Here’s how long Citi ThankYou point transfers take

Jun 16, 2020

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Citi provides a multitude of ways to redeem ThankYou points and has recently upped its game on the earning side by expanding benefits on both the Citi Premier® Card and Citi Prestige® Card. You’ll almost always get the most bang for your buck by transferring your Citi ThankYou points to partner programs, especially now that Citi removed the 25% bonus for redeeming your ThankYou Points for airfare directly through the Citi portal.

The Citi ThankYou rewards program offers 15 airline partners (though one is Jet Airways InterMiles – the airline has ceased operations but the program continues to operate). While the majority are non-U.S. frequent-flyer programs, you can still book some high-value awards across all of the major global airline alliances.

Like any of the transferable points programs, an important aspect of using ThankYou Points is knowing how long it takes to transfer them from your ThankYou Rewards account to whichever travel partner you want to utilize. Long transfer times make it more difficult to plan and book awards, especially when availability is limited. American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Miles offer instant transfers to several partners, which is a major advantage. Meanwhile, transfers from Marriott Bonvoy can be lengthy and less predictable.

To see how Citi ThankYou Rewards stacks up against the competition, we did some research for each of the program’s transfer partners. We transferred 1,000 points to each travel partner and tracked how long it took for them to show up. Your experiences may vary, but here’s what we found.

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In This Post

Citi ThankYou transfer times

For most Citi cardholders, ThankYou points transfer 1:1 to 15 different airline partners. Most transfers are instant, though others can take up to seven days.

Program Ratio Transfer Time
Aeroméxico Club Premier 1:1 Instant
Air France/KLM Flying Blue 1:1 Instant
Avianca LifeMiles 1:1 Instant
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1:1 Instant
Emirates Skywards 1:1 Instant
Etihad Guest 1:1 Instant
EVA Infinity MileageLands 1:1 3 Days
InterMiles (formally known as JetPrivilege) 1:1 Instant
JetBlue TrueBlue 1:1* Instant
Malaysian Enrich 1:1 2 Days
Qantas Frequent Flyer 1:1 Instant
Qatar Privilege Club 1:1 2 Days
Singapore KrisFlyer 1:1 < 24 hours
Thai Royal Orchid Plus** 1:1 7 Days
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles 1:1 1 Day
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1 Instant

*1:1 for Citi Prestige, Premier and Chairman cardmembers, 5:4 for Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi Rewards+℠ cardmembers
**Effective June 2, 2020, most Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus awards redemptions have been suspended, including all flight redemptions. We don’t recommend transferring your points to Thai at this time.

Note that the times listed above represent our personal experiences and should not be taken as hard-and-fast rules. However, others have reported a similar timeline when transferring points from ThankYou Rewards. Your transfers may be faster or slower, but you can use these times as guidelines when planning your trips.

Nince of the transfers were instant, which is much better than what we saw last time we tested (just two). The rest showed up within a day or two, with the exception of Thai Royal Orchid Plus which took an entire week. Of course, faster is better, but 48 hours is a reasonable window to book an award.

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
Citi ThankYou points transfer to Air France/KLM Flying Blue instantly. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Before transferring Citi ThankYou points

The greatest risk when transferring points is that award availability can change while you’re waiting for points to post to your account. Transfers are irreversible, so in the worst-case scenario, you’ll be stuck with thousands of points in a program you have little use for beyond your originally-intended award ticket or hotel night. Here are a few tips for how to avoid that situation:

1. Put your award reservation on hold prior to transferring. Not all programs allow you to put award tickets on hold, but those that do, make things much easier. For example, Singapore KrisFlyer allows you to hold an award reservation so long as you have 50% of the necessary miles in your account.

2. Choose flights that have more than one available award seat. Use tools like ExpertFlyer to find out how many award seats are available on a flight. You can also do a single search for three or four passengers — that way, you can determine precisely how many seats are available. Choosing a flight with lots of award availability increases your odds of scoring an award seat by the time your point transfer is complete.

3. Select uncommon routes. You can improve your chances of finding award space by choosing routes that are less popular or originate from non-hubs. Those often have better award availability. One example is a transatlantic flight from Raleigh-Durham to London on American Airlines. For a transpacific flight, check out ANA’s flight from San Jose to Tokyo-Narita.

4. Let availability determine your destination. If your original itinerary is no longer an option because availability has dried up but you have some flexibility, one solution is to choose your destination based on which awards are still bookable. If you want to fly six people in business to Hawaii for Christmas, I’d keep in mind the difficulty of that task and search for other destinations with availability — perhaps finding a diamond in the rough.

