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 actually offers a solid credit card lineup and valuable transfer partners. To demonstrate, here are some of the best redemptions you can make with Citi ThankYou points.
Turkish Airlines for domestic awards
Hands down, one of the best uses for Citi ThankYou points is for domestic travel on United. For example, Turkish Airlines’ award chart prices round-trip flights within the U.S. and to Hawaii at just 15,000 miles round-trip. If you booked on United, the same flight would set you back 45,000 miles round-trip, or 22,500 miles if you can find saver availability. And when dynamic pricing goes into effect on Nov. 15, this could get even more expensive. We say save your points and book with Turkish.
Jetblue for a better flying experience
JetBlue offers one of the most pleasant economy class experiences on domestic flights. And their award redemption rates depend on the cost of airfare, so you can find some really incredible deals if you’re flexible and book in advance.
For example, we were able to find transcontinental flights between San Francisco and New York in November for just 14,200 points and $11.20. Consider the mike dropped.
These types of bargain redemptions are what makes JetBlue one of the best Citi ThankYou transfer options.
Through Oct. 19, 2019, Citi is offering 25% bonus points on JetBlue transfers for holders of the American Express Chairman, Citi Prestige® Card and Citi Premier℠ Card. That means every 1,000 points transferred gets you 1,250 TrueBlue points in return.
» Learn more: Citi Premier review: Potentially lucrative for travelers
Cathay Pacific Asia miles
Transferring Citi ThankYou points to Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is a great option for booking business class awards to Europe. You can fly partner airlines like Iberia and American Airlines for as few as 90,000 miles round-trip in business class.
This fare is valid for flight distances of 4,001-7,500 miles, which means flights between New York and Madrid, for example, qualify for this rate. This works out cheaper than redeeming American AAdvantage miles, which would require 115,000 miles for the same award.
Avianca Lifemiles to Europe
You’ve gotta love Avianca Lifemiles. The program put itself on the map with frequent point sales that made flying in premium cabins super affordable.
Nowadays, Lifemiles retains its popularity thanks to fair redemption rates and a partnership with the Citi ThankYou program. Avianca is a Star Alliance member, so you can fly some terrific airlines in premium cabins at lower rates than United charges.
For example, a one-way economy class flight to Europe costs just 25,500 miles. The same award booked via Star Alliance partner United currently requires 30,000 miles — or 70,000 if you can’t find saver availability.
Another great feature of the Lifemiles program is that they won’t price gouge mixed-cabin award tickets like some other airlines. Consider Alaska Airlines, for example: If they pull up an award that consists of economy class most of the way and then business class on a shorter segment, the entire award will price out as business class. Even though you’re only flying in business class for a brief portion of the itinerary, you’ll pay the same number of miles as if you were flying business all the way.
Avianca Lifemiles doesn’t do that; segments are priced out based on the cabin you’re actually booking. In this example, Lifemiles will price out the San Francisco to Frankfurt economy award at 29,060 miles, and the Frankfurt to Munich segment in business class at 2,000 miles.
That’s a very fair pricing structure that unfortunately not every airline employs. It works out great during those times when you’re not flexible with your travel dates but are willing to pay a little more (or fly a different cabin) part of the way.
» Learn more: The silliness of using airline miles to get to Europe
Etihad miles to Morocco
Etihad’s Royal Air Maroc award was one of the best sweet spots until it was devalued recently. Up until a couple of weeks ago, you could book a one-way Royal Air Maroc business class seat to the Middle East or Africa for just 44,000 Etihad miles. Economy class awards were even cheaper at 22,000 miles. You would simply fly from the U.S. to Casablanca and then on to whatever destination the airline flew from there. Unfortunately, Etihad put a stop to that by pricing awards by the distance per segment rather than the entire itinerary.
In a way, that’s not the worst news — it means you can still at least fly from the U.S. to Casablanca for those prices (assuming it’s a direct flight). To give you a comparison, American Airlines charges 40,000 miles for a one-way economy class award to Africa; business class awards cost 75,000 miles each way. You’re much better off transferring your Citi ThankYou points to Etihad for flights to North Africa.
Flying Blue to Tel Aviv
Air France and KLM’s joint program, Flying Blue, is a terrific Citi ThankYou transfer partner. For starters, the program has monthly Promo Rewards that offer up to 50% off award redemption rates.
Second, Flying Blue sweet spots make Citi Thankyou transfers worthwhile. The program’s prices for flights between the East Coast and Israel are particularly noteworthy: 25,000 miles one-way in economy class and 53,000 miles in business class.
Compare those rates to programs like United, which requires 42,500 miles each way in economy and 75,000 in business class to the Middle East (if you can find saver availability). Flying Blue’s rates are a downright bargain.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is totally underrated as a rewards program. Yes, they impose high fuel surcharges on some of their awards, and premium international flights can cost a fortune. But there are sweet spots to be found.
For example, you can fly one-way between New York and London for just 10,000 miles and $149 cash. The return segment will incur higher taxes, but it can still be a terrific deal if you’re traveling during peak times.
Departing from the West Coast? Flying between San Francisco and London costs just 15,000 miles. As rough as transatlantic flights in coach can be, you really can’t beat these fares.
Considering that legacy carriers like American Airlines charge 12,500 miles for a one-way domestic flight (and upwards of 30,000 to get to Europe), using 10,000-15,000 miles for a flight to London is a bargain. Thanks to Citi ThankYou’s partnership with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, these redemptions are as attainable as ever.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Citi ThankYou points: How to earn and use them
One travel hacker’s favorite sweet-spot redemptions