Citi ThankYou Network Rewards Review

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CitibankToday we’ll take a look at the ThankYou Network, the rewards network for Citi credit cards, as part of my series on reviewing credit card reward networks. As is the case with every credit card rewards catalog, the points to dollar ratio changes with the things you redeem. This review will give you a better understanding of the catalog, how to find the best deals, what the best item is, and help you decide whether this rewards program is right for you.

ThankYou Network

The ThankYou Network is probably one of the most extensive rewards catalogs available, as it includes all the standard stuff like gift cards and statemetn credits, plus it adds in thousands of products. If you had enough points, you have over three hundred laptops to choose from! They have outdoor equipment, automotive supplies, home goods, music downloads, and basically anything and everything you could imagine. If you are green, you can even participate in American Forests’ “Plant a Tree program” at the cost of 4,800 points per twenty-five trees.

So let’s take a look at the program, see where the value is and where the fluff is, and try to find out if it’s a good program or not.

Rewards on Sale

Every week, a different set of products will be in the “Rewards on Sale” category. There doesn’t seem to be a theme to the rewards but each one is discounted off their regular price by about 17-20%. For example, in the week I looked at the Rewards on Sale section, I saw a Wilson Hope LX 16-Piece Women’s Golf Set for 29,000 points, down from 35,200 (17.6% off). There was also a Fisher-Price® TMX Cookie Monster for 5,100 points, down from 6,200 (17.7% off).

The Best Rewards

If I wrote this a few months ago, I would’ve said the best reward in the entire catalog is their student loan rebate check (if you have student loans). However, they recently (within the last few months I think), increased the price of student loan rebate checks to less than a 1¢ per point value, regardless of how much you spend. They put the reward on par with the mortgage loan check.

Now what’s the best reward in the Citi ThankYou network? I searched for a bit and found that only gift cards and charitable donation gifts give you a value of 1¢ per point. On charitable donations, you have to give at least a $50 donation to get the 1¢ per point rate. On gift cards, you have to buy at least a $100 gift card and not every store offers a $100 gift card.

There’s also one slight downside to the charity route – there’s only one charity available: The American Red Cross. Right now, you can get a $100 donation to the American Red Cross for 10,000 points.

Cash Rewards

Most reward networks give you the option of getting a cash check or a statement credit. With the ThankYou Network, you can get statement credits credited directly to your card’s balance. The cost of a $100 statement credit is 14,500, valuing each point at 0.69¢. It sounds like a bad deal until you realize it’s a better deal than most other reward networks. American Express recently instituted a system where you can pay “everyday expenses” with points at a rate that values each point at 0.60¢.

If you want a cash reward, $100 will cost you 16,000 points, valuing each point at 0.625¢. Whereas the statement credit is available in a variety of denominations, cash is only available in $50 (8000 points) and $100 (16000 points) amounts.

Another option is to get a Citi Gift Card, which is basically a debit gift card with a $100 value. The gift card costs 14,000 (0.714¢), making it better than cash and slightly cheaper than a $100 statement credit (0.69¢).

My Rewards Math

I am always looking to get a penny per point. When I look in the catalog, I see how much something costs in points, divide by 100, and then compare it with the price I could normally buy it for. For example, the Logitech X-540 5.1 Speaker System (Black) is available on the Citi ThankYou Network for 16,100 points. If I can buy it for less than $161, then I’d rather buy it than convert it. If I can’t, then this becomes a good deal.

The Logitech X-540 5.1 Speaker System (Black) is available from Amazon for $79.95. If I were to buy it from Citi for 16,100 points, I’m getting 0.497¢ per point, which is less than if I just opted for cash. It’s far less than if I opted for a $100 gift card.

I still use a penny per point as my benchmark because I feel I can find a gift card in the network that I will use. If you can’t, then you should be comparing the price of a product against a value of a statement credit (0.69¢). If the product gives you more than cash and you want it, then go with the product. Otherwise, take the cash and buy it yourself (and get even more rewards!).

Buying Points

Citi gives you the option of buying ThankYou points at the cost of $25 for 1,000 points, valuing each at 2.5¢ per point. As we’ve seen above, getting even 1¢ per point in value is difficult so you’re paying a significant premium for points. This is not a good deal.

All in all, I’ve been pretty happy with the rewards program because of the student loans. I don’t spend a great deal each month with my Citi card so I never had reason to review the catalog until recently. In the case of student loan checks, I had to call in to redeem the reward and always found their customer service to be fast and courteous. It’s an entirely separate call system set up specifically for the ThankYou Network, which probably cuts down on wait time.

