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Make bill payments with Citi ThankYou rewards points

by Peter Andrew

Citi recently unveiled a new service that adds flexibility to the redemption of ThankYou points earned using its rewards credit cards and banking services. Already up and running, it allows those with Citi checking accounts to use points to make online bill payments. Customers can use their points to pay all or part of "virtually any" bill, including those for electricity, phone and cable, according to a company press release.

Easy but not cheap

Those wanting to use this new service can find step-by-step directions at www.thankyou.com/onlineBillPayment.jspx, and the process does sound very simple. It's particularly useful that you can choose to pay using only ThankYou points, or a combination of points and cash (meaning some or all the balance available on your checking account). Under the hood, your points are redeemed for cash, and credited to your checking account on the day you schedule the bill to be paid.

There's one caveat you should note. Citi says you need 7,692 ThankYou points to cover $50 in bill payments. And that values each point at about 0.65 cents. That doesn't sound a lot, and you might -- unless you're struggling to pay a critical bill -- want to explore the value you could get using other redemption options, such as merchandise and airfare.

Freeing rewards credit cards

Citi's move seems to be part of an emerging trend among card issuers to make redeeming rewards more flexible. Back in January, this website reported on an American Express feature which allows customers to use smart devices to use rewards to pay for virtually any purchase.

Published 05/14/14 (Modified 08/24/14)

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