Citi ThankYou Points are a flexible currency rewards program like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. You earn ThankYou points by using your Citi debit or credit cards, and points can be redeemed for travel in the bank’s online booking portal or they can be transferred to airline programs if you have one of its premium cards.
Citi partners with 17 airlines programs including American Airlines AAdvantage and JetBlue TrueBlue here in the US. The others are foreign carrier programs including the popular Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest and Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
Transfer rates are usually 1:1 for most programs, but that can vary according to the card you have. You must have either the Citi Prestige or Premier card to convert ThankYou points to miles in an airline program.
There are only a handful of Citi cards that earn ThankYou points, though the Citi Prestige premium travel credit card is not being offered for the foreseeable future and may be discontinued. It’s also possible it may get an overhaul to make it more competitive in the crowded premium travel credit card market.
In this post you'll learn:
Which Citi Cards Earn ThankYou Points?
The Citi Prestige is not currently available to new applicants, but if you have it in your wallet you can still use it to earn and redeem points. Because this was the top-of-the-line card that has a $495 annual fee, it has the best earning and redemption options.
The two major credit cards that earn ThankYou points and are available for new applicants are the Citi Premier Card, which is a mid-tier card with a $95 annual fee, and the Citi Rewards+ card, which rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase and has no annual fee.
Citi also lets you earn ThankYou points for using your debit card, it has a new cashback card that earns 5x ThankYou points per dollar spent, and also a co-branded telecom card that offers these rewards.
In this article, we’ll go over all the ways that you can boost your ThankYou points balance through bonus earning categories and other strategies. All cards noted earn at least one point per dollar spent, though we are focusing on options to maximize your points earned through bonus opportunities.
Sign-Up and Welcome Bonuses
Sign-up bonuses are one of the best ways to get a lot of points after meeting minimum spend requirements. For a limited time, both the Citi Premier card and the Citi Rewards+ card are offering elevated sign-up bonuses.
Now is a good time to get the Citi Premier card because it has its best ever sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of having the card.
You also need to have either this card or the Prestige to transfer points to airlines, and since the Prestige card is not currently available this is your best bet if you want to convert these points to miles. This card has a $95 annual fee.
The Citi Rewards+ credit card is offering 20,000 points after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first three months.
This card has no annual fee and is offering a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
Open a Newly Launched Product – Like Citi Custom Cash
Citi has also introduced a new card called the Citi Custom Cash card which gives you 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle up to $500, then it earns 1%.
There is no need to enroll in rotating bonus categories to get the 5x points. Eligible categories are drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, live entertainment, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and select travel, transit and streaming services.
What’s important to know on this one is that cash back is earned as ThankYou points which can be redeemed for travel or you can choose to get a statement credit or a check or explore other redemption options.
This new card comes with $200 cash back after you spend $750 in purchases in the first three months of having the card. It also has a 0% introductory APR for 15 months that is good for purchases and balance transfers.
There is no annual fee.
Or the Citi AT&T Access Card
The AT&T Access Credit Card from Citi earns 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent online at retail and travel websites and on products and services from AT&T including phone accessories and tablets. It earns one ThankYou point per dollar on everything else.
This card comes with a 10,000 point sign-up bonus after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the card. There is no annual fee.
Or the Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi Double Cash card is another way to earn double ThankYou points. You don’t earn them directly, but you can convert rewards earned to the flexible currency. This card gives you one point when you make a purchase and another point when you pay it off.
This is a fairly new option on this card and it turns the already popular cashback card into a ThankYou point earning powerhouse. There is no annual fee for this card.
Spend with your Citi Debit Card
Citi is unique in that it lets you earn ThankYou points by using your debit card. To start earning this way, you enroll your eligible checking account in the ThankYour Rewards program and set up one qualifying direct deposit and one qualifying bill payment each statement cycle.
If you don’t have a Citi checking account, you can open one to start earning ThankYou points this way if you use your debit card more than a credit card. This is not new. It was actually a big component of the ThankYou program which was designed to reward banking customers.
Go Travel Somewhere
Travel is an obvious bonus earning category for travel rewards programs, and Citi is very generous in how it defines travel. It includes airlines as well as travel agencies including travel aggregators and tour operators.
If you currently hold the Citi Prestige card you can earn 5x ThankYou points on travel purchases in those categories, though hotel and cruise line bookings will only earn 3x points with this card. One way around this is to book your hotel or cruise through a travel agent to get the 5x points.
