Middle Age Miles

Setting Up a ThankYou Points Experiment (and Converting My Last Citi AA Platinum Card)

citi thankyou points typs experiment prestige premier rewards plus rewards+ convert product change citi american airlines aa platinum credit card

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.

Key benefits of the Citi Rewards+ card

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.

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:

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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19 thoughts on “Setting Up a ThankYou Points Experiment (and Converting My Last Citi AA Platinum Card)

  1. Earl

    Doing what you are doing may not be particularly dangerous (at least not yet). But doing what you’re doing, and blogging about it – with all the circles ‘n arrows – will very likely eventually result in something similar to what happened to your AA account. Do you really want to bring all that attention to this? Others who are playing games with these cards and TYP might wish you had enough sense to be discreet…

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Earl – I appreciate the feedback. To your point, it’s always a challenge to decide what to blog about and what to keep close. We do our best to balance blogging about what our readers want to see on Middle Age Miles while being judicious about what we publish. Thanks for reading Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

  2. Grant

    Hi Craig, I think your experiment will be successful but my only concern is that you need to have a second Citi Premier CC and pay the $95 in order to take advantage of the 10% rebate, up to 10k TYPs.

    10k TYPs is worth $125 in travel, so I guess that’s more than the $95 annual fee, but I’m not sure it’s worthwhile for $30.

    Am I missing something that makes this a great deal?

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Grant – Good insight, and I agree with your comment in general. The point is really to understand if this is possible, because there are nuances where it can help people get extra value. For example, in my personal situation, I become eligible for another Prestige or Premier sign-up bonus in August. If I’m approved for one of those cards, I’d like to link it to a 2nd Rewards+ card and be eligible to get a 10% rebate twice, to make my sign-up bonus points go farther. Others may be in the same boat or have other use cases where being able to get 2 Rewards+ rebates in a year makes sense for them. If this experiment works, it helps them a bit.

      Also – and take this in the spirit in which it’s intended, because I’m laughing as I type – This, from my friend who holds 3 ATTAM cards at $95/year each to get the extra 10k TYP bonus on each card??? 🙂 ~Craig

  3. Christian

    An interesting scenario. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but you seem pretty heavily invested in Citi rather than American Express or Chase. With AAdvantage out of the picture is there any particular reason or just continuing with what works for you?

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Christian – Thanks for the comment. We’re heavily invested in Amex and Chase as well. In fact, overall Citi is probably third of those three issuers for us in terms of our focus and points-earning. If you want to read more about what cards we hold and why, check out our “What’s In Our Wallet 2020?” series of articles, particularly Part 2: Why We Acquired and Hold Each Card. Here’s a link, and you can also access the other 2 articles in the series via links in this article: https://www.middleagemiles.com/2020/02/07/whats-in-our-wallet-2020-part-2-why-we-acquired-and-hold-each-card/ ~Craig

  4. NK3

    Hey Craig:

    You mention above (and have talked about in prior posts) how product changing to ATTAM is no longer available. I thought at one time you product changed to the no fee ATTA card in hopes to eventually change to ATTAM. Do you still have that card?

    While the 3x on Internet purchases with the ATTAM would generate points faster, the ATTA gets 2x points. Plus, the great retention bonus you have gotten a couple times on the ATTAM card is often available for ATTA. After reading multiple data points online, a couple weeks ago I asked a Citi retention agent to check my ATTA card (I was already calling about a retention offer on my Premier card). I was targeted for an extra 2x points, up to 35K bonus points (so $17500 spend) over the next 6 months. So for no annual fee, that is 4x TYP on internet purchases. Could be a (relatively?) easy way to get 70K TYP.

    Had I not see the posts online, I would not have even thought to ask for a retention offer on a no annual fee card.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey NK3 – Wow, you have an incredible memory. Yes, I had an ATTA card at one time. I ended up converting it to my Double Cash card. That was before I had read any of the DPs about retention offers on the ATTA.

      Next, I love your idea. Brilliant thought to use ATTA with a retention offer as a TYP points-generator. I may try this myself at some point, if it’s still possible to convert to an ATTA card. And I agree, I wouldn’t have thought to ask for an offer on a no-fee card either.

      Many thanks for the great comment! ~Craig

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Stefan – That’s an interesting thought for sure and would be great if it worked. It doesn’t look very promising to me. When you look at the disclosures and T&Cs for the Rewards+ Student card, it gives you the disclosures/T&Cs for the regular Rewards+ card. I’m not sure what is the distinction for the “Student” card in terms of the actual product.

      If anyone has any data points on this, I’d be interested, though.

      I hope you’re healthy and not going too stir-crazy with the travel restrictions! Have a great weekend. ~Craig

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  6. Greg

    I recently converted a Citi AA Platinum card to a Citi Double Cash. The new Double Cash card came with a new account number which from what I read could reset the Citi 24-month bonus clock.

    When you product changed from the AA Platinum to Prestige, did your account number change also? If so, are you concerned you won’t be eligible for a sign-up bonus in mid-August due to the product change?

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Greg – Thanks for the comment, and good question. When I PC’d from AA Plat to Premier, yes, my account number changed. But that doesn’t have any impact on my ability to get a new sign-up bonus on the Prestige or Premier in mid-August. The terms for the SUB for those cards say that you can’t have received a sign-up bonus on a TY card (Rewards+, Preferred, Premier or Prestige) within the past 24 months and haven’t closed any of these cards in the past 24 months. My PC from AA Plat to Premier didn’t get me a SUB and didn’t result in the closure of a TY card, so I’m fine.

      Hope this explanation helps. Thanks for reading Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

  7. Geoff

    Just wanted to thank you for your intelligence and ideas. Your blog truly is unique and not just full of the same boring cut and paste crap that most travel/reward bloggers have. Keep up the great work.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Geoff – Many thanks for the comment and kind words. We certainly strive for unique and informative content, so it’s good to hear positive feedback like yours. Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

  8. yugi

    You can transfer points between TY accounts up to 100k per year.
    I also created two clusters of TY accounts, but I haven’t redeemed anything yet.
    But you also get 10% back, when you cash out points at 1cpp, if you have Prestige.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi yugi – Thanks for the comment. That’s a very interesting point you make about the ability to transfer points between TY accounts up to 100k per year. That would solve the problem of needing a Citi card on which you’re actively generating TYPs in each TY account. Brilliant. I really appreciate this. ~Craig

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