If your original flights have disappeared, don’t panic. Keep in mind that award availability changes frequently and can increase dramatically as you get closer to your departure date. Check regularly and be ready to act quickly when seats do open up.

Related: Can I put an award ticket on hold?

Can you transfer Citi ThankYou points to someone else’s account?

The ThankYou Rewards program is among the most generous out there when it comes to pooling your points with others. Through the program’s Point Sharing feature, you can freely transfer your points to any other ThankYou Rewards member. The recipient doesn’t need to be an authorized user on your account or even be a member of your household — all they need is their own ThankYou Rewards account.

This is a great feature as it can help you or a friend reach a specific award threshold if you’re just short of a redemption. However, you cannot transfer points directly from your ThankYou account into someone else’s airline loyalty account.

If you decide to share your Citi ThankYou points, keep these things in mind:

  • You can only share a total of 100,000 ThankYou points in a calendar year.
  • You can only receive a total of 100,000 ThankYou points in a calendar year.
  • Shared points are only valid for 90 days from the date they are received.
  • You can’t “return” shared points to the sender or share them with another account.

Related: How to transfer Citi ThankYou points between accounts

You can easily share your Citi ThankYou points with others. (Photo by LWA/Getty Images)

Is there a fee for transferring Citi ThankYou points?

Unlike some American Express Membership Rewards transfers, there is no fee for transferring ThankYou points. That said, like any award booking, you’ll still be responsible for any taxes and fees tacked on by the airline when redeeming your miles.

Which cards earn Citi ThankYou points?

Citi currently offers five credit cards that allow you to earn ThankYou points (plus one card no longer available for new sign-ups). Citi banking customers with CitiGold, Citi Priority, or Citi Private Bank accounts may also earn additional bonuses through that relationship.

The information for the Citi Rewards+ Student Card, AT&T Access Card from Citi, and the AT&T Access More Mastercard from Citi has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The ultimate guide to Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partners

Every card in the ThankYou Rewards family allows you to redeem points toward the cost of airfare, hotels, cruises, gift cards, or loan payments at a redemption value of 1 cent per point. However, in order to transfer Citi ThankYou points to most travel partners, you must be a Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige cardholder.

If you hold one of the other cards you can combine your points to make them fully transferable. You can also convert the cash back earned on the Citi® Double Cash Card to ThankYou Points via a linked ThankYou account.

Here’s a quick glance at the welcome bonus, earning structure, annual fee, and benefits for some of the most valuable ThankYou Rewards credit cards. Just remember that you must have at least the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige in order for your points to be fully transferable. You can click on the card names to learn more about the benefits they offer or visit this guide for more information.

Card Welcome Offer Bonus Categories Annual Fee Perks
Citi Premier® Card 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening 3x points on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, and 1x points on all other purchases. $95 No foreign transaction fees and access to Citi Entertainment. You’ll get a $100 hotel savings benefit once per calendar year when you book a hotel stay of $500 or more through thankyou.com.
Citi Prestige® Card 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening 5x points with airlines, travel agencies and restaurants; 3x points with hotels and cruise lines; and 1x points on everything else.

Through Aug. 31, 2020: 5x on all online purchases (up to 7,500 points)

$495 Priority Pass Select membership; fourth night free on hotel stays up to twice a year; $250 annual travel credit; Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every five years (up to $100).

Through the end of 2020, you can use your $250 annual travel credit at supermarkets and restaurants.

Citi Rewards+℠ Card 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 per year (then 1x); earnings rounded up to nearest 10 points $0 Your points are rounded up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase with no caps. You’ll also get 10% of your points back on the first 100,000 points you redeem each year.
Citi® Double Cash Card None 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy; 1% when you pay) $0 Introductory 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made within the first four months of card opening (then a 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR applies), for a fee of $5 or 3% of the balance you transfer (whichever is greater)

Bottom line

Although the Citi ThankYou Rewards program often gets less love and attention than other transferable point programs, there are still some terrific redemptions to be had. For instance, you can unlock cheap Delta awards by booking through Virgin Atlantic, leverage Etihad Guest for American Airlines awards, score some phenomenal deals on Star Alliance awards using Avianca LifeMiles or offset ticket costs with JetBlue TrueBlue.

Just be aware that some travel partners are quicker to process transfers from Citi ThankYou Rewards than others. Not all airlines allow you to do this, but since award availability can change quickly and these transfers are nonrefundable, you’ll want to try putting your award reservation on hold prior to transferring. If that isn’t an option, have a back-up plan in case availability for your original itinerary dries up by the time your points arrive.

As mentioned above, transfer times may vary from one person to another; please share your own experiences in the comments below, as well as your strategies for transferring and redeeming ThankYou points.

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Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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