After having the Citi ThankYou Premier credit card for the last 2 years, I’ve finally been able to claim the free companion flight ticket this year! I was truly devastated to see that free companion flight ticket slip out of my fingers last year so I was determined to claim it this year. Thought I’ll share my experience using the ThankYouCompanion website and claiming my free ticket.
As mentioned before, the Citi ThankYou Premier card offers a free companion ticket for domestic flights (vs an international flight for Prestige card members). My boyfriend wanted to take me to Disney World for my birthday so it was the perfect time to use my domestic flight ticket for Orlando!
To take advantage of this offer, some pre-planning must be done. First thing on the list was booking for flights at least 1 month ahead. At the time of booking, the only search options I had was one full month in advance. (In preparation of this post, I see that I have the option of searching for flights only 5 days in advance now. Their policy might have changed recently, but I haven’t seen any updated terms and conditions regarding this change.)
Second and probably the most annoying, is deciding on the right flight and actually finding it. The ThankYouCompanion website has very limited flights available. Not every flight/airline is available at all times. And most frustrating of all was seeing the same exact search yield different results on two consecutive days. Yes, this means, if you see a flight you want today, if you don’t take advantage of it right away, you might not be able to find it tomorrow! This turned out to give me an advantage because I couldn’t find a appropriate flight in the beginning of my search, and since I planned it almost 2 months ahead of schedule, I had time to wait out on finding the perfect trip. But yielding inconsistent results daily could be disconcerting.
Third is when you put on your savvy shopper hat and shop around for the right price. A quick search on Expedia and Orbitz show the best value flight ticket priced at $300 per person including taxes and fees. With a Citi ThankYou Premier card, I have 3 options of booking a flight: 1. claim the free domestic companion ticket through ThankYouCompanion, 2. get 15% off all bookings through ThankYouCompanion, or 3. pay with my ThankYou points which have an increase value of 33% (roughly 25% discount on flights). Obviously option 1 is the best value, if everything works out, you’re looking at close to a 50% discount on a flight but only benefits 2 people. Option 2 would be useful if you are booking for a group where everybody can benefit with a 15% discount (good for trips with friends where you can expect them to pay you back). Option 3 would be good for yourself or booking for a group where you have to personally pay for everybody’s flight expense (perfect for family trips). Of course Option 3 only works if you have enough ThankYou points banked away.
I was very lucky, the flight that I preferred, priced on Expedia for $300, was actually offered on ThankYouCompanion after a week of daily searching. The base ticket price was $260 + $40 for taxes & fees. Using Option 1 and getting as the free companion ticket, I paid a total of $260 + $40 + $40 (taxes for 2nd person) = $340 for 2 people! Paid with my Citi ThankYou Premier card, I think I can also earn Flight points for this trip, but I’ll have to see after 2 billing cycles.
Another quick tip, Option 1 and 2 actually have slightly different results, even when you search on the same day, so you might want to check between both options when you’re looking to get some of your travel benefits on that card. =)
Hopefully that was helpful to those who haven’t used their Premier benefits yet.