Update 4/20/15: I got this card back when it didn’t have nearly as good of an offer. A lot of this is outdated because the program has improved dramatically. Check out the new offer.

I got the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card because of its sign up bonus…

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first three month.

…and category bonuses:

  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on travel and gas
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is one of the top bank point earning cards. The 50k point sign up bonus is worth $625 in free flights on any flight, any time, on any airline with no blackout dates.

And when you fly those $625 in free flights, you will earn miles as if you were flying tickets you had paid for! So getting this card earns points, which lead to free travel, which leads to earning miles, which leads to free travel. The technical term for this is “a virtuous cycle.”

Or you can transfer the points to 11 airlines and one hotel. The bit of extra effort leads to higher value First Class and Business Class redemptions.

Sign Up Bonus

You earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first three month.

Category Bonuses

In addition to the sign up bonus, the card has killer category bonuses:

  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on travel and gas
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Full breakdown on what counts in those categories. They’re broader than you think.

Expiration and Limit

There is no limit to how many ThankYou points you can earn.

The points never expire as long as you have the account open. If you plan to close your account, use the points first. (This expiration policy is common among cards that earn bank points. The expiration policy of airline miles earned from credit cards is totally different. See The Complete Guide to Miles and Points Expiration for more info.)

I’ll have this account open at least 24 months and possibly longer, so I know I have plenty of time to redeem for my free flights.

Redemption

You can use your ThankYou points to book any flight, on any airline, in any cabin for anybody as long as a seat is for sale. (Open jaws are OK. One ways are OK. Roundtrips are OK. Etc. Etc.)

Most flights are available at thankyou.com. If the flight is not available, you can call 800-THANKYOU from 8 AM to 1 AM ET Monday through Friday and 9 AM to 9 PM on weekends.

The only restriction I see is that you have to book at least 24 hours before travel.

You get 1.25 cents per point in value on all flight redemptions, and the price of the ticket on thankyou.com should approximately match the price you find on kayak.com or the airline’s website.

The airline will see your flight as a paid flight because Citi is buying you a cash ticket for your ThankYou point award redemption. That means that you can input your frequent flyer number and earn miles for the flights as usual including any bonus miles you get for having status!

For instance, a recent paid flight of mine was a $129 one way flight from Chicago to Los Angeles on United, with which I had Silver status. Instead of paying cash, I could have booked the flight with just over 10k ThankYou points, and I would have still earned 2,181 miles for flying it, including my 25% status bonus.

Most of my Citi ThankYou redemptions will probably be on similar flights. I’ll use the points when traditional miles are a poor value like on most domestic economy flights, including Hawaii interisland, and on low-cost carriers in Asia and Europe.

You can also redeem ThankYou points at a value of 1 cent per point for gift cards to a huge variety of stores, restaurants, and gas stations. I would only do this if I were closing the account and had some leftover points that I hadn’t spent on flights where you get 1.25 cents per point.

Who is this card best for?

This card–like all fixed-value bank point cards–is best for people who fly economy class flights at least some of the time.

If you find a $200 roundtrip from your home airport to Orlando, Florida, you can book it with 16,000 ThankYou points and earn airlines miles for flying the segments. That’s a great deal compared to traditional airline miles, since the same roundtrip would cost 25k American, United, or Delta miles–if they even released Saver award space on the flights–plus taxes and you wouldn’t earn any miles.

Some of the cheapest international fares, like $750 to Europe or Asia would also be far better deals with ThankYou points than traditional miles.

I tend to fly international first and business class on longhauls, but economy on short hauls. International first and business class maximize my traditional airline miles, and using ThankYou points for domestic economy will maximize my ThankYou points.

Who is this card totally wrong for?

Please, please, please do not come to my Award Booking Service with 200k ThankYou points and ask me to book you a roundtrip First Class ticket to Southeast Asia.

First Class tickets cost up to $10,000, and a $10,000 ticket would cost 800,000 ThankYou points.

International premium cabin tickets are best obtained with traditional airline miles. American Airlines would let you fly Cathay Pacific First Class for only 135,000 miles plus taxes and fees.

My Experience with the Citi ThankYou Premier

Since getting the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, I’ve been working on spending $2,000 on the card by next month to earn 20,000 bonus ThankYou points.

Most of my spending on the card so far has been at restaurants and bars, which has earned me 3x points per dollar on most purchases. Once I meet the minimum spending requirement, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card will still be my go-to card for dining and entertainment.

If I spend $5,000 on the card this year and next year at restaurants, that’s 15k ThankYou points plus 50,000 bonus ThankYou points for 65,000 ThankYou points total. That would be enough points for over $800 in free flights.

Bottom Line

Citi is finally providing competition to the existing king of flexible cards that earn points that can be used on any flight: the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, with its 50k point sign up bonus, is a great card for anyone who wants $625 in free flights to go on vacation, visit family, or save money in case of emergency.

I myself have been know to enjoy free travel, so I got this card in February.  ;)

Offer details:

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening –  redeemable for $500 in gift cards, $625 for airfare, or other great rewards.
  • Earn 3X ThankYou Points on Travel including Gas,  2X ThankYou Points on Dining Out and Entertainment, and 1X ThankYou Points on Other Purchases
  • ThankYou® Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through thankyou.com, as compared to gift cards
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited ThankYou Points
  • Annual Fee:  $95 (fee waived for the first 12 months)

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card


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