In September 2019, Citi announced that Citi Double Cash Card holders could begin converting their cashback rewards into ThankYou Rewards points with the card issuer’s flagship rewards program. This presents a huge opportunity for Citi cardholders given the Citi Double Cash Card’s ability to earn you up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay unlimited on all your purchases.
If you have the Citi Double Cash and another Citi card that earns ThankYou Rewards points, you can now get much more value out of your rewards than if you were to just get cash back. But there are some things you need to understand about how to maximize the Citi Double Cash transfer to ThankYou Points.
Here’s everything you need to know about the process of transferring Citi Double Cash rewards to Thank You Points, and how to take the most advantage of the options available to you.
How the Citi Double Cash transfer to ThankYou Points works
Historically, Citi Double Cash cardholders have had three redemption options: a statement credit, a direct deposit to a bank account, or a paper check. With all three, you need to have $25 in your rewards account before you can redeem your cash back.
With the new transfer option, however, you now also have the opportunity to convert your cashback rewards into ThankYou points in $1 increments. You’ll receive 100 points for every dollar transferred to your linked Citi ThankYou rewards account, putting the value of each ThankYou Point at one cent.
You can request a Citi Double Cash transfer to ThankYou Points through your rewards dashboard in your online account. Once you’ve transferred your ThankYou points, they never expire. However, you won’t have the option to convert them back to cash back. So avoid making the transfer to points unless you’re sure that’s what you want.
After you make a transfer, you’ll have several new redemption options that weren’t previously available with the Citi Double Cash. These include booking travel, shopping with points on Amazon.com, purchasing gift cards, shopping online with PayPal, and more.
You’ll also have the chance to transfer your ThankYou points to the JetBlue TrueBlue program at a 1:0.8 ratio. JetBlue points are worth roughly 1.3 cents a piece on average. This means if you transfer 5,000 ThankYou Points (worth roughly $50), you’d get 4,000 JetBlue points worth $52 at an average redemption value.
If you have another card that offers ThankYou Rewards points, such as the Citi Premier Card, Citi Prestige Card, or Citi Rewards+ Card, you can pool your converted points in with points earned from those cards. And, if you have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, you’ll also be able to transfer your points to additional airlines, all at a 1:1 ratio (or sometimes better when there are promos running).
The actual redemption value of a ThankYou Rewards point can vary based on how you use them. For example, travel arrangements, gift cards, and statement credits all offer one cent per point, but if you have the Citi Premier Card, you’ll be given a value of 1.25 cents per point on flights booked through the rewards program platform.
How to get the most value out of your Citi Double Cash rewards
If you just have the Citi Double Cash, your rewards are worth roughly the same whether or not you convert them into ThankYou points.
If you’re looking to squeeze more value out of this great cashback credit card, pair it with the Citi Premier Card or the Citi Prestige Card. With both of these cards, you can transfer your ThankYou points to any of the following airlines at a 1:1 ratio:
- AeroMexico Club Premier
- Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
What’s more, each of these airlines has its own set of partners, including many domestic airlines like American, Delta, and United.
Even if you’re not interested in transferring your ThankYou Points to one of the program’s many airline partners, you’ll still get 25% more value if you have the Citi Premier Card and use your points to book airfare through the ThankYou Rewards travel portal.
Both the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige cards also offer big welcome bonuses — whereas the Citi Double Cash doesn’t have one at all — and also allow you to rack up more points on select bonus categories.
|Citi Double Cash Card
||Citi Premier Card||Citi Prestige Card|
|Welcome bonus||None||Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months||Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening|
|Rewards rates||up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay||3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases||5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases|
By pairing the Citi Double Cash with one or even both of these other credit cards, you can accelerate your earnings on certain spending categories and use the Citi Double Cash for everything else to ensure you’re always earning the most rewards possible.
If you are interested in further maximizing your rewards by transferring them to one of Citi’s airline partners, be aware that redemption values can vary based on the program you transfer them to and how you redeem them once you’ve moved them. In general, though, international business and first-class flights typically provide the best redemption rates. For example, we found a business-class fare from New York City to Paris on Air France for $7,272 or 129,500 Flying Blue miles and $377 (as of Dec. 2019).