If you have a Citi card, do you have a go to “reward” that you always redeem it for? I’m leaning towards some of the $100 gift cards like a Macy’s or Staples.

(Photo: thetruthabout)

{ 39 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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39 Responses to “Citi ThankYou Network Rewards Review”

  1. Scam says:

    Thankyou network is a scam. If you view items as a guest, items are quoted at one price (for example, 75,000 points). Once you log in, the price magically jumps thousands of points. Thankyou network is a scam, do not use it, they lie.

  2. Yes it's a scam says:

    Yes, I called thankyou points to ask why the option for $100 gift card disappears and the points increase after you log in. The person then went on and on to explain that it’s due to different ‘sponsors’. She said if it’s a Macy card, then will have different points system from the bank cards.

    What a load of crap! Everything is under citibank regardless which card you hold. It’s more like whether you have been paying fees or not.

    So they advertise their thankyou rewards on TV, then people will go see the site before deciding to join and get lure by the low redemption point. Then it’s a BAIT and SWITCH scam where after you log in everything changes.

  3. Citiuser says:

    I use my points for Walmart gift cards since I shop there frequently. You can buy in increments of $25 (2500 points). This is the best deal for me and I get $0.01/point. The citi forward card is what gives me the most points since we eat out often and go to movies (5 points per $1).

  4. sam says:

    Citi Rewards is an big scam last time i have ordered a bike for 19,000 points and it was never delivered and when ever we call them they say it is delivered and doing investigation. Its big scam so dont waste your time with citi rewards. Its all scrap.

  5. Richard says:

    I’m beginning to think it’s a scam too. I requested and told I’d receive a cash reward totalling $550 for my 88,000 points. They first told me it had shipped in mid April of this year, but when I rechecked their confirmation email I found that they had allegedly shipped it to an address that they knew hadn’t been mine for 3 years. So then they’d send to my current address (the one used for all my Citicard bills – and I got an email saying it shipped May 15. Since then I’ve called them 5 times and each time been told a different story about how soon I’ll get it (one time they promised June 1) and what might be holding it up. Finally they persuaded me to treat that “order” as cancelled and they’d immediately process new checks [implying they’d actually sent any checks and in fact I’d never received any). Then today they said an email saying my refund is cancelled and my points been restored to my account -and no mention of pending reward.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Looking for other people who receive false advertisements for 50000 thank you points for class action lawsuit.
    Offered card with 50000 thank you points if met requirements and completed as requested on line with registration info from mailer. I have copy of original mailer.
    Both citibank and their thank you rewards department conveniently said they have no record of it after meeting all requirements and spending 3000 in first 3 months after tempting with 500 in gift cards. The statement gave just 15000 points. They have done this to others and my wife has the same agreement as me and was taken for a spin as well. Meeting with attorney so anyone who wants to join, we will be going at this full force. Tired of the spin tactics.

  7. JoeBlow says:

    Scam. I just checked numerous 0ne-way flights from KOA-OGG and the prices “magically” tripled when I added them to my cart. And, some “magically” were “no longer available”. What a bunch of crap. I guess I’ll stick to retail & restaurant GC at .01 a point.

  8. YungJeezy says:

    Citi is a load of crap i am about to park their card. in the drawer and never use it again. after making a years worth of purchases on their card in an attempt to use the points at the end of the year to buy techno gadgets on amazon or bestbuy, when i click the redeem button suddenly the their website that portion of their website is not working. so i call customer care and they cant help; they ended up giving me another number to call. I have never had to jump through any hoops with Discover card or Chase (they make it easy to collect whats due) but citi is a theif and they will burn… just like capitalone.
    they just lost a customer who puts more than 10Gs on a each card per year.

  9. Amy says:

    Used my points 2 months ago for citi giftcards and still haven’t received them. On investigation case #2 with them and have no confidence I will ever get them. I’m going to switch to another card.

  10. Berlant says:

    Thank You Rewards will also deduct rewards points from your account when they close old credit cards you haven’t used in years, even though you long ago spent the rewards points you earned with that old credit card. These Con Artists ripped me off for 16,000 poiints when they closed a credit card of theirs that i haven’t used since 2009, even though i spent 250,000 points since that time which would have included the few points i long ago earned on that now closed credit card.

  11. andrew says:

    Jim Wang, the soul less fool paid to scam you into thinking one should be thankful for a fraudulent service. The bidding is rigged.

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