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There are many similarities with the credit card points earned by the Amex, Chase, Citi, and Barclays programs, but there are also some big differences. When you are accustomed to how points in one program operate, and then you begin to accrue and utilize some in another, it can be easy to make some big mistakes if you don’t slow down and double check the nuances of how the various programs operate.
For example, when you use your favorite card to pay for eligible travel expenses you can then choose to essentially pay for that charge with points after the fact for up to 120 days following the transaction. You don’t have to book your travel via any special portal or website to use Arrival points, you just go about traveling and booking travel how you normally would and then use your points at a later date to reduce or eliminate the travel charges you owe.
It can then be easy to think that the process is the same or similar when you get another card that touts points that can be used for airfare, such as the Citi ThankYou Premier Card. When I got the Citi ThankYou Premier, the sign-up bonus was at 50,000 points that can be worth $625 in airfare. You can also transfer those points to hotel and airline partners, but if you ingrain in your brain that 50,000 points = $625 in flights it can be easy to make a potentially big mistake.
However, unlike with the Barclay Arrival cards, the points with the Citi ThankYou card can only be used to pay for travel if you use them via the Citi ThankYou Travel Center to book flights, hotels, etc. from the beginning. You can’t simply use the card to pay for the flights via another travel booking site and then redeem points to cover the charges after the fact.
I suppose the “good news” if you make this mistake is that you will earn 3x ThankYou points on the travel charges you put on your Citi ThankYou Premier Card, but if your budget was instead counting on redeeming your ThankYou points for the travel charges, you will be sorely disappointed.
Have you ever made a mistake with how you planned to redeem points earned with one of your rewards earning credit cards?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.