Citi Backward

UPDATE: NerdWallet has issued a retraction.  Read below 

NerdWallet reports that the Citi Forward card no longer gives 5X points for Amazon.com purchases.  Here’s an excerpt from NerdWallet’s post:

The Citi Forward gives 5 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on movies, music, restaurants and bookstores – the last of which used to include Amazon. However, as NerdWallet has confirmed, this is no longer the case.

This is bad news for Forward fans.  However, since this card has no annual fee and still gives 5X for several popular categories, I still think this is a great card for spend within those categories.

UPDATE: NerdWallet has issued the following retraction:

Retraction: After hearing reports that the Citi Forward no longer gave 5x points on Amazon.com, NerdWallet contacted their customer services representatives to find out more. While we heard from multiple CSRs that Amazon no longer counts, our readers have told us that they still receive 5x points. We strive to provide the best content for our readers, but we jumped the gun on this one, and we sincerely apologize to our readers.

Thankless ThankYou Points?

How hard is it to get good value from ThankYou points?  If you have the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you can get excellent value by using the points to buy airfare.  This will give you about 1.33 cents per point value.  As far as I know, though, all other ThankYou redemptions are worth a penny per point or less.  Here are some examples:

  • $100 Visa card costs 14,000 points (.71 cents per point value)
  • $100 Sunoco gift card costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)
  • $100 Statement credit costs 20,000 points (.5 cents per point value)
  • $100 Mortgage payment reward costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)
  • $100 Student loan rebate costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)
  • $100 travel gift card (Marriott, Hyatt, Avis, etc.) costs 10,000 points (1 cent per point value)

As you can see above, the value you can get from your points varies dramatically depending on how you use them.  Clearly, if you have the Premier card, the best use is to buy airfare.  Otherwise, I think the best bets are to get Mortgage payments or Student loan rebates in order to get exactly 1 cent per point value.  Gift cards are an OK value, but since it is often possible to get those at a discount (or to earn extra points) elsewhere, I’d argue that you’re better off with the mortgage or student loan credits.

Transfer to Airline miles?

Early in the year, there were many rumors of Citi adding the ability to transfer ThankYou points to British Airways Avios and Singapore Airlines miles.  In fact, Dan of Dan’s Deals spoke with several Citi representatives who confirmed that this was going to happen in April.  But, it didn’t happen.  It seems that Citi planned to roll out this capability, but never did.  Will it happen in the future?  We can only hope!  When transferring points to airline programs, it is often possible to get much more than 1 cent per point value.  If/when this happens, I still won’t value ThankYou points as highly as Ultimate Rewards or SPG points, but they could close in on the value of American Express Membership Rewards.  If they also added the ability to transfer to American Airlines miles, though, the value of ThankYou points would closely rival Ultimate Rewards.

Making changes for the better?

Last week, Citi sent out a special memo to customers in which they said “Thanks to your feedback, we’re making changes for the better.”  Specifically, with regards to ThankYou rewards, they wrote:

…when it comes to rewards, you told us you wanted more value for your points. We listened. Now, members can take advantage of frequent, limited-time promotions on top rewards items. By linking your ThankYou® Rewards account on LiveNation.com, you can now use points to purchase tickets to exciting concerts.

I suppose this is good news for frequent concert-goers (has anyone checked to see the value of points for this redemption?), but it doesn’t excite me much.  Come on Citi, bring us what we really asked for: allow us to transfer to airline miles, especially to American Airlines!

What do you think?

Do you like the ThankYou program?  What would you do to make it better?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Thank you points are the biggest waste of time on the planet, well next to anything from US Bank…

    I bit when Dan’s deals reported the transfer options and the clueless TYP reps said the same thing when I called them on the phone. What a waste of time. Pulled $2500 out between 5 cards for ‘mortgage payments’ and called it a day.

  2. Thank You points have got to be next to worthless to me now. Not only do redemptions suck, but the service from Citi I’ve received has been horrendous, while Chase on the other hand continues to impress.

    But good news! Citi listened to us apparently, and gave us a likely terrible ticketmaster redemption for concerts which no one asked for. I wonder what the ‘convenience fees’ will be to purchase these tickets. Lame.

