretty good deal in lieu of a proper cash back system. You can put your points directly toward a mortgage or student loan payment for 1 cent per point no matter how much you redeem. This option is far better than cash or prepaid debit.

Travel certificates: Citi offers travel certificates for car rentals, hotel stays and cruise purchases. Names include Avis, the Hyatt, Carnival and more. These all provide a substantial value at 1 cent per point. For example, a $100 Avis costs 10,000 ThankYou Points. You can also book travel and cruises through the ThankYou travel center, but you’ll probably prefer a discount site like Kayak.com. If you’re aiming for travel rewards, we advise you to look into travel credit cards.

Expiration

Points expire after 3 years in most cases. Some cards–like the Citi ThankYou Premier and Preferred–offer points that don’t expire as long as you actively earn or redeem rewards every 12 months.

Earning ThankYou Points
We prefer the no annual fee version of Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, as opposed to the $500 per year Citi ThankYou Prestige, although the Prestige comes with quite a few perks.

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  • Bill

    From what I understand about the gift card industry, retailers (like Starbucks or Best Buy) generally sell gift cards at a discount from the actual face value. The profits are split between the gift card seller, Citi, and the gift card network, a 3rd party.

    This may be why Citi is willing to give gift cards out at a more attractive rate.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com admin

      Hi Bill, this is true. Generally the commission is about 8%, with 4% going to the gift card network and 4% to the gift card distributor.

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com Tim

    I actually disagree with your assessment – I have no problem saving 10,000 points to redeem for a $100 Bloomingdale’s card. Just because the other redemption options are bad, doesn’t mean points can’t be wisely spent.

  • Joe

    Is there a way to compare the card I use now to the one that you suggest?

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com Tim

    Unfortunately Joe, we don’t have that functionality (yet!), but that’s a great idea for something we could add in a future version.

    The easiest way to do that now is to put all of your information into our general rewards calculator to find out what your best rewards card would be. Then if you don’t see your own card in that list, head on over to our card index to find your current card and click “More Info” to see how the rewards stack up.

    NerdWallet remembers your inputs while you’re on the site, so comparing cards on different pages is still apples-to-apples!

  • Llovasi

    You can redeem ThankYou points for travel, 100 points for $1, as long as you have enough points to purchase one flight.

  • QM

    As of right now (9/14/11), TY points are worth 1 cent per point for retail gift cards. This would seem to be true for all levels ($25/$50/$100) of purchase for all of the stores that I checked including Walmart, Sears, Best Buy, CVS, and Sunoco. This being the case, one could argue that TY points are worth more than .83 cents but it’s a fact that such was not the case as little as two months ago and there’s no telling when they might devalue TY points again. I cashed mine out just in case.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

      You’re right, that’s a huge improvement!

      Now let’s see if it holds up…

  • YK

    Any idea if contributing points to charity is tax deductible? If I was going to donate money to the featured charity anyways, could the points be worth almost 1.5c if it is deductible (and assuming the highest tax bracket) Or maybe my math is off…

    Of course, this is dependent on the fact that I was going to spend post-tax dollars on that specific charity, and am therefore able to replace that with points on a 1pt=0.01 basis, plus the deductibility of the contribution

  • Jfrancisgarcia4020

    I recently received a preaproved letter from citi for the thank you card and read this review on the prepaid debit card to collect your rewards. Now would my points cover for all of the $25 gift card or would it just give me a discount for ex) if I have the 4000 points that is stated above would it give me a $5 discount for a $25 prepaid debit card having me only pay $20 to get a $25 prepaid debit card or would it cover it fully? Cuz I have the citi platinum card and that’s what it does and I don’t want to apply for the thank you card if it does the same thing.

  • Erniejay

    Your readers need to be informed that CitiCards is playing games with your ThankYou points. From the promotional material, I expected to get $100 for 10,000 points. Your blog shows that it takes 16,000 points, which is less than originally advertised. They recently changed it so now it takes 20,000 points for $100. In other words, they took money out of my account!!! I have complaints in to the Better Business Bureau and to the Federal Consumer Bureau. Citi can’t get away with this.

    • bananas

      they gave you something for free and now they’re taking it away?! Oh noes!

  • lukejames2

    The terrible value you get from the points is only one of the many issues with Citi’s Thank You system (which I got suckered into converting my American Airlines reward card into). The worst part is that the system is down about 80% of each day and your rewards balance will be unavailable for days at a time. The site loads at a crawl if at all. Login fails the majority of the time, and searches do not work at all. If you try and avoid the worthless site by linking your rewards points to partners like Amazon, nope, that fails. I could go on and on about what a tremendously bad system it is in every way, and that is ON TOP of the constant devaluing of the points you’ve earned. These reward programs are just shameless substitutes for fair rates and true (formerly free) services. Now you just get a “Thank You” system that is virtually useless and more like a “F*** You” instead.