Travel hacking is a lifelong learning sort of thing, and even after doing this for a few years I’m still learning painful lessons. Case in point: My Citibank Rewards Mastercard
I originally had the Visa version of the Rewards card but got the Mastercard because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to earn 10X on bill payments at AXS machines.
For the uninitiated, it was once upon a time possible to use the Masterpass function on your Citibank Rewards Mastercard at AXS machines when you made bill payments, netting you 4 mpd on something that would not normally have qualified for any points at all.
That got canned in November last year, which as luck would have it was only shortly after I got the Mastercard. I had big plans to prepay a large balance onto my IRAS account, but in the end only manged to do a few token payments here and there.
So here’s the situation I find myself in, rewards points wise. The 4,440 ThankYou points balance is on my Mastercard (I guess the silver lining here is that I didn’t put a whole lot of spending on it before the 10X got canned).
I called up the Citibank hotline for advice.
“If I cancel my Citibank Rewards Mastercard do the leftover ThankYou points automatically pool with those in my Citibank Rewards Visa?”
“No sir, you have to use them or they will be forfeited”
“If I want to pool my Citibank Rewards Visa and Mastercard ThankYou points and do a redemption, is that possible?”
“No sir, they are two different currencies”
“They’re both ThankYou points, they’re the same currency”
“But they are on different cards so they are two currencies. Our back end will not let us do it”
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a thousand times until it changes: I completely do not understand Citibank’s no points pooling policy. I mean if I squint hard enough I could accept them not pooling Premiermiles and ThankYou points because those two currencies are different (why can’t the Premiermiles card just issue ThankYou points though?), but not pooling ThankYou points earned from the Prestige, Rewards MC and Rewards Visa is just downright customer unfriendly. If anything, that serves as a barrier to further card adoption, and you’d think the bank would be eager to get its customers using more Citibank cards.
I don’t shop online enough to exhaust the $12,000 annual limit on 10X for my Citibank Rewards Visa (plus when I do shop online, my first port of call is the DBS WWMC because, well, they pool points) so I don’t think the Mastercard is of much incremental use to me. In fact they’ve already started charging me the annual fee on the card which I did get waived, but I don’t want to have that hanging on the back of my mind either.
I’m probably going to close the card, but the question is what to do with those 4,440 points (I’ve outlined these options previously in more detail in this post). Here’s what I’ve narrowed it down to…
A $10 statement credit (values each TY point at 0.23 cents)
Offsetting the cost of a hotel booking (0.42 cents)
Redeeming a $10 Yoshinoya Voucher (0.35 cents)
I’m inviting judgment by saying this, but I quite like Yoshinoya. The problem is I don’t have enough points for a $20 voucher and a $10 voucher gives me orphan points.
With most banks (DBS/UOB/OCBC) my advice to people is not to worry about getting multiple cards because the points pool together so you’ll only ever pay one conversion fee. With Citibank, I think it makes more sense to consolidate your spending together. The only argument I could buy to the contrary is if you shopped a lot online, in which case it might make sense to hold a separate Rewards card and a general spending card (like the Prestige or Premiermiles). The one thing that Citibank has going for it? They’ve still got the widest variety of transfer partners of any bank in Singapore.
I guess getting the Citibank Rewards Mastercard wasn’t a bad decision in and of itself, but the problem was that the card only had a single purpose for me and once that purpose ceased to exist it was always going to be an home for orphan points.