Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. Citi is a TPG advertising partner.
Many Citi cardholders simply redeem their Citi ThankYou Rewards points for travel or gift cards. But if you have a premium Citi ThankYou card, you may be able to get greater value from your points. Specifically, you can maximize your Citi ThankYou Rewards points by using transfer partners.
Currently, Citi ThankYou Rewards has the following transfer partners:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Jet Airways JetPrivilege (now InterMiles; note that the airline currently isn’t flying)
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
In this guide, we’ll take a deeper look at each of these Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partners. But first, let’s consider how to earn Citi ThankYou points.
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How to earn Citi ThankYou points
You can earn Citi ThankYou Rewards points through some of Citi’s credit cards. Here are some of my favorite Citi cards that can earn ThankYou points:
- Citi Prestige Card: Best for restaurants, airlines and travel agencies.
- Citi Premier Card: Best for earning full-fledged ThankYou points with a sub-$100 annual fee.
- Citi Rewards+ Card: Best for supermarkets, gas stations and small purchases.
- Citi Double Cash Card (via a linked ThankYou account): Best for everyday purchases.
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.
But not all ThankYou points are created equal. To transfer your Citi ThankYou points to most of the partners described in this guide, you must hold a premium Citi ThankYou card such as the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier. If you only have the Citi Rewards+ Card, you’ll earn “basic” ThankYou points. And you can transfer Citi Double Cash Card cash rewards to “basic” ThankYou points via a linked ThankYou account.
Basic ThankYou points are worth a flat 1 cent each when redeemed toward gift cards. Unfortunately, basic ThankYou points can’t be transferred to most of the ThankYou travel partners. However, if you also hold the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier, you can combine your basic ThankYou points with your Citi Prestige or Citi Premier account. Then, you can transfer to any of the Citi ThankYou travel partners.
Related: Is Citi ThankYou Rewards the most underappreciated and misunderstood program?
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $850.
Rewards rate: 5x ThankYou points on purchases at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants; 3x points at hotels and cruise lines; 1x points on other purchases.
Annual fee: $495 ($350 for qualifying Citigold clients).
- A complimentary fourth night up to two times each calendar year when you book your hotel through ThankYou.com.
- $250 travel credit every calendar year (which now also applies to purchases at supermarkets and restaurants through the end of 2021).
- Priority Pass Select membership.
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every five years.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Related: The dwindling appeal of the Citi Prestige: Why other premium cards are better
Citi Premier Card
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you make $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $1,020.
Rewards rate: 3x ThankYou points on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations; 1x on other purchases.
Annual fee: $95.
- Enjoy a $100 annual hotel savings benefit when you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through ThankYou.com once per calendar year.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Related: 4 reasons the Citi Premier Card should be on your short list
Citi Rewards+ Card
Sign-up bonus: 15,000 bonus points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your card within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $255.
Rewards rate: 2x ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1x); 1x on everything else. Also, Citi automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase.
Annual fee: None.
Card benefits: You’ll get 10% points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou Points you redeem per calendar year, including points earned on other cards if you’ve linked your Citi ThankYou accounts.
Related: Who should get the Citi Rewards+ Card?
Citi Double Cash Card
Sign-up bonus: None.
Rewards rate: 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay).
Annual fee: None.
Card benefits: No standout benefits.
Related: What credit score do you need to get the Citi Double Cash Card?
Citi ThankYou transfer partner overview
If you have a premium Citi ThankYou card such as the Citi Prestige Card or Citi Premier Card, you can transfer points to any ThankYou travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. But most other Citi ThankYou cards earn basic ThankYou points that are only transferable to JetBlue at a 5:4 ratio.
To transfer Citi ThankYou points to travel partners, go to thankyou.com, sign in to your account and select the ThankYou account you want to use. Then, click on “Travel” on the top navigation bar and select “Points transfer.” Each transfer must be at least 1,000 ThankYou points, but no more than 500,000. ThankYou points can only be transferred in increments of 1,000.
