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The New Citi ThankYou Select and Credit Reward Option: Is it Worth It?

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Citi Select and CreditCiti recently introduced yet another redemption option for your ThankYou points. Called “ThankYou Select and Credit,” the new option allows Citi ThankYou Rewards members to use their points to cover purchases made during their current credit card billing cycle in certain categories on an eligible consumer Citi credit card. Eligible spending categories include dining, entertainment, grocery and drug store purchases, utilities and gas.

The key question, of course, is what kind of redemption rate you get when using Select and Credit. Unfortunately, the answer is that it takes a disappointing 1.33 points to receive 1 cent towards your purchases in eligible categories. How does it stack up towards your other redemption options?

Flight redemptions offer the best value for Prestige and Premier cardholders
If you are a cardholder of one of the premium ThankYou cards, redeeming for airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center still yields the best value. Citi Prestige, which carries a $450 annual fee, allows you to redeem 1 ThankYou point for 1.33 cents of value towards a flight. For instance, 50,000 points can be redeemed for $665 in airfare. Citi ThankYou Premier, with an annual fee of $125 (waived the first year), allows you to redeem 1 ThankYou point for 1.25 cents of value towards a flight. With the Premier card, 50,000 points can be redeemed for $625 in airfare.

Other ThankYou redemption options
The following chart shows the redemption schedule for other reward options:

Reward Min. redemption amount Estimated Value
Gift cards 1,500 1 cent/point
Select charities 1,000 1 cent/point
Mortgage payment 2,500 1 cent/point
Cash 10,000 0.5 cents/point
Statement credit 2,000 0.5 cents/point
Student loan rebate 2,500 1 cent/point
Select and credit N/A 0.75 cents/point
Merchandise Varies <1 cent/point
Prepaid debit card 4,000 0.625-0.71 cents/point
Amazon.com Shop with points None 0.8 cents/point

Note: For most redemption categories, in order to receive the maximum value, you’ll need to redeem for more than the minimum redemption amount. For instance, if you use 1,500 points, you’ll only get a $10 gift card, whereas if you saved until you had 2,500 points, you could exchange them for a $25 gift card.

As the table above shows, for those without the Prestige or Premier cards, the best redemption value is on third-party gift cards, charities, mortgage payments and student loan rebates, which yield a value of 1 cent per point. The select and credit option is lackluster in comparison.

Cash and statement credit are the worst redemption values. However, here is a pro tip: There is a “backdoor” method of converting your points to cash at a 1 cent to 1 point rate that is not officially supported by Citi. To redeem your points in this way, call the ThankYou Service Center at 1-800-THANKYOU (1-800-842-6596) and say that you want to redeem your points towards a mortgage payment. You’ll be asked for the name and spelling of the financial institution holding your loan. If you are looking to directly convert your points to cash, you can give them the name of the bank where you want to deposit the check. (If you are looking to actually apply the check towards your mortgage, give them the name of your lender.) Citi will then send out a check made out to that bank or lender. At that point, you can deposit it as you would with any other check, or mail it in to your lender.

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