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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When to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United

When to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United

Even though Singapore's KrisFlyer program is an outstanding way to redeem Chase points, it still makes sense to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United under certain circumstances.

After publishing this recent article about the outstanding value in Singapore’s KrisFlyer program, a Chase Ultimate rewards transfer partner (and a Amex and Citibank transfer partner), we have been inundated with questions about why anyone would ever still transfer points to United.

To be clear, there are many circumstances where you would still transfer points to United, including just about any redemption not outlined in that article as being one of the 4 great opportunities on Singapore.    

In fact, while United has rampantly devalued its frequent flier program over the last several years, a handful of good redemption opportunities remain. 

One of the best uses of United miles is a 30,000 miles redemption for intra-Europe round trip coach travel on any of its European partners or another partner.  This opportunity covers a large geographic area as Europe on United’s chart extends from Iceland to Moscow, and redemptions may include a stopover or open jaw.   United’s partners include SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Adria, Croatian and Swiss.  Lufthansa and its German Wings subsidiary area also Star Alliance partners although for not recommended at the moment for intra-Europe travel for obvious reasons.   (British Airways, also a Chase transfer partner, also offers intra-Europe round trip redemptions that may be even less than 30,000 miles, but often carry higher carrier-imposed surcharges).

Another solid United redemption is 35,000 miles for round trip coach travel between the US and Central America or the Caribbean on either United or partner Copa Airlines.

There are also great United redemptions in Asia through Air New Zealand that may be a more economical way to travel New Zealand (or through New Zealand) than by redeeming on Singapore.  For example, it is 40,000 miles for a saver award for one way travel from US to New Zealand on partner Air New Zealand or 35,000 miles from the US to Fiji.  It is also only 22,500 miles in coach from Japan to New Zealand or Australia or only 30,000 miles in business class from Japan to Fiji.

Finally, it should be noted that any discount that you may be receive from transferring Chase points to Singapore in order to book on United metal (as outlined in points 1 or 2 of this article) is available if you can find a United Mileage Saver award available on the date and time that you are seeking to fly.  Many people will not have the flexibility to find a Mileage Saver award that suits their plans and will need to book so-called standard award redemptions.  United does not open standard award redemptions to its Star Alliance partners so the only way to book these redemptions on United with Chase is by transferring your points directly to United.  

One of the advantages of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program (and using Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink), as well as an advantage of Citibank and Amex’s flexible points program, is that you don’t need to transfer points until you are prepared to redeem for travel.  In fact, as this article points out, you should never transfer points from Chase into either United or Singapore without firm travel plans.  It is always better to leave them at Chase and maintain the flexibility to use them there or at one of Chase’s other great transfer partners when you are ready to redeem.

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.

Advertising Disclosure: This site may be compensated for hosting offers.


Keep Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, Citi Thank-You Points and Amex Membership Rewards Points With the Card Issuer Until You Are Ready to Redeem

Keep Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, Citi Thank-You Points and Amex Membership Rewards Points With the Card Issuer Until You Are Ready to Redeem

Cardholders who accrue points in these programs should try to keep them there until they know exactly how they will redeem them.

Smart credit card users are generating some of the most valuable travel rewards through the flexible travel rewards programs on Chase, Citibank and Amex.  Each of these programs allow their points to be transferred into the programs of several leading airline hotel partners, usually in 1,000 point increments. (Note that Barclays and Bank of America also have flexible travel rewards programs and those cards are ranked among our top 10 travel rewards for 2015, but the programs operate differently in that points can be applied directly against travel expenses).

When you earn points in the Chase, Citibank or Amex programs, there is an inclination to want to move them as quickly as your earn them to your favorite frequent flier program or hotel program.  For several reasons, you are better off leaving them in the flexible program in which they are accrued until such time as you need them for booking / redemption.

Here are the main reasons why it makes sense to hold your points at Chase, Citibank or Amex.

  1. Airline miles and hotel programs frequently devalue their program as a whole (Delta and United, in particular), or change the number of miles or points required for an airline or hotel stay.  Once you move your points into a given airline or hotel program, your points are with that program and for as long as they remain unused they become less valuable with each devaluation.   You protect yourself from these devaluation by holding the option where to transfer your points as long as possible.
  2. Airlines and hotels have a constant incentive to devalue their points, and the card issuers have a constant incentive to keep their points being worth as much as possible.  Between the two, your interests are better aligned with the card issuer so you want to keep your stash with them until you need them.
  3. Because card issuers have an incentive to keep points worth as much as possible, they are constantly adding new partners ….    Both Citibank and Amex recently became partners with the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program which gives holders of their points a very valuable option that wasn’t present just a few months ago (Chase has long had Krisflyer as a partner).  This article outlines the Krisflyer program and explains why it is extremely valuable on Singapore Airlines as well as on United and Virgin America (but, it is also not a good place to store points).   Had you transferred your points to one of the US airlines before Krisflyer was added, you would have missed out on some great redemption opportunities.
  4. Card issuers are sometimes even giving transfer bonuses that make your points more valuable.  American Express is the program that often runs promotions allowing you to transfer your points to British Airways and Delta at better than a 1:1 transfer ratio (they have offered transfers as high as 1:1.40).
  5. There is an optionality value to the points that is lost as soon as they are transferred.  For example, 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned through a Chase Sapphire card or the Chase Ink card can get you three nights at the Park Hyatt Place Vendome in Paris (90,000 points on Hyatt), or six roundtrips from New York to Chicago on American (90,000 points booking through British Airways), or a Business Class round trip ticket from JFK to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines (you’ll need 98,800 points on Singapore).  They can also be redeemed for flights on United, Korean or Virgin Atlantic, for hotel stays at Intercontinental or Marriott / Ritz, or even for travel on Amtrak.   But, once transferred, your options are gone. 

There is one disadvantage to not transferring your points until you need them, and that is that you’ll need to keep your card active (i.e., pay the annual renewal fee each year) in order to keep your points.

We rank these three cards as the best flexible travel and rewards cards for individuals and these three as the best for business.  

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.

Advertising Disclosure: This site may be compensated for hosting offers.