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Citi Now Allows Customers to Transfer ThankYou Points to Airline Partners

March 18, 2015
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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If you’re a Citi customer with a case of wanderlust, we have good news: Eligible Citi cards now offer the option to transfer ThankYou Points to select airline partners’ frequent flyer programs. Ready to learn more? The Nerds have all the details you need below.

The basics: Transferring Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners

Eligible Citi customers can transfer ThankYou Points to the following frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio (except where noted):

  • Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (with the Citi Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card, 1,000 ThankYou Points gets you 800 TrueBlue points, a 1.25-for-1 swap; with other cards, 1,000 ThankYou Points gets you 500 TrueBlue points, a 2-for-1 transfer)
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Qantas
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Virgin America Elevate® (1,000 ThankYou Points gets you 500 Elevate points, a 2-for-1 swap)

Nerd note: As of March 2015, you can also transfer your ThankYou Points to the Hilton HHonors loyalty program; 1,000 ThankYou Points will get you 1,500 HHonors points.

Transferring to partners can be done easily online or over the phone and there’s no fee involved, but keep in mind the minimum number of ThankYou Points you can transfer is 1,000. Also, ThankYou Points have to be transferred in increments of 1,000.

How does Citi’s new program stack up to the competition?

Allowing customers to transfer ThankYou Points to travel partners is a nice option, but how does it stack up to similar options offered by industry heavyweights? Let’s take a look:

ThankYou Rewards versus Chase Ultimate Rewards — Select credit cards from Chase, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, allow customers to earn Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to participating travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. These partners include:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Iberia
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Marriott Rewards
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Generally, the Nerds favor the Ultimate Rewards travel transfer program over that of ThankYou Rewards. The reason for this is twofold: First, Ultimate Rewards offers a good mix of options between airline and hotel transfers. Second, Ultimate Rewards allows transfers to popular domestic carriers (Southwest, United), which ThankYou Rewards doesn’t. In short, it’s likely that most people will get greater use out of Chase credit cards travel partners.

ThankYou Rewards versus Membership Rewards — If you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards, you have 17 airline and 4 hotel partners you can transfer your points to, as of March 2015. Your options include:

  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • MilleMiglia Club
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue
  • El Al Israel
  • British Airways
  • Virgin America Elevate
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Best Western Rewards
  • Choice Privileges
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Hilton HHonors

Although Membership Rewards has a greater number and diversity of travel partners than ThankYou Rewards, it’s important to remember that not all transfers occur at a 1:1 ratio.

ThankYou Rewards versus Starwood Preferred Guest — If you’re looking for a large number of transfer partners, the Starwood Preferred Guest program bests ThankYou Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards. If you have a credit card that earns Starpoints, you’ll be able to transfer them to over 30 different frequent flyer programs, including most of the partners offered by ThankYou Rewards. Plus, you have the option of redeeming them at any hotel in the Starwood Preferred Guest network. Again, though, not all points transfers to airline partners occur at a 1:1 ratio, so this is something to watch out for.

Should you consider a Citi card that offers transfers to airline partners?

Providing select Citi customers with the option to transfer ThankYou Points to travel partners is definitely an exciting development. It’s always good to have additional choices in how points can be redeemed, and experienced travel hackers could squeeze a lot of value out of their ThankYou Points by being strategic about which partners they’re transferring to. If your spending aligns with the rewards structure of one of the Citi cards that offers travel transfers and you frequently fly with the available partners, we say go for it.

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