Chase, Amex & Citi – My New Transferable Currency Strategy


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When it comes to earning loyalty currencies my primary aim has long been to earn as many points in transferable currencies as possible. Almost all of my non-hotel spending is done with cards that earn either Membership Rewards points, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points so you won’t find many airline co-branded credit cards in my portfolio.

I love the main transferable currencies because they help to insulate me from devaluations by individual hotel & airline loyalty programs but after just having reviewed my credit card portfolio, I’ve decided that I’m paying at least one annual fee that I don’t need to be paying and that I need to rethink my transferable currency strategy.

Culling A Card

For the past few years, I’ve kept hold of all three of the premium credit cards issued by Amex, Chase, and Citi (the Platinum Card, the Sapphire Reserve, and the Citi Prestige) as well as several other cards which earn the same transferable currencies, but while most are cards that I’m happy to keep the Citi Prestige card now has to go.

The Citi Prestige Card has been devalued over and over again (here’s what happened last time) and it lost almost all of its consumer protections when Citi devalued most of its portfolio in the second half of last year, so I decided some time ago that the card was being cut from my wallet – I can’t justify the $495 annual fee any more when I have other cards that, more or less, perform the same functions.

My Platinum Card from American Express offers me 5 points/dollar on flight bookings, my Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns me 3 points/dollar on worldwide dining and all travel and both cards now offer pretty solid consumer protections so between them they mostly cover me for any earnings I’ll miss out on by giving up Citi’s top-level card.

Yes, the Prestige card also comes with a few nice-sounding benefits but most are either also offered by other cards (e.g. Priority Pass membership and Global Entry credit which come with the Platinum Card and the Sapphire Reserve) or they’ve been devalued to a point where I don’t really care for them anymore (e.g. the 4th-night free benefit).

Letting the Prestige card go hasn’t been a tough decision for me to take but there’s going to be a noticeable consequence of giving up this card.

Time To Re-Think My Transferable Points Strategy

Without the Citi Prestige card, I’d have to pick up the Citi Premier Card if I wanted to keep collecting ThankYou points in any serious numbers…but I’m struggling to find a compelling reason to do that.

The Citi Premier card is a perfectly acceptable credit card which offers 3 points/dollar on all travel (including at gas stations), 2 points/dollar at restaurants and 2 points/dollar on entertainment…but there’s not much there that I can’t get with one of the cards I already hold so why pay another $95 annual fee?

With my current credit card portfolio, I can earn…

…so why would I bother paying for another card that doesn’t offer me any more?

If I genuinely felt that I needed to earn extra points when I buy gas (which I don’t) I’d upgrade my Amex EveryDay card to the Amex EveryDay Preferred card and earn up to 3 points/dollar at gas stations and, as an added bonus, I’d also earn up to 4.5 points/dollar at US supermarkets.

That would be a smarter strategy than paying for the Premier card.

The only reason for me to get the Citi Premier Card would be to allow me to continue collecting ThankYou points…but when would I use the card to earn those points? And do I even need to earn ThankYou points?

The answer to those to questions is (a) hardly ever and (b) probably not.

Why I Don’t Really Need ThankYou Points

Yes, it’s nice (and reasonably important) to have a diversified portfolio of miles & points but when it comes to Citi ThankYou points they don’t really offer me anything of real value that I don’t already get with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.

When you take a look at the various airline transfer partners that Amex, Chase, and Citi offer…

*Currently suspended

…you’ll see that there are just 5 active airline loyalty programs that partner with Citi and not with Amex or Chase:

  • Eva Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

The Qatar Airways Privilege Club is the only loyalty program on that list that I have ever transferred points to. The others are not really all that useful to me so I won’t miss having them as a transfer option.

When it comes to hotel transfer partners…

…Citi doesn’t have any so there’s no loss to be taken here.

I value transfers to the World of Hyatt, Flying Blue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, the various IAG airline programs, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Etihad Guest and Aeroplan over all of the other transfer options and all of those programs are transfer partners of Amex Membership Rewards and/or Chase Ultimate Rewards…so why bother with Citi’s ThankYou program?

When I also take into account the fact that transfers from Amex and Chase are, on the whole, processed a lot quicker than transfers from the ThankYou program I’m left with the inescapable conclusion that I don’t really have any seriously good reasons to continue collecting ThankYou points – I’d be better off focusing on Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards.

