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Frequent flyer points and miles can make it possible to travel for nearly free, and most travel rewards nowadays are earned with credit cards. But while having a single credit card in your wallet can help you get the trip of your dreams, if you truly want to maximize your rewards, you’ll want multiple cards in your wallet.
Now, that might initially sound like overkill, but with a little bit of understanding, you’ll find that pairing certain credit cards with one another is relatively easy. And fortunately, Citibank offers many credit cards that are designed to work together seamlessly. In fact, there are four specific Citi cards — we like to call them the “Citi Quartet” — that can be combined in ways that aren’t obvious at first glance, but which can turn your wallet into a powerful points-earning machine.
Let’s dive in to learn more about these four Citi credit cards and how you can make them work together to quickly earn a low-cost vacation.
Before we explain the Citi Quartet, we need to understand how Citi’s points program works. Citi’s travel rewards program is called ThankYou Rewards, and ThankYou points can be redeemed in many different ways, including for travel, gift cards, cash back and even statement credits. However, some of the best redemption options are only available if you have specific Citi credit cards.
One of those cards is the Citi Premier® Card. The Citi Premier offers the most flexibility when it comes to redeeming ThankYou points, because it allows you to transfer your points to Citi’s 16 airline partners, which includes American Airlines through Nov. 13.
Citi ThankYou Rewards Transfer Partners Aeromexico Club Premier Air France-KLM Flying Blue Avianca LifeMiles Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Emirates Skywards Etihad Guest EVA Air Infinity MileageLands JetBlue TrueBlue Malaysia Enrich Qantas Frequent Flyer Qatar Airways Privilege Club Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Virgin Atlantic Flying Club American AAdvantage (through November 13, 2021) These transfer partners require some work to understand, but they open up a lot of high-value redemptions, including the ability to redeem points for first and business class flights with just a reasonable number of points.
Only the Citi Premier has the ability to transfer points to partners … but here’s the good news. Any ThankYou points earned on any of your Citi credit cards can be combined into a single ThankYou account, and then get access to the best options and perks available to you across all your Citi cards. So if you have the Citi Rewards+® Card or the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, the ThankYou points you earn with those cards can be transferred to Citi’s airline partners if you also have the Citi Premier card.
But not all Citi credit cards earn ThankYou points. Some of them, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card, earn cash back. However — and this is a trick that many people don’t know — if you also have a Citi Premier card, you can turn the cash back you earn with the Citi Double Cash into ThankYou points at a rate of 1 cent per point, and those points can then be used just like any other ThankYou points.
Related: From travel rewards to balance transfers, here are our favorite Citi credit cards.
So, with all that in mind, let’s look at the Citi Quartet. We obviously want the Citi Premier as part of our quartet, since it opens up the ability to transfer points to airline partners. Then, we also want to add the Citi Double Cash Card, the Citi Custom Cash Card and the Citi Rewards+ Card to complete the group.
Why all four? Well, let’s see what each of these cards brings to the table.
CitibankUse the Citi Premier card to transfer your ThankYou points to Citi’s airline partners for the best redemptions.
The Citi Premier is a must-have when you’re combining multiple Citi credit cards, as it’s the only card currently available that allows you to transfer your points to Citi’s partner airlines. Without this option, you’re limited to redeeming ThankYou points at a maximum of 1 cent apiece for options such as gift cards and booking travel through the Citi travel portal.
But with the airline transfer option, your points are potentially worth a lot more. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents apiece, thanks to the ability to transfer them to Citi’s 16 airline partners. Many of these partners are also part of larger airline alliances, opening up even more options.
If you don’t already have a Citi Premier, it’s a great place to start, especially right now since the card is currently offering new card holders 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months after opening the account. Based on The Points Guy’s valuations, those 80,000 points are worth as much as $1,360 toward travel.
Related: Here’s why the Citi Premier should be your first Citi credit card.
