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Citi’s ThankYou rewards program doesn’t always get the same level of recognition as competitors like Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards. But, Citi has steadily been adding new airline and hotel transfer partners to give its loyal customers plenty of options for points redemption. Now, you can transfer ThankYou Points to one of 18 airline and hotel programs. These partnerships unlock all types of excellent redemption possibilities. Here are seven of the best ways to use Citi ThankYou points.
» Learn more: The Best Citi ThankYou partners — and ones to avoid
1. Turkish Airlines for domestic awards on United
Hands down, one of the best uses for Citi ThankYou points is for domestic travel on United Airlines. You can fly anywhere in North America for 7,500 miles each way in economy or 12,500 miles one way in business class. That includes lie-flat business class seats from coast to coast and even for flights to Hawaii.
Since United ditched its award chart, award redemptions vary by the day. While you might find a deal, United is likely to charge a higher rate than Turkish's bargain-basement prices. For example, United is currently charging 8,700 miles for economy and 35,000 miles for business class from San Francisco to New York-JFK. That means Turkish is charging around one-third of the mileage price United is charging for the same business class award.
The downside is that Turkish Airlines doesn't show all of United's award availability on its website. So, you may need to call Miles & Smiles and work with an agent to book these incredible awards.
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Turkish Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each.
2. JetBlue for reliably good redemption rates
JetBlue award redemption rates are tied to the cost of airfare. So you don't have to worry about searching for a good deal. Instead, you're sure to get a good redemption rate each time you use your TrueBlue points. In NerdWallet testing, we found JetBlue TrueBlue points are worth around 1.5 cents each for economy redemptions.
By taking advantage of cheap airfares, you can book some cheap awards. For example, we were able to find round-trip award flights between New York and Dallas for just 8,400 points plus $11.20 in taxes and fees. That's cheaper than you're going to find in most airline award charts.
These types of bargain redemptions are what make JetBlue one of the best Citi ThankYou transfer options.
» Learn more: Citi Premier review: Potentially lucrative for travelers
3. Turkish Airlines for business class to Europe or beyond
Another excellent sweet spot of the Turkish Airlines award chart is cheap business class awards to Europe. You'll pay 45,000 Miles & Smiles miles each way to fly between North America and Europe (including Turkey). That's one of the cheapest business class awards to Europe.
The sweet spots don't end there. You can book awards through Turkish Airlines to the Middle East for 34,000 miles each way in economy or 47,000 miles in business class. Or fly all the way to India — or another part of the Central Asia region — for 34,000 miles in economy or 52,500 miles in business class. That's an absolutely incredible rate for flying up to 20 hours in business class.
These incredible redemption rates are valid on any Star Alliance partner. However, to keep your out-of-pocket costs low, stick to flights on United or Turkish airlines.
4. Avianca LifeMiles for low fees on expensive awards
Avianca LifeMiles has established itself as the go-to program for easy-to-accumulate miles, great redemption rates and low out-of-pocket costs. Avianca is a Star Alliance member, and you can fly some terrific airlines in premium cabins at lower rates than other programs charge.
For example, a one-way award flight from the U.S. east coast to Western Europe costs as few as 20,000 LifeMiles in economy or 60,000 LifeMiles in business class.
Or book premium cabin awards on airlines like Lufthansa or Austrian for affordable rates and minimal out-of-pocket costs. For example, LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles plus less than $50 in taxes and fees to fly Lufthansa's business class between New York and Frankfurt.
If you book the same award through other programs — such as Turkish Miles & Smiles — you'll pay over $700 in taxes and fees each way.
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Avianca LifeMiles at 1.2 cents each.
» Learn more: Citi ThankYou Points: How to earn and use them
5. Etihad Guest for flights to Casablanca or Brussels
The Etihad Guest mileage program is renowned for its eclectic sweet spots. On relevant routes, you can't beat Etihad's incredible redemption rates. However, Etihad Guest isn't the easiest program to work with. Each partner airline has its own award chart, and you need to call to book awards.
Two excellent Etihad Guest redemption options are found on Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines. You can fly between the U.S. and either Casablanca or Brussels, respectively, for as few as 22,000 miles each way in economy or 44,000 miles each way in business class.
However, you'll need to fly nonstop to get these rates. Royal Air Maroc currently operates flights between Casablanca and four North American destinations:
Etihad Guest's award chart for Brussels Airlines lists awards to three North American destinations:
All three of these routes cost 27,000 miles each way in economy or 44,000 miles each way in business class.
6. Qatar Qmiles for Qsuite awards to Doha or beyond
Not too long ago, the Qatar Privilege Club was an easily forgettable program with high fees and redemption rates. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar has made several positive changes to its program. Now, Qatar is a valuable Citi ThankYou Points transfer partner — particularly for booking flights on Qatar Airways.
Flights between the U.S. and Doha cost 35,000 Qmiles each way in economy or 70,000 Qmiles in Qatar's incredible Qsuite business class product. With award booking fees eliminated, you'll now pay under $30 in taxes and fees.
You can also get a deal on awards connecting onward through Doha to Asia. Fly from the U.S. to India for 40,000 Qmiles each way in economy or 80,000 Qmiles in business class. Or head to the Maldives in Qsuite for 85,000 Qmiles each way. In both cases, you'll pay under $40 in taxes and fees.
» Learn more: 5 sweet spots of Qatar’s newly revalued Qmiles program
7. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for Delta flights
Virgin Atlantic isn't part of a major airline alliance. Like Etihad, Virgin partners with a variety of airlines. The most relevant for U.S.-based travelers is Virgin Atlantic's partnership with Delta Air Lines.
Many sweet spots of the Virgin-Delta partnership were slashed in early 2021. However, some sweet spots can still be found. In the new distance-based award chart, Delta flights between 501 and 1,000 miles in length cost 8,500 points each way. While that might not sound far, that distance covers routes from Atlanta to the Bahamas or Cancun.
Virgin Atlantic also kept one of the best sweet spots in the Delta award chart. You can fly Delta to Europe (excluding the U.K.) for 30,000 points each way in economy or 50,000 points each way in business class. That's an incredible deal considering Delta can charge 300,000 SkyMiles or more for the same business class seat.
Speaking of Europe, Virgin Atlantic charges high taxes and fees on its own flights, but there's still some value to be found. For example, you can fly one way between New York and London for 10,000 points and $150 cash. Plus, availability is generally wide open — especially during off-peak times.
Departing from the West Coast? Flying between San Francisco and London costs 15,000 points each way. Although it would be nicer to pay less than $150 out of pocket, you really can’t beat these points rates.
If you're looking for the best way to use Citi ThankYou Points
At first glance, Citi's ThankYou Points partners may not seem that exciting. JetBlue is the only U.S. airline that currently partners with Citi, and you may not be familiar with the rest of the 15 airline partners. However, the eclectic list offers plenty of potential.
In this article, we've highlighted just some of the best ways to redeem Citi ThankYou Points — from 7,500-mile awards to Hawaii to 45,000-mile business class awards to Europe. But, the best redemption for you might lie with another one of Citi's transfer partners. That's why we created the airline point transfers and partner award booking tool. Select "Citi ThankYou Points," then your destination for a curated list of the best sweet spots to where you want to go.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card