Transfer times and ratios
Some travel partners are quicker to recognize transfers from Citi ThankYou Rewards than others. Citi says it can take up to 14 days from when you request the transfer on ThankYou.com to when the points or miles appear in your associated airline account. So, TPG ran some experiments to determine how long Citi ThankYou points take to transfer.
|Program||Transfer ratio||Transfer time||TPG’s valuation of airline miles|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1:1||Instant||N/A|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1:1||Instant||1.2 cents|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1:1||Instant||1.7 cents|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1||Instant||1.3 cents|
|Emirates Skywards||1:1||Instant||1.2 cents|
|Etihad Guest||1:1||Instant||1.4 cents|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1:1||3 days||N/A|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege (now InterMiles)||1:1||Instant||N/A|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1:1 (5:4 for non-premium cards)||Instant||1.3 cents|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1:1||2 days||N/A|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1:1||Instant||N/A|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||1:1||2 days||0.8 cents|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1||Less than 1 day||1.3 cents|
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus||1:1||7 days||N/A|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||1:1||1 day||1.3 cents|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||Instant||1.5 cents|
So, you may be wondering which Citi travel partners are most valuable. TPG’s valuations give you a clue of the relative value of some currencies. But TPG doesn’t provide valuations for every currency. After all, much of the value depends on where and how you’re planning to travel.
Related: Why mile and point valuations don’t always rule my world
Best Citi ThankYou transfer partners
TPG’s valuations peg the value of Citi ThankYou Rewards points at 1.7 cents each. This valuation is based on the value obtained when you transfer your points to select partners. So, here are four of our favorite Citi ThankYou transfer partners.
Avianca LifeMiles is a popular currency for booking flights on Star Alliance carriers due to its now-improved online booking process, mixed cabin ticketing and low taxes and fees. Unlike some frequent flyer programs, Avianca LifeMiles doesn’t pass along carrier surcharges.
Some hidden gems in the Avianca LifeMiles program include:
- Transcontinental lie-flat United business-class flights for 25,000 miles one-way.
- Lufthansa business class one-way to Europe for 63,000 miles.
- Lufthansa first class one-way to Europe for 87,000 miles.
- One-way economy domestic awards on United for as little as 6,500 LifeMiles.
You can dig into redeeming on each of LifeMiles’ partners on the LifeMiles website. But note that Avianca periodically offers discounted awards on select routes.
If you’re short on LifeMiles after transferring from Citi, Avianca LifeMiles is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy. Also, Avianca frequently offers the opportunity to purchase LifeMiles at a discounted rate.
Related: What does Avianca’s bankruptcy filing mean for the LifeMiles program?
Etihad Guest can be helpful for booking awards on airlines such as American Airlines, ANA and Royal Air Maroc. Amazingly, Etihad’s American award chart essentially maintains the award rates from before the 2016 AAdvantage devaluation. So, you can still book the following American-operated flights with Etihad Guest miles:
- North America to Hawaii in business class for 37,500 miles one-way.
- North America to Europe in business class (or Flagship First) for 50,000 miles one-way.
- Transcontinental business class (or Flagship First) for 25,000 miles one-way.
- North America to Japan or South Korea in business (or Flagship First) for 50,000 miles one-way.
- North America to China or Hong Kong in business (or Flagship First) for 55,000 miles one-way.
Additionally, you can fly one-way from Washington Dulles (IAD) or New York-JFK to Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) in Royal Air Maroc business class for 44,000 Etihad Guest miles. You can also travel from the West Coast to Tokyo in ANA business class for 63,000 Etihad Guest miles each way. Check out all of the Etihad Guest partner award charts here to find your own sweet spots.
If you’re still short on Etihad Guest miles after transferring from Citi ThankYou, you can also transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy. Etihad also periodically offers the opportunity to purchase Etihad Guest miles at a discounted rate.
