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Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points For Great Gift Card Rewards

Published 2/15/08 (Modified 3/20/14)
By MoneyBlueBook

Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points For Great Gift Card Rewards

Well a year has passed since I started earning and accumulating Citi ThankYou Reward Points using my squadron of Citibank credit cards, and now it's time to redeem them for some well deserved purchase rewards. I own three of them myself.

Pros and Benefits Of Using Citi ThankYou Reward Point Credit Cards

While I like cash back credit card offers as much as the next guy, these days, the highest rebate offers are provided by reward cards, not cash back cards. Card reward programs like Citibank's Thank You Network tend to offer much higher purchase rebate potential than regular cash back cards. Ever since Citibank ended the good ole days of the former 5% cash back Citi Dividend Card, most card companies have followed suit and scaled back their cash rebate offers in favor of reward point cards.

In terms of reward programs, Citi's Thank You Network is one of the better ones since they offer a pretty wide selection of redeemable rewards. The program offers everything from your standard cash reward to electronic merchandise. Other popular rewards include statement credit, student loan money, gift cards, home appliances, and free airline rewards.

Cons and Drawbacks Of Earning and Redeeming Citi Thank You Points

The biggest downside of earning reward points through programs like Citibank's ThankYou Network is that they tend to require a more hands on approach to keep tabs on accumulated points. Unlike cash back cards, the points that reward cards earn usually have an expiration date. When it comes to ThankYou points, the expiration date varies and depends on the specific terms of each card. Despite the extra tracking hassle, I don't really mind the extra management steps needed to earn the higher money back potential.

The other downside of using a card that only provides reward points is the redemption ratio. You have to really pay attention to the conversion ratio when you are redeeming your reward points to make sure you are getting the best deal (this may get a little bit tricky). Let me explain: Firstly, I have to presume the standard base card rebate rate is 1% back, although most Citi ThankYou credit cards do offer 5% back which will allow you to earn points even quicker for certain category of purchases. But with the standard rate, this means for every $100 you spend in real purchases, you should earn the rebate redemption equivalent of $1 in rewards (1% back). Thus you would need to spend at least $1,000 to earn enough to redeem a $10 gift card with a perfect 100% redemption rate of ($100 purchases = 100 ThankYou Points = $1 reward redemption value equivalent).

In general, the more versatile the reward (like cash and statement credit) the worse the redemption ratio. For cash rewards, the current best ThankYou redemption rate is only 16,000 points for a $100 gift card. This comes out to a redemption rate of only 62.5% of what you should potentially get - which is terrible.

For statement credit, the current best ThankYou redemption rate is only 35,000 points for $250 in statement credit. This comes out to a redemption rate of 71.43% - better than the ratio for cash, but still not a perfect 100%, which is what we would strive for if we wanted the perfect 1:1 redemption ratio offered by cash back cards.

How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck When It Comes To Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

If you want to get the highest rebate potential, reward point cards that offer Citi ThankYou points is the way to go. But if you want to maximize your reward redemption potential, you must make sure you redeem your points for rewards that offer you the highest 100% redemption rate. You'll need to actively browse around your ThankYou member account to see which rewards offer the best redemption. Avoid the lower value gift cards as they don't offer a good exchange.

Just A Few Examples Of ThankYou Rewards That Offer the Top Redemption Rate:

  • $100 Marshalls Gift Card for 10,000 points - My favorite deal since I love shopping at Marshalls for clothing. They offer some of the best clothing bargains for deal hunters like me.
  • All retail store gift cards $100 or above that allows you to get a $100 gift card for 10,000 points. Store brands offering this deal include Nike, Footlocker, Old Navy, Gap, TJ Maxx, Circuit City, Waldenbooks, Bath and Body Works, Bed Bath and Beyond, Pier 1, Macys, J.C. Penny, Bloomingdales, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Zales.
  • All student loan rebate rewards - all of them offer perfect 1:1 ratios. I personally avoid them however because I am trying to delay paying off my student loans.
  • All charitable contributions $50 or above.
  • The ThankYou Points Fixed Flight Option also offers a very good reward redemption rate.

Avoid These Rewards Because They Offer Poor Redemption Ratios:

  • Gas gift cards - The best point conversion works out to be a $50 Shell gasoline card for 6,000 points, which is still only a 83.33% purchase to points conversion. If you're happy with that, then go for it. For me, I insist on shooting for 100%.
  • All product merchandise - I think the retail value of the items are overinflated. You're better off buying products online through another internet source.
  • Cash rewards and statement credit offer poor redemption rates as I mentioned earlier.


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