Emirates added as new Citi ThankYou partner

Apr 20, 2020

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Emirates’ 777-300ER first class is easily one of the best first-class products in the sky, but it’s not particularly easy to book with miles. However, this top-notch cabin – and other Emirates products – just got a little easier to book even though we’re not traveling right now, thanks to a new partnership between Emirates and Citi.

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Citi quietly added a new airline partner, Emirates, to its website yesterday, as first discovered by Award Wallet.

Citi now partners with 16 airline programs, including Emirates. Points will instantly transfer at a 1:1 ratio. This is a good feature, as Citi ThankYou point transfer times are notoriously hit and miss. While some transfer instantly, more than a few require one or more days.

Citi now marks the fifth transfer partner for Emirates. You can transfer points to Skywards from both American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One at a 1:1 ratio and 2:1 ratio, respectively. In both cases, points transfer instantly. You can also transfer Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. Last August, Emirates joined Chase Ultimate Rewards as an airline partner, offering 1:1 transfers.

Note that in many cases, Skywards redemptions come along with some very hefty surcharges, so you could be on the hook for a significant cash copay, depending on your origin, destination and class of service.

For example, a one-way first-class award from Newark (EWR) to Dubai (DXB) requires 136,250 miles plus $824. Considering that TPG values ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, you’d be looking at $2,316 worth of points alone — and a total cash equivalent of just over $3,100. But if you’re curious, that same flight will set you back nearly $15,000 if booked in cash.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy.)

You may be able to get more value by booking one of Emirates’ collection of one-off airline partners. The airline isn’t a member of any of the three major alliances but does partner directly with several carriers, including JetBlue and Alaska.

If you don’t have a stash of ThankYou points in your account, you can earn them with several Citi credit cards, including the Citi Premier® Card, which offers a 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. As a World Elite Mastercard, the Citi Premier comes with a slew of perks for travelers, like a $10 discount on every five Lyft rides taken within a calendar month, free two-day shipping from ShopRunner.

Other cards like the Citi Prestige® Card, offering 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening, or the Citi Rewards+® Card, which offers a limited-time offer of 20,000 ThankYou bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first three months of account opening provide healthy bonuses if Emirates is your dream redemption.

Emirates Skywards is a nice – if not particularly groundbreaking – addition to the ThankYou program, giving Citi cardholders new options for booking the airline’s premium cabins, along with flights on both U.S. and international partners. It makes this program even more valuable to points and miles collectors.

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Featured photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images.

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