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Citi has rolled out big changes to its online travel portal that will have a sizable impact on how its credit cardholders search and book travel — whether they’re paying for a trip or redeeming points.
In March 2023, Citi launched its revamped booking platform, officially called Citi Travel with Booking.com. Certain cardholders can book everything from flights and hotels to rental cars and experiences through the portal.
The booking website now offers some 1.4 million hotel options worldwide, including a growing list of properties in Citi’s two new hotel portfolios: the Hotel Collection and Luxury Collection. Bookings in these collections come with special perks such as property credit, free breakfast and more.
The changes give members more options to use Citi ThankYou points. In addition to redeeming ThankYou points for travel, members can also redeem points for cash back or transfer them to airline or hotel partners. In fact, members sometimes extract a higher value from their points by transferring them.
However, applying them toward travel in the Citi’s online travel portal can be a compelling option, particularly given some of the perks available at the platform’s two hotel collections and the current promotion: Now through June 30, 2024, cardmembers with the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card can earn a total of 10x ThankYou Points by booking their hotels, rental cars or eligible attractions on Citi Travel. The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and Citi Rewards+® Card can earn a total of 5x ThankYou Points on the same bookings.
In this guide, we’ll go over which cards that members can use the Citi ThankYou travel portal, what the points are worth and when redeeming points through the Citi Travel portal can make sense.
Who can use the Citi ThankYou travel portal?
Most cards that earn Citi ThankYou Points offer members access to the Citi Travel portal, including:
The portal offers cardholders perks like same-day booking opportunities, a 24-hour cancellation window for full refunds and flexible payment options.
The baseline value of Citi ThankYou points
Cardholders can redeem Citi ThankYou points between 1 cent to 1.25 cents through the Citi Travel portal or when redeemed for cash back. So, 1 cent per point should be your baseline redemption rate when deciding whether you should transfer points to one of Citi's airline or hotel partners.
If the booking you are considering gives you less than a 1-cent-per-point redemption rate, consider getting cash back instead. Then, pay for that same booking in cash. This may be more optimal than redeeming your ThankYou points at a lower rate.
How to book travel in the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel portal
1. Log into your Citi account
One of the benefits of Citi’s new travel portal is that you can book a trip and manage your credit card account with just a single login. Eligible ThankYou members can access the new travel portal directly.
You can redeem Citi ThankYou Points at a rate of 1 cent to 1.25 cents toward the following travel purchases: flights, hotel rooms, car rentals and activities. The Citi Travel portal is powered by Booking.com and Rocket Travel by Agoda, and works like the online travel agencies you’ve likely used before.
» Learn more: How to earn miles through online travel agencies
2. Search your travel dates and destinations
Let’s say you want to book a flight. Select the “Flights” tab and begin your search. Select your trip type (round trip, one way or multicity), and enter the number of passengers and preferred class of service. Input your departure and destination cities and travel dates. Check the nonstop box if necessary and select “Search.”
Review your flight options on the following page. To further filter the search results, you can sort by price, travel duration, as well as departure and arrival time. You can also filter results by the number of stops and operating airlines.
3. Choose to pay with cash, points or a combination of both
Once you select the fare, you’ll have the option to select a payment method: using ThankYou Points or a Citi credit card. If you choose to redeem points, you can either pay in full or redeem for a partial payment.
Here’s an example of a flight booking through the portal: a flight from Salt Lake City to Denver aboard Delta Air Lines. You can see, it’s available for $113.90 or 11,390 ThankYou points — a 1 cent-per-point rate.
You can also type in the number of points you want to apply toward the cost of the flight, select “Apply” and pay attention to the payment summary. If the points cover only part of the fare, use your credit card to pay the remaining amount. Then, enter passenger information and complete your booking.
Follow the same process online to make reservations for hotel rooms, car rentals and activities.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards you might not have
Benefits of booking in the Citi ThankYou travel portal
Historically, transferring ThankYou points to one of Citi’s partners, like airlines or hotel loyalty programs, sometimes results in a higher value for your rewards (in that they are likely to be worth more than 1 cent apiece). In a recent NerdWallet analysis, we value Citi ThankYou points between 1 cent to 1.3 cents per point. However, there are a few reasons you might consider booking travel through the ThankYou Travel portal instead.
Book flights on the dates you want
Let’s get real for a moment: Award travel is great when everything goes according to plan. But what if you want to travel on specific dates and can’t find available seats using miles with a specific airline? In that case, you have to be flexible and pick less convenient travel dates or times.
You can reserve any open seat on a plane by booking your flight through the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel portal because there are no blackout dates.
You might use slightly more points at a fixed redemption rate of 1 cent to 1.25 cents per point, but at least you can fly on your preferred dates. This option works best with inexpensive economy flights.
