Published on September 18th, 2014 | by William Charles3
Citi Bank Launches Two New Expedia Co-branded Credit Cards
It looks like Citi is getting serious about competing in the credit card market place, this year has seen them offer 100,000 mile sign up bonuses for their co-branded American Airlines card, add airline transfer partners for their Thank You point program and most recently they launched a 1% + 1% cash back card.
They’ve now launched two new Citi + Expedia co-branded credit cards, these cards will replace the one co-branded Citi/Expedia card that was available previously (2 points for all Expedia purchases and 1 point for all other purchases and it earned ThankYou points). The announcement of these new cards should come as no surprise, as Citi + Expedia announced they would be extending their partnership earlier in the year. Let’s take a quick look at the new cards that will be offered, we will update this post as new information comes in.
Expedia+ Voyager from Citi
The Expedia+ Voyager is the premium product that Citi will be offering. It comes with the following features:
- $95 annual fee
- 25,000 Expedia+ points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months
- $100 annual statement credit can be used airline incidentals on qualified airlines, Wi-Fi carriers, or for the Global Entry application fee
- Expedia+ gold status
- Earns at the following rates:
- 4x points on Expedia purchases including flight, hotel, activities and vacation-package bookings (this is in addition to whatever points you’d normally earn for these bookings, meaning you can double dip)
- 2x points on dining and entertainment purchases
- 1x points on all other purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
- 5,000 anniversary points when you spend $10,000 or more in the prior card membership year
Expedia+ from Citi
This is the basic product that Citi will be offering, it comes with the following features:
- No annual fee
- 15,000 Expedia+ points after $1,000 in purchases within 3 months
- Expedia+ silver status (can be accelerated to gold, each $2,500 in card spend is worth one elite qualifying night)
- Earns at the following rates:
- 3x points on Expedia purchases, including flights, hotels, activities, and vacation packages
As these cards have a sign up bonus in Expedia+ points and also earn Expedia+ points, it’s worth having a look at what they can be redeemed for. Basically you have four redemption options: hotel, airline, charity or “unique experiences”.
- Hotel: Expedia doesn’t let you see how much their hotel coupons cost point wise, unless you have enough points to redeem (note to loyalty programs, don’t do this). In 2012 loyalty lobby reported that points are worth between 0.7 and 2 cents a point depending on the amount of points you are redeeming. I believe that this is no longer the case and now points are always worth 0.7¢, although you can sometimes get double the value when redeeming for selected ‘VIP Hotels’.
- Airline: You can view how many points an airline ticket will cost here. Prices include all flight taxes and fees, but do not include any baggage fees charged, a lot of low cost carriers do not seem to be included when booking with points. I did a points search from Bangkok to Singapore for September 27th, 2014 and then a regular search using Expedia. The cheapest point option was 26,600 with Ethopia and the cheapest paid option was $79.50 with Tiger Air, when comparing like for like the Ethopia flight was $165.69 which would give a value of 0.623¢ a point.
- Charity: Expedia only lets you use your points for donating to one charity, which is the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 3,500 points = $25 which makes points worth 0.714¢ a point.
- Unique experiences: You can view a full list of “unique experiences” by clicking here. None of them seem to be particularly good value or unique.
In the fine print, it’s interesting to note that it says you cannot earn the sign up bonus if you’ve held the card in the previous 18 months, this is obviously in response to people who signed up and received multiple 100,000 American Airline offers.
I can only really see these cards being attractive to two sets of consumers: those after the sign up bonus and those who book through Expedia. It shouldn’t be attractive option for those looking for a card that earns at a high rate on restaurant purchases as there are much better options out there. Let’s have a look to see if it’s a good choice for those chasing sign up bonuses or those who are a regular Expedia user.
Sign up bonus
It looks like points are worth about 0.7¢ a point, which would make the largest sign up bonus worth $175. For those travelling regularly the annual fee would be awash due to the $100 airline incidental (it’ll be interesting to see if airline gift cards trigger this or not). Given that there are cash sign up bonuses that are much higher than $175 and cards that give a lot more value in travel (see: these hotel credit cards) this is a really poor option for those chasing sign up bonuses.
Regular Expedia user
At most you’re going to be able to get 2.8¢ per $1 spent at Expedia. I can really only see this being a good option if you’re spending a lot at Expedia and even then you’re probably best just sticking to a few different brands for your airline/hotel purchases and then getting co-branded cards from them instead.
At first glance, this new card doesn’t look half bad but when you actually drill into it, this card sucks. Expedia hasn’t done a good job of making their rewards program easy to understand and points aren’t even worth a cent each. If Citi wants to compete with the big boys, then they are going to need to do a lot better than this.
If you’re still thinking about applying for this card, wait! Citi is known for increasing the sign up bonus on new cards shortly after they are launched. Hopefully by waiting this also gives you a chance to reconsider this card and go for something better instead.
You’ll probably hear a lot more about this card in the next couple of days as other bloggers affiliate links go live (Citi also held it’s usual fancy press junket as well), try not to get sucked in by the hype.