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American Airlines, the world’s largest air carrier, is notably missing a points transfer partner. The other legacy airlines, Delta and United Airlines, allow 1:1 instant transfers from AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, respectively.
For American Airlines, the obvious bank program to pair with is Citi ThankYou points – because Citi is their primary card issuer with these cards:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Plus, Citi ThankYou only has 1 domestic travel partner (JetBlue).
To come in line with other bank points currencies, Citi needs American Airlines as a transfer partner. And the transfers need to be 1:1 and instant from Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier℠ Card.
What’s the holdup?
Citi would crush it with ThankYou points if they’d add American Airlines!
Citi ThankYou + American Airlines Makes Sense and Needs to Happen Yesterday
Of the 3 main transferable points program, I rank Citi ThankYou points as a distant 3rd place. No question.
The points are incredibly easy to earn, but there are a couple of sticking points.
First, no hotel partners. AMEX has Choice, Hilton (which is actually good when there are transfer bonuses), and Marriott. Chase has Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott.
It’s because Citi doesn’t issue any hotel cards. Losing Hilton cards must’ve stung for them.
Second, their only domestic airline partner is JetBlue. Which is fine but…the limited network and dynamic pricing are hard to work with.
For example, there are only 5 nonstop routes from Austin. And just 1 from Dallas (to Boston). Plus, you can’t book partner flights with their points.
I’ve been able to find creative niche uses for my Citi ThankYou points. And having American Airlines in the mix would:
- Give us more ways to redeem your points
- Open more routes, city pairs, and access to Oneworld partners
- Make Citi comparable to other bank points programs
- Be appealing to newbies
This has been a sore spot for years by now. The capability and partnership are there, so why hasn’t it happened?
My feeling is Citi would love it, but that American Airlines is the one holding everything up. With their inflated/devalued award chart, numerous credit cards, and scattershot award space, I don’t think setting up transfers would “flood the system.”
Plus, as the world’s largest airline, shouldn’t they be able to handle it? Or at least want to match their competition (lord knows they copy everything else Delta does)?
As I gaze into my crystal ball, I don’t have much hope for this happening any time soon, if ever. That said, I’d love if I were wrong about this! 🔮
Citi ThankYou Points Are Useful for Award Travel – but Still Have a Ways to Go
Apply Here: Citi Premier℠ Card
Citi ThankYou has 2 cards that earn points you can transfer to airline partners. One is Citi Prestige, which should be available for new applications later this month.
The other is the Citi Premier℠ Card. You can currently earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
And you’ll earn:
- 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations (also including airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, parking, tolls, and much more)
- 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants and on select entertainment (like amusement parks, museums, sporting events, movies, and more)
- 1 Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases
If you spend a lot in the bonus categories, you can rack up Citi ThankYou points at a quick clip.
But what to do with the points you earn? Aside from JetBlue, you have to depend on sweet spots with foreign airline loyalty programs. Luckily, there are many. With 50,000 Citi ThankYou points, you could:
- Fly 2 people between New York and Vancouver on Cathay Pacific for 20,000 Asia miles round-trip in coach
- Visit Hawaii on United Airlines flights booked with 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip in coach
- Hop around Europe on Brussels Airlines for 5,000 or 7,000 Etihad miles each way (and get up to 10 award flights!)
- Fly 3 people to London from Boston, Newark, New York-JFK, or Washington, DC, for 20,000 Virgin Atlantic miles round-trip in coach during off-peak season
As great as these trips are, having another domestic transfer partner would make it even better. As it stands, the ThankYou program is mostly for intermediate to advanced level points collectors.
Adding American Airlines would appeal to beginners and serve as a gateway to these excellent awards. Plus, American Airlines miles can be incredibly valuable – especially for international premium class award seats on partner airlines.
In the Meantime, Earn American Airlines Miles With These Cards
Apply Here: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
Until Citi makes our dreams come true, we’ll have to make do with earning American Airlines miles with other card offers. There are 6 American Airlines credit cards, so it’s easy to keep your account stocked with miles.
|American Airlines Credit Cards||Welcome Bonus||Minimum Spend||Annual Fee|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card||10,000 American Airlines miles + $50 statement credit||$500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening||$0|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®||50,000 American Airlines miles||Earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.||$99, waived the first 12 months|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||50,000 American Airlines miles||$5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||$450|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®||60,000 American Airlines miles||Earn 60,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.||$99, waived the first 12 months|
|Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®||60,000 American Airlines miles||1 purchase within first 90 days of account opening||$95|
|Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®||60,000 American Airlines miles||1 purchase within first 90 days of account opening||$95|
And here are all the ways to earn American Airlines miles – including details and benefits of each of the cards above!
Until Citi scrounges up another domestic airline partner, they’ll always rank last among the 3 major transferable points programs. The easiest solution would be to add American Airlines as a ThankYou transfer partner. Personally, I think the value of Citi ThankYou points would go way up – especially for beginners!
Though the ability and desire might be there on Citi’s part, I don’t foresee American Airlines allowing it any time soon.
For now, we’ll have to earn Citi ThankYou points with cards like Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier℠ Card. And keep American Airlines miles rolling in with their own cards, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.
What do you think? Would American Airlines as a Citi ThankYou partner change your points-earning strategy?