Travel portals are one of the easiest ways to take a cheap flight (or hotel or rental car), use some credit card points, and make it free. But Citi's travel portal for travelers with cards like the Citi Premier® Card has long been an afterthought.
It's time for that to change. This week, the bank finally launched a new and drastically improved Citi Travel portal where you can search for flights, rental cars, or hotels using your Citi card or Citi ThankYou Points. You can even book attractions and tours through the new Citi portal, like a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon or a riverboat cruise in Chicago.
The new Citi Travel portal should look familiar: It's powered by Booking.com, one of the biggest names in travel. That makes for a much easier and faster experience than the old Citi portal, and it means you should generally see the same prices you find searching via Booking.com and most other sites. On the flipside, you're still booking through a third-party platform – something many travelers may want to steer clear of in case things go wrong.
You'll need an eligible Citi card like the Citi Premier® Card, the Citi Prestige® Card (which is no longer open for applications), or even the Citi® Double Cash Card to get access. The new Citi Travel with Booking.com is not available through the Citi smartphone app yet, though a spokesperson says that should be available with an app update by the end of March.
Citi has added some perks to its new travel portal to catch cardholders' eyes, including:
- In addition to hotels, rental cars, and flights, cardholders can also book excursions and attractions online through the Citi portal.
- It's easy to pay with a mix of cash or points, with no minimum amount for how many ThankYou points must be used.
- The portal seamlessly weaves in benefits from Citi cards to use in the portal, like the Citi Premier® Card's annual $100 hotel credit every calendar year when you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more.
- Citi says is taking a page out of the book of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and Capital One's new Premier Collection with its own portfolio of luxury properties called the Hotel and Luxury Collection. It's rolling out now, and Citi says it will continue to expand throughout 2023.
The biggest benefit of all, though, is the bonus when using select Citi cards when booking hotels, rental cars, and attractions through the new travel portal. Cardholders with the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card will earn a whopping 10x points per dollar on those charges through June 2024 – up from the norm of 3x points. Travelers with the Citi ThankYou Preferred or Citi Rewards+® Card will earn 5x points per dollar on hotels, rental cars, and attractions booked through the portal.
It's a big improvement, but this new portal lacks some of the bells and whistles that make other credit card companies' platforms stand out.
- There's no bonus like you get when redeeming points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, where every point is worth at least 1.25 cents when booking through the Chase travel portal. With Citi, you get 1 cent for every point you use: A $500 flight or hotel would cost you 50,000 Citi ThankYou points.
- Capital One's revamped travel portal added a ton of clever perks to convince travelers to use it like a price freeze option, price alerts, and an option to add “cancel for any reason” insurance for a small fee.
For Citi and its travel portal, change is a good thing.
At long last, Citi finally launched the new Citi Travel with Booking.com, a dedicated travel portal where you can use your Citi ThankYou points toward a bevy of travel expenses. While it lacks some of the flashy perks that other credit card companies have built into their own travel portals, it's a huge improvement for Citi cardholders.