Citi Thank You Redemptions? No Thanks

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…

Department Stores:
Banana Republic
Gap
JC Penney
K-Mart
L.L. Bean
Land’s End
Macy’s
Old Navy
Sears
Target

Entertainment:
Blockbuster
Borders
Napster
Waldenbooks

Restaurants:
Applebee’s
Chili’s
Olive Garden
Red Lobster
Smith & Wollensky
Starbucks
TGI Friday’s

Specialty:
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Circuit City
ExxonMobil
Home Depot
Shell
Sharper Image
Staples
Toys’R’Us

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.

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23 Responses to “Citi Thank You Redemptions? No Thanks”

  1. Anonymous

    This program has obviously changed since anyone has written on this. There is practically no way to receive the full 1% rebate on any of their deals, even if you are looking for a $250 statement credit, they still charge you 35,000 points (.71%). Cash back can be redeemed $100 for 16,000 (.625%). You can’t even donate at 1% to charity. If you are looking for any sort of cash back, you are getting riped off!

    Run the numbers, if you get 5% rebates on groceries for example, but redeem it for $100 in cash back (.625%), you are really getting 5*.625% = 3.125% back. Don’t fall for this stupid crap they give you about you get 5% back, this obviously isn’t the case.

    The only 1% I’ve found is for student loan payments and $100 and above select gift cards. Anything less than $100 is often around a .66% deal.
    All products you can buy are as previously stated well overpriced.
    A quick check at the airline tickets they have 1% rebates on airline tickets. Of course you’ll have to acquire a whole lot of points and hope they don’t expire by then. And you won’t the get the additional Thank You points that come with purchasing a flight because you used your rewards instead of cash. You can also rack up decent points taken into account the miles you fly, of course this must be through expedia.
    You can also get additional points as the specials that they of course put out, Circuit City has an additional “2%” back on online purchases right now. But if you actually think you are going to check the site every time you make a purchase to see if your site has some sort of deal going, well you would be a good candidate for this I guess.

    All in all, don’t join this crap, it sucks, I am going to go cancel my membership now! Thank god I didn’t transfer any of my points to this Thank You network.

  2. Anonymous

    In case anyone was still wondering, I was looking into redeeming my thank you points for round-trip airfare from san diego to chicago for a date about a week from now. It looked to me like the average fare was ~40,000 points (that’s 40K).

    There were a few as low as 32.7K, but the travel times were not good. Not sure how that stacks up against Citi’s competitors.

    By the way Jessica, I find it disturbing that you were unable to link your accounts. My wife and I have a joint checking account and multiple Citi credit cards that we wanted to link. Hopefully we won’t run into your same problem.

  3. Anonymous

    I just want to say, I have been a Citibank member for my entire adult life and have been saving up points on my checking account, savings accounts and credit card. As I went to spend them, I found it impossible to do because they are siloed accounts. We are having the worst time linking the cards. My husband and I have spent over 6 hours with them to no avail. So I am leaving the company after all this time, even closing down my oldest Credit Card I am so upsest.

    So, don’t count on their advertised promise that you can roll all of your accounts into one. I am in Advertising and think it is moarally wrong to promise and advertise something that you can not deliver, especially if you are a “respected” financial institution.

  4. Anonymous

    You can still turn 2500 points into a $25 student loan rebate check. From what I’ve heard, they just cut you a check you can deposit anywhere. You don’t even need student loans! But yeah, 6000 points for $50 GCs is kinda sucky now. 🙁

  5. Anonymous

    Well, the “exchange rate” just got worse and I’m pretty miffed about it. Now $50 gift cards require 6000 points instead of 5000 as it use to be. I was planning on cashing in my 25K points on five $50 gas cards (which is the highest denomination they have, no $100 cards) but now I’ll have to think of something else. Anyone have success getting cash back on gift cards, say at Sears or Target?

  6. Anonymous

    The best reward redemptions for Thank You Rewards are usually the travel rewards, though it takes a lot of research to to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

    Additionally, the fact that you can add multiple cards to the same Thank You account is a good way to maximize rewards earned.

  7. Anonymous

    I work for citi, generally its the same thing as any other air miles card without the annual fee and the blackout dates. 48 states starts at 25000 points. It can be more depending on when you fly, what airports your flying from and too. Such as going from a small airport that requires connections rather than a non stop flight from two huge airports such as chicago to new york etc. just go to this website for details. https://www.thankyounetwork.com/rewardsDetailList.jspx?inventoryId=22069

    I personally prefer the thank you network cards because you can get 10000 points just for getting one of the cards. Thats about 100 bucks just for signing up for a no annual fee card. And if your going for travel, the premeire pass card has no annual fee and you get 1 point per 3 miles flown as long as the ticket is purchased with the card same 10000 bonus points.