Related: The ultimate guide to Etihad partners
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is usually your best bet if you’re looking to book long-haul premium-cabin flights on Singapore metal. For example, you can book business class on the Newark-to-Singapore flight for 99,000 miles each way if you can find a Saver award (or 140,000 miles each way for a standard award). On the other hand, you can book Singapore Suites between Singapore and Shanghai, Beijing or Mumbai, India, for as little as 53,000 miles one-way if you can find Saver award availability (or 98,000 miles each way for a standard award).
See the award chart here for KrisFlyer awards on Singapore metal. KrisFlyer usually discounts routes each month through its Spontaneous Escapes program. But Singapore has paused the Spontaneous Escapes program due to COVID-19.
Singapore KrisFlyer is also well known for booking awards on partner airlines, including many Star Alliance carriers. For example, you can book a round-trip United-operated flight from mainland North America to Hawaii for 35,000 miles in economy class and 69,000 miles in business class. It’s certainly worth checking out the KrisFlyer Star Alliance award chart for yourself to find other sweet spots.
Singapore’s Alaska award chart also has economy awards ranging from 7,500 miles to 12,500 each way for travel between Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba.
If you’re still short on KrisFlyer miles after transferring from Citi ThankYou, you can also transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy.
Related: The best ways to get to Singapore using points and miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Even after Virgin Atlantic Flying Club devalued its Delta awards, it’s still a great program for booking Delta-operated flights to Europe (see the award chart here). In particular, you can book flights on the following nonstop Delta-operated routes using Virgin Atlantic miles:
- 30,000 miles for economy class from the U.S. to Europe (each way).
- 50,000 miles for business class from the U.S. to Europe (each way).
On the other hand, if you’re looking to fly between the U.S. and Japan, Virgin Atlantic has an impressive award chart for ANA-operated flights. But one-way tickets price the same as round-trips and domestic connections in the U.S. and Japan cost extra. Specifically, for round-trip flights between the U.S. and Japan, you’ll pay 45,000-65,000 miles for economy, 70,000-95,000 miles for business and 90,000-120,000 miles for first. See the award chart here.
If you’re still short on Flying Club miles after transferring from Citi, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Also, Flying Club sometimes offers the opportunity to purchase miles at a discounted rate.
Related: 3 great ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic points now that Delta awards are devalued
Average Citi ThankYou transfer partners
Although not quite as strong as the four transfer partners we just discussed, there’s still a good bit of value to be found in the following seven Citi ThankYou transfer partners.
Aeromexico Club Premier
While Aeromexico Club Premier has an award chart in theory, it actually uses dynamic pricing in practice. For example, for a round-trip economy flight from Los Angeles to Paris, the award chart quotes 96,000 Premier points for low season or 130,000 Premier points for high season. Yet, when I searched this route, I found one-way flights bookable for between 48,000 and 97,600 points.
Additionally, a one-way economy flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles cost between 30,000 and 81,300 Premier Points for one date I searched. But for another date, this same route cost between 13,300 and 28,000 Premier points for economy. So you may be able to get good value from Aeromexico if you choose to use your points in the right situations.
Related: What you need to know about Aeromexico’s dynamic award pricing
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue is a popular program that some might argue is one of the best Citi transfer partners. However, since the Flying Blue program changed in 2018, its pricing has been illogical.
However, some redemptions are certainly appealing. For example, business class between the U.S. and Europe starts at just 53,000 Flying Blue miles one-way. But Flying Blue will add on fuel surcharges that can be hefty on some routes.
One bright spot is that Flying Blue offers Promo Rewards each month on its website. However, these Promo Rewards are mostly intra-Europe currently.
