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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
After months of delays, TPG can reveal that the new Citi travel portal will finally launch Sunday in the afternoon. From what Citi has told us, the new portal’s features sound awesome. However, whether the portal will be a game-changer in practice is yet to be seen.
We first noticed issues with the current Citi ThankYou Travel Center in July 2022. Citi launched a “coming soon” page for its new portal in August after TPG was the first to report on the planned launch of a new portal. In response to delays, Citi provided band-aids to enable customers to book travel in its portal for travel dates through June 2023 — not ideal for those planning future trips.
However, the wait is almost over — Citi Travel with Booking.com will launch Sunday, March 19.
Here’s a closer look at the new Citi travel portal, which features you can expect at launch and which additional features will be coming in the future.
Overview of the new Citi travel portal
Citi’s existing travel portal — the Citi ThankYou Travel Center — is disappearing, and it will be replaced with a new travel portal.
The new Citi Travel portal is powered by Booking.com and will provide access to over 1.4 million hotels worldwide, thanks to the Booking.com platform. The new portal will be called Citi Travel with Booking.com, and you will be able to access it through this link.
Citi promises that the new platform will be easier to use and will be accessible through Citi’s website (starting Sunday afternoon) and Citi’s mobile app (after app updates, which are expected by the end of this month). Cardmembers can customize their payments, choosing which credit card(s) or points to pay with — or a combination of the two.
Another new aspect is 24-hour customer support. Cardmembers will be able to receive help with their bookings around the clock.
You’ll earn points on all paid bookings through Citi Travel. You’ll also be able to redeem your ThankYou Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent per point toward travel booked in the portal. This means a $150 flight will cost 15,000 Citi ThankYou points.
Related: How to redeem Citi ThankYou Rewards for maximum value
From what we’ve seen, the new portal feels very similar to Booking.com and other travel portals. You can search by destination (for hotels, rental cars and activities), by property name (for hotels) or by route (for flights).
Key features of Citi Travel with Booking.com
Citi’s new portal will be integrated with your online Citi account and with the mobile app for the first time, making it easier to book travel without needing additional logins. Additionally, your points balance will be visible to help you see which travel purchases align with the spending power of your points.
You will be able to redeem points for all or part of your reservation. Redemption rates in the portal will be 1 cent per point. This is below TPG’s valuation of ThankYou points at 1.8 cents apiece, but it provides options for using points in additional ways — such as tours and activities (more on that below).
As Booking.com powers the new portal, all hotels you see on Booking.com should be available through the portal. This includes not just chain hotels and resorts but also boutique properties, bed-and-breakfasts and Disney properties, including the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel and Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel. However, most hostels won’t be bookable.
Highlight: Attractions available in the Citi travel portal
Citi’s new travel portal offers access to more than just hotels, flights and rental cars. Hundreds of thousands of attractions will be available in all 50 U.S. states and in countries around the globe. This includes Universal theme parks (including multiday tickets and passes) but not tickets to Six Flags or Disney parks — though some Disney hotels can be booked in the new portal.
Additional offerings include river cruises, guided hikes in the Grand Canyon and entrance tickets to popular tourist attractions, like the Kennedy Space Center. To find and book attractions, search by your destination (e.g., New York City or Paris).
You’ll be able to pay for all of these with points.
Launch of 2 new Citi hotel programs
Citi is also launching two new hotel programs: Hotel Collection and Luxury Hotel Collection. These programs are launching Sunday with the new travel portal, but they will start with a limited footprint of properties (the same thing happened with the recently-launched Capital One Premier Collection). Initially, hotels will be available in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, then the number of hotels available will expand on a rolling basis.
For those familiar with other credit card issuer hotel programs, these two new hotel programs will sound familiar.
Related: A comparison of luxury hotel programs from credit card issuers: Amex, Chase and Capital One
Citi’s Hotel Collection will offer free breakfast for two people daily and complimentary Wi-Fi as guaranteed perks. When available, you’ll also get early check-in and late checkout privileges.
Citi’s Luxury Hotel Collection — the more premium program of the two — will offer those benefits plus room upgrades (when available) and a $100 on-property credit. Uses of this benefit will vary by location, and it may cover purchases like spa services, meals at the hotel’s restaurant and overnight parking.
There are no minimum stay requirements for these bookings (unlike American Express’ The Hotel Collection, which has a minimum two-night stay when booking with The Platinum Card® from American Express). Anyone with a credit card that earns ThankYou points can make reservations through the Hotel Collection. However, only those with the Citi Prestige® Card (no longer open to new applicants) or the Citi Premier® Card can access the Luxury Hotel Collection.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Unfortunately, there is no option for adding your hotel loyalty program number to these reservations. However, as explained below, you can stack a valuable Citi-provided benefit on top of these reservations.
No changes to Prestige and Premier card portal benefits
The Citi Prestige Card and the Citi Premier Card both offer valuable hotel credits. Using these benefits requires booking your room through Citi’s travel portal. The good news is that these benefits are not changing.
Citi Premier cardholders will continue to receive a once-per-year $100 credit for hotel bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through Citi Travel.
Those who have the Citi Prestige will still enjoy their fourth-night-free perk. This benefit is available twice yearly and offers a fourth night free on hotel bookings made in Citi’s travel portal.
Related: 4 reasons the Citi Premier Card should be on your shortlist
Thus, you can use these benefits on hotel reservations with the Hotel Collection or Luxury Hotel Collection to stack the hotel programs’ benefits with your cardholder benefits. We will do a deeper dive on how to maximize these benefits in a guide coming soon.
Bonus points promotion
To coincide with the launch of Citi Travel with Booking.com, select Citi cardholders will be able to earn up to 10 points per dollar on bookings in the portal through June 30, 2024. Depending on your card, you’ll earn:
- 10 points per dollar on bookings for hotels, rental cars and eligible attractions with the Citi Prestige Card (no longer open to new applicants) and the Citi Premier Card.
- 5 points per dollar on these bookings with the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card (no longer open to new applicants) and the Citi Rewards+® Card.
Once these limited-time earning rates end, a Citi spokesperson promised updates on the standard earning rates for travel booked in the portal.
The information for the Citi ThankYou Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: The ultimate guide to Citi ThankYou Rewards
Unfortunately, flights are not included in the bonus-earning rates.
Quick comparison of earning rates through different travel portals
For comparison, several banks have elevated earning rates on travel booked through their respective portals. Here are the points you can earn on these bookings when using a travel rewards credit card:
|Card||Earning rates on travel booked through its portal||Earning rates on travel booked elsewhere||Value of each point*|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||
||2 cents each.|
|American Express® Gold Card||
||2 cents each.|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||
||1.85 cents each.|
|Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card||
||1.85 cents each.|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||
||2 cents each.|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||
||2 cents each.|
*Values are based on TPG’s latest valuations.
Related: 9 things to consider when choosing to book via a portal vs. booking directly
Citi’s new travel portal is powered by Booking.com and is launching Sunday. It includes several valuable benefits and additions, plus bonus points-earning opportunities. The launch also includes two new hotel programs: Hotel Collection and Luxury Hotel Collection. We’re excited to do a deeper dive after the portal goes live.
Hopefully, Citi Travel with Booking.com will work as expected. And this concern has been the main reason for delays, according to a Citi spokesperson: “We are committed to everything being seamless at launch, so we have pushed back the launch date to make sure it’s working correctly on day one.”
For those who’ve been waiting, set your alarm. You’ll be able to start using Citi Travel with Booking.com Sunday afternoon.