Don’t Make This Mistake With Citi ThankYou Points

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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.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


    • Not sure what you mean exactly but sorry you didn’t like the post. I think it is a very easy mistake to make if you aren’t careful.

    • Lopere –

      Sheesh. Who posts stuff like that? I’m new to Thank You Points and found this quite helpful. Do travel bloggers really need trolls to write demeaning comments like that?

      • Although Lopere’s comment wasn’t that eloquent, here is the gripe: The post title is “Don’t Make This Mistake With Citi ThankYou Points”. The term “this mistake” implies that a mistake was made by someone. In the post, there is not a discussion that a mistake was made either by MommyPoints or someone else. No mistake was made, thus the title does not line up with the article. A better title would be “Do you know the big difference between ThankYou points and Arrival points?” or something along those lines.

        • Well it would be a big mistake if you needed to use points for the travel charge and instead got stuck having to pay cash because you were used to how the Barclaycard or similar worked. I did sort of make this mistake with the ThankYou card, though when I bought the tickets with the card I wasn’t 100% if I wanted to redeem points or earn points, so it wasn’t a catastrophic mistake as I just opted to earn points and pay for the tickets, but I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t able to redeem points after using the card for the ticket purchase.

  1. I have made the exact same “misunderstanding.” My wife and i each have the Barclays Arrival and a citi prestige and premier. We used up almost of of our Barclays points paying off rental cars. (now i just have to figure out what to do with the 1,200 points i have left.) Tried to do the same thing with the citi thankyou points and wasnt able to. In the long run i am happy because now i want to go to Tokyo next year and can transfer thankyou points to Singapore instead if needed.

  2. If that’s not a clickbait I don’t know what is. Perhaps the next one could be — Don’t make this mistake! Hyatt hotels do not take Starwood points!

    • Well some of you guys are obviously very well versed in program nuances, but I can assure you that not everyone is. That said, I am glad so many of you would never make this mistake!

  3. Great timing. I am planning to use the points for airfare w Alaska, but now know to call, not just buy the flights on the Alaska site

  4. Oh, good Lord. I had 99% confidence that I knew what the post was about before clicking just by using 2 seconds of thought. Just in case it was something else, I clicked to see, and confirming my suspicion, I knew the post wasn’t written for me. Not every post is for you or me! Get over yourselves. Keep up the good work, MommyPoints.

  5. I have been using points and miles since 2006 and did not know this about Thank You Points. So, I clicked on the article and learned something useful. Thank you Mommy Points, and don’t worry about the detractors.

  6. Just ignore the negative posts. Not every post will work for everyone, but there’s really no reason for people to be rude about it – they could just move on.

    I have points in both programs and it’s a good reminder. Keep up the good work.

  7. I agree the content has value for some. It’s complicated keeping straight the program details. What some don’t care for is the headline-writing style of “this mistake”, which is often referred to as “clickbait” style, instead of an informative headline like, “Redeeming for Travel with ThankYou vs. Arrival Points” or the like. It’s a great blog and a minor annoyance, but yes, I prefer the informative style too.

    • While I think the title was appropriate in this case, I do agree that titles have tended towards the sensational or clickbait style over the lat few years. However…the reality is that those are the articles people read, which of course is the goal of any article written online. So, I didn’t mean to over-sensationalize this situation, but if titles are too mundane significantly fewer people will ever even open the post so there is a tightrope to walk.

  8. I don’t understand negative commenting on a free blog. If one doesn’t like the content or don’t feel it’s relevant, don’t read or quit subscribing. I have done that with a couple of your “competitors”. And there are ways to give positive criticism. Anyway, I have a question about Thank You Points. I got the AT&T and More Thank You Mastercard for the free iPhone, but I have accrued some points using it as well. However, as I understand it: it order for the points to truly be useful for travel, I need to get the Citi Thank You Premier or Prestige card. Do you have a take on this? Thanks!

    PS–Thinking about your and your family, and hoping you’re getting some (positive, I hope) answers for Baby S.

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