The Citi Double Cash card was always a solid product offering with 2% cashback everywhere and no annual fee. It also offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months.
But it became a lot more interesting when Citi started allowing you to convert the cash back into Citi ThankYou points. That flexibility is valuable as it allows you to choose between 2% cash back everywhere or converting into miles where they can be more valuable.
While you need a card like the $95/year Citi Premier card to transfer those points into most airline miles, you can transfer your 2% cash back earnings into 24 Sears Shop Your Way points without any other card. 1 Citi ThankYou point converts into 12 Shop Your Way points, and with Citi Double Cash you earn 2 ThankYou points (or 24 Shop Your Way points) per dollar spent.
Why should you care about Shop Your Way points?
Well, you definitely don’t want to store points there. But you can transfer points there and immediately redeem those points for gift cards to other stores. 5,000 Shop Your Way points can be redeemed for a $5 gift card, 30,000 Shop Your Way points can be redeemed for a $30 gift card, etc.
In other words if you spend $1,250 on a Citi Double Cash Card, you’ll earn $25 cash back. You can transfer that cash back into 2,500 ThankYou points and you can transfer that into 30,000 Shop Your Way points. You can then use those points for a $30 gift card to hundreds of stores. That’s an effective 2.4% back on your $1,250 in spending!
If you also have a Citi Rewards+ Card you’ll earn a 10% rebate on up to 100K redeemed and transferred ThankYou points. That means you would get back 250 ThankYou points in the scenario above, so that 2,250 ThankYou points would earn a $30 gift card. That’s an effective 2.67% back on your $1,250 in spending!
Of course if you also have a Citi Rewards+ Card then all of your purchases are rounded up to the nearest 10 points. That means you can earn 10 ThankYou points on a $0.50 Amazon balance reload! Those 10 ThankYou points would convert into 120 Shop Your Way points, and you would get back 1 ThankYou point with the 10% rebate.
You’ll want to use Citi Rewards+ over Citi Double Cash for all purchases under $5. The Citi Rewards+ Card also offers 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
Gift cards are available via Shop Your Way points with 2.4%-2.67% back at stores such as AutoZone, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shops, Bed Bath & Beyond, Burlington, BuyBuy Baby, Chuck E Cheese, Cinemark, Clarks, Columbia, Crate & Barrel, Dave & Busters, DoorDash, DSW, Dunkin, eBay, Express, Forever 21, GameStop, Google Play, Groupon, Grubhub, H&M, Holland America, Hotels.com, iTunes (also valid on anything sold from Apple), Lowes, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Overstock, Petco, RayBan, Regal Cinemas, REI, Saks, Southwest, Stubhub, The Home Depot, The North Face, TopGolf, Uber, and Walmart.
Being able to choose between 2% cash back or 2.4-2.67% for gift cards on no annual fees cards is excellent!
Plus, if you’re a mileage junkie, you can always decide to keep those points and transfer them to airline miles with the help of Citi Premier.
- Citi mileage transfer partners include:
- Aeromexico (Skyteam): 1K:1K
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue (Skyteam): 1K:1K
- Avianca Lifemiles (Star Alliance): 1K:1K
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (OneWorld): 1K:1K
- Emirates: 1K:1K
- Etihad: 1K:1K
- EVA (Star Alliance): 1K:1K
- Garuda Indonesia (Skyteam): 1K:1K
- JetPrivilege: 1K:1K
- JetBlue: 1K:1K
- Malaysia (OneWorld): 1K:1K
- Qantas (OneWorld): 1K:1K
- Qatar (OneWorld): 1K:1K
- Singapore (Star Alliance): 1K:1K
- Thai (Star Alliance): 1K:1K
- Turkish (Star Alliance): 1K:1K
- Virgin Atlantic: 1K:1K
As I’ve written about before, Turkish Airlines has a ridiculously generous Star Alliance award chart.
And they don’t charge any fuel surcharges for United flights.
Here is the North America version of the chart with one-way award pricing:
|Between the US and:||Economy||Business||First|
|US, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and USVI||7.5K||12.5K||N/A|
|Central and North Africa||30K||49K||73K|
|Southern Africa and Far East||45K||67.5K||100K|
|South America and Oceania||52.5K||75K||115K|
As part of the Star Alliance, Turkish can book award travel on airlines like United and Air Canada.
You can open a Turkish Airlines mileage account online (Hint: Your password must be exactly 6 numbers or else it will give an error).
And you can book Star Alliance awards with Turkish miles here (Login and then click this link again). You can’t search for partner awards from their home page. Search for one-way at a time for best results.
For example you can transfer ThankYou points to Turkish Airlines to fly from the US to Tel Aviv on United for just 32K miles in coach ($16K of spending on Citi Double Cash, plus get a 3.2K points rebate with Citi Rewards+):
Or 47K miles in Polaris business class ($23.5K of spending on Citi Double Cash, plus get a 4.7K points rebate with Citi Rewards+):
There are lots of other bargains:
- Fly one-way anywhere in the US, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and USVI, for just 7.5K miles in coach or 12.5K in business class on United with no fuel surcharges.
- Fly one-way anywhere to Canada or Mexico for just 10K miles in coach or 15K in business class on United with no fuel surcharges.
- Fly one-way to Europe for 45K in business class on United with no fuel surcharges.
Those are some incredibly lucrative redemption rates, plus you’ll save another 10% with Citi Rewards+.
You can start from scratch with no fees by getting a Citi Double Cash Card with no annual fee. Cash out your points for 2% cash back everywhere, use them for gift cards at 2.4%-2.67%, or let them sit and go into trifecta mode at any point later on.
You can freely switch between all 3 card products.
You can also transfer points between any Citi cardholders to transfer points into miles.
Citi has long trailed AMEX and Chase in the points game, but this is certainly an option worthy of consideration. Is it enough to make you switch to the Citi trifecta?