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Credit Cards

Luxury travel and more: Here's how to maximize the Citi Premier Card's 80,000-point welcome bonus [Expired]

You can redeem Citi ThankYou Rewards points for a wide variety of travel options.

Leonid Sorokin | Istock | Getty Images

Citi is an advertising partner.

The offer mentioned below for the for the Citi Premier® Cardis no longer available.

The Citi Premier® Card is a real contender when it comes to travel rewards credit cards, with a healthy amount of redemption options, the ability for cardholders to easily earn ThankYou® Points — 3X points at restaurants, air travel, hotels and at supermarkets and gas stations, plus 1X points on everything else — and a sweet perk that lets you take $100 off one hotel stay per year over $500 (before taxes and fees) when you book through Citi ThankYou Rewards.

Besides other benefits like no foreign transaction fees and contactless pay, you'll have 17 airline and hotel transfer partners to work with — 15 of them with a 1:1 redemption rate, one hotel partner with a 1:2 redemption rate and one hotel partner with a 2:1 redemption rate — plus you'll be able to book all your travel needs through the ThankYou Rewards portal.

Citi is currently offering a generous welcome bonus of 80,000 ThankYou Points when you sign up for the Citi Premier® Card and spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

If you've been in the market for a new travel rewards card with a reasonable annual fee (just $95) and a nifty welcome bonus to help get things going, the Citi Premier® Card is definitely worth considering. With additional perks like extended warranty protection and protection against damage and theft, this truly is one of the most versatile travel rewards cards out there.

And if you're not going to be traveling for a while, put those points toward some much-needed retail therapy — the 80,000 ThankYou Points you'll earn from the welcome bonus alone are worth $800 in gift cards or cash back.

Below, Select breaks down the best ways to maximize 80,000 bonus points.

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Transfer ThankYou Points to airline partners

Citi ThankYou Rewards is partnered with 14 airlines representing carriers across all three airline alliances — Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam — providing a myriad of redemption options depending on your travel style. Best of all, ThankYou Points can be redeemed at a 1:1 ratio; just make sure to transfer in 1,000-point increments with a minimum of 1,000 points:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

While JetBlue is the only true domestic transfer partner, you can still take advantage of airline alliances to book the flights you want through international carriers. For instance, you could transfer ThankYou Points to Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles or Avianca LifeMiles and use those to book domestic flights on United Airlines, a Star Alliance partner, or transfer them to Aeromexico Club Premier or Flying Blue (KLM and Air France) to book flights on Delta Air Lines, a SkyTeam partner.

In fact, booking United flights through Turkish is often a better deal than booking through United itself. Turkish only charges 7,500 miles for a one-way flight within the U.S. on United in economy, or 12,500 in first class. And you can even take advantage of that rate for flights to Hawaii and Alaska. Meaning with the 80,000-point welcome bonus from the Citi Premier® Card, you could potentially book four round-trip flights from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii.

Another trick is to transfer ThankYou Points to airline partners to book premium seats, for example, switching them over to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book business-class seats with its partner, All Nippon Airways (ANA). You can book a one-way business class flight on ANA from the U.S. to Japan for 45,000-47,500 Flying Club miles.

The same method could be used to score business-class award seats on American Airlines by transferring ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest miles.

Redeem ThankYou Points for free nights at hotels

If a romantic getaway or family road trip vacation is in the cards, consider using the 80,000-point welcome bonus to cover a few hotel nights by transferring ThankYou Points to one of Citi's three hotel partners, Accor Live Limitless, Choice Privileges or Wyndham Rewards.

Choice Privileges lets you convert ThankYou Points to its loyalty program at a 1:2 ratio (in other words, 1,000 points would get you 2,000 Choice Privileges points) to stay in more than 7,000 properties in over 40 countries at the following brands:

  • The Ascend Hotel Collection
  • Cambria Hotels
  • Clarion
  • Clarion Pointe
  • Comfort
  • Econo Lodge
  • MainStay Suites
  • Quality Inn
  • Rodeway Inn
  • Sleep Inn
  • Surburban Extended Stay Hotel
  • WoodSpring Suites

Choice Privileges also has connections to Penn National Gaming, Inc., Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Nordic Choice Hotels, giving you access to points redemptions at a range of resorts, casino hotels, and independently owned boutique properties throughout the U.S. and worldwide.

Here's what 80,000 ThankYou Points could be redeemed for when you transfer them to Choice Privileges: 

  • Two nights at Kohea Kai Maui, Ascend Hotel Collection, in Hawaii (30,000 points a night)
  • Three nights at Quality Inn & Suites Near the Theme Parks in Orlando (16,000 points a night)
  • Five nights at Comfort Hotel Nation Pere Lachaise Paris 11 in France (12,000 points a night)

If Wyndham Rewards is your preferred hotel loyalty program, the redemption ratio is 1:1 and you'll be able to cash in points for free nights at more than 9,000 hotels in over 80 countries at one of the following brands:

  • Wyndham
  • Wyndham Grand
  • Wydham Garden
  • Wyndham Alltra All-Inclusive
  • Registry Collection Hotels
  • AmericInn
  • Tryp
  • Dazzler
  • Esplendor
  • Wingate
  • Trademark Collection
  • Dolce Hotels and Resorts
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites
  • Ramada
  • Baymont
  • Microtel
  • Days Inn
  • Super 8
  • Howard Johnson
  • Travelodge
  • Hawthorn Suites

Redemptions start at 7,500, 15,000, or 30,000 points per night depending on brand and tier. Here's what 80,000 ThankYou Points could yield:

  • Two nights at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort (30,000 points a night)
  • Four nights at Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Bangkok Menam Riverside in Thailand (15,000 points a night)
  • Eight nights at TRYP by Wyndham Jerusalem Bat Sheva (7,500 points a night)

Because Wyndham Rewards is now partnered with Vacasa, you'll also be able to put ThankYou Points toward stays at more than 15,000 hotels, vacation clubs and home rentals, as well as Caesars Rewards casino hotels in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and St. Louis through another partnership. If vacation resorts with perks like lazy rivers are more your style, additional connections with Margaritaville Vacation Club, Cottages.com, Landal Greenparks, Worldmark, Shell Vacations Club, and Club Wyndham may be worth looking into as well.

Book flights, hotels and rental cars through the Citi ThankYou travel portal

When you book flights, hotels, cruises, rental cars, vacation packages, tours, and other travel activities through the Citi ThankYou Rewards portal (thankyou.com) or by calling the ThankYou Service Center at 1-800-842-6596, your ThankYou points are worth a flat rate of 1 cent per point, allowing for a pretty straightforward redemption process. You won't have to worry about minimum-stay requirements, blackout dates, seating limits or other restrictions, which is great news for those who need flexibility and value having lots of options to work with when making travel plans.

That said, it's always a good idea to compare redemption rates on flights and hotels that are bookable through the portal with how many points are needed if you were to transfer them directly to a Citi travel partner. That way you'll know for sure if you're getting the best value.

Redeem points for cash back

Citi Premier® Card cardholders have the ability to redeem their ThankYou points for cash back in the form of a direct deposit, statement credit or check. Points are worth 1 cent per each this way — meaning 80,000 points are worth $800 in cold hard cash.

It's hard to beat the versatility of cash, so this is definitely worth considering if you don't want to deal with transferring your points to partners.

Use ThankYou Points for gift cards

If you won't be traveling for a while, the 80,000-point welcome bonus is worth $800 in gift cards to all your favorite restaurants, retail shops, and streaming services, including Target, Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, Hulu, Spotify, Starbucks, and Panera Bread, among other popular brands. Redemptions start at 2,500 ThankYou Points for $25 gift cards, 5,000 ThankYou Points for $50 gift cards, and 10,000 ThankYou Points for $100 gift cards, which can be emailed or mailed to you.

Take advantage of retail shopping partnerships

With the Citi Premier® Card, you'll be able to use the Pay With Points feature to cover recent purchases under certain categories like dining, groceries, clothing, gas, entertainment, drug stores, and utilities; the Shop With Points feature to pay for items on Amazon.com or PayPal, or to fuel up at Shell or BP/Amoco gas stations; convert ThankYou Points to statement credits to pay for purchases made on BestBuy.com or 1800Flowers.com; or put them toward a shopping spree at Sears at a redemption rate of 1:10.

However, when using Shop with Points on Amazon or PayPal, each ThankYou point is worth only 0.8 cents, which is a less than ideal value. 80,000 points would be worth $640 towards Amazon or PayPal purchases.

Donate ThankYou Points to charity

Feeling generous? Donate your points to charity organizations like the American Red Cross, Unicef, World Central Kitchen, Smile Train, No Kid Hungry, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, with $25 donations from 2,500 ThankYou Points, $50 donations from 5,000 ThankYou Points, and $100 donations from 10,000 ThankYou Points.

Other cards with large welcome bonuses

If you're interested in other cards with large welcome bonuses out side of the Citi Premier® Card, consider the following. The value and utility of the rewards from each card varies, but you'll still be able to get plenty of "free" travel with their hefty welcome bonuses.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee


  • Intro APR


  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee


  • Foreign transaction fee


  • Credit Needed


  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL. Earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel.

  • Welcome bonus

    Limited time offer! Earn 85,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

  • Annual fee


  • Intro APR


  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fees


  • Credit needed


Member FDIC. Terms apply.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 6X points for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; 4X Points for each dollar on U.S. Online Retail Purchases; 3X points for other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024

  • Annual fee


  • Intro APR


  • Regular APR

    20.99% - 29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee


  • Foreign transaction fee


  • Credit needed


See rates and fees, terms apply.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card from American Express, click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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