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Citi ThankYou Rewards Adds New Transfer Partners

by on July 21, 2014 · 15 comments

in Cathay Pacific, Citi, Credit Cards, Etihad, EVA Air, Garuda, Hilton, Oneworld, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, skyteam, star alliance, Thai, ThankYou Points

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Citi ThankYou Rewards has for a long time been the pipsqueak little brother to the major transferable points programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Without transfer options, the most you could hope to get from ThankYou points was about 1.25 cents apiece, and that was only for Citi Premier and Citi Prestige cardholders who redeemed for travel through the ThankYou Rewards travel center. Otherwise, ThankYou points were generally worth just 1 cent each toward gift cards or travel for other cardholders.

Now it seems Citi is stepping up its game with the introduction of 8 new transfer partners to go alongside its one existing partner, Hilton HHonors.

The new partners include:

  • Cathay Pacific
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways

The standouts are Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, plus Garuda Indonesia, which helps give ThankYou Rewards a door into all three airline alliances (Star Alliance, OneWorld, and SkyTeam, respectively). All of these partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while Hilton transfers at 1,500 HHonors points : 1,000 ThankYou points). For some reason, Malaysia Airlines doesn’t yet appear as an option on Citi’s website, but I confirmed with Citi reps that it is indeed a new transfer partner.

While the new transfer options are still restricted to Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, and Citi Chairman cardholders, they open up a world of possibilities for ThankYou Rewards, adding massive value not only to the points themselves, but to the Citi credit cards used to earn them. The Citi ThankYou Premier, for example, comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points: 20,000 after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of cardmembership, plus another 30,000 after spending $3,000 in the first three months of the second year of cardmembership. The annual fee of $125 is waived for the first year, but not the second.

Formerly, those 50,000 points were worth about $625 in travel. I would now value ThankYou points at no less than 1.5 cents apiece, and probably slightly higher due to their flexibility. That means the Citi ThankYou Premier now offers at least $750 worth of value, 20% more than before these transfer options were available.  The same could be said of points earned from other ThankYou Rewards cards, like the Citi ThankYou Preferred. Since ThankYou points can be combined between accounts, all the points you earn on other cards will also be eligible for transfer partners once you have the Premier, Prestige, or Chairman cards.

Citi ThankYou Premier 50k

The Citi ThankYou Premier just got a lot more interesting.

It’s always nice to be able to report an increase in the value of points and miles. This improvement by Citi is only good news for frequent fliers, as it not only increases the value of ThankYou Rewards, but also puts a new, legitimate competitor in the ring of transferable point programs. Hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come from Citi.

Hat Tip: View From the Wing

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • MK

    It is great to see another competitor in the transferrable miles arena! How do you think that it stacks up versus AMEX and Chase Ultimate Rewards? I would love to see a comparison of the three.

  • fishy

    Interesting that all the airline partners are from Asia (2 Middle East, others East Asia/Southeast Asia). After the American based airlines starting to move onto revenue based programs, it’s Asian based airlines’ turn?

  • fishy

    Another interesting thing is that Chase points can be transferred to United as Chase issues United credit cards, the same applies to Amex and Delta. So it’s a bit surprise to see Citi ThankYou points can’t be transferred to AA, as Citi issues AA credit cards.

  • Wellington

    The TYPs were worth up to 1.6 cents per point if you had a prestige card and were looking to buy AA or US flights through their portal.

    I have always loved TYP, even through the Premier devaluation. Before when you could get flight points as well as the 5x points per dollar via the Citi Forward on purchases at bookstores (including Amazon), restaurants, and entertainment, it was my go to program mostly because I then also got EQM for the award flights.

  • tim

    I got Citi Thank You Premier and the card is straightforward useless. Citi got the worst customer service. I rapidly accumulated $100 in fees for whatsoever reasons. One of them came from the fact that Citi punishes you if you use Amazon Payments to work around the minimum spending to qualify for the bonus points. $50 per transaction thus Citi categorizes it as cash advance. I decided to get rid of the card and then I noticed I cannot transfer the points to anyone but Hilton. Better get a Hilton credit card. My advice is stay away from anything close to Citi.

  • http://www.thiseye.com Nirav Desai

    Nice change! Of course, this would happen after I literally just spent most of my TY points I’ve been hoarding through the years in anticipation of closing my card.

  • Jeremy

    Please cover how to redeem Garuda Indonesia Miles, they have a distance-based award chart that, depending on availability, could be great for Delta or AF/KLM.

  • Brian L.

    @fishy – Agreed on the lack of AA/US. Maybe the merger has something to do with it?

    I also think it’s noteworthy that there are no European airlines among the transfer partners.

  • Karl M

    Great news! It looks to me like the Citi ThankYou Premier is the way to go. Any thoughts on whether the current 50k sign-up bonus is decent? Do better sign-ups come about on a regular basis? Singapore Airlines is certainly looking like a valuable transfer partner now. Any thoughts on other good redemption opportunities from that list?

  • Todd Zino

    As the primary issuing partner of AA, it’s amazing Citi is holding back on that as an exchange partner vis-a-vis Chase-UR-United and Amex-MR-Delta. I wonder if the bigger roadblock is within Citibank or AA.

  • Brian C. Lee

    I was thinking maybe the merger had something to do with it, maybe behind the scenes IT problems?

  • Andrew

    Can you transfer points within the three alliances (Star Alliance, OneWorld, and SkyTeam) to other carriers?

  • Stephen

    This is great news! I have Citi Forward and Citi Premier (grandfathered with no annual fee), so this will definitely stretch my points further, even though I just spent about 120K on travel to Asia (for 2).

  • Carles Latorre

    I think we will see pretty soon AA on that list.

  • Brian C. Lee

    Hope so. TYP would be infinitely more valuable if they’re added.

    I’m not worried about a devaluation relating to this because we all know AA will devalue when the merger is finished anyway.

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