I like many of you have many credit cards spread across many rewards programs, and it gets old having 500 points when you need 1,000, but you see 500 points chilling another reward program that doesn't do you any good at all.
I've thought quite a bit about is it better to just have 1 program and that program's cards, and that way you have 1 pool to use. I recently talked about Chase's here: The Complete Chase Rewards Points Strategy
I recently realized a couple really good reasons to just load up on CitiBank cards. Citi uses ThankYou as their main reward point system, and there a few cards in their arsenal that lead me to see that as a very good alternative to Chase's Ultimate Rewards or AmEx's Membership Rewards.
First off, the disadvantages:
1. Statement Credits are valued at 1 point is .071
2. Cash is even worse at 1 point is .062.
I have to say that's terrible, but it's not far off at all from AmEx, but if you like cash back this might not be your rewards program.
Where ThankYou really shines is in Travel Rewards, and I love traveling. A ThankYou point by itself is only a cent by itself, but with a ThankYou Premier it's .013, which is insane once you think about how easy it is to get ThankYou points.
Probably the center of this strategy revolves around a 12 month intro offer from the ThankYou Preferred, which is 5 points per dollar at Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, and Drug Stores. Granted, it's only 12 months, but it gives you 12 months to really rack up the points, and it does not have caps. There is also an annual bonus of 1.1%, which is nice. I like this card a lot because there is NO annual fee.
The other big player is the Citi Forward card, which is a sidekick if there ever was one. The Citi Forward will cover basically all the things the ThankYou Preferred does not. 5 points at Restaurants + Fast Food, Amazon + other Book Stores, iTunes + other Music Stores, Theaters. You also earn 100 points per month for staying under the credit limit and on time, so that's an easy 1,200 points per year. The only draw back is 75,000 annual cap, so keep your spending on this card below $15,000 per year.
The final musketeer is the Citi ThankYou Premier Card. Now the rewards on this card are subpar as it's bonus rewards are 1.2 per $, but it does add categories like commuter and parking services, so that I guess helps... not sure if that's going to get much of your money per year.
The BIG reward and only reason for using this card often is based on how much you fly. If you fly quite frequently, then you're going to have a 2 point per $ card. Each mile you fly when the flight is booked on this card counts as a Citi Travel point. Each dollar you spend will take one travel point and transfer it into a ThankYou point, so effectively if you spend a dollar you'll get two ThankYou points. This is HUGE if you fly often and covers whatever categories that the other two cards do not.
The ThankYou Premier card also gives you an annual companion pass and it will allow your ThankYou points go 33% further, so you can use 30,000 points to book a $400 ticket, which is pretty sick.
The reason why I like this strategy is because it's 3 cards that work well together. There are no rotating categories, and ThankYou points are great for redeeming travel. You might say CapitalOne Venture is better, but with the amount of 5x you'll be making you'll be lapping the Venture card.
Now, like the Chase UR cards. These Citi cards have big signing bonuses.
Citi ThankYou Preferred - 15,200 points - (Sign up for paperless billing) for $1,000 first 3 months
Citi Forward - 10,000 points - (Sign up for paperless billing) for $650 first 3 months
Citi ThankYou Premier -Two options available on the web (50,000 points at first purchase) or (60,000 points spend $2,000 in the first three months in the first and 2nd year basically 30,000 for both two years)
The category break down is:
Preferred (x5.1): Gas, Groceries, Drug Stores
Forward (x5): Dining, Fast food, Amazon, Books, iTunes, Music
Premier (x1-2): Airfare, Commuter Services, Other (Especially if you have Citi Travel points to transfer into ThankYou points)
What's cool also is between the Citi Forward and the Citi ThankYou Preferred you'll have two cards with 12 months 0% APR.
If you wanted a 4th card, there is a CitiBusiness ThankYou Card, which offers 15,200 sign up bonus for 3k in the first 3 months. It'll have rotating categories, which are extremely good from computer equipment to cell service. I just wish it didn't rotate.