Cancelling your Prestige or Premier card? Here’s how to keep your ThankYou points alive.

I’m a huge fan of transferable points programs.  These are programs that allow you to transfer points to multiple loyalty programs at a fair exchange rate (typically 1 to 1).  By collecting points in these programs, you have the ability to book travel opportunistically.  When you’re ready to book an award flight, you can search for award availability on almost any airline, then find the best program for booking that award (the best program is often a partner to the airline you plan to fly).  Then, hopefully you have transferrable points that transfer to that program so that you can book the trip.

I’m also a fan of signing up for credit cards in order to earn huge signup bonuses.  Often, such cards are worth getting for their signup bonus, but aren’t worth keeping for a second year due to their annual fee.  When points are earned in airline or hotel programs, there is no risk of losing your points when you cancel your card.  With bank programs, though, there’s a big risk.  I’ve written before about how to keep your transferable points alive when cancelling cards, but I believe that Citi’s ThankYou program requires a bit more info…

Citi Transfer Partners. How to keep ThankYou points alive

Citi ThankYou Rewards background

With Citi’s ThankYou Rewards program, you can earn points from multiple different credit cards or from Citi bank accounts (but bank points are not eligible for transfers to airline or hotel programs).  Once earned from multiple sources, you can pool points together in one ThankYou account.  This is handy, but it doesn’t change the fact that Citi continues to track the origin of each point.  If you cancel a card, all points earned from that card will expire 60 days after cancellation.

Citi offers two premium cards that allow ThankYou point transfers to loyalty programs and let you use points for good value towards travel:

  • Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee): Transfer points to loyalty programs, or use points to book travel (air, hotels, car rentals, cruises) on ThankYou.com for 1.25 cents per point value.
  • Citi ThankYou Prestige ($350 or $450 annual fee): Transfer points to loyalty programs, or use points to book AA flights for 1.6 cents per point value; or other flights for 1.33 cents per point value.

And, Citi offers multiple ThankYou Rewards cards that do not allow loyalty point transfers, and offer maximum point value of only 1 cent per point:

  • AT&T Access More ($95 annual fee)
  • ThankYou Preferred (No annual fee)
  • CitiBusiness ThankYou Card (No annual fee)

There are also several legacy cards (no longer available) that earn ThankYou points such as the Forward card and the ThankYou card (without the “Preferred” name).

It’s important to note that points earned from the latter set of cards are transferable and/or can be used for more than 1 cent per point value if pooled together with premium cards (Premier or Prestige).

For an up to date list of all transfer partners from each transferable points program, please see the Transfer Partner Master List.

The cancelled card problem

Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, there is no way to keep points alive in the form of ThankYou points when you cancel the card from which you earned those points.  Points from a closed credit card expire 60 days after cancellation.

Moving points to another account is not the solution

Citi allows ThankYou points to be moved freely from one person’s account to another, but they then impose a 90 day expiration window on those points.  If you cancel the card that generated those points, your points will still expire 60 days after cancellation or 90 days after transfer, whichever comes first.

Ideal solution: call for valuable retention offer

Call Citi to say that you’re considering cancelling your card (don’t say that to the automated system: some people have had their cards cancelled automatically this way!). Once you confirm (to a human) that you want to cancel, they should transfer you to a retention specialist.  This person can check the computer to see if any good retention offers have been loaded to your account.

Don’t accept the first offer they read to you.  There are often 5 or 6 offers to choose from, but you may have to keep asking.  If you get a retention offer that is more valuable than the annual fee, then consider keeping the card for another year.  This is the easiest way to preserve your points and keep them valuable.

For a recent example of a retention call, please see: My 130K phone call.

Next best solution: downgrade to a no-fee card

An easy way to keep your points alive and to avoid an annual fee is to simply downgrade to the no-fee ThankYou Preferred card.  The downside to this, of course, is that this makes your points far less valuable.  Unless you still have another premium card, you won’t be able to transfer points to loyalty programs and you won’t be able to use points for better than 1 cent per point value for travel.

