There are tons of Citibank rewards credit cards. Like most other credit card rewards programs, there are a wide range of items that you can redeem your credit card miles for, ranging from travel items like free airline tickets to discount car rental or free hotel room nights.
In addition, you can redeem your Citi rewards points for merchandise, gift cards and even get cash back from your Citibank MasterCard or Citibank Visa rewards card. One popular card is the Citibank Rewards Premier Credit Card.
Citibank Rewards Catalog Travel
In 2009, the Citibank travel rewards were changed from flat-rate awards to awards based upon the actual cost of the airline ticket. The current rate is approximately 100 points for every dollar the plane tickets costs. So a free airline ticket reward for a round-trip fare that costs $300 would require redeeming 30,000 points.
Note that in order to redeem Citibank ThankYou rewards for free airline tickets, you must book the plane tickets through the Thank You rewards website which always seems to have fares that are slightly higher than the same airfare found on any of the major, non-affiliated travel websites like Expedia or Travelocity. That extra charge means you’ll never quite get a full 1 percent redemption value.
There are still some travel items in the Citibank rewards catalog that have a flat-rate redemption of miles or points.
Car rental certificates from Avis, for example, can be had for 3,500 points for a $25 certificate, 6,000 points for a $50 car rental certificate, or 10,000 points for a $100 certificate.
Likewise, there are major hotel rewards certificates available as well including Hyatt, Marriott Hotels, and The Ritz-Carlton. Rewards certificates can be used for free hotel stays or a discount off your rate. $100 certificates are redeemed at 1 percent, or 10,000 points for each $100, while lower value certificates are redeemed at a lower rate of 6,000 points for $50.
Citibank Rewards Catalog Gift Cards
As with the rewards travel certificates, if you redeem points for gift cards, you’ll get a much better deal if you get $100 gift cards than if you cash in less points for smaller rewards.
A $100 gift card to Barnes & Noble yields a respectable 1 percent at a rate of 10,000 points for a $100 card.
A $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble costs 6,000 points for a return of just 0.8 percent, and a $25 gift card is even worse, ringing in at 3,500 points for a 0.7 percent rate of return on your rewards points.
Good financial advice is to look for cards to retailers you should at anyways and be sure to redeem your points for higher value gift cards to maximize the value of your reward.
Compare to the Capital One rewards catalog…
Citibank Rewards Cash Rewards
Citibank cash rewards are some of the lowest value rewards thanks to an overpriced redemption rate. The smart financial move is that would be better off finding a better value gift card at a store or retailer where you would normally shop anyway. Otherwise, you’ll be getting way less than 1% cash back from your Citi rewards card.
A $50 cash reward costs 8,000 points and a $100 cash reward costs 16,000 points. That works out to a redemption rate of 0.625 percent, way below the “average” rate of 1 percent that savvy credit card users should should for.
Citibank Rewards Catalog Merchandise
Like most credit card rewards catalogs, the Citibank rewards catalog for 2011 has pages of merchandise you can redeem points for. Valuing these rewards is harder because the prices on most items can fluctuate.
The best finance advice is to find out how much you could buy the item for (including tax and shipping) from a retailer and then compare that price to the number of points required to purchase the item. If the resulting rate of return on the your credit card points is lower than 1 percent, see if you can find gift cards for a merchant that sells the item. Redeem your ThankYou points for a $100 gift card (or several) at a 1 percent redemption rate and then buy the item with the gift cards instead of overpaying with your points.
Do watch for “sales” where the Citi cards people mark certain rewards down from time to time. The lower point totals may make redeeming your miles for those rewards a good deal.
What’s your favorite reward in the Citibank rewards catalog?