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Citi ThankYou points are surprisingly valuable – especially if you have a few good uses in mind. With only 1 domestic airline transfer partner, it can seem those uses are few and far between. Not so!
I’ll share 10 of the best ways to use Citi ThankYou points to get the biggest return and most travel. You can visit more of the US, Mexico, Hawaii, and Europe – and pay pennies on the dollar for it! And these awards aren’t just for one or two routes. I use them over and over to save money all the time.
With bonus categories and big sign-up bonuses, you’ll be planning your next award trip in no time – and will save money doing it!
Let’s get to it!
10 Best Ways to use Citi ThankYou Points
Step-By-Step: How to Use Citi Transfer Partners And Which Are the Best Options
You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to these airlines at a 1:1 ratio:
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
- EVA Air
- Etihad Guest
- Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
- Garuda Indonesia
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
And only 1 of them is US-based (JetBlue). The others hold keys to every major airline alliance and other partnerships – each with their own sweet spots – that can take you literally around the world.
The possibilities are limitless, but I’ve curated my top 10 ways to redeem Citi ThankYou points.
1. Short American Airlines Flights Within the US for 8,000 Points (Qantas)
Before jet-setting out of the country, lots of folks want to see loved ones right here at home.
When you transfer 16,000 Citi ThankYou points to Qantas, you can use them for round-trip coach American Airlines flights under 600 miles – and that includes connections.
As long as your flight segments add up to a number less than 600 miles, you can book this award. That’s extremely helpful if you live near a smaller airport, and have to make a connection.
Even better, there’s no up-charge if your flight is international, like Miami to the Bahamas, or New York to Toronto.
I use this trick constantly to visit family and friends who are far by car but an hour or two away with a quick flight!
2. United Airlines Flights Within the US for 10,000 Points or Less (Avianca)
Avianca is a South American airline who’s part of the Star Alliance, like United Airlines. And their US award chart is…interesting.
Their program, LifeMiles, breaks the US into 3 zones. Roughly it’s Western, Central, and Eastern US – although there are a few exceptions.
For example, you can fly:
- Within the same zone for 7,500 Avianca miles each way in United Airlines coach
- Between US Zone 1 to US Zone 2 for 10,000 Avianca miles each way in United Airlines coach
- Between US Zone 1 or 2 to Zone 3 for 12,5000 Avianca miles each way in United Airlines coach
Here’s how the zones are laid out:
In many cases, you’ll pay less than United Airlines charges for their own award flights. And if you go across entire zones, like Montana to Florida or Texas to Maine, that’s a lot of flying for not a lot of points!
This opens up tons of opportunities for cheap travel – especially if you’re flying within the same zone.
3. Delta Flights for Cheaper, Save as Much as 10s of 1,000s! (Virgin Atlantic)
Before you book that Delta award flight, see if you can get it cheaper with Virgin Atlantic miles. Yes, really!
This trick works domestically and internationally, and for coach, Business, and First Class flights. It’s as easy as comparing prices.
For example, I found non-stop coach flights from Memphis to New York for 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles. Delta is charging 15,500 miles for the same flights.
That’s not a lot, but saving 3,000 miles per ticket is a nice savings, especially if you want to book multiple seats.
And other times, you can pay 50+% fewer miles!
I found flights from New York to Seattle in First Class for 112,000 Delta miles one-way. No thanks!
But these same flights cost 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. That’s a gigantic savings for the exact same seats! The cash price is $1,200+, so this is a sweet deal.
You’ll find similar great value for flying internationally.
For example, Delta is asking 105,000 miles for non-stop First Class flights from Detroit to Amsterdam. But you can book it for 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles instead.
100,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a round-trip First Class ticket to Europe is an excellent price.
Just note, Delta is stingy with their low-level award space. So don’t expect every date to be open. But it’s always worth checking, because you might get lucky and save a whole bunch of miles!
4. International SkyTeam Coach Flights for Cheaper Than Delta Charges (Flying Blue)
I wanted to see how much Delta charged to fly from New York to Amsterdam non-stop in coach, and found the cheapest flight was 44,000 Delta miles.
But then found non-stop flights on the same day for 22,000 Flying Blue miles. Again, this is half of what Delta wants, so it’s no contest. And goes to show the value in shopping around to get the best price on the routes you want.
5. Cheap Flights to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines or United Airlines (Singapore Airlines)
Using Singapore Airlines miles unlocks 2 valuable ways to get to Hawaii on either Alaska Airlines or United Airlines. And whichever way you choose, you’ll pay fewer miles than United Airlines charges for their own flights to the Hawaiian islands!
You can fly from anywhere in the US to Hawaii for 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip in coach.
And with Alaska Airlines, you can fly from the West Coast to Hawaii for 12,000 Singapore Airlines miles one-way in coach!
