AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.
The earning rates offered by many Citi cards are among the best available. By building out a portfolio of ThankYou Rewards cards, you can build a substantial balance of ThankYou Points in a relatively short period.
In this post, we're diving into a three-card strategy that can deliver a top return on spending and give new cardholders plenty of points courtesy of signup bonuses. Best of all, you'll pay a total of $95 in annual fees to hold all three cards.
Earn Up to 3X Points, Plus 60,000 Bonus Points
- 60,000 point signup bonus worth $800 towards airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
- 3X points per $1 on airfare and hotels and at gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets
- Annual Hotel Benefit: Save $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book through ThankYou.com
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- 3X points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels, and at gas stations
- 3X points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants, including cafes, bars and lounges
- 3X points per $1 spent at supermarkets
- 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases
The Citi Premier® Card earns 3X points per $1 spent on airfare and hotels and at gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets — all practical everyday spending categories providing cardholders an excellent return on expenses. The Citi Premier is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points.
Related: Citi Premier full review
Earn 2x Points on Every Purchase
If you're looking to pay down debt or finance a larger purchase, this card also comes with one of the best available introductory APR offers on balance transfers.
- Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
- 2% cash back on every purchase - 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, the (Variable) APR will be 19.24% - 29.24% based on your creditworthiness
- Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min).
- No annual fee
We consider the Citi® Double Cash Card the best rewards card from any issuer for non-bonus spending. The card is marketed as a cash-back card earning 2% cash back on every purchase. However, rewards are issued as ThankYou Points that can be redeemed for cash back or transferred to a few travel partners.
Related: Citi Double Cash full review
Earn 5x Points on Your Top Spending Category, Plus $200 Cash Back
- Sign-up bonus of $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening, issued as 20,000 ThankYou® Points
- 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category on up to $500 of purchses each billing cycle
- No rotating bonus categories to sign up for--the top earning category adjusts automatically each month to the eligible category in which you spend the most.
- Excellent intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers
- No annual fee
- Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
- 1% cash back thereafter, plus, you'll earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
- No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
- Eligible spending categories are: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment.
The icing on the ThankYou Rewards cake, the Citi Custom Cash® Card earns 5% cashback (issued as 5X ThankYou Points) on the first $500 spent in your top spending category each month. Eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment, giving cardholders plenty of options to maximize returns on this card.
Related: Citi Custom Cash full review
Leverage the ThankYou Card Trifecta for Top Returns on Spending
With a wallet full of high-earning ThankYou Rewards cards, you're ready to start stacking points for your next adventure. Let's dive into a quick illustration of the points on offer for cardholders.
For example, let's say you spend an average of $450 per month on groceries, $300 on dining and restaurants, $150 on gas, $250 on air travel and hotels, and $850 on other purchases you can charge to a credit card. (That's a total of $2k in card spending per month.)
This is how many ThankYou points you could earn if maximized:
- Citi Custom Cash: Earn 5x on groceries = 2,250 points
- Citi Premier: Earn 3x on dining, gas, and travel = 2,100 points
- Citi Double Cash: Earn 2x on other purchases = 1,700 points
- Total: 6,050 points per month
That's over 6,000 points in earnings from $2,000 in spending — an average of over 3x ThankYou Points per dollar spent!
As you can see, racking up points on your everyday spending can quickly add up to a substantial balance of rewards. Even if you just redeem for cash back, you're earning $726 in cash back each year. That's well more than the combined $95 cost to hold all three cards each year.
However, your ThankYou Points earnings can be much more valuable when redeemed for travel through Citi transfer partners. Incredible Citi sweet spots include JetBlue flights for under 5,000 points, United flights for 6,500 points, and even flights to Hawaii for just 7,500 points. If you average just 1.5 cents per point in value, your annual return is more than $1,000.
For context, AwardWallet users tend to redeem their Citi points at 2.2¢ apiece with transfer partners.
Who's Eligible for Citi Cards?
These cards all share a base set of application restrictions that apply to all Citi cards:
- Maximum of one (1) personal card per eight days
- No more than two (2) total cards per 65 days
- Maximum one (1) business card per 95 days
In addition to the overall issuer rules, ThankYou Rewards-earning cards also feature one extra restriction: You can't get a bonus on a particular card if you've earned a new account bonus on that same card within the past 48 months. For example, the Citi Premier notes:
Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi Premier® account in the past 48 months.
The ThankYou Rewards program features excellent transfer partners, and building a high-earning card combo is a piece of cake compared with application restrictions applied by other issuers. On top of new cardmember sign-up bonuses, you'll have top-tier earning rates with these three cards. And you won't pay large annual fees to build this rewards strategy, which makes it even better.
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.