Related: Hack Flying Blue status to unlock La Premiere
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles uses distance-based award charts for flights on its own metal and Oneworld partner awards. This means that long-haul flights, such as those between the U.S. and Hong Kong, can be expensive. Specifically, you can fly “ultra-long” one-way Cathay Pacific flight awards of 7,501 miles or more for 125,000 Asia Miles in first class, 85,000 miles in business, 60,000 miles in premium economy and 42,000 miles in economy.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles passes on fuel surcharges from other carriers but no longer charges fuel surcharges on many of its own tickets. Also, the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles booking engine can be frustrating and difficult to decipher. But if you’re willing to spend some time searching, you may find some gems.
From his deep dive, TPG’s Loyalty and Engagement Editor Richard Kerr noted that his favorite options to consider would be:
- Fly Finnair to Europe in business with a free stopover in Helsinki for 50,000 miles one-way.
- Take a British Airways business-class flight with a free stopover in London for significantly fewer fuel surcharges compared to booking through other programs.
- Fly Cathay Pacific itself from the U.S. to Hong Kong.
Related: Asia Miles eliminates two award types, introduces Miles Plus Cash bookings
Emirates Skywards is perhaps most useful for those looking to book award tickets for Emirates first class or Emirates business class. Additionally, Emirates has massively reduced the fuel surcharges you’ll need to pay. For example, a one-way first-class award from New York-JFK to Dubai requires 136,250 miles plus about $160 in surcharges.
Emirates has several one-off partners. However, many of those partner redemptions now follow distance-based charts. For example, you can book domestic flights with Alaska Airlines from 8,000 miles one-way and JetBlue flights from 8,000 miles each way. You can also use Emirates Skywards miles for luxury baseball and soccer tickets. For example, before the pandemic, we found tickets to professional sporting events for just 11,000 miles.
Related: Best ways to redeem Emirates Skywards miles for maximum value
Redeeming JetBlue TrueBlue points for the carrier’s flights is simple: The more a flight costs in cash, the more it’ll require in points. According to TPG’s valuations, you can expect to get roughly 1.3 cents of value for every TrueBlue point you redeem. But some flights may yield slightly better or worse value. In particular, redeeming for Mint award tickets often only provides about 1 cent per point.
Another option is to redeem JetBlue points for JetBlue Vacations at a rate of 1.3 cents per point. You can also redeem a mixture of TrueBlue points and cash for flights through Cash + Points redemptions starting at 500 points. However, Cash + Points redemptions should generally be avoided since you’ll only get a redemption value of 0.9 cents per point.
Another option is to redeem JetBlue points for travel on Hawaiian Airlines. There are some good deals to be found on this award chart, including one-way intra-Hawaii flights for 6,000 points in economy and 12,000 points in business.
Related: How to redeem 1 million JetBlue points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas announced both positive and negative changes to its Frequent Flyer program in the summer of 2019. In short, the program wasn’t and still isn’t the most lucrative loyalty program due to high fuel surcharges and a mediocre award chart.
The Qantas Frequent Flyer program uses multiple distance-based award charts. So, you’ll need to select the correct award chart based on the airlines you plan to fly. In particular, you may be able to find some value from short Qantas-operated flights that are expensive when using cash.
Related: Destination unknown: Qantas to relaunch famous ‘mystery flight’
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
There are several sweet spots in the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles program. Historically, only hardcore points and miles collectors would go through the hassle of finding and booking awards in this program. But the online search and booking process has improved drastically, which makes the program more accessible.
You’ll get the most value when you use your miles to book Turkish- or Star Alliance-operated flights. Miles&Smiles prices award flights on region-based award charts and one-way awards are bookable for half the price of a round-trip award. However, fuel surcharges are high on some Miles&Smiles redemptions.
Related: These are the points and miles I’m earning more (and less) of in 2021
Worst Citi ThankYou transfer partners
Even some of the least-valuable Citi ThankYou transfer partners have bright spots. Here’s the lowdown on these programs, including a few areas to look for value.
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands generally won’t be your program of choice. After all, it is generally beat by other programs and is rather difficult to understand. But there are a few notable cases in which you might want to use Infinity MileageLands.
