Citi ThankYou Redemptions Network Review
Citi Thank You Redemptions Network Review
Summary - The Citi Thank You Network is Citi's reward program. Like most reward programs from major credit card issuers, you can redeem points for a variety of rewards like travel, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchandise. Citi also allows you to transfer points to another cardholder. You can use points for music downloads and also to get farmville cards! But the program has a couple of kinks in it that may concern some folks. For example, the online travel portal (which is powered by expedia) does not show American Airline flights. For those looking to use points for gift cards, Citi requires more points for a certain value in gift cards than other programs.
Airline Travel - Citi has an online travel portal (which is actually powered by expedia.com. Hence, you can compare airline ticket, hotel, car rentals and cruise prices just like you do on expedia.com. You can use your points to pay for your travel (100 points gets you $1 in value), cash, or a combination of cash and points. The one thing you have to note about the travel portal is that expedia.com has stopped showing American Airline flights. Hence, if American Airlines is one of the options for you, you will not be able to see their prices. The other thing to note is that SouthWest Airlines is never listed on any online travel site like expedia.com, orbitz.com etc. Therefore, if you are a SouthWest Airline flyer, you will have to go to their website, check prices and book directly with them. Citi claims you can use their "your wish fulfilled" feature and they will get you a Southwest flight. But, they are never sure how many points you need.
Hotel Travel - The Thank You Redemptions Network has pretty much similar hotel rewards compared to other programs. You can redeem certificates with the Marriot, Hyatt Hotels and the Ritz Carlton. The following table is compilation of their hotel reward redemtions from their website. Aside from these 3 hotels, the Thank You Redemptions Network also lets you redeem points for vacation packages, which may involve stays in other hotels and resorts. Unlike the restrictions on American Airlines and SouthWest, you can pretty much find any hotel on Citi's expedia.com powered travel portal.
|5,000||$50 certificate for Marriot, Hyatt or Ritz Carlton|
|10,000||$100 certificate for Marriot, Hyatt or Ritz Carlton|
|20,000||$200 certificate for Marriot, Hyatt or Ritz Carlton|
Cruise Travel - You can also use points for cruises. To book your cruise you have to call the ThankYou Service Center at 1-800-THANKYOU (1-800-842-6596).
Car Rental Rewards - The rental companies in the ThankYou Redemption Network are Avis and Budget. You can redeem points for either Avis or Budget Gift Certificates.
Shopping Rewards - The Citi ThankYou Redemption Network has many merchant partners in their program. There too many to mention, but it is a very comprehensive list.
Gift Cards - As with most reward programs, the Citi ThankYou allows you to exchange points for gift cards. But compared to other programs like Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards, you need more points to get the same value in gift cards compared to other programs. For example, while you only need 2,500 points for a $25 gift card with Amex or Chase, you need 3,500 points for a $25 gift card with Citi. While you need 5,000 points for a $50 gift card with MR or Chase UR, you need 6,000 points with ThankYou. Only when you redeem for a $100 gift card does Citi catches up with other programs at 10,000 points requirement (essentially making it a 1% rebate).
Prepaid Gift Cards - You can also use ThankYou points for Citi's Visa prepaid cards. But the conversion ratio is not good at all. 4,000 points gets you $25 in value! 7,500 points gets you a $50 gift card while 14,000 points gets you a $100 prepaid card.
Social Media Game Points - Citi will also allow you to buy CafeWorld and Farmville Cards and Stuff with your points! 3,500 points gets you $25 in value while 6,000 gets you $50 in value!
Music Downloads - One of the more interesting feature of this card is that you can use points to pay for music downloads. And the points required are more reasonable (ie 1% rebate) versus the gift and prepaid cards. For 100 points points you get a $1 download. 500 points is worth $5 worth of downloads.
Transfer Points - Cit ThankYou also allows you to transfer points to another account. This will work out well for family members who also have a Citi ThankYou Reward Card.
Cash Rebate - With the ThankYou Redemptions Network, you can also redeem points for a reduction in your credit statement. Not exactly cash on hand, but nevertheless still considered a form of cash rebate. Given that the rebate is less than 1% in most cases (as it is with reward programs), nobody in the right frame of mind should redeem points for cash. The table below summarizes the rebate payout percentages.
|3,000||$15 Statement Credit (0.5%)|
|5,000||$25 Statement Credit (0.5%)|
|9,000||$50 statement credit (0.5556%)|
|17,000||$100 statement credit (0.5882%)|
|30,000||$175 statement credit (0.5833%)|
|38,000||$250 statement credit (0.6579%)|
Fulfill Your Wish - If the reward you want is not in the catalog, you can make a request under the Fulfill Your Wish program and the Thank You Redemption Network will do their best to fulfill your request.
Verdict - The Citi ThankYou Rewards is quite comprehensive (as should a reward program from a major credit card issuer should be). But it falls short in a few areas that are of concern. Firstly, their online travel portal (which is powered by expedia) does not show American Airline flights. It does not show SouthWest as well so you cannot compare flights from 2 significant carriers. The absence of American Airlines is a huge negative for their travel portal bacause this is not a problem other reward program portal faces.
The second thing that this reward program is not great at is the gift card section. That is because compared to programs like Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards, you need more points to get a certain value in gift cards or prepaid cards. Also, it pales in comparison with Discover's Gift Card Rewards which allow you to redeem for more than the cash back you have earned!
This does not mean you should never consider any Citi Rewards Card. If you are not bothered with gift cards or prepaid cards, then their shortfall in this area should not bother you. If you do not fly AA or SouthWest airlines, then their travel booking system should be fine with you. But if these are concerns for you, then you ought to check out other programs like Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards.