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Citi just announced that you can now transfer ThankYou points to the JetBlue TrueBlue loyalty program.
Citi’s credit card collection offers a wide range of rewards earning options. Many of their credit cards have ties with other rewards programs, including AAdvantage, Hilton HHonors and Expedia+. They also offer their politely-named ThankYou points program to be earned using a number of their cards. Now, their own ThankYou rewards program has just grown with the almost exciting new addition of the JetBlue partnership. Yes, it’s almost exciting. We’ll dive into why it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the rewards program, but you shouldn’t be rushing to move those points just yet.
Citi ThankYou Points Transfer to JetBlue TrueBlue
You can now transfer your Citi ThankYou points to JetBlue’s TrueBlue rewards points, with transfer rates varying depending on your card. With the Citi ThankYou Premier, Prestige and Chairman cards, you can transfer at the rate of 1000 ThankYou points for 800 TrueBlue points. With the ThankYou Preferred or Citi Forward cards, you can transfer 1000 points for a meager 500 points.
JetBlue is based out of New York and offers a pile of amenities when you fly. Flights include unlimited snacks (enjoy Craisins and Coke-Cola every minute of your flight) and entertainment with Fly-Fi broadband internet and DirectTV. They also offer the most legroom in coach seating compared to US competitors, an area that’s been long been squeezed down in size.
So, how does this compare to other ThankYou transfers?
Citi’s existing transfer partners include a range of frequent flyer programs, including Asia Miles, Etihad Guest (Air Etihad), FlyingBlue (Air France and KLM), Qatar Privilege Club (Qatar Airways) and Elevate (Virgin America). All of these rewards programs have a much more appealing transfer rate at 1:1. The only exception is with Elevate, as it offers only the 1:0.5 transfer rate. Yet, the benefit of JetBlue is that it’s based out of JFK and therefore offers destinations that are generally more commonly sought out in the American market.
TrueBlue points will get you flights, and some other less common perks, like magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and a vacation package that can be obtained only using points plus cash. Therefore, the flights are the real option here, and can be booked without any blackout dates. However, there is a very clear reason why they are called TrueBlue points and not TrueBlue Miles – redemption is based on fare revenue, not distance. Therefore, you can get a great deal if flights are cheap and a terrible deal if flights are expensive. The frequent flyer value of having Miles cover more expensive or appealing flights is not available to you under TrueBlue.
Redeeming ThankYou Points for Flights
ThankYou points have different values depending on which card you have. With the lower-end cards, including the Preferred, Preferred for College Students, and the AT&T Access card, a ThankYou point is valued at $0.01, which is the same value for travel as it is for other redemption uses like student loan repayment. However, with the ThankYou Premier card, you can 1 point at a rate of $0.0125 on airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises booked through the ThankYou Travel Center. The Prestige card offers $0.0133 cents per point spent on travel and a very sweet rate of $0.016 per point used on American Airlines bookings (also through the Travel Center). Unfortunately, we know that this rate will drop in mid-2017 to the same level as the Premier card rate, so keep this in mind if you currently have the Prestige card and want to take advantage of these rates.
Earning ThankYou Points and TrueBlue Points
ThankYou points can be earned on seven different Citi cards. However, I’ll only review four here, as one is discontinued (Forward) and one is for the very wealthy elite (Chairman, which, alas, I am not). With the ThankYou Preferred card (including the Preferred card for College Students), you earn 2 points per dollar spent on eating out and entertainment, and 1 point for everything else. With the ThankYou Premier card, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on all things travel, 2 points per dollar on eating out and entertainment, and 1 point for everything else. With the Prestige card, you’ll earn 3 points on air travel and hotels, the same values for 2 and 1 points as above. The AT&T Access Card offers 2 points per dollar spent online on retail and travel websites.
TrueBlue points are earned through you JetBlue fares booked online, plus a matching (and then some) point system. For every fare dollar spent, you’ll earn 3 points as a base, and then an additional three points with a Blue fare or Mint fare, four points with a Blue Plus fare, five points with a Blue Flex fare.
And there’s also 3 Barclays branded JetBlue reward credit cards.
Should I Transfer my ThankYou Points?
With the fare-based pricing of the TrueBlue program, your points transfer may not provide the best value for your ThankYou points. The point exchange is low, especially with the lower end cards, and there are solid flight booking options within the Citi ThankYou program, which is already a revenue-based program. If you use one of the two high-end ThankYou-earning cards, the Travel Center bookings will likely be far more favorable. With these facts in mind, I’d check my math before moving ThankYou points towards a TrueBlue flight. You’re likely going to get a better deal through Citi, or by transferring to one of their older frequent flyer partner airlines which uses Miles and has a strong value, such as Flying Blue or Etihad.
In addition, if you’re booking often with JetBlue, the 6 point per fare dollar spent has a great return to build up JetBlue points. To go further still, you could add the Barclay JetBlue card to your collection. This card earns 2 JetBlue dollars on restaurants and grocery purchases, and 1 point in anything else.
Is transferring Citi ThankYou points to JetBlue a good idea? Although it’s nice to have another option to transfer, in this case, you’re better off sticking with each brand and their own flight-booking systems to get the best value for your point.
However, increasing the number transfer partners of the ThankYou program is overall a great move. With more transfers, the value and usefulness of ThankYou points will increase their worth in usefulness if not yet in value.