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Why Qatar’s switch to Avios is huge news for Citi ThankYou points

March 25, 2022
5 min read
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Citi ThankYou Rewards is one of four major flexible points programs, along with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One miles.

We consider these points to be more valuable than airline miles and hotel points because you can transfer your rewards to multiple airline and hotel loyalty accounts. You can effectively earn many different rewards currencies at once.

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Citi ThankYou Rewards currently has 18 transfer partners. But one glaring absence is British Airways — a hyperuseful airline program that is a transfer partner of all other flexible points programs.

However, thanks to Qatar Airways' partnership with British Airways, there’s now a way to convert your Citi ThankYou points into British Airways Avios. Here’s why you should care.

Citi ThankYou acquires 3 new transfer partners thanks to Qatar Airways

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

On March 22, Qatar Airways jettisoned its old award currency and adopted a new one: Avios.

Avios are the points used by British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. If you earn Avios in one program, you can transfer them freely between all three programs.

Qatar Airways now joins the fun, making the Avios family a foursome — and Qatar Airways is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner. This effectively makes British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus Citi ThankYou transfer partners as well; simply transfer your points to Qatar, and then on to any of the other three airlines.

Note: You can only transfer points to and from Qatar Airways via British Airways. In other words, if you want to transfer Qatar Avios to Iberia, you must first transfer them to British Airways, and then to Iberia.

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Transferring Avios between airlines is simple. This extra step will take all of two minutes to achieve. If you’re a Citi ThankYou points collector who values British Airways Avios, this is a massive development. Just link your British Airways Executive Club and Qatar Airways Privilege Club accounts on either airline's website, and you can transfer Avios freely between the two programs. Check out our full guide to linking British Airways and Qatar Airways accounts for more information.

(Screenshot from exchange.shopping.ba.com)

Related: How to transfer your Avios between British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus accounts

Why would you want to transfer Qatar Airways Avios to British Airways?

Qatar Airways has long been a Citi ThankYou partner — but it’s never been particularly useful. There were a handful of tolerable uses — namely low-cost Qsuite business-class redemptions — but never any truly competitive award prices when compared to other programs.

The ability to transfer Qatar Airways Avios out of the program to a much more useful program is big. British Airways, while it possesses its own foibles, presents lower prices in just about every conceivable situation. For example:

  • A one-way U.S. economy flight under 651 miles costs 12,500 Qatar Avios — but just 7,500 British Airways Avios.
  • A one-way U.S. economy flight from 651 to 1,151 miles costs 15,000 Qatar Avios — but just 9,000 British Airways Avios.
  • A quick one-way hop between Brisbane, Australia, and Sydney costs 12,500 Qatar Avios — but just 6,000 British Airways Avios.

And the list goes on. Plus, you can use British Airways Avios to book Qatar Airways Qsuite business-class prices at the same rate as you would redeem Qatar Airways Avios. Think 70,000 Avios and $101.85 for a one-way ticket from New York to Doha, Qatar. This is great, as you can leverage any existing British Airways Avios, Qatar Avios and Citi ThankYou points to book a single ticket.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

Additionally, you can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios, which opens up one of the best sweet spots in the points and miles world. You can book transatlantic business-class tickets from Boston, Chicago and New York to Madrid for just 34,000 Avios and minimal taxes and fees on off-peak dates, which span the majority of the year. For more information, check out our full guide to booking off-peak Iberia business-class awards.

Related: 3 versions of Avios: When to use Aer Lingus, Iberia and British Airways

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Earn Citi ThankYou points

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Short on Citi ThankYou points? Consider applying for a Citi Premier® Card, which offers 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. This is more than enough points to book a handful of these sweet spots, and it's easy to earn more since the card earns 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, gas, dining and groceries. And as you'd expect, it earns 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Related: 4 reasons the Citi Premier Card should be on your short list

Bottom line

Citi ThankYou Rewards has 18 transfer partners — but now that you can transfer Qatar Airways Avios to British Airways, Citi effectively has 21 transfer partners. This is immensely valuable since Citi cardholders can now take advantage of all of the sweet spots found on the other Avios programs, like cheap domestic tickets with British Airways Avios and low-cost transatlantic business-class tickets on Iberia.

Featured image by Zach Griff/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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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.