Two Free $400 Airline Tickets with $25,000 Deposit into Citibank Savings Account

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I just found a pretty good offer in one of my Citibank credit card statements. (I still get paper bills for everything, it’s my longtime system for paying them on time.)


If I open up a new Citibank Ultimate Savings account + Checking account with at least $25,000 by 4/30 and complete a direct deposit for 3 consecutive months, I can get 40,000 ThankYou Points which can be converted into two roundtrip airlines tickets worth up to $400 each. Here is a scan of the offer. Offer code is CEJT. However, note the very first line states that “this offer is only available to individuals to whom this communication is addressed”, so please check your statements and save it to avoid hassles later. I would think most others would get it as well, since I am probably one of Citibank’s less-profitable customers and I got it. 😉

The Ultimate Savings account pays 3.25% APY if you do two online billpays per month, 2.51% APY otherwise. The attached checking account has no monthly fee if you connect it to the Ultimate Savings account. This seems like a pretty good deal because the interest paid is competitive with other online savings accounts, and I can get up to $800 worth of airplane tickets on top of that (worth at least another 2% APY). Of course, you’ll need to have $25,000 to commit. Ironically, much of the $25,000 I’m going to put into this account is Citibank’s own money that they let me borrow at 0% APR!

Update: I found a version of the 40,000 point offer online. Offer code CSZ2. Two important differences: (1) accounts must be opened by 3/31/08 and (2) it is valid for existing Ultimate Savings account if you add in another $25k.

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  1. You can do the same deal with a Citi Money Market Plus account, and the interest rate is a little less at 3%APY bu there is no billpay requirement.

  2. Are you sure that’s the same deal? Unless Citi said that, this seems pretty specific to the Ultimate Savings account.

  3. Thankyou points suffer even larger inflation than the dollar.
    40,000 points will probably equal to 200$ on kayak

  4. I do agree that fixed point redemption is getting tougher and tougher. But it’s actually guaranteed for the duration of this offer that you’ll get two $400 tickets. The $400 is per, so it’s not that bad. You won’t be able to get a JetBlue or Southwest flight, but for the major airlines it should be comparable.

  5. Hey guys, how long to I have to keep $25K there?

  6. It’s vague… It could be that all you need is $25k to open and then take it all out. But I’m thinking it would be safer to keep it there for the 3 months that the direct deposit is required. Just my opinion

  7. Two $400 tickets $800 real value. I can’t remember the last time I paid $400 for U.S. tickets. Typically I pay around the $250 mark, so for me, its essentially $500 in rewards, not $800. That brings it a bit closer to the “how big a PITA will this be vs. rewards” mark. Still, probably worth doing…. thanks for the heads up.

  8. hayhehes says:

    How do you complete the direct deposit part of the offer? Do you have to submit new paperwork to your employer to have your paycheck go into this new bank account?

  9. 40,000 pts = 400 dollars. How do you get two tickets? Is the combined value only 400 dollars? According the webite, you get 40,000 pts which can be deemed for 2 400 dollar tickets but by that logic u need 80,000 pts.

    or do u get 40,000 pts PLUS 2 tickets…

  10. I know that 20,000 ThankYou points can be converted into a round-trip ticket within the continental U.S. and I would assume that’s the offer. It’s very straightforward to book a flight with them; however, you DO have to pay taxes and fees (I was charged ~$50).

  11. I went in the branch today, and the lady said I needed to keep the 25K in there for 4 months. Anyone have someone tell them different?

  12. hayhehes, Citibank counts paypal or other ACH pushes as a direct deposit so I doubt it is necessary to deal with fresh paperwork. I ACH push $1 every month from Mechanical Turk (see elsewhere on MMB) and I’ve avoided all fees with Citi for an uncounted number of months.

    40K points is a tidy sum but the $25K initial deposit for 4 months is a bit too extreme for me. Long time Citi members know TYP have been devalued in the past and are always subject to further rule changes. Citi has also been known to be “difficult” in awarding the bonuses although I have never had a problem myself with scoring up some goodies.

    For people that want to get low cost flights, I think there are still easy credit card sign up bonuses with the Southwest, Alaska, US Airways and maybe some others. There is an annual fee for these cards but the math still works out nicely. There’s always the option of churning, but this is a different subject altogether.

