What is the Citi Trifecta? Maximize Earning ThankYou Points

CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT CARD REWARDS
The Citi trifecta is a strategy for using three different Citi credit cards to maximize your ThankYou Points earning potential. (Citi is a FinanceBuzz partner.)
Updated Feb. 13, 2024
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The Citi trifecta is a method for using three Citi credit cards, specifically the Citi Premier® Card, Citi Custom Cash® Card, and Citi Double Cash® Card, to maximize the number of ThankYou Points you can earn on your purchases.

Each of these cards has different rewards rates, so the strategy is to use whichever card will earn the most rewards on a particular purchase. In practice, that means carrying around multiple credit cards and deciding which one to use based on what you’re buying.

For example, you might use the Citi Premier for a dining purchase, the Citi Custom Cash for a home improvement purchase, and the Citi Double Cash for any purchase that doesn’t fit the rewards categories of the other two cards.

Let’s explore how the Citi trifecta works and see if it makes sense for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • The Citi trifecta strategy recommends using three Citi credit cards — the Citi Premier, Citi Custom Cash, and Citi Double Cash — to help maximize your earning potential and redemption opportunities for ThankYou points.
  • If you already have the Citi Prestige® Card (no longer available for applications), then you could use it as part of this trifecta instead of the Citi Premier.
  • The Citi Double Cash has the lowest rewards rate in the trifecta: up to 2% on all purchases. You could use this card to buy things that don’t fit in the other cards’ highest-earning rewards categories.
  • You can combine Citi ThankYou Points from different Citi credit card accounts to pool your rewards on one card.
  • You can transfer points to Citi travel partners at potentially higher rates if you hold a Citi Premier card, which makes the Premier a good choice for where to transfer points from other cards in the trifecta.
  • Citi has over a dozen transfer partners, including Choice Privileges, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

What is the Citi trifecta?

With the Citi trifecta, cardholders use three different Citi credit cards to help maximize their earning potential and redemption value. The idea is to have three rewards cards that provide different earning rates on various categories. That way you could use whichever card earns the highest rate in any given situation.

For example, you might use one card for travel, another card for groceries, and another card for miscellaneous expenses depending on the earning rates each card has. When it works, this method helps you earn more rewards points than using just one card for everything. But it also requires more work since you have to remember different rewards rates and juggle multiple credit cards.

Another potential perk of using the Citi trifecta is consolidating your points from different credit card accounts onto one card. If you have the Citi Premier card, this method can be helpful because you have the option to transfer points from your Citi Premier account to hotel and airline partners where your points could potentially be worth more.

What cards do you need for the Citi trifecta?

The primary cards people use for the Citi trifecta are the Citi Premier, Citi Custom Cash, and Citi Double Cash.

Citi Premier® Card Citi Custom Cash® Card Citi Double Cash® Card
Annual fee $95 $0 $0
Welcome offer Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening; Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024 Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back
Rewards rates 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24
Intro APR offer None 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable))

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable))

0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable))
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good Excellent, Good, Fair Excellent, Good, Fair
Foreign transaction fees None 3% 3%

Note that the 5% categories on the Citi Custom cash include:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Select travel
  • Select transit
  • Select streaming services
  • Drug stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Live entertainment

Is the Citi trifecta worth it?

It’s worth it if this describes you:

  • You value earning ThankYou Points.
  • You either already have all three credit cards, or you apply for and are approved for them.
  • You don’t mind juggling multiple credit cards and remembering which card to use for which purchases.

If it fits your lifestyle and the credit cards you have, then the Citi trifecta can be a valuable way to maximize your earning potential. Using the trifecta gives you a way to earn more points than if you were to use only one rewards credit card for everything you buy.

Compare earning rates for the Citi trifecta cards

  • Citi Premier® Card: 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases
  • Citi Custom Cash® Card: 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Citi Double Cash® Card: 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24

How to set up a Citi trifecta

You can’t set up a Citi trifecta unless you apply and are approved for the right trio of Citi credit cards. Even if you’re eligible, this could take months to accomplish depending on your credit score, recent inquiries, and other credit-related factors. But assuming you already have the Citi Premier, Citi Custom Cash, and Citi Double Cash cards, here’s how you could start using the trifecta:

  1. Use the Citi Custom Cash for purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back).
  2. Use the Citi Premier for spending on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotels.
  3. Use the Citi Double Cash for everything else.
  4. Combine your ThankYou accounts, which will pool points from separate cards together. You can do this in your online account or by contacting Citi directly.
  5. Redeem your ThankYou Points wherever you get the most value. That might be for travel rewards booked through thankyou.com, or it might be by transferring your points to one of Citi's travel partners through your Citi Premier account. You’ll need to compare redemption rates to know which one is the best option for you.

How to maximize your redemption value

You can potentially increase your ThankYou Points redemption value with the Citi trifecta by using the Citi Premier’s access to higher transfer rates with travel partners. For example, Citi Premier cardholders can transfer points to Choice Privileges at a 1:2 ratio. That means you get 2,000 Choice points for every 1,000 ThankYou Points you transfer.

But Citi Double Cash cardmembers only get a 1:1.5 transfer ratio with Choice Privileges, which means you’d get 1,500 Choice points for every 1,000 ThankYou points transferred. Without the Citi Premier, you’d lose out on 500 Choice points per 1,000 ThankYou Points transferred.

