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Here’s how long Citi ThankYou point transfers take

Nov. 25, 2021
14 min read
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Editor's Note

/em> <em>This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. Citi is a TPG advertising partner.

Citi provides a multitude of ways to redeem ThankYou points, but you'll almost always get the most bang for your buck by transferring your points to partner programs. This is especially true now that Citi removed the 25% bonus for redeeming your ThankYou Points for airfare directly through the Citi portal back in April.

The Citi ThankYou rewards program offers 16 airline partners, including excellent options like Avianca LifeMiles and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles. Plus, Citi recently added two hotel partners: Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards.

Like any transferable points program, an essential 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 can 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 to various airlines can be lengthy and less predictable.

To see how Citi ThankYou Rewards stacks up against the competition, 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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Citi ThankYou transfer times

For most Citi cardholders, ThankYou points transfer 1:1 to 18 different partners, with the only exclusion being 1:2 to Choice Privileges. Most transfers are instant, though others can take up to seven days.

ProgramRatioTransfer Time
Aeroméxico Club Premier1:1Instant
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1:1Instant
Avianca LifeMiles1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:1Instant
Choice Privileges1:2 (1:1.5 for non-premium cards)Instant
Emirates Skywards1:1Instant
Etihad Guest1:1Instant
EVA Infinity MileageLands1:13 Days
InterMiles (formally known as JetPrivilege)1:1Instant
JetBlue TrueBlue1:1 (5:4 for non-premium cards)Instant
Malaysian Enrich1:12 Days
Qantas Frequent Flyer1:1Instant
Qatar Privilege Club1:12 Days
Singapore KrisFlyer1:1< 24 hours
Thai Royal Orchid Plus1:17 Days
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles1:11 Day
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1Instant
Wyndham Rewards1:1 (1:0.8 for non-premium cards)Instant

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.

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Related: TPG's points and miles staffers reveal how they'd spend a million Citi ThankYou points

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 for those that do, it makes 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 (owned by TPG's parent company, Red Ventures) to see 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. Consider uncommon routes. You can sometimes 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 (RDU) to London-Heathrow (LHR) on American Airlines which resumes March 2022.

4. Let availability determine your destination. If your original itinerary is booked up, one solution is to choose your destination based on which awards are still bookable. If you want to fly six people in business class to Hawaii over the holidays, know that award space at affordable rates will be scarce. But perhaps if you go off the beaten path, you can find that availability you are after.

Don't panic if your original flights disappear. Remember 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 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 an excellent feature as it can help you or a friend reach a specific award threshold if you're short on points for a particular 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 several cards that earn ThankYou points, though your ability to transfer and the transfer ratio will depend on the specific card you carry. Several are no longer available for new sign-ups.

The information for the Citi Prestige, 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, 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 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 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 page for more information.

CardWelcome OfferBonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
Citi Premier® Card80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.3x ThankYou points per dollar on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations; 1x points on all other purchases.$95No foreign transaction fees and access to Citi Entertainment. You'll get a $100 hotel savings benefit once per calendar year when you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more through thankyou.com (excluding taxes and fees).
Citi Rewards+® CardEarn 20,000 ThankYou bonus points after you spend $1,500 on purchases with your card within the first three months of account opening. For a limited time, earn 5 ThankYou points per dollar at restaurants up to $6,000 in the first 12 months; then 1 point per dollar spent thereafter.2x ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 per year (then 1x); earnings rounded up to nearest 10 points$0Your 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 Custom Cash℠ CardEarn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.5% cash back on your top eligible spend category up to $500 spent each billing cycle; then 1% thereafter$05% eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, live entertainment.
Citi® Double Cash CardNone.2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy; 1% when you pay)$0Introductory 0% APR  on balance transfers for 18 months, then a 17.74% – 27.74% variable APR applies, for an intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the balance you transfer (whichever is greater) for transfers completed within the first four months of account opening (then the fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Related: The best Citi credit cards

For information on how to redeem Citi ThankYou Points for maximum value, see the following:

Bottom line

Although most Citi ThankYou Rewards' partners are non-U.S. frequent-flyer programs, there are still some terrific redemptions to be had across all of the major global airline alliances.

For instance, you can unlock cheap Delta awards to Europe by booking through Virgin Atlantic, leverage Etihad Guest for American Airlines awards and score exceptional deals on Star Alliance awards using Avianca LifeMiles. Plus, you can get a good value when redeeming points for hotel stays thanks to the addition of Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards as a transfer partner.

Just be aware that some travel partners are quicker to process transfers from Citi ThankYou Rewards than others. Since award availability can change quickly and these transfers are nonrefundable, you'll want to try putting your award reservation on hold before transferring if the partner allows. If that isn't an option, have a backup plan if 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.

Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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