Citi ThankYou Transfer Limits
Oh, Citi. For a long time you were the no common sense giant bank that everyone loved to hate. Your two browser trick and AAdvantage cards kept you relevant, but your ThankYou points program sort of sucked and you were a pain to deal with. Then, you changed. You came out with nice sign-up bonuses, attractive cards, good retention offers and even added transfer partners. Life was good.
Of course that isn’t the case anymore. Citi has recently taken 4,000 steps in the wrong direction with new “per product family” bonus restrictions, the elimination of bonuses on some cards, the disappearance of the AT&T Access More card and the complete gutting of the Citi Prestige. Things aren’t so rosy on the Citi card front anymore.
New Transfer Language Added
Today it looks like some more bad news has dropped in what I consider a stealth devaluation. Previously one of the bright spots of Citi ThankYou was the ability to transfer unlimited amounts of points to anyone. Unfortunately new language has been added that severely limits transfers. Here is what the Citi ThankYou site now says:
The total number of points a member can share is 100,000 Points in a given calendar year and the total number of points a member can receive from other members is 100,000 Points in a given calendar year.
Now you can only send 100,000 points and receive 100,000 per year. It isn’t clear if this is per ThankYou account or per person. It seems to be per person, but it remains to be seen how that will be enforced. It seems people should be able to share points between their own accounts in unlimited numbers.
Why Is This Bad
Family members/friends could save up points and then pool them together on a ThankYou account with increased benefits such as 1.33 cents airfare with the Prestige or points transfers with the Premier or Prestige. For example, if you earn a lot of points on an AT&T Access More card and transfer them to a friend’s Prestige card to book AA airfare at 1.6 cents each. That will now be capped at 100K per year.
Why Do This?
I clearly think this is a way for Citi to segment their ThankYou points and keep them from being redeemed for high dollar uses. For example the AT&T Access More card is the highest earner by far, but it doesn’t have the ability to transfer points to partners or book travel at higher valuations. By limiting transfers at 100K, they are basically locking those points in at a lower value in many cases.
To be fair, I am sure there is a certain amount of points selling that goes on and this new rule also limits your ability to sell points to others. With that said, it does have other negative side effects for customers who work to maximize the value of their points and I doubt that breaks Citi’s heart.
While this is a small change, it is one that can have a big impact on the overall value of your points. Other banks have moved to combat points brokers in other ways that are more elegant, but Citi hasn’t done much that is remotely elegant lately. Hopefully I understand the rule correctly and unlimited transfers between your own accounts will still be allowed, because if not, then things are even worse than expected.