  3. NerdWallet appears to have a run a retraction on their post.
    Retraction: After hearing reports that the Citi Forward no longer gave 5x points on Amazon.com, NerdWallet contacted their customer services representatives to find out more. While we heard from multiple CSRs that Amazon no longer counts, our readers have told us that they still receive 5x points. We strive to provide the best content for our readers, but we jumped the gun on this one, and we sincerely apologize to our readers.

  4. I signed up for the TY card that pays 5X Gas and groceries for 12 months. I have a small business and buy a good bit of gas any other ideas for higher rewards on gas purchases?

    • Scott: If you use the TY points for 1 cent or better redemptions, I think 5X is pretty good! Sure, it’s not as good as 5X Ultimate Rewards for those who want to transfer to airline miles, but it’s still an excellent return.

  5. Not sure how this is “confirmed,” FM. Just checked my 8/20 statement. No change in Amazon categorization, and I purchased both books and electronics on separate transactions and received full 5x points for these purchases. If you read the full NerdWallet post it sounds like this might be a bit alarmist. Why don’t you fully research this before reporting it as fact?

  6. People bash ThankYou Points, but there are certain ways to get a great value out of them.

    I dine out a lot and always use CitiForward card for 5x points. Which effectively means 5x (or 6.66x with CitiPremier) return on airfares, hotel stays AND you get miles/hotel points. This is nothing to turn your nose on.

    Back in June I traveled to Ukraine for Euro 2012 soccer tournament and used Delta miles. However, for a short hops within Ukraine where you don’t have SkyTeam/*A/OW options, I used TYP.

    Now, losing Amazon as a bookstore is unfortunate. But I see that it still gave 5x bonus as of August statement that closed just few days ago.

  7. @FrequentMiler
    I did some analysis/shared on FlyerTalk that 2.14x UR for dining can be at times better than 6.66x TYP, e.g. long-haul international business/first class or luxury hotels.

  8. Right from college I had a Citi MTV U Card (no more available now). It has become a Forward now. There are no special promotions from Citi and IMHO TYPs are just mere waste. Their only best redemption comes from airfare, but their car rental redemption is also very good (in their portal).

  9. I have had the TY Premier for a few years and get pretty good value out of it. For example a $400 flight MSP-SAN.

    Cost $400 * .0133 = $5.32 TY Points

    Booked through UR mall (2X) on Travelocity = 800 UR points at least $10 value

    TY Flight points = 3000 * .0133 = $39.90

    Still earn Delta miles 3,000.

    So I get back about $55 on my $400 flight or 13.8% back. That is really good value. That being said they changed so that the flight points only credit with corresponding spending. Since I don’t spend on this card anymore I don’t have that spending to offset the flight points so when my spending I had built up is gone this card will be getting downgraded or cancelled. Too bad as I milked a lot of value out of this card, it was my original points earning card, before F Miler and others showed me the light and really got me going.

  10. @ Solar + FM – You do not ever get a 1099 for redeeming TY points.
    If you get TYPs as a signup bonus for opening a Citi Checking account, you will get a 1099-INT (notice that the 1099 is based on receiving the points, not the usage of the points, so the 1099-INT has to assume a certain value for points). The bonus associated with checking accounts is considered income/interest, while TYPs from CC spend is considered a rebate/reward.

    On a side note, 5x TYPs on dining is great for me. Do I redeem TYPs? Not often. I’m currently sitting on 40k or so hoping they do eventually allow transfer to miles.

  11. I have both the citi forward and citi thank you premier card and plan to liquidate all my points before I pay the $125 annual fee for the TYP card.

    One of the better redemptions is for activities in various cities from thank you points, such as airport rides and tourist activities.

  12. Worth redeeming $10,000 TY points for $100 ritz gift card? I have a Citi checking account that gives me TYP for direct deposit. I don’t think I’d use them for anything else, maybe a pre-paid visa, but I’m staying at a ritz in November.

  13. I have TY points because I bank with CITI, get some free points each month. Looking at redemption options, they do have gift cards for certain stores (best buy) at 10K for $100, so a 1cpp redemption value, not great, but I will take it. What I like about the banking program, it gives you points based on the accounts, not the $$ amount in each, good when I have low balances.

