Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Citi ThankYou points are easier than ever to earn.
I plan to put airfare and dining on my Citi Prestige to earn 5X points per $1 spent, and use my Citi AT&T Access More card (not open to new applicants) to get 3X points for online shopping. Between these 2 cards, I’ll be flush with Citi ThankYou points this year.
And peeps with the Citi Premier can earn 3X points on all travel, including gas, and 2X points on dining.
In that light, I’m giving thought to Citi’s 15 airline transfer partners. But in my eyes, a solid 2/3 of them are total caca.
That means only 5 are worthwhile.
Let’s take a looky loo, shall we?
In This Post
The 5 Best Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners
- 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
Citi ThankYou points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all of their partners. All transfers must be in 1,000-point increments.
Here are the 5 most valuable – and creative uses.
To start, there are never fuel surcharges when you redeem Avianca miles, which is awesome. That alone can save you $100s.
Plus, you can book most Star Alliance partners online. Note you’ll pay $25 every time you book an award. That said, there are no close-in booking fees, so depending when you book, it could work in your favor.
Pricing can be wonky. You might pay more – or less – depending what direction you’re flying. Seriously.
Good deals with Avianca miles include:
- 87,000 miles to Europe in Lufthansa First Class
- 63,000 miles for Business Class to Europe on LOT, SAS, SWISS, TAP, Turkish Airlines, or United Polaris
- 25,000 miles within the US (including transcon) in United Business Class
- 40,000 or 50,000 miles to fly coach to Asia/Australia/New Zealand, or within Asia – sometimes in Business Class!
Any time I want to fly on a Star Alliance partner, I check the Avianca site to see how much they’re charging. The deals to Europe alone are just too good.
They also have funky zone pricing within the US. For example, it’s only 7,500 Avianca miles to fly United one-way in coach from Texas to Montana. Or 10,000 Avianca miles from Michigan, New York, or Ohio, to anywhere in Florida. Compare that to the 12,500 miles United would charge you.
You can also transfer 1:1 from Amex Membership Rewards, so it’s easy to pool your points if you need more. Plus, transfers are usually instant.
2. Etihad Guest
While transfers are slow, and usefulness is limited by availability, there are a couple of gems worth mentioning.
For one, you can fly from Brussels to most of Europe (or to there) for 5,000 or 7,000 Etihad miles each way in coach on Brussels Airlines.
If you find yourself in Brussels, this is an easy way to give yourself more options, like taking the train from Paris or Amsterdam, for example (which is exactly what I did). Plus, Belgium is so cute – take a day trip to Bruges!
Another thing that amazes me is Etihad partners with American, and still uses their old award chart before the last big devaluation. It’s all still there:
- 50,000 miles in Business Class to Japan or South Korea
- 20,000 miles in coach to South America
- 17,500 miles off-peak in coach to Hawaii (and only 37,500 miles for Business Class!)
- 20,000 miles off-peak in coach to Europe
- And all the rest!
The issue is, of course, AA’s award space. Well, that and slow transfers to Etihad, which can take about a week.
While I wouldn’t hold Etihad miles speculatively, it might be worth keeping a stash in case you find that perfect award. I was able to book over the phone with no problem.
And Etihad miles expire after 2 years from the date you transfer them. So that’s a while, but you might not feel comfy having Etihad miles sitting around unused for too long.
Of course, you can also use them for flights on Etihad. Oddly enough, it’s better to redeem American miles for Etihad flights, and Etihad miles for American flights.
I mention this one because I’ve had luck with it in the past – maybe you will, too.
Amex Membership Rewards points also transfer to Etihad, in case you need more.
3. Flying Blue
This one’s worth mentioning even though Flying Blue doesn’t have an official award chart because transfers are instant.
So if a flight is super expensive with Delta miles, you can check here instead. And if it works, book it right away.
For example, a one-way coach flight from Atlanta to Paris is at least 37,000 Delta miles:
Or you could pay 29,000 Flying Blue miles instead:
Plus, they have nonstop options.