One particular area where I’d look to obtain value from Infinity MileageLands is intra-region round-trips. You’re allowed up to two stopovers, up to six segments and one open jaw on round-trip Star Alliance awards — and some regions are very broad. For example, the “North Asia” region consists of “Guam, Japan, Micronesia, Palau, Russian Far East, South Korea, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Saipan.” So, you could piece together a nice island hopper for just 30,000 miles in economy round-trip or 55,000 miles in business class. Likewise, the “South West Pacific” and “South America” regions also look appealing.
See the award chart for Star Alliance awards here and the award chart for EVA Air awards here.
Related: 7 reasons EVA Air is the most overlooked transpacific business-class option
Jet Airways JetPrivilege
Jet Airways suspended all operations on April 17, 2019. Then JetPrivilege rebranded and evolved to become InterMiles. There may be value in InterMiles, which works similarly to an online travel agency rewards program. But I was unable to find anything overly appealing in a quick search. So, even though Jet Airways may resume operations later this year, I’d avoid transferring Citi ThankYou points to this program for now.
Related: What should you do with your miles if an airline is going bankrupt?
Malaysia Airlines Enrich
Malaysia Airlines devalued its mileage program back in 2015 and then again in 2017. After these two devaluations, there was little left in the program to excite frequent flyers. But, as someone who earned Oneworld Sapphire status through Malaysia Airlines in 2019 and still has some miles to spend, I recently took a closer look at the program.
In 2017, Malaysia introduced dynamic pricing for its awards that seemingly valued miles at about 0.33 cents each. So I was encouraged when Malaysia introduced a fixed-rate redemption option called Enrich Base in February 2020 for its flights. Under the Enrich Base award chart, you can book economy flights between Kuala Lumpur and peninsular Malaysia for just 5,000 miles round-trip. Also, you can book economy flights between Kuala Lumpur and London for 80,000 miles round-trip.
I wouldn’t bother with Malaysia Airlines Enrich if you’re just looking for a place to transfer your Citi ThankYou points. But if you already have Malaysia Enrich miles and are looking to top up your balance to make a redemption, I’d suggest trying to find an Enrich Base redemption that works or looking into Zone 1 on the partner chart.
See the Enrich Base chart for Malaysia Airlines here, for Oneworld and partners here and Firefly here.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
In 2018, Qatar Airways made multiple cuts to its Privilege Club frequent flyer program. First, the airline restricted lounge access and baggage perks for travelers who upgraded using miles. Next, the airline added a booking fee for all award ticket redemptions, ranging from $25 to $75 depending on cabin class. Finally, the airline increased prices for award travel on its planes by as much as 77% with zero notice. But, near the end of 2020, Qatar significantly reduced its award prices by as much as 49%.
Qatar doesn’t have an award chart for its flights, but you can use the Qcalculator if you want to check rates for a particular route. Qatar’s Privilege Club does still offer a partner award chart that is distance-based. But the pricing on this chart isn’t at all competitive. So, I’d avoid Qatar Airways Privilege Club as a Citi ThankYou transfer partner.
Related: How to book Qatar Airways flights with points and miles
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Even back in 2015, Richard Kerr said Thai’s Royal Orchid Plus program “should be at the bottom of your list for ThankYou point transfer partners.” Despite appealing intra-region award pricing, I have to agree. But feel free to check out the award charts for yourself. You can find the Thai award chart for originating in Bangkok here, the Thai award chart for connecting in Bangkok here and the Star Alliance partner award chart here.
Related: Best ways to redeem Citi ThankYou points on Star Alliance airlines
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to using your Citi ThankYou points to book a trip. It makes sense to work on earning Citi ThankYou points even if you don’t know how you want to spend them yet. Then, once you know where you want to go, you can determine which of the best or average transfer partners provide the best options and value for your trip.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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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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