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Update September 2011: Citi ThankYou Points just got restructured, and much for the better: you can now redeem as few as 1,000 TY Points for a $10 gift certificate to a wide range of retailers. Previously, you had to rack up 10,000 points to get a full-value gift card. Because of this change, we’re now far happier with points than we were before. Still, it’s not impossible that Citi will once again devalue their points, so we’ll stick with cautious optimism for now. Changes are highlighted below.
Getting full value out of Citi ThankYou Points is an impressive feat. Not, mind you, that it’s impossible, but Citi makes it really, really hard . If you redeem right, you’ll get the full value of 1 cent per point, but make the wrong choice and you’ll see your rewards rate halved. To its credit, Citibank offers a wide variety of redemption options, and it’s vastly improved both its offerings and its rates in recent months. Now you can finally redeem a reasonable number of points for a decent gift card. Before, could trade in, say, 6k points for a $50 gift card, but now you can trade 2,500 points for a $25 gift card. Still, the points’ value varies widely depending on how you use them. We’ll take you through the different redemption options and tell you how to get the most out of each.
|Reward Type||Sample Redemption||Point Value|
|Cash||$50 cash: 8,000 points||0.625 cents|
|Gift cards||$25 gift card: 2,500 points||1 cent|
|Music downloads||$1 music voucher: 100 points||1 cent|
|Prepaid debit||$25 card: 4,000 points||0.625-0.71 cents|
|Merchandise||$19 book set: 3,900 points||0.5-0.8 cents|
|Charity||$10 to any charity: 1,900 points||0.52-1 cent|
|Mortgage/student loan payment||$25 payment: 2,500 points||1 cent|
|Travel certificates||$25 Avis gift card: 3,500 points||0.71-1 cent|
As you can see, three categories (as of this writing) reliably offer 1 cent per point redemption rates: gift cards, loan repayments, and music downloads.
Citi actually has a decent range of gift cards to choose from, including Old Navy, Red Lobster and Sony. A few merchants will give you $10 for 1k points, but for the most part, you can trade 2,500 points for a $25 gift card.
You can also use your ThankYou Points to pay off installment loans. If you’re paying off a student loan, you can get a $25-$1,000 rebate on your loan payments (that’s 2,500-100,000 points). If you’ve got a mortgage, you can trade in that same amount and Citi will send a check to your lender. The music downloads are courtesy of Sony: you get a voucher good for MP3 downloads.
Charitable donations are almost universally redeemable at full value. If you donate to Citi’s charity du jour (at the moment, it’s the American Red Cross) you can get $1 in donations for 100 points. The option described in the table above applies to a charity of your choice. If you want to donate to, say, cancer research, the value of your points will be nearly halved.