  13. From the fine print …. “40,000 ThankYou Points will be awarded within 120 days from the date of satisfaction of offer terms. Customer must redeem points within six (6) months after receipt of written confirmation that promotional qualifications have been met to receive two (2) roundtrip airline tickets to anywhere in continental U.S. valued at up to $400 each. Points required for this promotion are subject to increase after this time.”

  14. If you do a “fixed point redemption”, which this account combo qualifies for as the Citibank account (checking + Ultimate savings) then 20,000 points is equal to any ticket up to $400 on Expedia. You can also redeem for the $200 in gift cards, but if you fly this is probably the value.

    I’ve actually redeemed it before as well, and fontraid is correct. It is pretty easy (just search on Expedia for the flight you want) and you do have to pay the airport taxes (varies).

  15. I have been following your blog for awhile now and it is one of my favorite ! Just to add to this post, I recently redeemed 40K TYP for two round-trip tickets to Canada that cost $399 + $110 tax each. So, the value can go up to $400 per ticket.

    For the credit inquiry though, does any one here know if citi does a soft inquiry if accounts are opened in branch? Thanks.

  16. If you open the account online, you have to also open a checking account with a minimum of $1,000. The terms do not state that you have to keep the $25,000 in for any specific time frame, but rather to open the account with minimum $25,000 and that you have to have direct deposit or make two online payments for three consecutive months.

  17. Hey Jonathan I have followed your blog for a few days and found it very informative. Thanks a lot! I have a question for this type of bank deal though – how to fund a newly opened bank account? I believe you need to apply either online or via website, and it may only give you choices of either wiring from another bank (which might be costly as much as $12, taking BoA for example) or from a credit card (the cash-advance APR is high)…My potential solution is to send Citi a check, but that might be late to get the offer?
    Thank you for sharing your solutions.

  18. If don’t like to travel you can get $250 cash for 40,000 pts.

  19. Another point.
    You still have to open another checking account even if you have one already.

  20. This item reminded me I needed to set up a payment on my wife’s Mastercard, so I went to the Citibank website. I noticed that one of the rotating offers on the main page is for this “2 free tickets” deal, so it looks like you don’t need to have a code anyway.

    So if you are interested, go to – if it doesn’t show up the first time, try refreshing the screen a time or two.

  21. Johan, can you explain how to use Mechanical Turk with Citibank to fulfill the transfer requirements?

  22. Erik: the Mechanical Turk service from Amazon allows people to make (very small amounts) of money for doing various tasks. They pay out regularly and you can have them do an electronic deposit to your bank via ACH. Same with such things as an Amazon referral account, a seller account, Google Adsense, and many other ways of making money on the Internet.

  23. I received emails, got paper coupons and received letters in Citibank’s statement envelop. This offers are widespread.

    I went to two Citibank branches and they told me the $25,000 has to sit in the account for 6 months (at 3% rate – subject to change). This requirement made this offer meaningless. I have to say that the coupons or emails I received never state the 6 month requirement.

    Besides, branch representative also told me that the bonus is total $400 (or, 40000 thank you points), not $800.

    Since the deadline is at the end of March, please post here if anyone find the 6 months is simply the branch representatives’ misleading statements. They misled customers in the past and they may still be so.

  24. Andy:

    I think the Citibank reps gave you wrong information. The offer states that the 40,000 points will be awarded after 120 days (4 months). There is nothing stated that says you must keep the money in for 6 months. Just my thought, but I think they are being ambiguous about the requirement because they are so strapped for cash. But be careful, because their are minimum requirements for not getting the monthly service charge on the accounts.

    Also, the bonus is 40,000 points which when you redeem for this special offer will be worth two tickets at $400 each ($800 total). I verified that with Citibank. You have to redeem this though over the phone and not through the website, and they must be redeemed within 6 months after they award you the points.

  25. Albrecht says:

    People! Avoid this kind of ‘deals’ from citi!
    Personally tried only to stumble over their ‘fulfillment dept’, AKA ‘find-any-reason-to-refuse-fulfillment-of-the-airline-ticket’.
    Tried both mine and spouse’s – same non-result after months of waiting. Naturally, all the conditions were met on our part.
    You’ve been warned.

