Should I Use Citi Thank You Points or Membership Reward Points / AMEX Business Platinum to Book American Airlines Flight?

I have a miles and points spending decision to make and thought I’d ask TWG readers for advice. After all, when Grant asks for advice, he gets lots of great input. I have a one-way flight I need to purchase and am considering two options:

  • Option #1: Use Citi Thank You Points. I have a nice stash of them and have been looking for a good use. The flight is on American for $242.64 and requires 15,165 Citi Thank You Points. I have the Citi Prestige Credit Card, so I’m getting 1.6 cents per point (CPP).
  • Option #2: Use Membership Reward Points. As of March 30, new rules will go into place for the AMEX Business Platinum card, so that seems like an interesting option as well. The flight would cost $242.64 or 24,264 Membership Rewards Points. American Airlines is my designated airline so I’ll get a 50% refund on those points. Also, as of March 30, because first you purchase the flight and then get reimbursed when you use MR points, I’ll get 5X points for the AMEX spend.

Maybe the choice is obviously #2, but I also have to think of the value to me of using the Membership Reward Points on this versus some other flight, like perhaps an award flight somewhere down the road.

So as Grant would say, “Wise Travel with Grant readers, what do you think I should do?” Are there other good options I’m forgetting? Thanks for your help!

31 thoughts on “Should I Use Citi Thank You Points or Membership Reward Points / AMEX Business Platinum to Book American Airlines Flight?

  1. Carl

    Definitely option #1, as TYP are about to be dramatically devalued. Best to use them all up before that happens this summer. Plus you’ll earn miles based upon distance instead of paid fare.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Thanks, Carl, for pointing to option 1. I’m taking all the advice that comes from this post and then for sure I’ll let you all know. I’m guessing option #1 will get the most votes :))

      Reply
    2. Shaun

      Carl – can you please explain by “TYP are about to be dramatically devalued”? Are you referring to the upcoming downgraded conversion from 1.6cpp to 1.25, or to something else?
      Thx,
      –S

      Reply
  2. Geo

    I had the same dilemma last week. I ended up using TYP at their highest possible value (1.6 cpp) before that decreases. MR retain their value for future purchases and I maximize the current value of TYP.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Looks like the crowd agrees with you, Geo :) Thanks for adding your 1.6 cents of value to the conversation :)

      Reply
  3. TobyK

    How do you get 5X on the airline charge through MR? They charge you for the flight but then issue a credit to your card once the points are deducted from the account.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Yes Toby. The ticket gets paid for (then the miles get used to reimburse the charge) so the value of the ticket 5x for air travel when booked with AmEx travel.

      Reply
      1. shelli

        Thanks Carl. Was just about to write the same thing. I’m thinking if I have any TYP left after July 23 I may use them to offset hotel nights.

        Reply
  4. Geoff

    Depends how you value the points. After all is said and done you will get elite credit either way. MR’s are more valuable IMO, but you’ll only “use” about 12,132(after rebate) of them vs the @15,000 TYP’s.
    However TYP’s are not as useful(at least to me).
    On top of that you’ll get 5X MR’s back also.
    It’s close, but using the Thank You Points seems the way to go.
    The travel protection issue is interesting but based on the cost of the ticket, this seems to be a plain vanilla domestic route(yes, I could be way off, but without knowing…).
    How valuable is the protection if there are other flights, airports etc.. on your routing?

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Good thinking, Geoff. And the point about which are more useful is a good one. TYP’s are not as useful to me either. There are not other airports/flights etc because this is a simple non-stop one-way to Canada, so the travel protection could come in handy, but hopefully not :) So far the comments are definitely leaning to using the TYP’s.

      Reply
  5. r

    I just had this same dilemma few hours ago. In the end I went with using AMEX points sine it was 6000 less points for the exact same flights. AMEX has some insider fares when using points. Also I think you do get the 5X points back on the airfare part of it since it charges and then is a statement credit…. it was like that for the charges refunded with the $200 credit….

    Also I may cancel my AMEX card when the fee is due so want to get rid of those.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Hi r, thanks for your input. I’m not getting rid of my Amex card. I see your point though of using up those AmEx points.

      Reply
  6. Geoff

    So if you use MR’s you will get receive 5X $242.64 or 1213 points in addition to 50% rebate assuming you transact after this Friday?

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Yes! The ability to earn 5x Membership Reward points on flights and hotels booked directly with Amex Travel after March 30 is great! And on redemptions you can get 50% of your redeemed Membership Rewards points back when using your points on your designated airline. Hope that helps clarify a bit more about why I have the choice dilemma.

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        I understand that. However, to get the 5X MR’s credit do you need to book with cash(after Friday) using AMEX Travel then call back to have an agent redeem the points manually to eventually credit back the cash and then the 50% points in “6 to 8 weeks”?

        Reply
  7. Aaron

    When it comes to decisions like this for me, I boil it down to how easy it is to obtain those points. And for me, MR points are a lot easier to earn than TY points. So I generally side with MRs because I can easily replenish my stash.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Makes sense, Aaron. I think right now because of my using the Prestige card so much my stash of TYP are growing faster than my MR ones.

      Thanks EVERYONE for your input. Looks like TYP is the winner, so I’ll be getting that ticket today :))

      Reply
  8. Randy H

    In Economics, Gresham’s Law is, “Bad money drives out good.” Given a choice, people tend to use the money depreciating the fastest. This is a wonderful example of why that is true.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Good to know about Gresham’s Law, and I’m glad you and Gresham agree with my decision :)) Thanks, Randy!

      Reply

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