There are a couple of ways to make those ThankYou points valuable again:

  1. Sign up for another premium card.  In order to get a new signup bonus for a card you’ve had before, you must wait 24 months from when you opened or closed the account.  It is unclear whether product changes reset this clock (Readers: please chime in if you have experience with this. People have heard conflicting info from Citi so I’m looking for actual evidence).  Once you get a new premium card, you can pool together the ThankYou accounts and once again transfer your points to loyalty programs or use for better than 1 cent per point value to book travel.
  2. Move points to a relative or friend who has a premium card, so that they can book for you.  If using points for greater than 1 cent value in purchasing travel, your friend can simply “buy” the travel for you using ThankYou points that you transferred to them.  If you want to transfer points to a loyalty program to redeem for awards, they can transfer your points (that you sent to them) to their own loyalty account and book the award for you from there.  Keep in mind that once you move your points to another person’s account, those points will expire in 90 days if not used.

A third option would be to upgrade from the Preferred card to the Premier (or Prestige) card just when you need to use those points.  Unfortunately, there is at least one data point (found here) that suggests that Citi doesn’t allow this.

Third best solution: Transfer points to a valuable program

If there’s an airline program with which you are confident you can get great value from your points, consider transferring your points to that program before cancelling your premium card.  The problem is that most of Citi’s current transfer partners are valuable only for specific situations.  Virgin Atlantic, for example, has a few award sweet spots but is otherwise not a program I’d recommend moving points to.

The transfer partner which is most generally valuable, I believe, is Singapore Airlines.  Not only can points be used directly on Singapore Airlines flights, but they can also be used to book flights on any Star Alliance carrier as well as a handful of non-alliance partners.  Unfortunately, Singapore miles expire 36 months after accrual regardless of whether or not there has been activity in your account.  So, Singapore can be a useful repository to extend the life of your ThankYou points, but you need to have a plan to use those miles within 3 years.  You can read about my recent experience with extending the life of Singapore miles and then using them to book a United Airlines flight here.

For an up to date list of all transfer partners from each transferable points program, please see the Transfer Partner Master List.

 

 

 

 

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

  1. […] If you get a valuable offer, consider keeping the card for another year (and then make sure to use your $250 in airfare credit in 2018!).  If not, consider downgrading the card to a no-fee ThankYou Preferred card so that you won’t lose any remaining ThankYou points.  See: Cancelling your Prestige or Premier card? Here’s how to keep your ThankYou points alive. […]

  2. […] The Premier card was a tougher decision.  It had become our go-to travel card since it offers 3X rewards for all travel and gas station purchases.  But we now plan to move to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card as our primary travel card thanks to its 3X travel and dining rewards, and better value point redemptions with Chase.  That leaves 3X gas as the biggest incentive for keeping the Premier card.  We don’t tend to spend a lot on gas, though.  So, our plan is to call to see if they’ll offer a nice retention offer that is worth as much or more than the card’s $95 annual fee.  If so, we’ll keep the card for another year.  If not, we’ll downgrade it to become my wife’s third no-fee ThankYou Preferred card (that way she can keep her points alive).  See: Cancelling your Prestige or Premier card? Here’s how to keep your ThankYou points alive. […]

Comments

  1. The Sears MasterCard credit card is free, earns Thank You Points and they are transferable to airlines, but they do expire three years after earning them. My Sears Thank You and Citibank Thank You points were combined so I think having the Sears card would also keep the points alive.

    • Karen, even when your points are pooled together, keeping one credit card open doesn’t prevent the points earned from another credit card to be lost. They keep track of where each point came from.

    • I have a Sears Masterfcard, how do you go about getting TYPs that can be used with TYPs from a Premier? Who do you call to do that?

  2. Ever since you started sending only teaser emails without the full posts in them I don’t find myself visiting your site more often but rather just reading less of your content, which is too bad as I love your blog. I’m assuming it’s a financial decision but would you consider reversing it?

    • This was something that changed accidentally when Boarding Area swept through the email subscriptions of many of the hosted blogs to standardize how they were set up. I’ve already asked Boarding Area to change this back for my blog.

      • I’m so happy to hear that it wasn’t intentional! This is the only BA blog that I read. Thanks and keep up the excellent work!

  3. If I cancel my Premier but I keep my Prestige, will I lose the points earned with the Premier, or do those stay pooled with the Prestige?

    • “Once earned from multiple sources, you can pool points together in one ThankYou account. This is handy, but it doesn’t change the fact that Citi continues to track the origin of each point. If you cancel a card, all points earned from that card will expire 60 days after cancellation.”

