Step-By-Step: How to Use Citi Transfer Partners and Which Are the Best Options

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Step-By-Step: How to Use Citi Transfer Partners and Which Are the Best Options

Jason StaufferStep-By-Step: How to Use Citi Transfer Partners and Which Are the Best OptionsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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One of the best ways to increase the value of your flexible rewards is by transferring them travel partners for award flights and hotel stays.  And if you have the Citi Premier℠ Card or Citi Prestige® Card, you can transfer the points you earn to 16 Citi transfer partners.

Depending on how you like to use your miles and points, you can get terrific deals booking Business and First Class award seats worth thousands of dollars!

I’ll show you how to transfer Citi ThankYou points and highlight a few of the best airline transfer partners.  If you want more tips, tricks, and deals delivered to you every day, subscribe to our newsletter.

You can use the Citi ThankYou points transfer partners to book award flights to Hawaii

How to Transfer to Citi Transfer Partners

Currently, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to:

  • Avianca
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Citi ThankYou points transfer at a 1:1 ratio with all of the above partners in 1,000-point increments.  You can also transfer ThankYou points to Sears Shop Your Way points at a 1:12 ratio.

Note:  If you have a no-annual-fee ThankYou card, like the Citi Rewards+℠ Card, you are able to transfer your points to JetBlue.  But the ratio is reduced to 5:4 (1,000 ThankYou points = 800 JetBlue points).

1.   Sign-In to Your Citi ThankYou Account

Go to the Citi ThankYou website and click “Sign On.”

You can also log-in to your Citi credit card account and click through to the ThankYou site from there.

2.   Select Points Transfer

Hover your cursor over the “Travel” tab then click on “Points Transfer.”

3.   Choose Your Airline

Scroll down to select the airline you want, then click the “Transfer Now” button next to your desired transfer partner.

 

4.   Transfer Your Points

Enter the number of Citi ThankYou points you’d like to transfer (remember, it must be in 1,000-point increments).  Then you’ll be shown how many airline miles you’ll end up with and how many ThankYou points you’ll have left after the transfer.

On this page, you’ll also be able to fill in your name and airline frequent flyer number.  Accept the terms and conditions and click “Continue.”

Remember, once you transfer points to a partner, you can NOT transfer them back!  But you will have a chance to review the transfer one last time before the final confirmation.

Note:   Citi says it can take up to 14 days for points to transfer to your airline account.  But in my experience, it usually takes 1 to 2 days – or even less for most of the transfer partners.  Some are even instant, but others (Etihad) can take nearly a week to show up in your account.

5 Best Citi Transfer Partners

Some of Citi’s airline partners are much more useful than others.  Whether or not a particular airline is a good option for you will depend on where you’re trying to get to.  But here are 5 of the best options for booking awards to popular destinations, like Europe and Hawaii.

1.   Virgin Atlantic

When it comes to using Virgin Atlantic miles, you rarely want to book award flights on Virgin Atlantic.  The taxes and fees on award travel to the UK can be downright preposterous, sometimes costing as much as a cheap flight would.

That said, Virgin Atlantic has some very useful partners with which you can use their miles to book award flights.

The first is ANA and with them, you’ll be able to book killer deals from the US to Japan for:

You do have to book round-trip flights with ANA, but flying to Japan in Business Class for under 100,000 points is one of the best deals in the miles & points hobby.

Virgin Atlantic miles are also very useful for booking partner awards with Delta.  You can actually use Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta flights for way less than if you used Delta miles for the exact same seat.  For example, one-way Business Class flights from the US to Europe are only 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  Whereas Delta can easily charge 80,000 to 100,000 Delta miles for the same ticket!

The same goes for lots of domestic Delta flights.  You can book one-way non-stop domestic award flights on Delta for 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles.  And now that Delta has done away with their award chart, they can often cost much more than that.

The one caveat for using Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta flights is that Virgin Atlantic charges per segment.  So if you book a flight with connections, you’ll need more miles.

2.   Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has some of the nicest First Class seats in the world, but if you want to book an award ticket with them you’ll need Singapore Airlines miles because they don’t open those seats up to partner airlines.  The same goes for booking Singapore Airlines Business Class seats, which are very rarely (almost never) open to partner airlines.

So if you’re looking for a top-notch experience on a Singapore Airlines flight, you’ll need some Singapore Airlines miles.  And because Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance partner, you can use their miles to book award flights with a bunch of useful partners too.

Singapore Airlines miles can be especially useful if you’re trying to get to Hawaii.  You can book round-trip coach flights from the US mainland to Hawaii on partner United Airlines for only 35,000 miles.  That’s 10,000 fewer miles than United Airlines charges for the same seat.

Singapore Airlines miles are great for getting to Hawaii

Singapore Airlines also partners with Alaska Airlines (which isn’t a Star Alliance airline) and you can fly from the US West Coast to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines for only 24,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip.  It doesn’t get much cheaper than that!

3.   Flying Blue

Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France and KLM so it’s a great option for getting to Europe.

But not long ago they ditched their award chart and replaced it with an award calculator.  The calculator is a general guideline at best, but in reality award flights with Flying Blue tend to price out all over the place.  Sometimes you can even pay less by booking a longer trip.