Book non-chain hotels with points
When you participate in hotel loyalty programs, you end up staying at chains. But what if you want to book that bewitching beachfront bed-and-breakfast and still take advantage of credit card rewards? Well, the good news is if it shows up in the portal search results, you can redeem points to reserve it.
In the Citi Travel portal, hotel reward bookings aren’t limited to chain hotels, which means you can book all kinds of properties outside of popular brands. This benefit is all the more noteworthy now that Citi has bolstered its property offerings through its Booking.com partnership.
Keep money in your pocket
If you’ve amassed a large collection of Citi ThankYou points, you might have more points than you know what to do with. And now that you’re ready to book a trip, you want to make use of your points instead of spending cash — essentially avoiding paying out of pocket for the same expense.
Though you’ll get a redemption rate of 1 cent to 1.25 cents per point, your trip will be paid for entirely with points. This can be a smart money move for the right situation.
Citi Hotel Collection and Luxury Collection
Perhaps the most significant change unveiled as part of the revamped Citi Travel with Booking.com portal is the addition of two hotel portfolios, at which eligible cardholders can enjoy added perks, not to mention, savings in some cases.
Citi is in the process of rolling out its new Hotel Collection and Luxury Collection — both bookable through its new platform. This may sound like a familiar concept. It’s similar to what other major credit card companies have offered through their travel portals, such as American Express Travel’s Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels and Resorts.
Citi’s Hotel Collection is available to all eligible ThankYou credit cardmembers. Guests who book one of these properties will enjoy a host of perks, including free breakfast for two, complimentary Wi-Fi and early check-in and late checkout (when available).
Here’s one property in San Francisco — the Argonaut Hotel, not far from Fisherman’s Wharf — available as part of the Hotel Collection. As you can see, the listing explicitly mentions late checkout and free premium Wi-Fi as a perk for this booking.
Meanwhile, the higher-end Luxury Collection portfolio is available only for ThankYou members who carry the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card. On top of the same perks offered as part of the Hotel Collection, eligible members who book one of these properties will also enjoy room upgrades (when available) and a $100 experience credit, which can be used for on-property purchases ranging from food and beverages to spa treatments, depending on the hotel.
Citi’s initial rollout of the Hotel Collection and Luxury Collection is confined to the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, but the company plans to expand the two portfolios to new destinations around the world over the next year.
Complimentary fourth night on certain hotel bookings
Both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi Premier® Card offer a fourth night free on eligible bookings, twice per year. One of the best ways to maximize use of Citi’s travel portal is to combine this card benefit with the perks offered as part of the Hotel and Luxury Collections.
To use this benefit, filter your hotel search results in the portal to display hotels designated as “Complimentary 4th Night Eligible.” Book at least four nights and look closely at checkout to confirm that the system applied the savings.
Bonus points for bookings
Extra points are certainly a way to sweeten any deal when it comes to booking, and Citi is offering a hefty promotion in concert with the new portal.
Between now and June 30, 2024, the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi Premier® Card members can earn a total of 10 points per dollar when booking hotels, rental cars or eligible attractions through Citi Travel.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and Citi Rewards+® Card members can earn a total of 5 points per dollar on those bookings.
Earn airline miles
Similar to other credit card travel portals like American Express or Chase, Citi members earn airline miles even when booking through the portal. Just add your airline frequent flyer number to the reservation.
On the other hand, a notable downside of Citi’s new portal is that, at least for now, members cannot add their hotel loyalty numbers. So, for instance, if you book a stay at a Hilton property through Citi Travel, you would earn ThankYou points for the purchase, but not Hilton Honors points for the stay.
What else you need to know about Citi Travel portal
The Citi Travel with Booking.com portal includes 24/7 customer service, which can assist with reservation and rebooking needs.
Members with existing travel booked through the old ThankYou Travel Center (prior to March 19, 2023) can access their reservation at ThankYou.com. Select “Travel” and then “My trips."
How good is the Citi Travel portal?
Despite improvements as part of the revamped Citi Travel portal, it likely won’t appeal to points and miles enthusiasts whose main objective is to maximize value.
However, for others who simply want to use their ThankYou points, it offers plenty of options. And there are certain situations where booking through Citi Travel can be even more beneficial than transferring points, particularly as the company continues to expand the Hotel Collection and Luxury Collection.
The opportunity for certain cardmembers to earn up to 5 or 10 points per dollar on purchases through the portal doesn’t hurt, either. Plus, using the portal can help you travel on dates with limited award availability and expand your lodging selection.
Although the value of your rewards won’t always reach its ceiling, you’ll keep money in your pocket by using ThankYou points for travel.
The information related to the AT&T Access More Card from Citi and Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card