6. United Airlines Flights for the Same Price in Coach, or Cheaper in Business and First Class (Singapore Airlines)
If you want to save your United Airlines miles, or don’t have any, you can access United Airlines award seats using Singapore Airlines miles. To fly in coach around North America, you’ll pay the same price each way that United Airlines charges (12,500 Singapore Airlines miles).
And if you want to fly Business or First Class, you’re actually better off using Singapore Airlines miles because they only charge 20,000 miles each way in Business Class and 30,000 miles each way in First Class. On round-trip flights, you’ll pay 10,000 fewer miles than if you booked with United Airlines miles.
7. American Airlines Business Class Flights to Europe or Japan for 50,000 Points (Etihad)
When you transfer your Citi ThankYou points to Etihad, you can access incredible deals on American Airlines, like flying Business Class from North America to:
- Europe for 50,000 Etihad miles each way
- Japan for 50,000 Etihad miles each way
That’s pretty crazy!
Just keep in mind, transfers to Etihad can take about a week, so it’s best to transfer as soon as you find a seat – and be prepared for it to disappear. But if there are plenty of seats open on the flight you want, you might feel comfortable going this route. I’ve personally done it a few times, and yes, I was nervous about losing the award. But each time, it’s worked.
8. Flying Blue Promo Awards (Flying Blue)
Each month, Flying Blue reveals new discounts on flights between city pairs, starting at 20% and going up to 50% off the normal prices.
If you can find a route where it works, you can end up with an excellent deal for flights all over the world.
I’ve booked a couple of these awards when there have been Business Class flights from the US on sale.
If nothing suits you this month, check back next month when there’s something new! There are usually lots of seats to book when the discounts begin.
9. Cheap Delta Flights to Mexico (Flying Blue)
Flying Blue prices award flights to Mexico the same as within the US. This means you can fly from anywhere in North America to Mexico on Delta for super cheap!
For example, I found flights from Chicago and Toronto to Cancun for only 14,500 Flying Blue miles each way in coach. That’s a substantial savings over using other airline programs. And you can preserve your Delta miles by using Citi ThankYou points instead.
10. Book Hotels Directly Through Citi (No Points Transfer Required)
This might not seem like a great deal at first glance. Because when you book this way, you won’t earn elite status credit and may not even have your elite status perks recognized. But it can make sense when you find a great deal and award prices are high, especially at hotels where you’re not concerned with earning credit for the stay.
For example, I’ve seen hotels asking 50,000 points per night when the cash rate is ~$200. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might consider using Citi ThankYou points instead of paying cash. In this case, you’d pay:
- 20,000 Citi ThankYou points per night if you have Citi Prestige (points are worth 1.25 cents each for airfare until September 1, 2019, but 1 cent each for other travel)
- 16,000 Citi ThankYou points per night if you have the Citi Premier℠ Card (points are worth 1.25 cents each for all travel)
In each case, you pay far fewer points than if you used hotel points. Save them for the cash rates are expensive!
Even better, if you have Citi Prestige, you can still get the 4th night free on your award stay – and the discount is automatically applied. That makes the deal even better – save points AND cash. Plus, if you have the Citi Rewards+℠ Card and combine your accounts, you’ll get 10% of your redeemed Citi ThankYou points back (on up to 100,000 points per year). Win-win!
The 10 best ways to redeem your Citi ThankYou points are:
- Short flights on American Airlines for 8,000 Qantas miles
- United Airlines flights for 7,500 or 10,000 Avianca miles
- Cheap Delta flights, including Business Class seats to Europe for 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles
- Savings on Delta flights with Flying Blue miles
- Coach flights to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines or United Airlines for 12,000 or 17,500 Singapore Airlines miles
- United Airlines coach seats for the same cost, and discounts on Business and First Class tickets with Singapore Airlines miles
- American Airlines Business Class flights to Europe or Japan for 50,000 Etihad miles
- Discounts up to 50% off Air France and KLM flights with Flying Blue miles
- Delta flights to Mexico at no up-charge with Flying Blue miles
- Hotel stays booked through Citi with Citi ThankYou points
Of course, there are many other ways to use Citi ThankYou points to save on certain routes. But the awards listed above are the most versatile, so you can turn to them often to save on your award travels. And they’re an excellent way for beginners to realize the true value of Citi ThankYou points.
I’ve booked most of these awards, and can say if you use even 1 or 2 of them enough, you really can unlock the freedom to travel more cheaply nearly every time.
Do you agree with my list? What’s your favorite way to redeem your Citi ThankYou points?
Check out our other articles about Citi ThankYou points:
- Citi ThankYou Points Review
- Citi ThankYou Points Value
- Best Ways to Use Citi ThankYou Points
- Citi Transfer Partners
- How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points
- How to Setup a Citi ThankYou Points Account
- How to Use Citi ThankYou Points
- Do Citi ThankYou Points Expire?