The next best option if you don’t have the Prestige, is the Citi Premier card which earns 3x on travel.
Go Grocery Shopping
Another popular bonus points earning category is supermarkets. To get extra points in this category, use your CitiRewards+ card, which earns 2x ThankYou points on up to $6,000 per year in combined supermarket and gas station purchases for a maximum bonus of 12,000 points per year in this category and one point after that.
After you max out that bonus category or if you don’t have this card, there are still a few ways to earn bonus points for grocery shopping. You can use the new Custom Cash card and get 5x points if supermarkets are your top spending category in any month, or you can use the Double Cash card as noted in the dining section above.
Fill Up the Tank
Gas station purchases are also a popular category for consumers seeking rewards for their everyday spending. The Citi Premier card offers 3x points in this category, and the Citi Rewards+ earns 2x points on up to $6,000 in combined purchases per year on groceries and gas. Citi includes all gas station purchases in this category, not just fuel.
Prior to pandemic and Covid-19, Dining has always been a popular category for travel rewards cards, and Citi recognizes that by having it as a top earning category for people collecting ThankYou points. The Citi Prestige card earns 5x points per dollar on dining, takeout and deliveries, and the Premier card earns 3x points.
In addition to establishments serving food, Citi also includes fast food restaurants as well as bars, cafes, taverns, lounges and nightclubs in this category. Some other card issuers do not allow bonus point earning in the dining category for these kinds of places. But some places that serve food but are in a larger establishment like an airport or amusement park will not code as dining.
Keep in mind that if dining is your top spending category, the Citi Custom Cash card will give you 5x for that category. And you can earn 2x points on dining if you use the Citi Double Cash card and convert those points once the bill is paid. This holds true for any of the bonus categories below as well.
Go to a Ball Game
When it comes to entertainment, the best Citi card to earn bonus points is the Citi Premier card, which earns 2 x points. Entertainment includes amusement parks, movie theaters, sports, theatrical productions and tourist attractions.
With all of the recent changes in its lineup of cards, it’s clear that Citi is trying to bolster its ThankYou Points rewards program by giving people new ways to earn those points. They also may be revamping their premium rewards card behind the scenes.
It looks like they may be taking a page from Chase’s playbook on how they built their Ultimate Rewards program. Before Chase introduced the Sapphire line of cards, the Chase Freedom was a flexible cash back card that let you choose the option of earning cash back or Ultimate Rewards. By allowing customers to convert their Citi Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points, they will increase the branding of the ThankYou Rewards program.
Chase also introduced 5% rotating bonus categories similar to what Discover offers, and we are now seeing that with the new Custom Cash card that is offering 5x on your top category and rewards you with ThankYou points that can be used for travel or converted.
My prediction is that Citi will reintroduce its premium Prestige card, perhaps with a new name. Watch for a big splash if/when that comes out. If they follow Chase’s lead there will be a huge sign-up bonus like we saw when the Chase Sapphire Reserve launched.
Citi may try to lure customers with a smaller annual fee than the Chase SapphireReserve or the Platinum card from American Express, both of which have increased their annual fees this past year or so.
If you are currently holding the Citi Prestige card and are considering downgrading it, think twice about that especially if you spend a lot on travel and dining as this is the only Citi card that lets you earn 5x in those categories and Citi has halted applications for it.
If you are planning to transfer your ThankYou points to an airline program, you need to have either the Citi Prestige or the Premier card. If you don’t currently hold the Premier card, then it might be a good time to apply.
If you make a lot of small purchases, the Citi Rewards+ is a good idea to boost your points balance. For example, every $2 cup of coffee will automatically round up to reward you with 10 ThankYou points.
With the elevated bonuses in place, this is a great time to add either the Premier or Rewards+ card to your wallet. If you don’t already have either one, think about applying for both cards while the limited time bonus offers are in place. Together they will reward you with 100,000 bonus points and minimum spend for both is $5,500 and only one annual fee is involved for a cost of $95. That’s a nice stash of ThankYou points for a small outlay of cash.
If you’re not a big fan of cashback cards because you like to use your points for travel, it’s time to give the Citi Double Cash card a second look. The ability to earn 2x points on all purchases is very valuable, especially now that you can convert those points to miles.
And finally, the new Custom Cash card is also worth considering because of its ability to earn 5x ThankYou points in your top spending category every month.