The main reason I opened a relationship with Citibank in 2001 was because they are an international bank with good customer service. I use to travel overseas twice a year for my job and wanted to access a Citibank branch wherever I went. Chase couldn’t do that at the time, neither could Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Bank of The West, and frankly most banks.
When my Citibank ATM card was stolen in Beijing back in 2003, I was able to get another card sent to my hotel room two days later with all erroneous charges expunged. I’ve got a whole story to tell about this incident, which I’ll save for another post. It was then that I knew I would be a Citibank customer for life.
My Citi ThankYou® Preferred credit card is my main personal credit card. I try and put everything on the card because of the rewards points and the clear monthly consolidated spending statement. The goal is to easily track my expenses and maximize my rewards points.
THE BEST REWARDS PROGRAM
Citibank owns the URL www.thankyou.com. That itself provides a hint to how comprehensive Citibank’s rewards program is for its customers. I’ve got 10 different accounts with Citibank which all acrue rewards points every month on top of whatever I spend on my Citi ThankYou® card. That’s like passive income, but for rewards points. Rewards points add up over time, especially if you can focus!
Main Rewards Categories
* Travel & Experiences
* Gift Cards & Prepaid Cards
* Cash & Charity
Within each main category are sub categories for everything you can imagine. I mainly use my rewards points for hotel nights on vacation, flights to Honolulu, gasoline gift cards, and tennis racquet grips of all things!
USING MY CITI THANKYOU® POINTS FOR A NEW HOME THEATRE SYSTEM
I’ve had my 60″ projection LCD TV since 2004 when I first bought my house. Unfortunately, the picture is starting to get a cloudy green as the bulbs fade. I’ve wanted to get a new TV since 2010, however I just couldn’t get over the fact that just one year later, the TV would be cheaper and have better technology!
Furthermore, given the move away from component cables to HDMI cables, I needed to also get a new receiver, cable box, Blu-Ray DVD player and cables at a cost over over $1,000! At least I didn’t have to buy new Definitive Tech speakers.
I wasn’t planning on using my Citi ThankYou® points to buy an expensive home theatre system until my friend reminded me to take a look. With 123,000 points accumulated, I was hopeful I could get something!
Here’s what I found:
Philips 40PFL4907 40 1080p LED-LCD TV – 105,500 points, retail estimate $850-$950
Toshiba Wi-Fi Ready Blu-Ray DVD Player – 10,800 points, retail estimate $110
Pioneer – 400W 5.1-Ch. 3D Pass-Through A/V Home Theater Receiver – 41,500 points, retail estimate $350-$400
Three Belkin HDMI 6-inch Cables – 6,000 Points, retail estimate $100
Total Points Needed: 163,800
Short: 40,8000 points
As we learn in life, we can’t always get everything we want, especially if we don’t work for it. Hence, I decided to use my points to buy the LED TV, Blu-ray player, and HDMI cables, leaving me only with the receiver to purchase. There is a wide range of receivers out there for various prices.
My main goal for a home theatre system is to spend the least amount of money for a “good enough” modern technology system. I’m not interested in spending big bucks for the highest quality components because in three years there will be something even better. Hence, I decided to go to Best Buy and purchase a Denon 400W 5.1Ch. receiver for $250.
I ended up saving $1,275 thanks to my Citi ThankYou® Preferred credit card! $1,275 is money I really would have spent. It’s not the best bang for the buck using points vs. shelling out cash, but it’s even worse to unnecessarily spend money!
WEALTH BUILDING RECOMMENDATIONS
Track Your Net Worth For Free: In order to grow your net worth, it’s important to thoroughly understand the details of your net worth. People are spending more than they think and saving less than they think. False beliefs add up to deleterious consequences over time as people wonder where all their money went. As soon as I started tracking my net worth through an Excel document 12 years ago, I was able to optimize my money for the greatest returns. I then signed up for Personal Capital’s free financial dashboard in 2012 that tracks your net worth for you once you link all our accounts, analyzes your investment portfolio(s) for excessive fees, provides monthly cash flow analysis, and helps you forecast your retirement. There’s no better free money management tool online today.
Check Your Credit Score: Take a moment to check your free TransUnion credit score through GoFreeCredit.com, a company I trust. 30% of credit reports have errors, which could put a serious hamper on your refinancing or new loan borrowing abilities. I had a $8 late payment I didn’t even know I owed crush my score by 100 points come up during my last refinance. The average credit score for rejected mortgage borrowers has risen to 729 due to more stringent lending requirements. Do you know what your score is?
Updated for 2015 and beyond!