I received an email from my bank last week informing me that a portion of my accumulating points in my Citi ThankYou Rewards program were expiring in a few months.
Like many rewards programs from companies you do business with, you’ll eventually come up against a “use it or lose it” moment.
I must admit, I hadn’t been actively managing this perk and intentionally saving up to some magical point goal, which would buy me the product or experience of my dreams.
(Consumer note: That could take me another century or two.)
I also don’t want to throw away my earned points either!
Three Tips Before Saying Thank You
If I might offer a piece of advice about how to handle this little game…
Even if you have a few months to decide, don’t put off your decision.
Sure, I’ll probably get another reminder.
But it’s always better to move on this kind of decision quickly so you don’t forget until the last minute… or worse.
Here’s a second suggestion:
All points are not created equal… so you’ve got to shop around when you’re redeeming them.
Make sure you get a penny for each of your points… and not a penny less!
Don’t accept a fraction of a penny less!
Have I confused you yet?
Let me clarify with a few examples:
There’s a boatload of gift card options offered by Citi.
And as long as you remember to eventually use your gift card, it’s a good way to redeem your points.
Don’t get the lower-value gift cards!
They’re not as good a deal…
When you can find them, $100 gift cards offer the best value – a penny per point.
(More expensive gift cards are also fine, but their point value isn’t any better.)
Unfortunately, some brands only offer gift cards up to $50.
Here are few example:
- Apple iTunes
$25 Gift Card = 3,500 points
$50 Gift Card = 6,000 points (better deal)
No $100 option (Darn)
- Bed Bath & Beyond
$100 Gift Card = 10,000 points (Yay)
- Best Buy
$250 EGiftcard = 25,000 points (Same deal as the $100 EGiftcard)
You also have the option to shop for specific items on Citi’s ThankYou site.
But it’s hard to know if you’re getting good value…
Yes, Citi does offer the retail price alongside the number of points.
But the only way to be sure is to research the price from another source you trust.
There’s the class-leading Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V premium compact camera offered for 161,280 points.
At a penny a point, that would be $1,612.80.
Amazon has it for $998.
So, it’s a bad deal. Right?
But who says you’re getting a penny a point?
Here’s another way to look at it…
If we round up the B&H price to $1,000 to make the math easier, and you divide it by the points, that makes the camera’s per-point value at a little less than two thirds of a penny…
Same bad deal.
That’s an almost 40% drop in buying power.
You’d think since you’re spending so much, they’d offer you a better bargain.
How about picking up a new Sonos One speaker with Amazon Alexa built in?
It’s 32,250 points.
The going price on Amazon is $199.
Same crummy deal… a little more than 60% of a penny per point.
So, I think you should simply shop elsewhere to maximize your points…
For me, it’s hard to know the exact value of the travel packages offered.
Although, according to Upgraded Points, ThankYou does indeed offer worthwhile travel deals if you have enough points accumulated…
Armed with that knowledge, I wish you happy traveling…
Cash Reward or Statement Credit
$100 = 20,000 points
So, that’s only half a penny per point.
If you want to donate your points to do some good in the world, there’s great news here.
You’ll find strong value for your points!
- American Red Cross Disaster Relief
All donations ranging from $25 to $100 is a penny a point.
$100 Gift Card Hits the Sweet Spot
As with most things in life, it pays to know the details.
For your Citi ThankYou points, make sure you’re getting a penny per point.
(And don’t let them evaporate!)
If you can’t figure out what to buy, I recommend simply going with the $100 gift card from the company of your choice.
That’s what I’m doing.
Thank you, Citi.