Introduction & Background
For many months, we’ve wanted to conduct a Citi ThankYou Points (TYPs) experiment to determine whether it would be possible for a single person to get the 10,000-TYP rebate from the Citi Rewards+ card twice per year. Our effort has met up with many challenges along the way, but we think we’re now at the cusp of running a useful experiment.
For background, let’s start by considering the Citi Rewards+ card. This no-fee card includes a couple of unique benefits, one of which is a 10% rebate on ThankYou point redemptions, up to a cap of 100,000 TYPs redeemed (10,000 TYPs rebated) each calendar year.
An initial thought for points-and-miles enthusiasts was that perhaps it would be possible to get 2 Rewards+ cards, associate them with a single ThankYou account, and receive the 10% rebate twice (either in parallel, resulting in a 20% rebate; or in sequence, resulting in a 10% rebate over a total of up to 200,000 TYPs in redemptions). Greg at Frequent Miler was generous enough to perform this experiment and report back, but unfortunately the result was a failure – 2 Rewards+ cards associated with the same ThankYou account did not double the rebate.
- Frequent Miler: Can you double the Citi Rewards+ 10K rebate by getting two? (July 3, 2019)
Personally, we weren’t particularly surprised that Greg’s experiment didn’t work. But we had wondered if you could get the Rewards+ 10k rebate twice, if the two Rewards+ cards were associated with different ThankYou accounts.
We were preparing to run this “2 ThankYou accounts” experiment last summer. One of the key ingredients in the plan, though, was needing to have a good TYP-generating card in the mix. That’s because the 10% rebate doesn’t do us much good unless we can generate a substantial number of TYPs in our 2nd TY account to redeem (ideally, we’d generate about 100,000 TYPs per year!). We had hoped to get a second AT&T Access More (ATTAM) card to operate as our points-generator card, but Citi removed the ability to product-change into the ATTAM card. We wrote about the issues with the ATTAM card and the fact that this foiled our experiment last summer:
- Middle Age Miles: Citi AT&T Access More Card Seems to Be Completely Unavailable for Product Changes (July 26, 2019)
- Middle Age Miles: My Grand Citi TYP Experiment Was Foiled! (July 26, 2019)
Finally, though, we’ve now gotten ourselves back in a position to run our experiment (and have it be worth something if it succeeds). One key factor that took place several months ago was Citi introducing the ability to convert cash rewards from the Double Cash card into TYPs. And the last piece was having enough Citi cards available to complete 2 useful “clusters” of cards for 2 separate ThankYou accounts (without needlessly applying for new cards, thereby killing my efforts to get under 5/24 and become eligible for new Chase cards again).
Interlude: Converting My Last Citi AA Platinum Card to Citi Premier
As regular readers are well aware, American Airlines recently terminated my AAdvantage account based on my acquisition of Citi AA Platinum cards (unjustly, I might add, but that’s the subject of several other articles).
My last Citi AA Platinum card had its anniversary in late March, and the $99 annual fee for that card posted on my April statement. The passing of the one-year mark for the card opened the ability for me to product-change the Citi AA Platinum card for another card in the Citi portfolio.
It’s our understanding that Citi may have disabled the ability to convert cards, at least briefly, at the onset of the coronavirus crisis. Based on our recent experience, though, product changes now appear to be available again for Citi cards.
Last week, on May 5, I called Citi, told the agent that my annual fee had posted on the AA Platinum card, and asked about product-change options. I knew going into the call that I wanted to convert to a Citi Premier card for purposes of this experiment, so I didn’t ask about other cards. The agent informed me that a product change to Premier was available. I agreed to the product change, and the agent quickly read me the disclosures and made the conversion.
The agent said that I’d receive my new Premier card in 10-14 days. As of now (May 12), it’s been 7 days, so I’m expecting to receive the card soon.
My ThankYou Account “Clusters” of Citi Cards
As most readers will know, Citi allows cardholders to link multiple cards to a single ThankYou points account. One catch, though, is that once linked to a ThankYou account, the card cannot be unlinked from that account. Thus, once you’ve grouped certain cards together, they can’t be ungrouped.
Right now, I have 4 TYP-earning cards linked in one ThankYou account, and following my recent conversion, I have 3 additional TYP-earning cards that are unlinked.
My first ThankYou account includes the following “cluster” of cards:
- Citi Prestige
- Citi Premier #1
- Citi AT&T Access More
- Citi Rewards+ #1
This grouping of cards includes some pretty good points-earners – the Prestige for 5x TYPs at restaurants (and for travel, whenever that comes back); the ATTAM card for 3x TYPs on online retail purchases; and, starting on August 23, 2020, 3x TYPs at supermarkets on the Premier card.
My second ThankYou account will soon include the following “cluster” of cards:
- Citi Premier #2 (the recently-converted card discussed above)
- Citi Double Cash
- Citi Rewards+ #2
We haven’t actually linked these cards into a combined ThankYou account yet, but we’ll do so once we receive our new Premier card and activate it.
In this grouping of cards, the Double Cash at 2x for all everyday spend is the main points-driver. It will soon be supplemented by 3x TYPs at supermarkets beginning in late August. In addition, I should become eligible for a new sign-up bonus on a Prestige or Premier card in mid-August, so at that time we’ll probably try to add one of those cards and the points from a new bonus to this second TY account.
Running the Experiment
As soon as we can link cards into our second TY account and earn sufficient TYPs for a meaningful redemption, we’ll run the experiment. It’ll be a bit of a challenge to run during current times when we’re not booking travel, as the experiment won’t be complete until we’ve redeemed more than 100k total TYPs across the 2 TY accounts and see whether we receive more than 10k total TYPs in rebates. We haven’t redeemed any TYPs yet during 2020, so it may take a while to exceed 100k TYPs in redemptions. Hopefully we’ll be able to run the experiment this year!
Unfortunately, one of the biggest benefits we’d get from this experiment will expire in April 2021. In the past, we’ve most often redeemed our TYPs to purchase tickets through the Citi Travel Portal at 1.25 cents per point (and at 1.6 cents per point on AA, back in the good ole’ days of a few years ago!). Sadly, 1.25-cent redemptions through holding a Premier card will go away on April 10, 2021, reducing our travel portal redemptions to 1 cent per TYP. Of course, at that rate we’d simply take cash back at 1 cent per TYP (assuming that we still hold a Prestige card) before we’d redeem through the travel portal at that rate. Of course, the strongest redemption value would be through transfers to Citi’s airline partners. (For us, though, Citi’s partner programs haven’t been a good match for our personal travel plans in the past.)
Whenever we’re able to run the experiment and get useful results, we’ll report back on Middle Age Miles. Wish us luck!
What do you think of our experiment? Do you predict success or failure? Has anyone tried this and have a data point to report? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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