      Even when pooled, if the sponsor account (card that earned the points) is cancelled, that specific account’s balance expires in 60 days. Downgrading keeps the same sponsor account number I assume, which would explain why points would be kept active even after 60 days

      • Reading further down, it looks like downgrading may not keep the same account number, which means those points would expire in 60 days as if it were a closure

        • downgrading may be considered an account closure for the purpose of the 24 month rule (I’m not sure), but it should keep your points alive. Worked for me when I did it.

        • Hubby and I kept our same account numbers when we downgraded. Hubby just downgraded his Premier to Preferred and they gave him 3500 pts for spending $300.

  4. Called two days ago for a retention offer. Hung up two separate times after being on hold 30+ minutes. And this is the Prestige customer service number, a card with a $450 annual fee. My third try was answered after about 20 minutes. The representative said there is no retention department but she could either cancel the card or move to a no fee card. I pressed her saying I’ve spoken to the retention department numerous times before and asked her to explain the change. She sputtered a little but then implied its because they are understaffed. Not sure what to make of it but I thanked her and hung up.

    • i think this is all related to the Costco disaster and should be sorted out in a few weeks… just called then.

  5. Account conversions at Citi are considered closures for the purpose of resetting the 24-mo clock.
    Also, it’s expected that calls for retention offers will be unsuccessful for the next week. All retention specialists have been reassigned do deal with the Costco issues.

  6. At least one DP on flyertalk suggests product change is considered CLOSURE for the purpose of TYP expiration as well as resetting 24-month clock (personal experience).

    Therefore, solution #2 is NOT useful.

  7. Yeah, after being on hold for 40 minutes and googling that hold times are topping 2 hours due to Costco, I just sent a secure message to cancel. I’ll transfer my points out and that’s it.

  8. I actually just converted my Premier to a Preferred with an offer of spending $300 in 60 days and getting an extra 6,000 points. Then yesterday I cancelled my Prestige card not realizing that the preferred and/or business thank you cards couldn’t transfer out. However, when I saw this article this morning I attempted a transfer out to singapore airlines, and all signs point to it working. Not sure how this happened as I was refunded the pro-rated annual fee, so the prestige is definitely closed.

    • I guess there is a grace period after cancelling in which you can still use the account for transfers. I’m curious about your downgrade from the Premier to Preferred, did you have points remaining on your Premier account? If so, did they tell you that they would carry over?

      To check, you can log into your ThankYou account, go to Points Summary, then click “View all expiring points”

      • I did try and there wasn’t any sign of points expiring. That said, there wasn’t a change in the account number, and I had set up TYP to pool into the same account. I did the transfer today which was within 60 days of the account conversion. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  9. How do you see how many points are expiring and when? I cancelled a card recently and cannot this info on Thankyou.com at all??

    • Log into your ThankYou account, go to Points Summary, then click “View all expiring points”. The link may be hard to find so use your browser’s search feature (control-F in Windows)

      • My Points Summary doesn’t have that link even did a search for “expiring”. Must be a glitch or else someone whoever processed the cancellation transferred the points to my other card??

  10. I have a Prestige and a Premier. When my Premier comes up for the annual fee on year 2, if I cancel the Premier will the points earned from the Premier be kept alive if I keep the Prestige open? Point #1 “Sign up for another premium card” seems to imply the Premier points would be kept alive but I’ve heard conflicting comments about this in the past. Thanks.

    • I’ve only heard about points from the closed card expiring in 60 days. I don’t know what “conflicting comments” you’ve heard.

    • Sorry for the confusion. “Point #1” that you refer to was under the bigger heading of downgrading to a no fee card. Signing up for another premium card is a method for making the points in your no-fee card more valuable. It does NOT keep your points alive if you cancel.

  11. I really wish that citi didn’t make this so confusing. I cancelled the Prestige card after combining those points with the Premier card, but i did lose the points from the Prestige card after 60 days.I didn’t see anything in my combined thankyou account about expiration. Has anyone been able to get the points reinstated long enough to transfer out?

  12. Slightly off topic. I know you mentioned Thank You points from credit cards, but what about the typ from bank accounts. Do those expire? Can they be transferred? Do you have a post on what those points can be used for/sweet spots, if any, assuming there aren’t. Thanks!

