Citi will broaden rewards programs by year’s end

One of the nation's top credit card lenders recently revealed that it would be expanding its rewards programs significantly by the end of the year in an effort to court more borrowers with better deals and redemption options.

Citi recently reached a partnership with the ticket website Live Nation, which will allow users of its ThankYou rewards program to redeem the points they've accrued through their card use for seats to concerts and other events, according to a report from MarketWatch. Through the program, users will be given the option of paying with their points, either in full or in part, upon checkout from the standard Live Nation site. Those who do not have enough points available to purchase the tickets they want in full will still be able to complete the transaction using their Citi-branded debit or credit card.

Ralph Andretta, head of co-brands and loyalty for credit cards at Citi, revealed the new partnership is part of the lender's efforts to make rewards redemption a smoother process, though he declined to show exactly how much consumers' accrued rewards points would be worth through the Live Nation agreement, the report said. Andretta also expects the company to complete a number of similar deals with other companies by the end of the year.

Changes reflect new consumer attitudes toward point redemption
Since the end of the recession, many consumers have specifically sought out rewards credit card accounts as a means of incentivizing their own purchases, the report said. Many see rewards points, miles or cash back as "free money" that helps them increase the overall value of the card they carry, and as such, major lenders are scrambling to provide greater rewards redemption options to attract users.

"The average consumer … has anywhere from three to four cards in their wallets," Scott Strumello, a payments consultant with Auriemma Consulting Group, told the news site. "The question is which one do they reach for when they're going to make a purchase. If you can get their card to be top of wallet, that's all part of the engagement strategy."

The type of benefits Citi now offers in its Live Nation partnership are known as "real-time rewards," because they allow consumers to use them at any time, the report said. In the past, many consumers had expressed frustration or a lack of comprehension about how they could redeem the points or miles they earned when using their rewards cards, which may have led many to see their points expire without being used. Competition among rewards credit card lenders is expected to grow fiercer in the near future as more attempt to partner with companies to offer better real-time redemption options.

Consumers who want to qualify for the best possible credit card accounts should first take the time to check their credit reports. In some cases, these documents can contain unfair markings that have a negative impact on borrowers' credit standings.