Middle Age Miles

Citi Prestige Promo for 5x on Online Purchases & Our Plans for Using It

Introduction and Details of the Promo

Last week, Citi introduced a promotion for bonus ThankYou Point (TYP) earning on its premium Prestige card – 5x TYPs for online purchases. Oddly, the promotion wasn’t formally announced; rather, the Citi PR team released the information through bloggers. We learned of the promotion from this article from Frequent Miler, to whom we tip our hat:

Basics of the Prestige 5x online promotion are:

  • 5x TYPs for “online purchases” during the promotional period
  • Promotional period runs from June 2 through August 31, 2020
  • “Online purchases” include:
    • Retailer website orders
    • Online grocery orders
    • Online drugstore orders
  • Cap of 7,500 TYPs (that is, $1,500 in “online purchases”)

Unfortunately, Citi is vague on the exact parameters of what qualifies as an “online purchase” for purposes of this promotion. In the Frequent Miler article, Nick made an educated guess that “online purchases” for purposes of this promotion might coincide with the purchases that qualify for the “online retail and travel” bonus category on Citi’s AT&T Access and Access More cards.

Later, in the comments to the Frequent Miler article, reader Yuri made a comment suggesting that “online purchases” for purposes of this and other similar Citi promotions are broader than those that qualify for the bonus category for Citi’s AT&T co-branded cards. Yuri said, “I received a few online promos on different Citi cards, and they were giving extra points for online, where AT&T card was not. I tested it on Prestige and both Paypal and Plastiq posted as 5x. The same was happening on my Preferred card some time ago.”

How We’ll Use This Promotion

We don’t want to keep track of $1,500 worth of “online purchases” on our Prestige card or wonder what purchases will or won’t qualify over the course of the next 3 months. And we have other good bonus category options for all (or virtually all) of our online spend, anyway, such as buying Amazon GCs at an office supply store to earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points on a Chase Ink Cash card or earning 3x TYPs on online retail & travel purchases using our Citi AT&T Access More card.

For those reasons, plus the fact that it’s comfortably profitable to do so, we’ll manufacture the spend to qualify for this promotion.

Although it may not be necessary, we’ll try to minimize the risk that our purchase won’t qualify for the promotion by using a vendor that we know qualifies for 3x TYP earning as an “online retail” purchase on the Citi AT&T Access More card – purchasing Visa eGift Cards (eVGC) through the VanillaGift.com website.

For now, we can use the promotion code GRATITUDE to purchase a $500 eVGC from VanillaGift.com with no activation, processing or shipping fees.

We’ll receive our eVGC within an hour or less, and we can liquidate it online for a 2% fee using Bravo.

Now that Citi’s website displays the number of points earned on purchases, we’ll know for sure whether the purchase earned 5x TYPs within a couple of days, when the transaction posts. If it earns 5x TYPs as we expect, we can then proceed to purchase another $1,000 in eVGCs from VanillaGift.com to max out the $1,500 promotion cap. If our original purchase only earns 1x, we can re-evaluate and come up with a different plan to use the promotion.

For us, the math on a $500 eVGC purchase from VanillaGift.com will look like this:

  • Costs: No activation fee; liquidation fee will be $9.81
  • Earnings: 5 * 500 = 2,500 TYPs
    • 2,500 TYPs at our baseline value of 1.25 cents per TYP results in points earnings worth about $31.25
  • “Profit”: $31.25 – $9.81 = $21.44
    • Looking at it another way, we will be “purchasing” 2,500 TYPs for $9.81, meaning that we’re effectively paying 0.39 cents per TYP
      • That’s about a 69% discount compared to our baseline value of 1.25 cents per TYP

Note that another potential option would be to purchase a $500 eVGC from GiftCards.com (GC.com). We’d incur a $5.95 activation fee, but that would be more than offset by the fact that we could earn 506 Membership Rewards points by going through the Rakuten shopping portal. The additional risk there is that we know that GC.com *doesn’t* earn 3x as “online retail & travel” on the Citi AT&T cards, so there’d seem to be a greater risk that it wouldn’t qualify as an “online purchase” for purposes of this Prestige promotion. That said, we’d be happy to see a successful data point if anyone tries this approach!

Other Citi Promotions

Earlier, Citi had announced that the Prestige card’s $250 annual travel credit can be used on purchases at supermarkets and restaurants from May 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

In conjunction with the Prestige promotion, Citi also announced that was accelerating positive earnings changes to its mid-level Premier card. The changes were previously scheduled to take effect on August 23, but Citi has implemented them early, as of June 2. Those changes on the Premier card include:

  • 3x TYPs on supermarket purchases (up from 1x)
  • 3x TYPs on restaurant purchases, including takeout & curbside (up from 2x)

Right now, we have way too many (and more valuable) options for supermarket purchases, but once these current promotions expire, uncapped 3x TYP earning at supermarkets will become interesting and useful. That’ll be a story for another day.

Wrap-Up

We’re extremely happy with this new Citi 5x promotion for “online purchases.” Hopefully our game plan will work well and we can earn 5x TYPs for eVGC purchases through VanillaGift.com. If so, we’ll make a profit of about $64, which we’ll gladly take!

Do you have other strategy ideas or DPs on this Citi Prestige promotion? We’re particularly interested in a DP of whether a purchase from GiftCards.com would qualify for 5x earning. Please let us know in the Comments!


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5 thoughts on “Citi Prestige Promo for 5x on Online Purchases & Our Plans for Using It

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Thanks, RG. I actually ran into a glitch with my first GC purchase. We’re out of town at the moment (road trip) and I suspect that the problem was that VanillaGift saw my IP address location as a mis-match with my address. Citi said that they approved the transaction but the reversal was on the merchant end. I’ll try again next week when we’re back home and hopefully have better luck getting the order to confirm. ~Craig

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