    • Good question. Those points can be used to by flights at enhanced value if paired with Citi Prestige or Premier, but they cannot be transferred to airline or hotel partners. Yes, they expire 3 years from December 31 of the year in which they were earned.

  13. I have 60k thankyou points from the Prestige, 50k TYP from the Premier and 10k TYP from the Preferred.
    My husband has 50k TYP from the Premier.
    At this point I don’t have a plan to use them, however, in the future I am going to transfer most points to the Singapore Airlines to book the United Airlines. Since the Singapore Airlines miles expire in three years, I want to wait at least another year to transfer the points to Singapore.
    What is the best way to keep the TYP after canceling the account?

    • You should be able to downgrade your Prestige and Premier accounts to Preferred accounts without losing points (verify with agent first). But, keep one of the cards (either yours or your husbands) as a Premier card. That way, you can later move the points to that card and then transfer to Singapore.

  14. 60 Days

    Loss Or Suspension Of Points

    This section tells you when you may not be able to use Points that you’ve already earned or received.

    You Close Your Citi Account. If you have Points, and you voluntarily close your Citi Account, you must use your Points within 60 days after closing your accounts, or you’ll lose them.

    TIP:
    If you have multiple Citi Accounts associated with only one ThankYou Account at the time one of your Citi Accounts is closed, you’ll lose only the Points that you earned with the closed Citi Account.

  15. Citi Prestige annual fee of $450 kicks in in one month from now – so I called CS and asked for retention. At least 4 different reps I’ve called said there is no retention offer for the Prestige card. Has anyone else had this issue? Don’t wanna give up the card but they aren’t even trying to keep me.

    Maybe wait until the fee actually appears and try again? Maybe need to spend more on the card? Thoughts?

  16. Need guidance, please.

    Say if I cancel prestige, and I have 60 days for points to expire. Can I still transfer the points to partner airlines after the card is cancelled but before 60 days? Also, some of the points were transferred to me by spouse. can those be transferred as well?

  17. I am closing my prestige and premier account soon. I would like to transfer my points to partner airlines which requires the least miles for a round trip to Japan. Singapore airlines requires 90K miles which is 30k miles more than United Airlines. Do you know which partner airline requires the least miles to Japan?

  18. Been looking for an answer about this: I changed my Premier card to a Double Cashback card and was told I’d have 60 days to use my remaining 18,000 points at the 1:1.25 conversion if I called a TY travel specialist to book a flight. I was on the phone for about an hour yesterday and found out that I’m now getting a 1:1 conversion for booking a flight over the phone because my Premier account has been cancelled. I was told repeatedly that I’d retain my rate, but now they’re telling me it’s 1:1 and I’m furious about this. Anyone else experience this?

    • I have no direct experience with this, but I always keep notes with the exact times and dates I called and who I spoke to. Banks are usually pretty good about going back to the recording if you can point them to it. If you kept similar notes, I’d call back and ask them to check the recording because the rep told you that you’d keep the 1:1.25 rate. If you didn’t keep those notes, I’d recommend doing so in the future (CSRs make a lot of mistakes and/or forget to note things in your account sometimes). I assume you spoke with a supervisor and/or HUCA’d, but if not you might try again.

  19. Will product changing to the no annual fee Citi AT&T Access card also keep your ThankYou points alive in addition to the cards listed above?

  20. Is this guide still current as far as SG being the best transfer partner when canceling a Prestige card? I do have an active Premier card, but points will expire after 60 days anyways.

    • Yes, but remember that the Singapore miles will expire after 3 years. I still think the best option is to downgrade your Prestige to a no-fee Preferred in order to keep the points alive. Then you can pool that card with the Premier so that the points will remain transferable.

      • If I want to transfer some of the old Prestige points, does Citi pull from the old, transferred points first (if I transferred them to Premier) or do they pull from the native (Premier) card’s points first?

        • Ok, thanks.

          For some reason I’m getting two emails for every reply. One in HTML and one text based. How do I keep only the HTML ones? And how do I keep this from happening in the future?

        • We had to switch to the non-HTML option a while ago since the HTML one wasn’t working properly for all posts and pages. You must be signed up for both. Best option is to find the link within the one you don’t want and click unsubscribe.

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