  8. Anonymous

    Yes I to am looking at the Diamond Rewards card. I spend the money anyway and would like something in return, but I will most likly use it for Travel. So it would help if someone can find out whats behind the wording on the Citi website. It says Travel US STARTS AT 25,000??? does anyone know 25,000 will get you to any 48 states?

  9. Nickel

    Cherry: That’s news to me. When I signed up for the card there was a 5% on everything promo,which reverted to 5% on gas and groceries (and drugstores?) and 1% on all else. They may have changed it. Not sure if that affects my card or not, as I haven’t been using it since the promo ran out.

  10. Anonymous

    Nickel, how to earn the 5% off purchases using the Driver’s Edge card. From Citi’s Web, I only see 3%(after the first year) on supermarkets/gas and 1% on others. Would u give some tips or links. Great thanks.

  11. Anonymous

    I think the basic point that is being missed here… they are giving you something for free… you would spend the money anyways, so you are not losing anything… the real questions is that is this a comparatively better deal than those offered by Citi’s major competitors…. there was actually a piece on cash back plans in Saturday’s WSJ

  12. Anonymous

    Nickel,
    We too have the Thank you card & just transferred all of our Drivers Edge card dollars to thank you points. Now that we have a substantial amount, I too would like some answers about how the airline tickets work and if the travel companies that book your travel are any good. I understand exactly your point about how it is best to redeem the points for gift certificates above $50 if you really want to get your money’s worth but the travel experiences are enticing-especially after you’ve already received $450 in Target gift certificates. I just want to get something different. I think women and men approach this card differently. My husband sees only your point that you want to get your $1 for $1 match but, I on the other hand, see a fun weekend away that I would not normally take, even though we have the money and could probably get the same trip for less money. It just seems like a present. Vegabay

  13. Anonymous

    Can’t speak to the lousy exchange rate for your old Drivers Edge points, but going forward you CAN accelerate the number of points they give you for every dollar you spend by signing up for their Thank You Merchant Network. Instead of earning 1 pt. per $1 you’ll get 2-5 times more points for the same $1 when spending at any of hundreds of participating merchants.

  14. My first suggestion would have been to call Citi, but it sounds like you’ve done that and gotten no help. I don’t know the answer to your questions, but maybe someone else will happen by that does.

  15. Anonymous

    I’m interested to know how the thank you network work in airline ticket redemption before I apply for Citi’s diamond prefered reward card. Too bad that they would not talk to me unless I’m their client. (when I called 1-877-7REDEEM, they want your phone number, and SSN in order to find your account number, and there’s no way around it and talk to a human being directly, as far as I know.) In particular, I want to know is the thank you point work just like any mileage point for any airline. For example: for 25,000 pt in my aeroplan mileage account, I can fly air canada from Florida, make one stopover Toronto, and then to Vancouver, and back to Florida. Will Thank You point offer the same benefit when it say 25000 pt for US 48 state/ Canada?? and second question would be, what is the actually process to redeem the tickets? anyone out has actually done that before? any advice on who can I talk to?

  16. Nope, no affiliation. I have quite a few Citi-related posts because that’s who our reward credit cards are through. I’m actually in the market for another good reward card so, depending on what I come up with, you may see a change in that regard. But they’ve had by far the most generous promotions over the past year (multiple different cards which have offered 5% cash back on *all* purchases). The reason the Citi ads show up is that Google serves ads based on the text on the page. Talk a lot about Citi and you’ll get a lot of Citi ads. Talk a lot about french poodles and you’ll get french poodle ads (if there is such a thing). As an example, check out this post — you should see a number of wiffle ball-related ads because I was talking about wiffle balls. I have pretty much no control over what ads get served. Also, you’ll notice that not all of my Citi posts are positive (like this one, for example). So I’m definitely not shilling for them.

  17. Anonymous

    I’m just wondering… are you employed by Citi or a representative of theirs in any way? The majority of your posts seem to be Citi-related and they have Google sponsored ads all over your blog. Are you affiliated with the company?

  18. Like I said, for anything *other than* bigger gift cards, this is a bad deal. Statement credits are a bum deal, most of the merchandise they offer is a bum deal, and smaller gift cards are a bum deal. But this might be a good deal for some people.

  19. Anonymous

    I see your point, but it doesn’t sound too “bum deal” to me. They are obviously trying to encourage redemption at $50 and up (most likely to minimize their processing costs) this matches the cash reward card if you think about it (total has to be at least $50 to request a check).

    So if you apply the amount to your statement every time you hit $50, that’s not such a bad deal…basically cash back without the check.

    Or am I missing something?

  20. Anonymous

    You should email them and see if they want to advertise on your blog. You’re giving away all this great promotion to them for free!!

    (There’s nothing wrong with making some money recommending something you like and use!)

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