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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 ThankYou points to Citi’s travel partners. Depending on how you like to use travel credit cards and your miles and points, you can get terrific deals booking award seats in business and first class worth thousands of dollars. Now, Emirates Airline is one of those Citi transfer partners.
You can now convert Citi ThankYou points into Emirates Skywards miles at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000 points. Emirates has one of the best first-class cabins in the world, but for the most part, the loyalty program isn’t particularly lucrative.
I’ll show you how to transfer 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.
Information for the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier cards has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets and has not been reviewed by the card issuer.
How to transfer to Citi transfer partners
Currently, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to:
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
- EVA Air
- Etihad Guest
- Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- 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. If you have a no-annual-fee 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). The information for the Citi Rewards+ card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Sign-in to your Citi ThankYou account
Go to the Citi ThankYou website and click “Sign On.”
You can also log into your Citibank credit card account and click through to the ThankYou site from there.
Select points transfer
Hover your cursor over the “More Ways to Redeem” tab, then click on “Points Transfer.”
Choose your airline
Scroll down to select the airline you want, then click the “Transfer Now” button next to your desired transfer partner.
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 before the final confirmation.
Citi says it can take up to 14 days for points to transfer to your airline account, but in my experience, it usually takes a couple of days, sometimes 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.
Best Citi ThankYou 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 five of the best ways to use Citi ThankYou points for booking awards to popular destinations, like Europe and Hawaii.
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 U.K. can be downright preposterous, sometimes costing as much as a cheap flight would cost. Virgin Atlantic has some useful partners for booking award flights using Virgin Atlantic miles. With transfer partner ANA, 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 and 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 U.S. 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 many 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 its award chart, it often costs 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.
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 U.S. 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 also partners with Alaska Airlines (which isn’t a Star Alliance airline) and you can fly from the West Coast to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines for only 24,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip.
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. 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.
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 and 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, pay attention to the fuel surcharges. Alternatively, you could use Flying Blue miles to book Delta flights to Europe and avoid the fees altogether.
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.
Here are a couple of sweet spots from Avianca’s award chart:
- 87,000 miles one-way in first-class from the U.S. to Europe
- 63,000 miles one-way to Europe in business class
- 25,000 miles one-way for domestic business class transcontinental awards
Avianca breaks up the U.S. 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.
Turkish Airlines might not be the first partner you’d consider transferring to, but as a Star Alliance partner you have access to a bunch of great airlines and some of the prices are downright incredible. For example, you can book flights to Hawaii on United Airlines for only 7,500 miles one-way (15,000 miles round-trip) in economy or 12,500 miles one-way in business class. You could also book a Star Alliance business-class award from the U.S. to Europe in business class for only 45,000 miles.
Turkish Airlines also has semi-regular award sales, which can make these deals even better. The biggest downside to using Turkish Airlines is that the booking process isn’t the easiest. If you’re booking a Turkish Airlines-operated flight you can easily do it online, but if you’re searching for Star Alliance flights through Turkish Airlines you won’t always get accurate results. So it’s a good idea to search for Star Alliance flights somewhere else (like the United Airlines site) and then call in (800-874-8875) to book.
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 (through April 10, 2021, then it’s dropping to 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 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, by comparison, you can redeem ThankYou points for at least 1 cent each 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.
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 discounts select gift cards by 10% where normally, $25 gift cards can be purchased for only 2,500 points.
In just four 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.
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