Thank You Citi: 146,000 Reasons Why Citibank Deserves Your Attention

Citi ThankYou Points have never been part of my miles and points strategy in the past. Chase has the widest array of strong credit card offers and attractive spending category bonuses, so naturally, I have been doing a lot of business with Chase over the last few years.

Recently, however, Citi has made a major push in the credit card market with cards like the Citi Prestige and ThankYou Premier. All of a sudden, the miles and points bloggers have begun pushing these cards, so it's clear that Citi has incentivized them sufficiently.

Usually, when there's a push like this, I exercise caution, because often these are cases of aggressive marketing instead of good deals. In this case, though, I think there is incredible value in becoming a Citibank customer and I don't mind giving them a little free advertising.

Consider this combination of offers:

Citi ThankYou Premier Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points after $3,000 spend within 3 months
  • Category Bonuses: 3x gas, 2x restaurants & entertainment
  • Travel Benefits: No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived for the first year)
  • Click here for the card application

Citi Prestige Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points after $3,000 spend within 3 months
  • Category Bonuses: 3x air travel & hotels, 2x restaurants & entertainment
  • Travel Benefits: $250 air travel credit (per calendar year), Priority Pass Lounge access
  • Annual Fee: $450 ($350 if you have a CitiGold checking account)
  • Click here for the card application

CitiGold Checking Account

Assuming a scenario where, over the course of say, 6 months, one acquires all three of these accounts, at least 146,000 ThankYou points would be earned. In addition, there is potential to redeem $500 worth of air travel credits + earn 10,000 points or more from Bank America or Barclay card funding of the CitiGold account ($10,000 funded = 10,000 points). Here's the breakdown, in the order I might consider:

  1. 50,000 points for Citi ThankYou Premier bonus + 3,000 points earned from spend
  2. 40,000 points for Citi Prestige + 10,000 miles from Alaska Airlines Bank America account funding
  3. 50,000 points for Citi Prestige bonus + 3,000 points earned from spend + $500 in air travel credits

Citi ThankYou points are worth 1.6 cents each if redeemed towards American Airlines flights, so becoming a Citi customer with these two cards and checking account would result in $2,336 towards flying American. Since this is coded as a "paid" flight, you'd also earn miles for the flight and would not have to deal with award booking.

Alternatively, ThankYou points can be transferred 1:1 to 11 airline partners. Of interest to my future plans would be Quantas or Cathay Pacific for flights to Australia/New Zealand or Asia, but Singapore Krisflyer miles are also very valuable for use with any Star Alliance partners. This post from MileValue is a great example of maximizing Krisflyer miles.

The Bottom Line

Using variations of the redemption MileValue suggests, it would basically be possible to get 3 roundtrip flights to South America and 2 roundtrip flights to Hawaii (+ 2 one-way flights to Hawaii), all on just these sign-ups. I would conservatively value those flights at about $5,000. Add in $500 in air travel credits to cover any taxes/fees/in-air purchases plus 10,000 Alaska Airlines miles (worth about $150), and you've got $5,650 in value for one $350 credit card annual fee (Citi Prestige card).

Please Consider: Signing up for credit cards and other accounts to receive points/miles bonuses can greatly improve a person's ability to travel and explore the world around them. However, abusing banks and over-leveraging one's credit can have negative implications. Educate yourself and fully consider the impact of any use of credit before moving forward. We encourage readers to take advantage of great offers when they come along and also to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the banks that make such offers. Be reasonable and everyone will be happy!