Citi ThankYou Redemption Network Airline Rewards Update

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A few days ago, a reader sent me an email telling me about his experience with Citi ThankYou Network when he redeemed points for an airline ticket. He mentioned that rather than requiring just 25,000 points for a roundtrip flight from Salt Lake City to Miami, he had to cough up 38,000 points.

Well, I also got on to investigate whether Citi has made any changes to the program. It took a while, but I finally found some new information on the ThankYou website and after a few calls, I managed to clarify how the airline ticket rewards work. The new program allows you to redeem points in two ways : the Fixed Option (where you have to phone the Citi ThankYou Network agent) or the Flexible Option method, where you can book your flights online. The old program resembled more the fixed option method. This is how it now works.

Fixed Flight Options

The Fixed Flight Options is available to elite citi cardholders (which includes most of their reward cards). This option is the way most typical reward program (or at least the way they used to run it) are run. With this option, you require a fixed number of points to redeem for a free airline ticket. The number of points depends on your destinations. However with this option, you have to book your travel 14 days in advance, have a Saturday night stay and the tickets you get are restricted tickets.

Variable Flight Options

If you do not want to be bounded by the usual restrictions of having to book your tickets in advance and staying a Saturday night, then there is another option, called the Flexible Option. All of the ThankYou Online Booking and Variable Flight Options are run by Expedia (yes, the Expedia). With this option, you book your flights online and the points you need for your free airline ticket depends on the cost of your flight. So if you get a cheap flight, you may only need for example 18,000 points or 22,000 points rather than the usual 25,000 points for a standard US roundtrip flight. (But as in the case of our reader, he needed 38,000 points – I suspect that is because his flight must have cost more than $300). With this option, as long as the flight is available, you will get a seat. Hence, there are no blackout dates and no requirements to book in advance.

What if you do not get the flights you want?

As with most credit card reward program, you may not get the exact flights you want. That is because airline reserve their seats for different agents. They reserve some seats for ThankYou Network, some for Worldpoints, some for expedia and other travel agents. When ThankYou Network’s seat alottment is taken up, then you cannot use your thankyou points even though you can get that flight from another agent.

Citi claims that you can request the flight through the “Fullfill your wish” program where you can request a reward which is not presently available in the program. I have not tried this yet, so I cannot report on it’s effectiveness.

I just want to highlight this so that you are more aware of the finer details of the program. If you have Citi Reward Cards and have used ThankYou Network for free airline tickets, please share your experience.

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10 Responses to “Citi ThankYou Redemption Network Airline Rewards Update”

  1. Ray Says:

    sounds interesting, I wonder how it stacks against Membership Rewards. just got my gold card several weeks back and starting to accumulate points, wonder what would be better… hmm.

  2. Denise Says:

    Just had a terrible experience with thank you Redemption Network. There are no more fixed flight options for elite members. Last year, redeemed my points from Providence to Cancun for 30,000 points. This year, the same ticket is anywhere from 79,000 to 128,000 points!! I spoke to a supervisor at the Network and she said as of June 11, everyone has been switched over to the Flexible flight options. I am currently looking for a better reward program.

  3. aj Says:

    bs… premier pass elite still has fixed point rewards.. this is still by far the best rewards program

  4. Shaila Says:

    I’ve been booking fligts on expedia since quite some time. Lately I have had very bad experiences when I want to make changes. The customer service is extremely bad and the wait-time is outrageous. I know wait-time for most automated systems is lenghty but I have not experienced anythign worse than expedia. Recently I called expedia & my call was anwered after an hour & half. I was trasfered to another department & had to wait another 50 minutes to speak to a rep. Finally the rep did not know what to do and kept putting me on hodls every other minute. By the time I was done I had spent more than 3.5 hours of my time for a small change….It was ridiculous and I hope Expedia hires more staff for better service!!!! If this continues I guess I will stop booking on Expedia. I might have to shell out a little extra money but its far better than the frustrations one has to go through…..BIG SHAME EXPEDIA!!!!

  5. kam Says:

    You are all wrong on how the program works and should research it a little more. certian cards do qualify for fixed rates and its only 20000 and there are no advance booking or blackout dates

  6. jim spencer Says:

    Anyone can get the fixed reward by having a citibank account – which you can keep for free and get more thankyou points for – there are articles on insiderbanking.com that describe how to do it and get even more points – I hope it helps. Also the fixed points work out as 20000,for up to $400 us domestic roundtrip. 60000 for europe roundtrip (up to $1200) or 120,000 for australia roundtrip (up to $2400) , you can use it for first class but you need to use more Thankyou points. The fixed flight redemption is by far the most effective use of thankyou points

  7. Bigwavedave Says:

    fixed reward is no longer an option, as of April 15, 2008. Anyone else receive that notice?

  8. alicia Says:

    HOw do I find out where I can redeem my points?

  9. X Thank You Says:

    okay, first, the reason some agents at the TY network treat you like crap is cuz they treat their workers like crap. like closing down whole departments after saying everything was okay. anyways, how do i know this? i used to be a Redemption Agent. Citi is being stupid to deny you guys the right to use the fixed point option. Jim Spencer is totaly correct. i might add that another way to get it is to open an Expedia Account with a NEW TY Account Number (this is very important) and then call the TY cust service and tell them to merge your new Expedia sponsored TY account number with your current TY account (you can have more than one TY account number). Voila! you qualify for the Fixed Point option. this is a dishonest policy of Citi’s to do this and many times i would say “F” it and i would tell the member who was calling me to do this even if i was to get in trouble. hope this helps. otherwise, fixed point option rocks and is the only good deal on the entire ty network.

  10. saleh m hadlaq Says:

    i have some problem with cathy pacific air line for abt one year now i am trying to get air line ticket using my asia miles . i ask them that i can fly any time the have open seat but to now cant get any thing and my asia miles will expire in 29 july 2009 .can you tel how to do .

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