Are Citibank ThankYou Points As Valuable As Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

Are Citibank ThankYou Points As Valuable As Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

The answer: "It depends."

Editor's Note: The Prestige card ceased to offer the Admiral's Club access and the free golf benefit, described below, on July 23, 2017.  The 4th night free benefit was also recalibrated so that the credit offered is now for the average nightly rate across four consecutive nights.  

Citi Thank You Premier now offers 50,000 points to new account holders who spend $3,000 in three months.  The Citi Prestige card is basically the same offer, but carries a $450 annual fee (reduced to $350 for in branch applications), in return for which you get several valuable benefits including access to the American Admiral Club.  Both cards allow you to accrue points quickly on travel, including gas, as 3x and at restaurants at 2x (the two Citibank ThankYou cards are compared in this article).  Most importantly, ThankYou points can now be transferred to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer Program which is also one of Chase’s best transfer partners.  Citibank’s new ThankYou partner and its heavy advertising campaigns beg the question: “Is it time to switch from Chase to Citi ThankYou?”  The answer: “It depends.”

Citi ThankYou cards allow for incredibly fast point accumulation due to the bonus categories for anyone spending on travel and restaurants.  Transfer partner Singapore KrisFlyer offers outstanding redemption opportunities described in this article.  Unfortunately, the incredible value in Singapore’s program can only be unlocked if you are flying on certain Singapore routes, flying around the world, or able to transfer to Singapore in order to redeem on United for flights to Hawaii (for which there must be Saver award availability).   Citi ThankYou card holders will have difficulty finding as great value with the other transfer partners, and the ability to redeem directly on American at 1.6 cents per point is inferior to most cash back cards.

By contrast, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred not only to Singapore, but also to several other partners where real value can be had (including United, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, and Amtrak).   Even though Singapore and United are both part of the Star Alliance, this article describes certain cases where the ability to transfer to United provides tremendous flexibility.  British Airways also offers some outstanding short haul rewards.   And, Hyatt ranks among the best hotel rewards programs.  In fact, the breadth of the partners causes the Sapphire card to rank as our best flexible travel card for individuals and the Ink card to rank as our best travel rewards card for businesses. 

Citi ThankYou cards have an equation for incredibly fast point accumulation and is a great card for someone doing lots of redeeming through Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program (perhaps someone with a very flexible schedule who goes to Hawaii frequently?).  However, most will find that Chase’s partner line up provides several different ways to win and is therefore still preferable.  

See all of the top 15 travel rewards cards for 2015.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are those of the author, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank advertiser, card issuer, airline or hotel.

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