Credit Cards

Beware of the strange Citi Rewards points expiry policy

Citi has an unusual points expiry policy for its Rewards cards, and it requires some advance planning as you approach your 5-year anniversary!

If you’re holding several miles earning credit cards in Singapore, which most of our readers almost certainly are, you’ll probably know that one thing to keep on top of is points expiry dates – ensuring you transfer your hard-earned rewards into miles before they vanish from your account.

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In Singapore, expiry of your credit card points typically falls into one of two categories:

  • Points never expire as long as your card account remains open; or
  • Points expire at the end of a fixed period following the month they were earned (typically, 2 or 3 years later)

Citi cards

If you’re holding the Citi PremierMiles, Citi ULTIMA or Citi Prestige cards, there are no concerns here. Any miles or points earned with those three cards are ‘evergreen’ – they won’t expire as long as you keep each card account active.

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Other cards with non-expiring miles in Singapore include the DBS Altitude, OCBC Voyage and Standard Chartered Visa Infinite.

There’s one exception in the Citi lineup though, which is the Citi Rewards cards.

Like the Citi Prestige card, these earn Citi ThankYou Points, which transfer into a host of frequent flyer programmes at a 2.5 to 1 ratio.

The difference here is that ThankYou Points earned on the Rewards card, which don’t pool with those from the Prestige card and sit in their own separate stash per card account, do expire.

The (strange) Citi Rewards expiry policy

Citi says ThankYou Points earned on its Rewards cards “are valid for a period of 60 months”. That’s five years, which sounds very generous, but it’s not as simple as they make out.

In fact you have to accrue and redeem your points in fixed five-year periods, which Citi calls ‘Points Validity Periods’, and it turns out that’s not the same thing at all.

During each Points Validity Period, the cardmember will receive Points based on the amount of retail purchases made during that Points Validity Period and the cardmember may use the Points in their account to redeem any Rewards at any time during that Points Validity Period.

Citi Rewards Terms and Conditions

It means your points will not expire at a fixed period after earning, but at the end of a fixed window, based on your card opening date.

In other words, validity of your Rewards points (Citi ThankYou Points) is a maximum of five years.

How it works

For example, I opened my Citi Rewards Mastercard account on 20th November 2015.

My first 60-month Points Validity Period ended on 30th November 2020.

All remaining points accrued on that date were then set to expire – no matter whether I earned them five years previously, or in the last week of November 2020!

Citi gives you 3 months to use any unredeemed points from that 60-month period before wiping them from your account, meaning I needed to transfer mine to miles by 28th February 2021, as illustrated below.

(click to enlarge)

In the worst case, that means the points from a purchase I made in November 2020 would disappear from my account on 28th February 2021, if not redeemed (yes, that’s three months later – not five years later!).

Example for a new card

There’s currently a 16,000 miles sign-up bonus for the Citi Rewards card, the highest ever offered, and you only have to spend S$800 in the first two months of card membership to unlock it.

16,000 miles when you spend

APPLY HERE

That might tempt you to take the plunge with this product, which offers 4 mpd on the first S$1,000 of monthly spend in specific categories, including most online transactions.

Here’s an example of how the strange expiry policy would affect your points if you were to sign up now (in August 2022).

  • New Citi Rewards card approved on 20th August 2022.
  • Any ThankYou points you earn between 20th August 2022 and 31st August 2027 will expire on 30th November 2027 (60 months + 3 months grace period).
  • Any ThankYou points subsequently earned from 1st September 2027 will accrue in a fresh new Points Validity Period.
  • Any ThankYou points you earn between 1st September 2027 and 31st August 2032 will expire on 30th November 2032 (a further 60 months + 3 months grace period).

Checking your expiry

Luckily it’s fairly easy to check when the ThankYou Points earned on your Citi Rewards Cards are expiring. You’ll need to log on to your account via the Citi site using a desktop computer to check this.

Go to Rewards & Offers, select your Citi Rewards card from the list and click Citi ThankYou Rewards, then navigate to My Points Summary.

This will show you your current points balance and the number of points expiring within the next 60 days.

Clicking on the link will reveal the exact date of expiry, in my case (just prior to my previous initial Points Validity Period) it was 28th February 2021 for these 274,571 points.

That was 60 months since I opened my card account, plus the 3-month grace period to redeem.

Why weren’t all my points expiring?

You’ll notice that over 7,000 of my Citi ThankYou Points weren’t expiring in February 2021. That’s because points I accrued on this card since December 2020 were in the new 5-year Points Validity Period, which runs until November 2025 (so those points expire on 28th February 2026).

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Effectively my account was in the three-month ‘overlap’ period, where points accrued in the first validity period are still valid (but expiring) and new points are being accrued in a fresh new validity window.

What most will see

Even if your points aren’t expiring soon, which is likely the case for most of our readers, you can still check when they will expire.

For example, I opened my Citi Rewards Visa card (when it was still possible to get one) in February 2019, so the points accrued on that account are not expiring until May 2024.

Just click “View Points expiring in the future” for details.

This is a good reference to set yourself a calendar reminder, ideally around three months before the expiry date, which will allow you time to plan accordingly to avoid the next trap…

Redemption blocks can mean orphan points

Around three months before your points expiry date, which is six months before their actual expiry date, you need to take a look at your balance and start making some plans.

Why? Well since Citi moved to 25,000-point transfer thresholds to its partner frequent flyer programmes, there’s a risk of orphan points when you fall short of a rounded redemption block size, with points that are set to expire.

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Effectively, you’ll want to make a rounded transfer of your expiring points with as little excess ‘waste’ as possible.

Three months before your expiry, if it looks like you can achieve the next redemption threshold from your total points balance at the time (expiring + non-expiring), then that’s something to aim towards.

