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How I booked a trip with ThankYou Points

Red Ventures’ Lyss Welding shares how her Citi credit card helped her save on her upcoming trip to the American Southwest

Summary

Citi ThankYou Points might not be the most popular travel rewards currency, but they can be rather valuable. Here’s how a Citi credit card helped our colleague book a hotel stay and why she’s planning to keep using ThankYou Points.

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As we were gathering staff stories about our favorite trips booked with credit card points, it turned out to be a challenge to find a person who traveled on Citi ThankYou Points.

It’s not completely surprising. With more popular rewards ecosystems, such as American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points isn’t the first rewards program that comes to mind when speaking of travel rewards.

Still, the issuer has plenty to offer if you’re looking for a travel credit card, especially if you already have a cash back card from Citi to pair with it.

Citi ThankYou points can take you far – for example, Lyss Welding, higher education writer at Red Ventures (CreditCards.com’s parent company) in Puerto Rico, recently used her Citi credit card to book a hotel, and she’s happy with the value the card has provided.

We sat down with Lyss and talked about her upcoming trip to the American Southwest – and how ThankYou Points are helping it happen.

Which card did you use to book the trip? What did you do to earn enough points?

I used Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card (now replaced by the Citi Rewards+® Card) to book a hotel stay for my family in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Citi Rewards+ Card: At a glance

CardRewardsSign-up bonusAnnual fee
Citi Rewards+® Card2 ThankYou points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar)

1 ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases

Every purchase rounded up to nearest 10 points ($2 soda earns 10 points, $13 movie ticket earns 20 points)

10% points back on ThankYou points you redeem (up to 100,000 points per year)

For a limited time, earn 20,000 ThankYou points if you spend $1,500 in the first three months of account opening, redeemable for $200 in gift cards at ThankYou.com$0

I used the card almost exclusively for dining out and concerts, meaning I didn’t use it much in the year 2020. So, I was pretty surprised that I had enough points to cover a meaningful expense on my trip.

How was the process of booking? Did you feel like you got good value?

Booking was easy, and I felt like [I] had plenty of options. I first searched for hotels outside of Citi’s platform through Google Travel and was pleased to find that all of my top picks from my own search came through on Citi’s platform with similar rates.

When booking, I first chose what I wanted to use the points on. [The options included] travel, restaurants, gift cards, card payment, etc.

After selecting travel, choose plane tickets, hotels or other options. I chose hotels, so then I just entered the city and metro area I wanted to stay in and the dates. You can choose many more options, which you can see in some of the screenshots I sent, like what sort of amenities or activities you want. You can also expand or narrow your search geographically with the map feature.

Then you can browse available rooms, with rates clearly listed. You can choose to browse with a list or with the map feature. (Helpful because if you care more about price, you can sort your list by lowest to highest priced. If you care more about being close to the airport or close to the downtown area, you can see that on the map.)
map citi thankyou points

When I selected the hotel I wanted, I got to review how many points it would take and what my balance was. (I had to pay about $9 out of pocket.) You have the option to withhold some of your points and pay a bigger balance. For instance, if I only wanted to pay for half of the trip with points, I could make that happen, just like when you pay your credit card, you can enter if you want to pay the full balance or some other amount.

With one click, I used my points to book my hotel. With another click, I chose which Citi account I wanted to use to pay the approximately $9 remaining balance.

I’m happy with the value (the conversion of points is 1 point = 1 cent). I was also pleased that I could change or cancel my booking if I needed to. That was important to me, given how unpredictable I feel like everything still is.

Tell us a little about your trip. Where are you going and what are you planning to do there?

I’m going to the American Southwest with my husband. I’ve never been. He has and loves it, so… I’m excited to see something totally new to me. We’re flying into Salt Lake City, camping through Moab, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Our final destination is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where we’re meeting up with my parents, who are flying in just for the fiesta. I’ve heard awesome things about the event, so I’m really stoked.

Since we’re camping for most of our trip, we just needed a hotel in Albuquerque. I’m glad we were able to find hotel rooms for all of us, given that it’s a huge attraction in the area.

Do you think you’ll book hotels or airfare with ThankYou points again in the future? Would you recommend ThankYou points to other travelers and why?

I would book another hotel stay with ThankYou points. I thought the selection was great, and the process was much simpler than I expected. For a no-fee card, I feel like it’s a solid reward. I would also recommend it to other travelers because the card has no fee.

Also, I used the card kind of passively, without really planning around the points. There were plenty of times I forgot to take advantage of the points and didn’t use the card when I could have. I just sort of racked up these points in the background until the opportunity to use them came up.

Now I’m motivated to be more intentional about collecting points, especially as I look forward to more dining and entertainment – and travel – in the second half of the year and beyond.

Bottom line

If you’d also like to book travel with points or miles, it’s time to get a travel credit card. You can try out ThankYou points with a card like the Citi Premier® Card which can help you earn travel rewards on travel purchases and everyday purchases, including restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, or a no-annual-fee card with a simple rewards system like the new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card with a flexible 5% cash back category.

Head over to CardMatch and find credit card offers tailored to your credit profile. Checking the offers won’t hurt your credit, and you might be able to score some elevated offers.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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