Is this a big deal? Only if you want to maximize your redemption value.

In many cases, ThankYou Points are most valuable when transferred to Citi travel partners. That’s because you can potentially receive a much higher redemption value by using your points with certain airline or hotel loyalty programs than you would by redeeming points for travel rewards through thankyou.com.

For example, let’s look at this redemption with Choice Hotels in Oslo, Norway.

A screenshot of the price of a hotel room shown in points.


The price of a hotel room shown in U.S. dollars.


You can pay either 20,000 Choice points or $371 for a one-night stay on the selected dates. That’s about 1.9 cents per point ($371 / 20,000 = 0.01855), which is a great redemption value. You can typically give Citi rewards a base redemption value of 1 cent per point, so this is a much better option than other redemption methods.

But, remember, you don’t actually need 20,000 ThankYou Points for this redemption. With the 1:2 transfer ratio (if you have the Citi Premier), you only need 10,000 ThankYou Points. So the redemption value is closer to 3.7 cents per point ($371 / 10,000 = 0.0371), which is excellent.

5 reasons why the Citi trifecta might not work for you

1. You don’t qualify for all three credit cards in the Citi trifecta

If you can’t get approved for all three Citi credit cards, you can’t take advantage of the Citi trifecta strategy. Note that these credit cards typically require at least a good credit score to qualify, which is a 670 on the FICO scoring model.

But most credit card issuers consider multiple factors when determining your card eligibility, so having a certain credit score doesn’t guarantee your approval.

2. You don’t want to juggle multiple cards at the same time

It takes some effort to know which credit card you should use on every purchase if you want to maximize your earning potential. And the effort might not be worth the payout for you.

In that case, it could be much simpler to use one of the best cash back credit cards as your go-to payment method. That way, you don’t have to keep track of different bonus categories.

3. You don’t want to pay an annual fee

The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee. It’s not a high annual fee compared to luxury travel cards with annual fees over $500, but it’s still a cost you have to pay each year. To find a card without annual fees, check out our best no-annual-fee credit cards.

4. You don’t travel much

We think some of the most valuable ThankYou Points redemptions come from transferring your points to Citi travel partners. The Citi trifecta strategy can help you earn more bonus points to transfer to different loyalty rewards programs.

But this end goal falls apart if you don’t travel much and don’t really need a travel credit card or travel rewards. The Citi trifecta could still be useful with other non-travel-related redemption options, but the value would likely be less and it might not be worth it to you.

5. You won’t use Citi transfer partners

We recommend using Citi transfer partners to get the most value out of your ThankYou Points redemptions. But if you’ve looked over the available transfer partners and they don’t align with your travel habits, then this redemption option doesn’t hold much value for you.

FAQ about the Citi trifecta

Is there a Citi trifecta for business cards?

No, there isn’t. But other credit card issuers have business trifecta options. It’s possible to take advantage of a trifecta of Chase Ink business cards. The Chase Ink business trifecta includes these cards:

The Ink Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee, but the cost is likely worth it in exchange for access to increased earning potential.

Which credit card trifecta is best?

Which trifecta is best depends on your personal finance goals and spending habits, but the Chase trifecta is one of the most popular options. The Chase trifecta typically includes these cards:

Some people switch out the Sapphire Reserve for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card here for a lower annual fee.

How much are 60,000 Citi points worth?

They’re typically worth at least $600, but it depends on how you redeem them. Citi doesn’t publish point values for its redemptions, but it’s common to have a value of at least 1 cent per point. We’ve found that using Citi transfer partners can help boost your redemption value by more than triple that amount in certain situations.

Is there a Citi trifecta for business cards?

No, there isn’t. But other credit card issuers have business trifecta options. It’s possible to take advantage of a trifecta of Chase Ink business cards. The Chase Ink business trifecta includes these cards:

The Ink Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee, but the cost is likely worth it in exchange for access to increased earning potential.

Which credit card trifecta is best?

Which trifecta is best depends on your personal finance goals and spending habits, but the Chase trifecta is one of the most popular options. The Chase trifecta typically includes these cards:

Some people switch out the Sapphire Reserve for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card here for a lower annual fee.

How much are 60,000 Citi points worth?

They’re typically worth at least $600, but it depends on how you redeem them. Citi doesn’t publish point values for its redemptions, but it’s common to have a value of at least 1 cent per point. We’ve found that using Citi transfer partners can help boost your redemption value by more than triple that amount in certain situations.

Bottom line

The Citi trifecta is worth it if you want to earn Citi ThankYou Points and you can qualify for (or you already have) the three Citi credit cards in the trifecta.

If you can’t qualify for the Citi Premier, Citi Custom Cash, and Citi Double Cash, then you can’t take advantage of the Citi trifecta. And if you don’t care about ThankYou Points, this likely isn’t the right card strategy for you.

Keep in mind that there are loads of different ways you can use multiple rewards credit cards to help maximize your earning potential. This includes creating combos or trifectas with cards from other card issuers, such as American Express or Chase. For more of our top recommendations, use our dedicated page to compare credit cards and card offers.

Earn Valuable Travel Points Even Faster

4.9

Citi Premier® Card

Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening; Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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