10,000 miles can make all the difference for future redemptions, so trying to reach the next transfer ‘block’ before your Citi Rewards points expire is ideal, if you can make it work. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

An example

Let’s say you have 211,000 Citi ThankYou Points on your Rewards card in September, with your expiry coming up at the end of December.

You’ll need to spend S$1,400 in the 10X rewards (4 mpd) spend categories by the expiry date to have enough to transfer the next full ‘block’ of 225,000 Points into airline miles.

  • If that seems achievable, make sure you achieve it!
  • If it doesn’t, you may want to stop spending on the card until you are earning in the next ‘fresh’ 5-year Points Validity Window again (1st October onwards).
Pro Tip: Log on and check your Citi ThankYou Points expiry date for each Citi Rewards card you hold, then set up a calendar reminder three months in advance, so you can start planning how to reach a ‘perfect’ 25,000-point block prior to expiry.

Remember, even if your expiring balance has become ‘locked’ and you are now earning in a new 5-year Points Validity Window for your spend (as I was with my CRMC account in the example above), you can still increase your total points balance to the next redemption threshold then make a transfer before the expiring miles vanish.

In this case you are transferring a mix of expiring and non-expiring points to miles, but that’s irrelevant. Points that are about to expire will be redeemed first, but can be mixed with those not imminently expiring in a larger single redemption transaction.

What if you can’t reach a miles redemption threshold?

Until October 2021, if you no longer had time or sufficient spending plans to reach a suitable 25,000 points redemption threshold with your Citi Rewards card, it was probably a case of cashing out the excess points once you had transferred the maximum quantity possible to miles.

That was bad news, of course, since Citi offers a terrible rate of just 0.57 cents per mile as a statement rebate or pay with points transaction.

However, since October 2021 there’s been a much better option – thanks to Kris+.

This method allows you to make instant fee-free transfers into KrisFlyer miles (via KrisPay miles) in smaller blocks of 10,000 ThankYou Points, albeit at a 15% poorer transfer ratio compared to a direct conversion.

That means you may be able to transfer some or all of your orphan points into KrisFlyer miles at a reasonable rate (albeit not the best rate possible for larger transfers).

It may also be more practical to hit a 10,000 ThankYou Points threshold through your upcoming spending on the Rewards card prior to expiry, then transfer the final ‘block’ over to KrisFlyer via Kris+ once you’ve achieved it.

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If you still have leftover expiring points after using the Kris+ method, you’ll want to be looking at Citi’s cash out options – poor value but better than no value.

Citi allows this through two methods; Cash Rebate and Pay with Points. Both will give you the same rate, and the easiest way to do this is through the Citi App on your phone.

For example, let’s say you still have 8,000 expiring ThankYou Points left over, and you don’t think you can round this up to 10,000 in order to use the Kris+ transfer to KrisFlyer method outlined above.

The 8,000 points you’ll have left over, which would normally be equivalent to 3,200 miles but sadly can’t be converted in that quantity, can instead be redeemed at a (terrible) 0.227 cents per point (equivalent to 0.57 cents per mile).

Cash rebate can be applied in S$10 intervals up to S$50 rebate, so with 8,000 Points left over you could use 4,400 of them for a S$10 rebate as shown below (you can’t achieve a S$20 rebate in this case as 8,800 Points would be required).

That will still leave you with 3,600 Points (8,000 – 4,400) left over, so it’s time to take a look at Citi’s ‘Pay with Points’ option, which allows you to use your points to offset a transaction made on your card in the last two months.

In the example above, looking at my CRV card, a S$7.50 Gojek ride earlier last month is the best fit, using up 3,256 excess expiring points.

While they couldn’t realistically be converted to miles at this late stage, in total the 8,000 excess expiring Citi ThankYou Points in this example have at least earned you S$17.50.

Do be sure to ‘clear out’ as many remaining expiring points this way once you’ve maximised your transfer to frequent flyer miles and the Kris+ transfer option, for some value at least.

The Citi Lazada card is different

While miles earned on the Citi PremierMiles card or ThankYou Points earned on the Prestige card never expire, as we mentioned above, there’s one other card in Citi’s lineup that works on a fixed period validity – the Citi Lazada card.

This one is based on the same principle as the Rewards cards, but has a shorter 36 months (3 years) validity window, rather than 60 months (5 years).

This card was first launched in December 2019, so the fixed validity period for miles accrued in the first three years will start to come into play for some users later this year – from December 2022.

It’s definitely another one to check and keep on top of if you’re holding it, for the same reasons outlined above.



 


 

Summary

On the face of it, Citi’s five-year validity for ThankYou Points accrued on the Rewards cards is quite generous, and in many ways it is, but you have to be careful not to get caught out as you approach the end of each rewards period.

Indeed points earned in the last week of your five-year window could expire as little as three months after earning if not redeemed, which seems incredibly unfair, but is just the way it is with these cards.

The important thing is not to let your Citi ThankYouPoints expire before you’ve had a chance to convert them to miles.

We recommend setting a calendar alert three months before expiry, which is enough time to also allow you to decide how to ‘optimise’ your card spending to reach one of the 25,000-point redemption thresholds as closely as possible, thereby avoiding orphan points or any need to cash out at a poorer (Kris+) or very poor (cash out) rate.

Fast Facts

$Card MC 2020

Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
EIR: 26.9%
Sign-up bonus: 16,000 miles*
Standard earn rate: 0.4 miles per $1
Bonus earn rate: 4.0 miles per $1**
Foreign transaction fee: 3.25%
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income (Singaporean): $30,000/yr
Minimum income (Foreigner): $42,000/yr
* Subject to a minimum spend of $800 in the first 2 months.
** Applicable in specific spending categories, see see our review.

READ OUR REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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