Editor’s Note: This limited-time offer has expired and is no longer available.
If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, then you already know that I’m a big fan of CitiBank rewards credit cards. One particularly generous deal was their introductory offering of 5% off all purchases using the Driver’s Edge card (this has since expired). Earlier this year, they increased the reward limit on this card from $500 to $1, 000. Later, they even introduced a plan where you can earn rewards just for driving. When I first got it, the primary limitation of this credit card was that you could only redeem your rewards when you purchased a car (new or used) or had some sort of service done on your car. Since that time, however, I’ve heard that this card became a part of the Citi Thank You Redemptions Network. So what does this mean for cardholders?
In short, it means that you can trade your reward credits for things like restaurant or store gift cards, merchandise, or even travel. Just to give you a feel for the breadth of merchants that are included, I’ll list a few catgories/merchants…
Smith & Wollensky
Bed, Bath & Beyond
They also offer statement credits (i.e., money off your credit card bill), charitable contributions, the ability to buy down your APR, and more. On the surface, this sounds great… After all, things like gift cards and statement credits are much more cash-like than are reward dollars that are tied to automotive purchases or service. The problem here is the exchange rate. Each dollar of Driver’s Edge reward credit that you’ve earned is equal to 100 Thank You points, and you can trade these points for gift cards ranging in value from $5 to $5, 000. But at the lower end (anything below $50) you get a bum deal. $5 gift cards go for 1, 000 points ($10), $10 gift cards go for 1, 500 points ($15), and $25 gift cards go for 3, 000 points ($30). It’s not until you get to $50 that they start giving you a dollar-for-dollar deal. Statement credits are even worse. 3, 000 points ($30) will buy $15, and it goes all the way up to 38, 000 points ($380) for $250 in credit. What about charitable donations? Same deal as for gift cards. Anything under $50 and you’re getting screwed. Travel certificates are priced similarly.
If you can’t find anything you like from the above merchants, you can choose from a variety of merchandise (mostly electronics). Here again, the prices are generally pretty bad. For example, a WaveBird wireless controller for the Nintendo GameCube goes for goes for 4, 500 points ($45). Yet I bought one of these for my kids about six months ago for $26.
The bottom line: Unless you’re looking for things like bigger store gift cards ($50 and above) this is a terrible deal. But if you’re interested in participating, you can simply hop on over to the Thank You Redemptions website and register. Alternatively, you can give them a call at 1-877-7REDEEM.