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Citi ThankYou Rewards is considered to be a flexible travel rewards program because you can transfer your reward points to frequent flyer miles with numerous airline. Citi currently offers 15 different airline transfer partners, representing all three major global alliances. However, in many chases, you have more than one program from which to choose when it comes to transferring your points, and it can be challenging to figure our which one is best.
Today we’ll help you sort through this decision by looking at your transfer options for Oneworld carriers. If you have Citi ThankYou points and you are looking to book an award on American Airlines, British Airways or or any of the other 11 member airlines, this guide will help identify your best options.
Earning Citi ThankYou Points
Before you can even think about transferring your Citi ThankYou points, you need to earn them. At the time of writing, you can earn transferable ThankYou points through two different credit cards:
- Citi Premier Card : Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points on travel including gas and 2X points at restaurants and on entertainment purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card. For more information, read our review of the Citi Premier.
- Citi Prestige: Earn 50,00 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. Earn 5x points on air travel and at restaurants, 3X points on hotels and cruises and 1X on all other purchases. You’ll also enjoy cell phone protection, Priority Pass Select membership and a fourth night free on paid hotel stays (which will be capped at twice per year starting in September 2019). There’s a $495 annual fee for this card. For more information, read our review of the Citi Prestige.
In addition, Citi offers a handful of other credit cards that accrue ThankYou points. However, in order for these earnings to be transferable, you must have a Citi Premier or Citi Prestige and combine points into that “premium” account:
- AT&T Access Card from Citi: Earn 10,000 bonus points after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. You also earn 2x points for purchases made online at eligible retail and travel websites, and for products and services purchased directly from AT&T. There’s no annual fee for this card.
- Citi Rewards+ Card: This card currently offers new applicants 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. It features 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations on your first $6,000 spent each year. It will also round up your purchases to the nearest 10 points, and receive 10% of your redeemed rewards back. There’s no annual fee for this card. For more information, read our post on No-Fee Citi Rewards+ Card Now Available With Sign-up Bonus.
- Citi Rewards+ Student Card: The student version of this card offers new applicants just 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within three months of account opening. Like the standard version, it also offers you 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations on your first $6,000 spent each year (then 1x). Likewise, it will round up your purchases to the nearest 10 points, and you’ll receive 10% of your redeemed rewards back. There’s no annual fee for this card.
Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points
Citi offers you multiple ways to redeem your ThankYou points, including for gift cards, merchandise, travel reservations and even loan repayments. However, you’ll typically only realize one cent in value, or less, for most of these options. The only significant exception can be airfare booked through the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel center. When you have a Citi Premier Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each rather than just 1 cent. However, even this option compares poorly to TPG’s most recent valuations, which peg ThankYou Points at 1.7 cents each.
This leaves transfers as the best redemption choice. When you’re able to convert your credit card points into airline miles, you can then redeem those miles for expensive last-minute flights or seats in business or first class. This potentially allows you to realize several cents in value per point transferred.
With that said, let’s dive into the Oneworld member airlines that partner with Citi ThankYou Rewards to see your best redemption options for your next trip.
Asia Miles is the frequent flyer program of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, which are both based in Hong Kong. It offers distance-based award charts that can be rather confusing. I’ll spare you all of the lengthy details but recommend that you read Senior Points and Miles Contributor Richard Kerr’s post on Everything You Need to Know About Cathay Pacific Asia Miles followed by his post on Deciphering the New Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Award Booking Engine.
To sum it up, the best uses for these miles are:
- One-way business class flights less than 5,000 miles in distance for 50,000 miles. This puts everything east of Denver in range of London. Many flights from the US to South America also fall under 5,000 miles in distance.
- Fuel surcharges for British Airways flights are significantly less than when using Avios or American Advantage miles.
- One stopover is allowed on most one-way awards, and two stopovers plus an open-jaw are permitted on all awards.
While Etihad is not a formal member of Oneworld, it does partner with American and Sri Lankan (at least for the time being). Using Etihad Guest miles on American can be a terrific redemption, as the program still uses the award rates that American used to charge before its 2016 devaluation. You can access the full award chart here (warning: PDF link), but some of the best deals include:
- Flights to Europe in business class for just 50,000 miles, each way.
- Flights to Europe in first class for only 62,500 miles, each way.
- Business class flights on American’s three-class A321T for just 25,000 miles.
- Hawaii in business class for 37,500 miles.
- North America to Japan or Korea one-way in business is only 50,000 Etihad miles.
While there have been rumors that Etihad will be cutting ties with American, this has not happened as of the time of writing.
This Kuala Lumpur-based carrier offers awards through its Enrich program, but the distance-based award chart isn’t very favorable. For example, round-trip flights in business class of between 1,801 and 4,200 miles are 125,000 miles. This might be competitive at the higher end of the distance range, but cross that threshold and it jumps to 202,000 miles. Round-trip awards in economy class of under 600 miles are 19,000 miles, which might be the best use of this program. However, you’ll have to call to book these awards.
This Australian carrier offers some value in its partner award options.
- Short-haul trips: Flights under 600 miles are just 8,000 miles in economy, and flights between 601 and 1,200 miles are only 12,000 miles each way. This makes sense when you are crossing zones on other frequent flyer programs; examples would be American-operated flights from Miami (MIA) to the Caribbean or Iberia-operated trips from Spain to North Africa. This is also great for shorter flights around Australia.
- Flights from New York to London: Since these flights are just under 3,600 miles in distance, it only costs 22,500 Qantas miles in economy and 100,000 miles in business.
- Qantas First Class: At 144,000 miles each way, it’s not cheap, but it may be your only way to fly Qantas first class. That’s because the program lets you book flights 353 days out, while partner programs like American only let you book their awards approximately 331 days out, and even then, you may encounter problems with availability.
For more information, read my Complete Guide to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program
The final Oneworld transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards is Qatar Airways. However, you shouldn’t transfer your ThankYou points to miles in the carrier’s Privileges Club to redeem for Oneworld award flights. That’s because these miles plummeted in value after last year’s no-notice price increases of up to 77%. Now, a business class flight to Europe is 100,000 miles each way. 12,500 miles, typically considered the “normal” rate for domestic saver awards, is only sufficient for economy class flights within 500 miles. Every other Oneworld program that’s a Citi ThankYou transfer partner offers better pricing, and to top it off, there’s a $25-$75 “booking fee” for every award.
As you can see, you have a plethora of options when it comes to using Citi ThankYou points on Oneworld airlines, though not all of them offer a great value. If you can successfully navigate the Asia Miles program, there’s some value to be had there, while Etihad Guest is likely your best bet for American-operated flights. However, be sure to crunch the numbers on your redemptions, especially in economy class. While redeeming ThankYou points directly for travel at a rate of 1-1.25 cents per point isn’t spectacular, it may offer lower award rates in some cases.
Featured photo by Anna Zvereva via Wikipedia.
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