  26. we opened the account with 25k last week . we are planning to fly in June. Will this work out. I don’t want to mess up my vacation waiting for this free air ticket.

  27. Make sure the account is FDIC insured before you deposit any money!! I don’t trust anything the banks or brokers say in the current market environment. Citi has major capital issues and is desperately trying to increase its deposit base. DO NOT BE FOOLED…

  28. I have a checking account with Citibank and the link to my Thank You Points. All I had to do was open the Ultimate Savings Account. I did this online only to find out that I was only entitled to 20,000. Apparently, new customers who open both checking and savings are entitled to the 40,000. You do have to keep the money in there for 3 months before they relinquish the points to you.

  29. Ravi, I would expect that you should be well within the 3 months requirement unless you’re talking about early June.

  30. Roger,
    Thanks for nice reply and clarification.

    Update: After I call the Citibank phone, the rep told me:
    1. I am entitled to 20,000 points only because I am an existing customer with Checking (already registered in thankyou network) and Ultimate Money Account (APR 3.20%). Besides, I am not required to put $1,000 into my checking account.
    2. I opened online a Ultimate Saving Account (APR 3%) instantly and requested a next-day bank-to-bank transfer of $25,000 (Citi offers this service free this time).
    3. Citibank rep told me Citibank does not require any minimum period this $25,000 has to stay in the account.
    4. In case the checking account is not registered into thankyou network, we need to do so.
    6. The reward of 20,000 will be added into thank you network. You can redeem for airplane tickets or for other rewards or for cash or for Citi credit card statement credit.
    7. Ultimate Saving Account is FDIC insured.

  31. I’m going to give it a shot. I have a Disney World vacation planned in December for a family of 4 and this would really help out. I’m a little nervous cause it seems a little too good to be true. Let you know what happens! (I received the offer by mail and online w/ 2 different expiration dates)

  32. I know these sounds too good to be true, but the phone representatives at Citi are saying that you can fund the account using a credit card and that this will be treated as a purchase and not a cash advance. I spoke to 3 of them to be sure that there was no error.. Therefore you can use for example a Royal Caribbean credit card from BofA and get 26,000 points which can then be used for $250 vouchers on the cruise plus the airline tickets. This will not be treated as a cash advance so there will be no fees since it’s a purchase.

  33. ml,

    Good to hear from you. Two questions:

    1. On Citi’s website, there is no choice of funding $25K into the Ultimate Saving Account from the credit card. Tha means we have to do it over the phone with Citi reps if we want to fund $25 through credit card, am I right?

    2. Can we fund $25 from two or more credit cards because none of my cards have $25 line of credit available at this time?

    Additional question (I don’t expect an answer from you): I have used bank-to-bank transfer to fund $25K last Wed. Can I do another transaction to charge $25K on my two credit cards to put $25 into Citi Ultimate Saving Account?

  34. You need to do the transfer over the phone, and on 1 credit card only. Only M/C and Visa. They say it’s a purchase, but what worries me is if the credit card I am using (B of A) says it’s not a purchase but a cash advance I am out 3% of 25k. I don’t know the answer to your third question.

  35. BTW – It works,as a purchase (i got my credit card statement)so in addition to getting the airline vouchers from Citi(hopefully I meet the criteria), I at least got 25,000 Royal Carribeban points worth $250.

  36. John Galt says:

    Ok, here’s a question for those that have done the funding with a credit card and gotten credit for a “purchase”…. could I do multiple “purchases” on a card. For example, fund $25k, then another $25k, and another? Essentially getting credit for $75k in purchases on a card? Or is it just the initial funding that gets treated as a purchase, for some reason.


  37. It worked! I just booked 2 tickets to Orlando from Houston. I went to close my account & take my money back to my original bank. It was worth the trouble.

  38. Glad to hear it, MR! I’m looking to redeem some soon as well.

  39. Thanks Jonathan for the tip. I funded mine with a cash back credit card, made a decent amount on the ultimate savings interest and got the 40,000+ thank you points last month. I requested some thankyou products instead of the airline tickets since I don’t travel much now, (which for some products came out to be cheaper than buying them at a store with the cash or gift card option) and they came 1 week later. I’m happy, glad I did it.

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