Back in the olden days (well, 2 years ago) the bonus on Citi Thank You Premier card was tiered. You got the first part during year one, and had to wait a whopping 12 months AND pay an annual fee in order to get the second half of the carrot. You freshly recruited hobbyists have it easy now. Spend $3,000 in 3 months and the points are yours.
Unfortunately, I signed up under the old terms. Some time back, I’ve decided to hang on to the cards (my husband got this offer as well) in case we wouldn’t get approved for Citi Prestige (see my reasons here). Well, we did get Prestige X2. And now the renewal fees on both Premier cards are coming up. Naturally, I hate paying fees of any kind. In this case, we are talking flexible points which can redeemed for 1.33 cents towards any paid airfare, since they are combinable with the stash from Prestige.
But here is the thing. We have Southwest Rapid Rewards points, airline credits from Prestige that need to be used up, and no major vacation plans for the foreseeable future. We also have miles, hotel points, well, you get the idea.
A weird quirk of Citi Thank You program is that all points earned via recently cancelled credit card expire in 30 days. Of course, you can transfer them to another account like Prestige and supposedly, they are good for 90 days, right? Maybe not. According to this Flyertalk thread, Citi knows which points came from which source and may delete them even if they are in someone else’s account. At least, that’s how I understood it. Oh, Citi, how did you get to be so smart? Yes you did, yes you did!
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
No, it’s not my baby, just a stock photo! He does look really cute, though…
Back to Citi. There are indications that this policy may have changed recently, but no one knows for sure. I definitely wouldn’t want to take a chance. There is always an option of converting Premier to Citi Thank You Preferred card that has no annual fee. Of course, as you’ve probably guessed from the post title, my attempt was rejected. I called, I sent secure message and here was my answer both times:
So, what now? If I transfer my points to Prestige account, I will only have 90 days, scratch that, 30 days to use them. I could let my Premier card renew and see if I can use points later this year. My mom is supposed to apply for American multiple-entry visa in January, and I will need to book airfare for next October. I already reserved award tickets for my parents’ visit in March under the assumption that they will get at least a single-entry visa like they usually do. But I would hate to buy a non-refundable ticket without having these documents in order.
Citi usually pro-rates annual fees, emphasis on “usually.” You just never know with Citi. I could also speculatively transfer my points to a program like Krisflyer. I wrote about it yesterday, and there are definitely some good deals to be had via redemption on United flights. You can fly to Alaska for 25K miles roundtrip, and 35K miles to Hawaii in economy. Singapore Airlines is part of Star Alliance, which opens all kinds of possibilities, albeit some come with fuel surcharges. But I am extremely leery of speculatively transferring points to a foreign program. I have been burned in the past with Czech Airlines (curse you forever!), and I admit, I’m a bit prejudiced in this respect.
I think there is more stability when it comes to Americanized (United, Delta and well, American) frequent flyer miles. Since we have three major programs here (four if you count Alaska), there is a certain amount of pressure to prevent miles from becoming totally useless. Part of this pressure comes from banks that issue co-branded cards since they buy the miles from respective airline programs. If miles devalue too much, people will start canceling credit cards, which will negatively impact banks’ bottom line. Can you believe some still collect miles through everyday spending?
But there is a certain amount of pressure on airlines not to gut their product completely. People love to hate on Delta, and understandably so. But even the biggest critics have to admit that you can get at least 1 cent from every Delta mile if you have their co-branded credit card. Speaking of, check my page of sign-up bonuses for an increased non-affiliate offer on Amex Delta card (it comes and goes, but could be worth it for some)
Can I 100% count on Singapore Airlines Krisflyer mile being worth at least 1 cent a year from now? I doubt it. Maybe I am being a bit irrational, but personally, I prefer to transfer to a foreign program only when I have an immediate redemption in mind. Plus, Krisflyer miles expire in 3 years regardless of earning or burning activity.
Of course, there is another option. I could redeem 100,000 points for $1,000 in Walmart gift cards. I realize it sounds like travesty to even suggest such a thing, but to me, Walmart gift cards are almost as good as cash. We need groceries, but we DON’T have to fly to Hawaii. On the other hand, who doesn’t like to redeem 35,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket from Florida to Maui? It rhymes.
I am so torn on this.
Readers, what do you think I should do? I am honestly looking for suggestions. Full disclosure: I can’t guarantee that I will follow your advice, but I’m genuinely interested in what you have yo say. Hit me with your best shot, comrades, amigos and hobbyists.
Update: I got this message from Chuck (Doctor of Credit blog) via Twitter
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.