ThankYou Network Announces Changes To Its Rewards Program

What’s going to happen with Citibank’s ThankYou Network on March 1st? Is Vikram Pandit going to convert all of your points into executive bonuses? Will it be nationalized?!? Um, no, but here’s a copy of the letter one of our readers received today announcing the changes that are going in place next week.

The only really strange item is #1, which we hope is just referencing all the points that follow, but seems to leave open the option that more changes may be on the way, or that point prices for rewards may increase. At any rate, we’re cashing in our points now for free books.

After reading your initial story on Credit Card rewards programs taking a hit, I was nervous about how much longer my Citi ThankYou account and its points would be useful. Sure enough, today I received a letter from Citi, to my dismay. Their new terms make it so they can yank points based on credit card activity, assess totally new fees in real dollars, and generally make it harder to use accumulated points. I’ve OCR scanned the letter and included the text below.


As of March 1, 2009, we are changing some of the terms and conditions that will affect your ability to earn and redeem ThankYou Points. The following is a list of some of these changes:

1. ThankYou Network may be revised in a manner that may affect your ability to use the ThankYou Points you have already accumulated;

2. If you make a late payment on your participating Sponsor Account, any ThankYou Points you earned through that Sponsor may not be available for redemption until you pay the reinstatement fee disclosed on http://www.thankyou.com/help.jspx

3. If your ThankYou Member Account is closed for any reason, you will lose any ThankYou Points in that ThankYou Member Account. If your participating Sponsor Account is closed, you will no longer be able to accumulate ThankYou Points and may lose the ThankYou Points that you earned through that Sponsor and through ThankYou Network. If all your Sponsor Accounts are closed, we may close your ThankYou Member Account;

4. If you combine your ThankYou Member Accounts, any action taken concerning points from one Sponsor Account may affect all the Points in your ThankYou Member Account;

5. If your ThankYou Member Account is frozen, you may be charged the processing fee disclosed on http://www.thankyou.com/help.jspx to unfreeze your ThankYou Member Account;

6. ThankYou Points will not expire as long as you have qualifying purchase activity at least once every 18 months unless ThankYou Network is terminated;

7. ThankYou Points may not be redeemed and may be lost if your Card Account is not open or current;

8. If your Card Account is closed you will not be able to earn ThankYou Points and you will lose any accumulated ThankYou Points that have not been transferred to your ThankYou Member Account including Flight Points that have not appeared on your billing statement;

9. The fixed flight option for Travel Rewards is no longer available. Please use the online booking tool at http://www.thankyou.com for variably priced Travel Rewards.

For the complete Terms and Conditions of ThankYou Network, please visit http://www.thankyou.com. Sincerely,

Kendall E. Stork President and CEO
Citibank (South Dakota), N.A.

(Thanks to tinyrobot!)

Comments

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  1. MisterE says:

    I saw the article the other day and cashed in! Thanks Consumerist!

  2. KylieH says:

    I converted the points I’d been saving to fifty bucks cash! Add my thanks, Consumerist!

  3. B says:

    I can use my points to get a resturants.com gift card. Then I can be on Consumerist when the resturant I try to redeem it at refuses to honor it. Sweet.

  4. drdom says:

    Damn. I have to spend another $65 so that I don’t lose any points.

  5. chemmy says:

    Mine’s connected to my debit card so I earn points & make purchases all the time… Might be time to log in and see what I can come away with prior to March 1st….

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    ThankYou for the fine print on the ThankYou program.

  7. 67alecto says:

    I sent this tip in last week with a scan of the letter…

  8. Joedel263 says:

    Does anyone else find it odd that a $100 gift card is 10,000 points, but an item that you could walk into a store and buy for $100 is 20,000 points? (I know they’re buying the gift cards for a discount, but seriously..)

    of course all the $100 gift cards are for places I don’t shop, and a $50 gift card is 6,000 points…

  9. dougp26364 says:

    I’m having a difficult time seeing the grey cloud in all of this.

    So, if you’re late on a payment, you won’t have access to your rewards account and will have to pay a reinstatement fee. So don’t be late on your payment. Isn’t that something that is preached on this site?

    If your sponsor quits the program, you won’t be able to use those points. Sort of sounds like, if your sponsor goes out of business, you won’t be able to do business with them to me.

    You need to have activity on you account once every 18 months. Why have a rewards account, or at least be concerned with it, if you’re not using it? If you’re not using it, you should have already been thinking about moving/using any points built up on the account.

    If they close your account, you won’t be able to accumlate points. Well DUH.

    You can’t redeem points if you account is not open or current. Again DUH.

    The worst thing I see is the loss of the fixed flight option. Other than that, everything seems to just be asking that members who want to use their accounts be members in good standing. Maybe I’m just old because that’s the way I remember things being. If you’re not current, you don’t have any benefits. When did we ever get away from that idealogy?

    • AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

      @dougp26364: #1 is the most important. It’s basically a heads up for customers that the points value could be going up all around, gift cards could be removed, etc, so if you were saving up for something, now is the time to buy it.

      • dougp26364 says:

        @AbsoluteIrrelevance:

        My mistake. I was under the impression that the first rule of any benefit program was that the rules could change at any time. At least that seems to be the agreement on any rewards program I participate in.