  14. Besides flights with the premier card there are a couple of other options.

    1. you can get $0.01 per point if you have it redeemed to pay off student loans or mortgages. Some have reported (at Fatwallet) that they just deposit these checks – although if you have a loan outstanding might as well pay it down IMHO.

    2. The offers vary by card, and Forward is usually the weakest, but there are frequently offers for discounted gift cards. E.g. 9K points for $100 (or $0.0111 pp) (various retailers including amazon periodically). In June I did 8K points for $100(or $0.0125 pp) Old Navy (my kids always need clothes). The partners change each month.

    I have the TY Preferred card that gives me 5% for six months (lapses in October). I also am converting my oldest line to a Forward card. Sometime in 2013 I will pick up a TY Premiere to activate the flight redemption bump and most likely liquidate my cache for my 2014 family vacation (I already have miles allocated for 2013) unless a good gift card offer pops up in the meantime. If I get the Premiere I’ll look into whether I can make flight points work. I suspect I don’t travel enough to make it worthwhile when the annual fee rolls around.

  15. I tried buying flights using my Thank You points and discovered that Southwest fares are 2x the price, while several other flights were also higher priced than buying directly from the airlines. When I called to complain, they said “Sorry, sometimes we get different inventory / prices than what they advertise to customers directly”

    I also never got my “flight points” posted. I flew 2000 miles on a ticket I bought with the card, as part of my $2.5k minimum spending. The program rules say you’re supposed to get points credited for the miles as long as you spend at least that much, and after several calls I gave up. Not worth wasting hours to get $26 worth.

  16. ….also I doubt there will ever be transfer to AA or BA. This would compete directly with Citi’s AA card, and provide better earning, while for BA, I’m sure Chase and AMEX have that market cornered and it would require Citi to give away a lot of money to allow the points to transfer.

  17. @ atxtravel – your AA comparison seems a little flawed to me. That’s like saying AMEX shouldn’t allow MR points to be transferred to Delta because AMEX already has Delta branded cards.

  18. I bought $80 worth of stuff from Amazon last month and got 400 TYP on my Forward card, so still around for me. Mine was an MTVU card and my first ever card, so I want to keep it open for as long as possible.

  19. I have booked 4 or more flights with TYP and have always seen that the points I was charged was exactly the same as what I would have paid had I paid in $$$$.

    Thus, for domestic flights since I only use my Citicards when get 5 point per $ – I think TYP are a good value.

    I have always received the FFM for the flights I purchased with TYP.

  20. if you want the 5% on Amazon stock up amazon gift cards with Chase Freedom with 1st QR 5% rebate. UR is MUCH BETTER THAN TYP .

    getting 5 % on dining out all year is a good attraction to have the citi Forward card.. even they drop amazon 5 % it is still a big gift from Citi.

    Other 5% you can get from Citi is their Citi Dividend rememeber to (pre)pay your doctor bills cables phone bills to fullly capitalize on that incentive. this quarter it rebates 5 % on car rental and air fares nice treat

  21. this is what I did with Citi Thanks you Premier:the spend 2500/3M earned me ~53K TYP . worst to worse I can get SUnoco Gift cards. that is 20 % savings . do I plan to use it as my ‘ go to ‘ card? oh oh nooooooo!! I am moving on into NEXT spendS to fill : $1000 on Fairmont card for 2 free nights along with Amex business gold to get 75K MR with $10K/4months

  22. Just finished spend on Visa&MC TYPs. Awestruck by how horrible the redemption options are. Between not being able to even get 1:1 statement credit let alone cash or transfer to airline/hotel partners, the whole system is lame. I’ll probably do the mortgage/student loan route, but I’ll probably try to give CiTi another 6 months to hopefully implement some decent redemptions.

    Also, Ticketmaster, lol.

  23. Yeah but what on earth can you purchase with Live Nation.. nothing unless its at the House of Blues. Live Nation owns Ticketmaster so I thought I could buy Pink Presale concert tickets on there but it made me goto TM’s site and you can’t use Citi TY points. TY points are worthless and I mean worthless pieces of nothing.

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