The Citi Premier also earns bonus points on many popular everyday household charges. You’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on airfare, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets and dining (including takeout), plus 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
You’ll also get an annual $100 credit on hotel reservations of $500 or more when you book through ThankYou.com with the Citi Premier, extended warranty protection, damage and theft protection, no foreign transaction fees, three free months of DoorDash’s DashPass food delivery membership and a $5 discount on three Lyft rides taken in a month.
The Citi Custom Cash Card is an extremely unique no-annual-fee credit card, as it’s most valuable wherever you spend the most money. It earns 5% cash back in your top eligible category each month on up to $500 spent per billing cycle, then 1%. The best part is there’s no need to select your bonus category in advance — Citi will automatically calculate which category you spend the most in each billing cycle and give you the extra rewards in that category.
You’ll also find that the Citi Custom Cash Card has a lot of eligible 5% cash back categories, including:
Gas stations Restaurants Grocery stores Select travel Select transit Select streaming services Drugstores Home improvement Fitness clubs Live entertainment While the Citi Custom Cash Card is marketed as a cash back card, its cash back comes in the form of Citi ThankYou points that can be combined with the Citi Premier card. So if you have a Citi Premier, your 5% cash back category on the Citi Custom Cash effectively turns into a 5x ThankYou points category. But you can only transfer those points to Citi’s partner airlines when you have a Citi Premier card as well.
So which category should you aim to use your Citi Custom Cash Card for? Well, if you already have the Citi Premier in your arsenal, you can use that card to earn 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants. So you’ll want to rely on the Citi Custom Cash for either transit, drugstores, home improvement, fitness clubs or live entertainment.
Related: This new credit card automatically earns 5% cash back wherever you use it most.
iStockDrugstores are one possible category to focus your Citi Custom Cash spending in.
If those remaining categories aren’t typically places where you spend a lot of money each month, you might consider buying third-party merchant gift cards at a home improvement store such as Home Depot. For example, Amazon is a very popular gift card that you can purchase at Home Depot. You can then load that Amazon gift card into your own Amazon account and use it the next time you buy at Amazon.
The Citi Custom Cash Card currently features a sign-up bonus of $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. Again, that $200 is awarded in the form of 20,000 ThankYou points, so it’s an easy-to-earn bonus that can be a fast way to increase your ThankYou point balance.
If you’re looking to earn as many points as possible, you’ll want to include the Citi Rewards+ card in the mix. That’s because the Citi Rewards+ rounds up every purchase to the nearest 10 points, making it an ideal choice for small purchases.
For example, if you buy a pack of gum for $2, instead of earning just 2 points on that transaction, you’ll earn 10 points with the Citi Rewards+ card. That might not sound like a huge difference, but over time, it adds up.
You’ll also earn 2 points for every dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations on the Citi Rewards+ card, up to the first $6,000 in purchases each year (then 1 point thereafter), and those purchases are also rounded up to the nearest 10 points.
Related: Round up your rewards with the Citi Rewards+ credit card.
Similar to the Citi Custom Cash Card, points earned with the Citi Rewards+ on its own can’t be transferred to Citi’s partner airlines, so you’ll need to pair the card with the Citi Premier to enhance your redemption options.
But the Citi Rewards+ brings a real advantage to the entire Citi Quartet party. That’s because when you redeem points with the Citi Rewards+ card, you’ll get 10% of your points back as a rebate, up to the first 100,000 points redeemed each year. And when you combine the Citi Rewards+ with other Citi ThankYou credit cards, this rebate includes all points redeemed from your combined ThankYou account.
The Citi Rewards+ card also offers an introductory 0% APR on new purchases for 15 months starting from when you first open the account, as well as an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within the first four months after you open the account. Just be sure to pay off your debt before the intro periods end, because the APR rises to a variable 13.49% to 23.49% thereafter for both.
There’s one caveat to those looking to apply for the Citi R
How to use the ‘Citi Quartet’ for the ultimate travel rewards
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