Citi ThankYou Rewards Program Overview

Earn A Lot of Points With Citi ThankYou Rewards, But How Much Are They Worth?

ATMs at a Citibank Branch
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Citi's ThankYou Rewards program allows you to earn points from a variety of accounts you might have with the bank, from checking accounts to debit cards to credit cards.

The main way to earn points, of course, is through credit cards, several of which automatically earn you points when you use them, including the Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, and the AT&T Acess Card from Citi.

How to Earn Citi ThankYou Rewards

Generally, you earn one point per dollar spent on those cards, although each card has its own incentives that let you earn bonus points depending on how much you spend and on what. Some Citi credit cards offer a signup bonus of up to 50,000 bonus points if you spend a certain amount on your Citi card within the first 90 days of opening your account.

If you have a debit card with Citi, you earn one point for every $2 you spend with the card and sign for the purchase (i.e. use it as "Credit") and one point for every $3 if you enter your PIN (i.e. use it as "debit"). You can also earn points automatically each month if you have other products with Citi, such as a checking account or a mortgage. For example, you can earn over 1,000 additional points a month if you have over seven accounts with Citi. However, you must register those accounts with Citi to get credit for the points.

You can earn extra points by using your eligible card to make purchases at more than 400 participating merchants through ThankYou.com. You can also earn an average of four points per dollar when you shop and use your card at participating merchants, whether online or at a retail store. And you can earn points by using your cards at participating restaurants or by buying gift cards at Restaurants.com.

You can even purchase points at the rate of $25 for 1,000 points, up to an annual max of 100,000 points.

What Can You Do With ThankYou Points

The rewards you can earn are as myriad as the ways to accumulate points. The ThankYou website has a huge catalog of rewards to choose from, from books and DVDs to travel and airfare to gift cards and cash. If nothing suits your fancy, you can even try to work out a different reward through Citi's "Your Wish Fulfilled" program; you must have a minimum 10,000 points to qualify for that service.

Are ThankYou Points Worth It?

It's easy to earn points if you're a loyal Citi customer with multiple accounts, but it's more difficult to make it worthwhile if you just spend on your credit and debit cards to accumulate points. If you do the math, most of the point values work out to much less than one percent of spending. For example, you need 3,500 points to earn a $25 gift card at Chili's, which translates into a 0.7 percent reward on spending. You'll need 8,000 points to earn $50 cash, which equates to just 0.625 percent.

The real value is earning the bonus points you get after signing up for one of the participating credit cards that earn ThankYou points. Many cash back rewards cards, by contrast, pay one percent back or better. I think that's a better and more understandable deal.