If you were to use your ThankYou Rewards points to book the flight through the rewards program platform, you’d get 1 cent per point (or 1.25 cents per point if you have the Citi Premier). But if you were to transfer your points to Flying Blue, you’d get a whopping 5.32 cents per point. (To get that figure, subtract the $377 in taxes and fees on the award ticket from the cash ticket to get $6,895, then divide by the 129,500 miles required for the fare.)
While getting that kind of value is possible through ThankYou Rewards transfer partners, it’s not guaranteed you’ll get it every time. Regardless of where you’re planning to travel, consider doing some test bookings with several airlines on the list so you can compare their redemption value. Always run the math to see which actually gets you the most value per point.
Also, keep in mind that business and first-class flights typically give you more value than the main cabin fares. But if you don’t have enough points to cover a more expensive ticket, it may still be worth it to transfer for a seat in economy if it gives you more value than what you’d get booking the flight through Citi.
How stacking Citi cards compares to other rewards credit cards
Although the new Citi Double Cash transfer to ThankYou points option is a massive win for ThankYou Rewards points enthusiasts, stacking the card with the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige won’t always give you the best bang for your buck.
For example, let’s say you have the following annual budget:
- $6,000 on travel
- $4,000 at restaurants
- $2,400 on gas
- $30,000 on non-bonus spending
Here’s what you’d earn with the Citi Double Cash and Citi Premier vs. the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases (which is transferable to Chase Ultimate Rewards). While the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
|Citi Double Cash and Citi Premier||Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Preferred|
|Travel||18,000 points||12,000 points|
|Restaurants||8,000 points||12,000 points|
|Gas||7,200 points||3,600 points|
|Non-bonus spending||60,000 points||45,000 points|
|Total points||93,200 points||72,600 points|
Note that while the Citi Premier offers 25% more value on airfare redemptions through the ThankYou Rewards portal, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers 25% more value on all travel redemptions through Chase. The bank also has its own set of transfer partners, which includes several airlines and hotel brands. Even so, the Citi pairing provides roughly 23% more points than the Chase pairing.
But now let’s say you’re considering pairing the American Express Gold Card and the Blue Business Plus Card from American Express. The Amex Gold Card offers 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. The Blue Business Plus offers a flat 2X Membership Rewards points on business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on purchases after that.
With this comparison, let’s say you spend the following annually:
- $7,000 on groceries at U.S. supermarkets
- $2,000 on airfare
- $2,500 on hotel stays
- $4,000 at U.S. restaurants
- $30,000 on non-bonus spending
Here’s how it works out between the two duos:
|Citi Double Cash and Citi Prestige||Amex Blue Business Plus and Amex Gold|
|Airfare||10,000 points||6,000 points|
|Hotel stays||7,500 points||5,000 points|
|U.S. restaurants||20,000 points||16,000 points|
|U.S. supermarkets||14,000 points||28,000 points|
|Non-bonus spending||60,000 points||60,000 points|
|Total points||111,500 points||115,000 points|
In this scenario, the Amex cards narrowly beat the Citi cards, and as with Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to several airline and hotel rewards programs.
So the lesson is: If you’re hoping to maximize the value of your rewards, take a look at your spending and break it down into the categories. Then choose the credit cards that will allow you to earn the most rewards based on your personal spending habits.
Tips on applying for your Citi credit cards
If you already have the Citi Double Cash and want to pair it with another Citi credit card or you’re thinking of opening two Citi cards to maximize your rewards, it’s important to understand the card issuer’s credit card application rules before you start the process.
Citi doesn’t limit how many credit cards you can have from the bank, but it does have some rules on how often you can apply. For example, you can get approved for one personal card every eight days, two personal cards every 65 days, and one business card every 95 days. The first two rules are the most important in this scenario, because the Citi Double Cash, Citi Premier, and Citi Prestige are all personal cards.
So if you’re planning on applying for more than one card, space out your applications by more than eight days, and avoid applying for any other Citi credit cards for at least 65 days after you get approved for your first one.
The Citi Double Cash transfer to ThankYou Points option is one of the best cash back credit cards if you are looking to maximize their rewards, especially for travel purposes. If you have the Double Cash Card or are thinking of getting it, consider also getting the Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card so you can maximize the value of your rewards through transfers to airline partners.
Also, take some time to categorize your spending and pick the card combination that will give you the most rewards over time. Be sure to compare the Citi cards to credit cards from other card issuers to make sure the ThankYou Rewards program is where you want to focus your efforts. How to earn and how you redeem rewards is a personal matter — so pick what’s best for you.