Bottom Line

I’m going to take an indefinite break from including Citi’s ThankYou points as part of my miles & points strategy because, as things stand, I can’t really justify holding either of the two primary Citi ThankYou credit cards and my analysis shows that I get most (possibly all) of what I need from Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards.

I’ll probably review this strategy in a year’s time but, for now, I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve taken.

Are you collecting 3 or 4 transferrable currencies or are you concentrating on 1 or 2?

16 COMMENTS

  1. Using the 4th night free twice on decent cost stays would cover the cost of the Prestige fee. To me its an easy keeper even if that benefit isn’t nearly as awesome as it once was.

    I have more of a problem remembering when to use which card! I wish someone would invent a cheat sheet for all the travel cards and then I could write on each card in sharpie when to use it (hotel, air, gas, everyday etc).

  2. I think Citi TY is under valued honestly. If you have their set Citi Prestige, Premier, Rewards +, and Double cash You affectively get an extra 30% value from their points. As mentioned before you get $250 plus two free night credits which removes the cost of the prestige. I agreed that keeping all three of overkill though

  3. Agree with the two four-night hotel stays still cover the cost of the card, plus the 5x dining multiplier is still class leading. I think I may keep it and downgrade the Chase card; that fee increase is hard to justify.

    • The problems (for me) with the 4th-night free benefit are:

      – I rarely spend 4 nights in the same hotel
      – I like the cost savings and added benefits that my elite statuses give me (no status benefits on Citi ThankYou bookings)
      – Last year, I actually found myself booking longer stays than I ordinarily would have done just to use the 4th night free (when a credit card benefit starts controlling my decision making it’s a very slippery slope…and I know I’m being dumb).

  4. You really need to look 2 years out. Once you close the Prestige, you’re not eligible for the Premier bonus or any other ThankYou bonus for 24 months. This might be moot if you recently opened another ThankYou card anyway, but since you didn’t mention it, it’s something to consider.
    If you haven’t, I would sign up for the Premier before closing the Prestige.

  5. And here am I thinking about picking up the Citi Prestige despite it’s devaluations. The only thing bothering me is the complete axing of the travel insurances. Otherwise I think the 5x on dining and airfare paired with the 3x on travel of the Premier and the 2x of the DoubleCash makes it the best trio of cards out there at the moment without breaking the bank. I was hugely disappointed in the raised annual fee of the CSR and that one will be dropped from my wallet very soon.

  6. If you cancel your Prestige card, you might lose your Thank You points accumulated using the card in 60 days or so. Also, if you are a Citibank Gold customer, you get a $100 annual fee discount. It’s not hard to become a Citi Gold member without paying a fee, such as roll over some IRA funds.

  7. Ziggy, your reasons for canceling the CITI Prestige make complete sense for your situation.
    I, however, am keeping mine because:
    1. I stay 4 nights or more every year at different hotels, so the 2 free night costs easily cover the annual fee.
    2. I value CITI points because of Cathay Pacific and EVA Air that I travel on every year.
    3. I want to have more choices to transfer my points.
    4. As a back up in case I ever get shut down by Chase or AMEX.

  8. I downgraded my Prestige to a Rewards+ when they cut what were once terrific benefits. Now I feel locked into Premier. I hardly ever use it but I want to keep my Thank You points. I’m waiting for a decent transfer bonus, then I will transfer all 200K of them and be done with Thank You.

  9. You make some excellent points. If you have the Ink Preferred, why not downgrade or drop the Sapphire Reserve? It seems that you have some redundancy in earning.

    • I don’t hold the Ink Preferred – I have the Ink Bold which is no longer open to new applicants. Also, the Ink Preferred doesn’t offer Priority Pass membership, 3x points on dining or 1.5 cents/point redemptions like the Sapphire Reserve so, for my purposes, it wouldn’t be a suitable replacement for the Sapphire Reserve.

  10. As mentioned, the 5x on dining and air travel are class-leading, and these are easily the 2 biggest regular expenses (for people I know anyway).

    • While the 5 points/dollar on dining is certainly class-leading I don’t share that feeling about Prestige’s 5 points/dollar on airfare.

      The Platinum Card is class-leading because it offers 5 points/dollar in a currency that offers (a) more transfer options, (b) better transfer options (for most people) and (c) frequent transfer bonuses and because it also offers trip delay/interruption/cancellation protections (which the Prestige card does not).

      Taken as a number on its own, the 5 points/dollar on airfare offered by the Prestige card may look class-leading but it’s actually a distant second to the Platinum card.

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