Flying Blue has monthly Promo Awards, which can be a great option for visiting the Netherlands

It can be hard to make sense of the program, but there are deals to be found.  For example, there are monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards which feature discounts of 25% to 50% off select routes.  These sales often include Business Class and they can get you some of the cheapest Business Class flights to Europe you’ll find with miles & points.

In the past, Flying Blue has had awards sales with one-way coach flights for as little as 14,000 miles and one-way Business Class flights for 35,000 miles or less.  If you’re booking a Flying Blue award, be sure to pay attention to the fuel surcharges.  Alternatively, you could use Flying Blue miles to book Delta flights to Europe and avoid the fees altogether.

4.   Avianca

Avianca is a great loyalty program because they don’t add fuel surcharges to award flights.  Although they do have an annoying $25 award booking fee, even if you book online.

Avianca is a Star Alliance partner.  So you can use their miles to book flights to Europe on posh airlines, like Lufthansa, or domestic award flights on United Airlines.

You can use Avianca miles to book an award flight on Lufthansa because they are a Star Alliance partner

Here are a couple of sweet spots from Avianca’s award chart:

  • 87,000 miles one-way in First Class from the US to Europe
  • 63,000 miles one-way to Europe in Business Class
  • 25,000 miles one-way domestic Business Class transcontinental awards

Avianca breaks up the US into a few different zones, but if you happen to be flying within a single zone you can book a one-way flight for only 7,500 miles on United Airlines.  That’s far fewer miles than United Airlines charges.

5.   Limited-Time Transfer Bonuses

Citi has other good airline transfer partners too, like Etihad (although the long transfer times make this option a bit of a pain).  But one way to really get value from your Citi ThankYou points is to wait for a limited-time transfer bonus to show up.  As I’m writing this article, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Qantas with a 25% bonus.  So every 1,000 ThankYou points are worth 1,250 Qantas miles.

These bonuses can turn so-so transfer partners into great deals and make great transfer partners into absolute home runs.  For example, there was recently a 25% transfer bonus to Turkish Airlines.  That meant you could book one-way Business Class flights to Europe for only 36,000 ThankYou points.  And Turkish Airlines has monthly award sales, which you could stack with the transfer bonus for an even better deal.  In this particular case, it was possible to book one-way Business Class flights to Europe for only 26,000 ThankYou points.

In the past, there have been 30% transfer bonuses to both Virgin Atlantic and Flying Blue.  With a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, that same 50,000-mile one-way Business Class flight to Europe on Delta (the one I mentioned above) would only take 39,000 ThankYou points.

What If Award Seats Aren’t Available?

If you have the Citi Premier, you can redeem Citi ThankYou points toward paid travel (including airfare) through Citi’s Travel Portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.  And folks with the Citi Prestige can redeem Citi ThankYou points for paid airfare at a rate of 1.25 cents per point (until September 1, 2019, then 1 cent per point).

With the other ThankYou cards, your points are worth 1 cent each for the same purchases.

This is a good option if you’re not flexible with your travel dates, are booking last-minute flights, or don’t want to fuss with finding award seats.

Plus, there are no blackout dates and you’ll earn airline miles for your flight!

Other Ways to Redeem Citi ThankYou Points

Booking travel is the best way to get the most value for our your Citi ThankYou points.  But it’s not the only way to redeem them.

You can also use your Citi ThankYou points for:

  • Gift cards
  • Cash back
  • Shop with Points
  • Charitable contributions
  • Student loan or mortgage payment
  • Statement credits on eligible purchases
  • Online bill payment with points

You’ll typically want to ignore most of these options because you’ll mostly be getting less than 1 cent per point in value and, in comparison, you can redeem ThankYou points for at least 1 cent each toward through the Citi ThankYou site.

Depending on which card you have, you can redeem points for 1 cent each as cash back.  Cash back can be redeemed in $50 or $100 denominations and will be mailed to you as a check.

Don’t redeem your ThankYou points for a value of less than 1 cent each

Previously, your ThankYou points where only worth 1 cent each toward cash back if you had the Citi Prestige card, but I only have the Citi Rewards+℠ Card and I can still redeem my points for 1 cent each as cash back.  But other MMS staff are seeing a value of .5 cents per point for cash back with the Citi Premier.

Gift cards could also be a good option if they are on sale.  Sometimes Citi will discount select gift cards by 10% where normally, $25 gift cards can be purchased for only 2,500 points.

There are also occasional Shop with Points deals for Amazon purchases that are worthwhile.  Like this old deal for $15 off a $100 Amazon purchase.  If you want to get notified when these deals pop up, subscribe to our newsletter.

Bottom Line

In just 4 steps, you can transfer your Citi ThankYou points to one of Citi’s airline transfer partners.  But if you want access to all of the best Citi transfer partners, you’ll need either the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card.

If you don’t want to bother with finding award seats, you can use Citi ThankYou points to book paid travel through the Citi Travel Portal.  There are a bunch of other ways to redeem ThankYou points, too, but they usually aren’t as good of a deal.

Check out our other articles about Citi ThankYou points:

 

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Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 50,000 Points are redeemable for $625 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Kaushik Iyengar

I recently (3 weeks back) attempted to transfer Citi Thankyou points to Flying Blue and was denied. The latter no longer accepts Citi, only American Express points. Please verify and correct your article if this is indeed a policy change on the KLM-Air France end.