The best award flights to book with Citi ThankYou’s Avianca transfer bonus

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The only thing better than flexible points programs is when banks offer transfer bonuses to lucrative partners. And hopefully, you’ve had a chance to earn and save some points during the last few months, because now is the time (in my opinion) to start booking 2021 travel.

For folks looking to stretch their points a bit further, Citi has recently introduced a generous 25% bonus for all transfers from its ThankYou points program to Avianca Lifemiles.

Citi’s 25% transfer bonus to Avianca Lifemiles

Lifemiles is offering a 25% boost in miles on any transfer from ThankYou points to Lifemiles made between Aug. 17, 2020 and Sept. 18, 2020. For every 1000 ThankYou points you transfer, you’ll end up with 1250 Lifemiles.

Transfer bonuses like these are easy to take advantage of and instantly boost the value of your points. Simply navigate to and log in to your Citi account. Then look under “More Ways to Redeem” for “Points Transfer” and scroll down until you see Avianca Lifemiles. 

Note: The 25% transfer bonus is not displayed on the Citi ThankYou website, but is clearly outlined on the Lifemiles website. Reports also confirm that the additional points are showing up in Lifemiles accounts after the transfer has been made, even though doesn’t show the promotion.

Transfers from ThankYou points to Avianca Lifemiles are typically instant, which is a nice benefit for folks who want to book award flights right away. Keep in mind that transfers from Citi ThankYou to Lifemiles are not reversible. Fortunately, Avianca is being more generous than usual with award cancellation and change fees in light of COVID-19.

For example, any booking made before August 31st, 2020 can be changed once without penalty so long as you travel before December 31st, 2020. After August 31st, you will likely be subject to the standard Lifemiles change and cancellation fees, which are relatively generous to begin with (don’t count on it, but it’s possible Lifemiles will extend change and cancellations waivers like other airlines). For more information, check out the Lifemiles website and discover how Avianca is working to support passengers during Covid-19.

If you don’t have any ThankYou points, you can earn them through spending and welcome bonuses on select Citi credit cards. The ThankYou program offers a handful of transfer bonuses throughout the year, so while you may not be able to take advantage of this one if you currently don’t have any points, you’ll hopefully catch the next deal.

Finally, keep in mind that Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. However, Lifemiles is a separate company and you can still redeem miles as normal. While there’s little risk Lifemiles or Avianca will disappear, you should probably only transfer ThankYou points to Lifemiles if you have a specific booking in mind.

Best awards to book through Avianca Lifemiles

With the transfer bonus in mind, we couldn’t help but remind you of some of our favorite award flights bookable through Avianca Lifemiles. Lifemiles is an attractive award program even if you aren’t flying on Avianca since it allows you to book flights at competitive rates on all Star Alliance airlines (think Lufthansa, United, ANA, Ethiopian and more) and doesn’t tack on any fuel surcharges.

Business or first class between North America and Europe:

Typically, first class from the US to Europe (on Lufthansa, for example) would cost 87,000 LifeMiles. During this transfer bonus, you can have lie-flat luxury in the sky for just 69,600 ThankYou points each way (you’ll need to transfer 70,000 points since you can only transfer increments of 1000). And unlike booking through Air Canada’s Aeroplan which has great rates for first class awards to Europe, there will be no added fuel surcharges!

Business class typically costs 63,000 Lifemiles each way, which is only 51,000 ThankYou points when transferred with the bonus.

Just note it can be tough to book Lufthansa first class since the airline only releases first awards to partners 15 days before departure.

Lufthansa first class from the US to Europe will only require 70,000 ThankYou points when transferred to Lifemiles with the bonus. (Photo by Zach Griff)

Domestic economy and first class flights

If you’re more practical than aspirational, you can also fly short-haul on United for just a few thousand points. For example, a quick flight from LAX to San Francisco (or anywhere else in the Bay area) costs just 7,500 Lifemiles or 6,000 ThankYou points with the transfer bonus. You can also fly between any two points on the East Coast in economy for the same price.

Transcontinental business class on United typically costs 25,000 Lifemiles–which is a great deal. Now you can enjoy the lie-flat premium service for just 20,000 ThankYou points! Note that transferring to Turkish from Citi is an even better deal, you need just 12,500 Turkish miles to fly United first class anywhere in the U.S.

First class to Asia

First class to North Asia is tough to beat, especially for just 90,000 Lifemiles. A one-way flight from Los Angeles or New York to Tokyo in Air China, Asiana, ANA First class would cost you just 72,000 Lifemiles with the current transfer bonus. This would be quite luxurious, but you deserve a splurge after so many months at home!

ANA’s new first class is bookable with Lifemiles, and even cheaper with the recent transfer bonus. (Image couretsy of ANA)

U.S. to Central America and South America in economy or business

Given that Avianca is a Colombian airline, we would be remiss not to encourage you to visit South America for just 20,000 Lifemiles in economy or 40,000 miles in business class (this assumes a New York departure, as prices vary slightly from other US origin cities). If you’re lucky enough to score business Class on Avianca’s Boeing 787 from JFK to Bogota, Columbia, for example, you can have lie-flat luxury for almost 6 hours for just 32,000 ThankYou points one way.

Flights to Central America are even cheaper: New York to Costa Rica in business would cost 36,000 Lifemiles or 29,000 ThankYou points with the bonus. Economy on the same route would require 18,000 Lifemiles or 15,000 ThankYou points.

Bottom line

I personally will be transferring some ThankYou points to Lifemiles as my family is already making some speculative travel bookings for 2021. We even had a European adventure get canceled that we’ll now rebook with ThankYou points transferred to Lifemiles–making this a perfectly timed promotion. Read our guide on the reasons why booking 2021 award travel is quite enticing.

Keep in mind that Avianca offers generally favorable cancellation/change policies which are even better for travel booked by Aug. 31 for any time in 2020. If you’ve been pondering future travel, it could be worth leveraging this bonus to maximize your upcoming adventures.

Jake Pearring is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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