Cancelling your Prestige or Premier card? Here’s how to keep your points alive.

I’m a huge fan of transferable points programs.  These are programs that allow you to transfer points to multiple loyalty programs at a fair exchange rate.  By collecting points in these programs, you have the ability to book travel opportunistically.  When you’re ready to book an award flight, you can search for award availability on almost any airline, then find the best program for booking that award (the best program is often a partner to the airline you plan to fly).  Then, hopefully you have transferable points that transfer to that program so that you can book the trip.  For reference, here are our guides to each of the most popular transferable points programs:

I also like signing up for credit cards in order to earn big signup bonuses.  Often, cards are worth getting for their signup bonus, but aren’t worth keeping for a second year due to their annual fee.  When points are earned in airline or hotel programs, there is no risk of losing your points when you cancel your card.  With bank programs, though, there’s a big risk.  Each of the above guides includes a section titled “How to keep points alive”, but I believe that Citi’s ThankYou program requires a bit more info…

What’s new

I’ve updated this post to include information about a weird quirk that happens when you product change from one Citi ThankYou card to another.  When you do so, the ThankYou program incorrectly shows that your points will expire within 60 days.  The solution is simply to wait it out until the system correctly shows that the points won’t expire.

Citi ThankYou Rewards background

With Citi’s ThankYou Rewards program, you can earn points from multiple different credit cards or from Citi bank accounts (but bank account points are not eligible for transfers to airline programs).  Once earned from multiple sources, you can pool points together in one ThankYou account.  This is handy, but it doesn’t change the fact that Citi continues to track the origin of each point.  If you cancel a card, all points earned from that card will expire 60 days after cancellation.

Citi offers two premium cards that allow ThankYou point transfers to loyalty programs:

Citi ThankYou Prestige Card

FM Mini Review: The Prestige card’s best in class 5X rewards for dining, airfare, and travel agencies is hard to beat. Sadly, this travel card doesn’t provide any travel protections.

Annual Fee: $495

Card Type: Mastercard World Elite

Earning rate: 5X airfare, dining, and travel agencies ⚬ 3X hotels and cruise line ⚬ 1X everywhere else

Noteworthy perks: $250 travel rebate per calendar year ⚬ Free lounge access: Citi Properietary Lounges; and Priority Pass Select with free guests ⚬ $100 Global Entry application fee credit ⚬ 4th night free hotel benefit

See also: Citi ThankYou Rewards Complete Guide

Citi Premier Card

FM Mini Review: Very strong earnings for spend. Excellent bonus categories. Points transferable to select airlines. Recommend pairing this card with Citi Double Cash and Citi Rewards+. Sadly, this travel card doesn’t provide any travel protections.

Annual Fee: $95

Card Type: Mastercard World Elite

Earning rate: 3X grocery ⚬ 3X dining ⚬ 3X gas stations ⚬ 3X flights, hotels, travel agencies ⚬ 3X all-other travel (until 8/23/20) ⚬ 2X entertainment (until 8/23/20)

Noteworthy perks: Transfer points to airline partners ⚬ Redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards travel (until 4/10/21) ⚬ Starting 8/23/20: $100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit

See also: Citi ThankYou Rewards Complete Guide

Citi also offers multiple fee-free ThankYou Rewards cards that do not allow loyalty point transfers (with a couple of not very good exceptions).

It’s important to note that points earned from fee-free ThankYou cards are fully transferable if pooled together with premium cards (Premier or Prestige).

For an up to date list of all Citi transfer partners, including any current transfer bonuses, please see: Citi Transfer Partners.

The cancelled card problem

Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, there is no way to keep points alive in the form of ThankYou points when you cancel the card from which you earned those points.  Points from a closed credit card expire 60 days after cancellation.

Moving points to another account is not the solution

Citi allows ThankYou points to be moved freely from one person’s account to another, but they then impose a 90 day expiration window on those points.  If you cancel the card that generated those points, your points will still expire 60 days after cancellation or 90 days after transfer, whichever comes first.

Pooling (combining) points is not the solution

If you are the primary account holder with multiple Citi ThankYou cards, you can combine ThankYou Rewards accounts.  When your points are combined, they can then automatically be redeemed at the same value as your best card.  For example, if one of your cards is the…

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