Typically, when I’ve evaluated the value of the major travel reward programs (Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and ThankYou Rewards), I’ve often overlooked the important role of ThankYou Rewards points.
The Disadvantages of the ThankYou Rewards Program
- They do not have any airline or hotel programs that allow point transfers. This is a huge advantage of both Ultimate Rewards and American Express Rewards. The reason is because if you can find a way to redeem miles or points for more than 2 cents each, you’re getting a very good return for your points.
- ThankYou Rewards hotel booking options exclude some of the best rates. When I’ve compared the rates you can get with ThankYou and Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou’s list of hotel options is very sparse and often includes certain locations at a premium.
The Overlooked Value of Citi Premier Credit Card
When you use ThankYou rewards to book flights, you get a 33% bonus with your ThankYou Rewards points (if you are a Premier card holder).
This in and of itself is a great value.
Recently, I was looking for tickets from Chicago to Denver.
If I could find availability on the right dates (which I couldn’t), I could have used 15,000 British Airways points for a round trip ticket. The other remaining option was to use 25,000 miles on any of the major US programs.
However, I decided to check the ThankYou Rewards booking portal, and I was able to find flights for 14,178 ThankYou Rewards points.
That is part of the value.
However, the real value is …
You Earn Frequent Flyer Miles When You Book with ThankYou Rewards
Recently, I’ve been looking into what it would take for me to qualify for Gold or Platinum status with American Airlines. In order for me to do that, I’d need to purchase tickets (instead of using points).
There’s no better way to buy tickets that will earn points than to use ThankYou Rewards points and get a 33% discount on your tickets.
It’s All About the Repertoire
One point of this post is that you want to build points with different programs that fill gaps and have certain strengths and weaknesses. Too many folks want to build all their miles with one program. Bad idea.
While everyone was griping and complaining about British Airways miles devaluation, I knew that it opened up some new travel options for me. I’ve already booked tickets from Denver to Dallas for 4,500 miles each way per person. I’ve also booked tickets from Toronto to Chicago for the same number of miles.
I’m glad British Airways ‘devalued’ their program, because I now have good short haul options.
I won’t use ThankYou Rewards points to book hotels. I obviously won’t be using them to transfer to a mileage program. However, if I need to buy a paid flight, and especially if I want to earn miles, then I’ll be glad I’ve got some ThankYou Rewards miles in my travel portfolio.
The Citi Premier card has offered as much as a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The current best offer is 30,000 ThankYou points. I’d suggest hanging around to see if the 50,000 point offer comes back.