        • azntg says:

          @dougp26364: Snark aside, I think this is more of a PSA-style article from the Consumerist.

          Still valuable heads up to those that may forget things from time to time OR to those that may not have read every little document they received on and after joining the TY program.

  10. MMD says:

    I have ThankYou rewards on my checking/savings/debit card accounts with Citibank (my credit card is with another bank), so it looks like the only change that (might) affect me is #1.

    My points account gets updated once a month around mid-month, so hopefully my March statement gets me to the level where I can cash out on my traditional $50 Amazon gift certificate before those disappear or go up in point “price”. I haven’t received a letter on this yet, so thanks for the heads up, Consumerist!

  11. f86sabre says:

    I agree with Doug that there isn’t anything really Earth shattering in there. That said, when we heard that Citi was having issues last fall my wife and I cashed out all our Thank You points. I figured that would be one area where they would try to get some quick savings by changing the terms or “cost” of reward items. We used the gift cards to buy most of our Christmas presents. It worked out pretty well.

    • muffingal says:

      @f86sabre: Last year, I cashed in all my rewards from different programs for gift cards so I could apply those amounts to purchasing an Xbox 360. It does work out well!

      Right now I am 90 points shy of 6,000! Now I have to see if there is something I can get for 5,910. I don’t want to take a chance that I may not be able to use them when these changes occur.

  12. astraelraen says:

    I wonder how this will affect all those cardholders that “canceled” their accounts recently due to the change in terms? I’m one of them… and I have like 15,000 points saved up.

    Technically my card isn’t closed since I can still use it. But they will close it on the expiration date next year because I opted out….

    So does that mean as of 3/1 I lose 15,000 points since my account “sort of” is closed?

    • oneandone says:

      @astraelraen: I’m wondering the same thing. I had planned on abandoning my citibank mastercard very soon because of the change in terms, so I was going to cash out the points after a big upcoming purchase.

      They told me I could still use the account under the old terms until the card expired (2011) but I assume that at some point between now and then either they would change their mind or I would lose the card. I just hadn’t planned on things changing so soon!

  13. lancepeeples says:

    In other words, they are changing the name of the program to more closely align with how they feel about you; but, they are keeping the second word “You” in the program’s title.

  14. ogremustcrush says:

    Blah, reward points are annoying. I prefer cash rewards.

  15. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    Well, I was saving my points for a flight, but I’m cashing out my points for student loan checks right now. Thanks consumerist! I haven’t gotten any letter about this yet.

  16. DoctorMD says:

    Can I get 1 share of Citi Stock instead of a rewards point?

  17. vastrightwing says:

    Rewards points are essentially ponzi schemes because the first ones in get all of the rewards and the last ones get nothing.

    I’m methodically cashing in any rewards I have outstanding on any program because they’re all being downsized and terminated.

  18. Justinh6 says:

    I pay my Citi Professsional card off in full every month, and I cash in at least 500 dollars per year in rewards.

    Last year was a 250 dollar southwest airline giftcard (your wish fulfilled), two 100 dollar home depot gift cards, and a few 50 dollar restaurant gift cards to give as christmas gifts.

    I just run my entire life through the citi card, paying every bill with it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I just received a letter from Chase that my visa rate is going to go up by 3.99% due to “changes in their policy,” and goes on to reiterate that the increase is no fault of my own. If I want to cancel my card I have to do so in writing. Aren’t these the people that are getting billions of dollars of government tax money to insure that loans are available? Then once they are enriched by our tax dollars they slam the door in our face by increasing their rates.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I also received this letter but one difference that it says now I’ll be receiving only 1 point for each purchase. I was still receiving 5 points for Gas Stations and Super Stores (I have this card for almost 5 years).

  21. Anonymous says:

    I received a similar letter, with a few slight modifications. Mine doesn’t mention anything about a fixed flight option, but it does say:

    “You will earn only 1 ThankYou Point per dollar spent on purchases made with your card.”

    This is kind of aggravating as I have used this is my main card for years, and enjoy the bonus points that I receive for dining and supermarket purchases. Maybe they figure they’re not making money off of me, so the best I can get is one point per dollar.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I got that same letter. I had over 100,000 Thank You Points and just decided to cash them all in for statement credits (which offer the most cash value) giving me a big negative balance which I’ll just use up for my normal spending. When a company sends a letter like that they are essentially telling you that the reward points are going to be revoked and are just covering their bases from a legal standpoint.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I think the thing is that people get a little irritated with these “criminal” credit card companies. Their fine print (usually so tiny) and all of the updates. And then, they can get help when they screw up and almost go under. The reality is that Citibank should go under, along with many others. So, yes, people should pay their bills. However, credit cards really pretty much commit usury and get away with it. I don’t use my credit card a lot and in fact, hadn’t in years. However, I believe if a card is still around, a person should get whatever points they accumulated. That said, for the most part, these programs are just schemes to suck people in and earn a lot of money off of them. I wish the credit at the store still existed that I heard about. Credit cards have just caused too many problems for too many. So that is why there is so much talking about it dougp26364. People talk about cashing their points in. I only have $2431. I wonder if I could cash mine in and that is before I cancel it. Citibank stinks. And this is from a consumer with an excellent credit score. There is my two cents worth (or points).