Any time I want to see about Delta or a SkyTeam partner flight, I peek on Air France prices. Sometimes they’re reasonable. And the monthly Promo Awards are a steal if they work with your schedule.
I’ve actually been meaning to book a Promo Award to Tel Aviv. The second it works, I’m gonna pull the trigger.
Again, limited uses, but when it works, it’s great.
You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Flying Blue as well.
This one’s a hidden gem thanks to distance-based award prices.
Round-trip coach flights under 600 miles on American Airlines (and Qantas) are only 16,000 Qantas miles – even if you have to connect. Yes, you’ll pay 15,000 American miles for round-trip domestic coach flights under 500 miles – but American miles are harder to earn.
Save them and use your Citi ThankYou points instead! This also works for near-international flights, like to Mexico or the Caribbean.
I recently flew from Austin to Oklahoma City with a connection in Dallas for 8,000 Qantas miles one-way. The flights were otherwise $500+. That would’ve been 15,000 British Airways Avios points (because of the connex) or 7,500 American miles.
The only drawback is transfers can take 2 or 3 days. But if you want to fly on American and don’t want to use British Airways Avios points or American miles, this is an excellent option.
The same pricing works on Qantas flights too, in case you wanna “hop” around Australia. (That was a veiled kangaroo joke, forgive me.)
It also works for flights on Emirates and Fiji Airways – in case you want to stop in Fiji on your way back home, or fly Emirates for cheap.
5. Singapore Airlines
If you wanna save your United miles, you can use Singapore miles to pay the same prices within the mainland US – and get nice discounts on United flights to Hawaii.
Singapore also partners with Alaska, which unlocks even more ways to get to Hawaii (or around the US), and is zone-based. Remember, Alaska also flies to Mexico and Central America.
Singapore charges per segment for Alaska flights, so nonstops are best. But if a paid flight is expensive, this is an easy way to save.
Of course, you can also use Singapore miles to fly in Singapore Airlines’ magnificent First Class cabin.
Transfers from Citi ThankYou take ~1 day to get to your Singapore account. And if you need more Singapore miles, you can transfer points in from Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.
What about the 10 other transfer partners?
Here’s my brief take on why I avoid them:
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) – distance-based, super inflated prices
- EVA Air – they charge a ridiculous amount of miles to go literally anywhere
- Garuda Indonesia – inflated
- Jet Airways – ditto
- JetBlue – could be useful for expensive flights, like Mint Business Class, but there’s only one JetBlue flight from Dallas, and it’s to Boston. Plus, points have a set value
- Malaysia Airlines – inflated
- Qatar Airways – ridiculously high prices, omg
- Thai Airways – inflated
- Turkish Airlines – have to book award flights in person, no thanks
- Virgin Atlantic – fuel surcharges aren’t cute, but some good deals to the UK
The Top 5 Citi ThankYou transfer partners are:
- Avianca – cheap prices to Europe in Business Class, and around the US (depending on zone)
- Etihad – great deals on Brussels Airlines and American flights, if you can find award space
- Flying Blue – save on Delta flights, use Promo Awards for cheap flights to Europe
- Qantas – hidden gem for short flights on American, easy to hop around Australia
- Singapore – save your United or Alaska miles, or fly in Singapore First Class
The others all have crazy pricing, fuel surcharges, or super niche uses.
And admittedly, the Top 5 have limited uses, too – just not as limited. I’ve personally booked 4/5 of these picks, and have never messed with the ones I excluded. So if I overlooked something great, please share any tidbits of information!
In general, I consider Citi ThankYou points to be 3rd place among the 3 main transferable points programs (1st is Chase Ultimate Rewards, 2nd is Amex Membership Rewards). But there are great deals in there.
I’ll be paying more attention now that Citi Prestige earns 5X on airfare and dining. I slipped it into my wallet this week and am sure I’ll give it a workout – and rack up the Citi ThankYou points like never before.
I also just used the 4th night free perk to save $430 on an upcoming hotel stay, which nearly covers the card’s entire annual fee. But more on that later.
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