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A single rewards credit card is sometimes not enough for a true travel rewards enthusiast. Maximizing points and miles requires a well-thought-out strategy with cards that complement your spending â and each other.
Collecting cards from the same issuer is a popular approach. For instance, the Amex trifecta and Chase trifecta are excellent card combos loved and used by many cardholders. However, they may soon have a strong new competitor.
With the launch of the Citi Custom Cashâ Card, the Citi ThankYou trifecta can offer a lot of value. If you want to maximize your ThankYou points, this card combo may be worth considering. Read on to learn about which cards make up the Citi ThankYou trifecta and how it works.
The Citi ThankYou trifecta: At a glance
|Card||Citi Custom Cashâ Card||CitiÂ® Double Cash Card||Citi PrestigeÂ® Card|
|Rewards||5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter
1% cash back on all other purchases
|1% cash back on general purchases (excludes gift cards)
1% additional cash back as you pay off those purchases
|5 points per dollar on air travel and restaurants
3 points per dollar on hotels and cruise lines
1 point per dollar on other purchases
|Benefits||Complimentary DashPass subscription for three months
$5 Lyft credits after three rides each month
|Lost wallet service
Free concierge services
|$250 travel credit (applies to most travel purchases)
Priority Pass membership
Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck every 5 years
Fourth night free on any hotel stay (twice per year starting Sept. 1)
For bonus cash back: Citi Custom Cashâ Card
The Citi Custom Cashâ Card is a flexible rewards card that will earn you 5% back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (on up to $500 in spendin per billing cycle, then 1% back). The bonus categories are mostly practical and popular: Restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, eligible streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.
Even though the Custom Cash is considered a cash back card, it earns ThankYou Points, which means you can stretch the value of this card if you pair it with another Citi card that earns ThankYou points.
At the moment, you can also earn a sign-up bonus of $200 which will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points. The spend requirement for this offer is $750 in the first three months.
For everyday spending: CitiÂ® Double Cash Card
The CitiÂ® Double Cash Card is one of the best flat-rate cash back credit cards on the market. It earns 1% back on all purchases, which gets matched when you pay off these purchases on time. Essentially, youâre earning 2% back with this card.
While you earn rewards in the form of cash back, you can convert them to ThankYou points. This option makes it easy to rack up rewards, maximizing the earning potential for all your spending.
For travel: Citi PrestigeÂ® Card
No trifecta is truly complete without a more premium rewards card that offers attractive benefits on top of rewards. In Citiâs case, the Citi PrestigeÂ® Card is a perfect candidate.
The card offers generous rewards: Youâll earn 5 points per dollar on airfare and restaurants, 3 points per dollar on hotels and cruise lines and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Besides that, youâll get valuable perks, including up to $250 in flexible travel credits, a Priority Pass membership, up to $100 in credits for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership (every five years) and the fourth night free on any hotel stay twice per year.
As you can see, frequent travelers can get quite a bang for their buck with this card, despite its $495 annual fee. Plus, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months â thatâs $500 when you use it to book travel through Citiâs Travel Center.
If you only travel occasionally, and the Prestigeâs annual fee seems too high, the Citi PremierÂ® Card can be another good card to complete your Citi ThankYou trifecta. Even though the card doesnât provide any premium benefits, the annual fee is also only $95. Youâll still earn on travel âÂ 3 points per dollar on airfare and hotels â but youâll also earn the same rate on everyday expenses, including restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.
Additionally, you can currently earn a 60,000-point welcome bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Thatâs $750 in airfare when redeemed through Citiâs Travel Center.
How to maximize the Citi ThankYou trifecta
To get the most out of this card combo, use the Citi Prestige on dining and travel and put the spending in your top category outside those two on the Citi Custom Cash. For example, groceries can be a lucrative category for a lot of cardholders.
Be mindful of the spending limit for the 5% category on the Custom Cash. For example, if you spend much more than $500 on something in a month, you may be better of putting it on the Double Cash.
Say, for example, youâre buying a new appliance and making a $3,000 purchase. Home improvements stores is an eligible category on the Custom Cash Card, but youâll make more cash back with the Double Cash â $60 (6,000 points) compared to the $50 (5,000 points) youâd earn with the Custom Cash. For that reason, itâs always best to do the math on rewards before making large purchases.
Finally, put the rest of your spending on the Double Cash to take advantage of the generous flat rate cash back.
With this strategy, youâll be earning ThankYou points quickly and collect enough to cover a vacation in no time.
It’s also worth noting how you can use the Citi trifecta for travel. With both the Custom Cash and Double Cash, you can pool ThankYou points with either the Citi Premier Card or a Citi Prestige Card and transfer them to travel partners. If you choose the Premier card for your Trifecta, you can also take advantage of the 25% higher redemption value on travel when redeeming through the ThankYou Travel Center.
The right combination of credit cards can take your credit card strategy to the next level. The Citi ThankYou trifecta might not be as well-known as Amex or Chase card combos, but it has a lot of earning potential to offer.
Still, if youâre only considering applying for your first Citi credit card, donât rush to commit. Make sure you explore your options before putting all effort into one rewards ecosystem.