How to maximize Citi ThankYou points
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. Citi is a TPG advertising partner.
Many Citi cardholders 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 points by transferring points to the program’s airline and hotel partners.
Currently, Citi ThankYou Rewards has the following airline transfer partners:
Additionally, it has three hotel transfer partners:
In this guide, we’ll look deeper at each of these Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partners. But first, let’s consider how to earn Citi ThankYou points.
How to earn Citi ThankYou points
You can earn Citi ThankYou points through some of Citi’s credit cards. Here are some of my favorite Citi cards that can earn ThankYou points:
But not all ThankYou points have the same value. To transfer your Citi ThankYou points to most partners described in this guide, you must hold a premium Citi ThankYou card such as the Citi Prestige® Card (no longer available to applications) or Citi Premier. If you only have the Citi Rewards+ Card, you’ll earn more limited ThankYou points that transfer to JetBlue, Choice and Wyndham at poor ratios, and not to the other partners at all. Alternatively, you can redeem points for cash back or travel through Citi.
If you have the Citi Double Cash Card or the Citi Custom Cash Card, you earn cash back as “basic” ThankYou points. When redeemed for gift cards, these are worth a flat 1 cent each and cannot be transferred to most ThankYou travel partners.
However, if you also hold the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier, you can combine your basic ThankYou points with those from your Citi Prestige or Citi Premier account. Then, you can transfer to any of the Citi ThankYou travel partners.
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The information for the Citi Prestige card 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: Is Citi ThankYou Rewards the most underappreciated and misunderstood program?
Citi Premier Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $1,080.
Rewards rate: For a limited time, earn 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked on the Citi travel portal through June 30, 2024. Earn 3 ThankYou points per dollar on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations; 1 point per dollar on other purchases.
Annual fee: $95.
Official application link: Citi Premier Card
Related: 4 reasons the Citi Premier Card should be on your short list
Citi Rewards+ Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Rewards rate: For a limited time, earn 5 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi travel portal through June 30, 2024. Earn 2 ThankYou points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar); 1 point per dollar 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.
Official application link: Citi Rewards+ Card
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.
Official application link: Citi Double Cash Card
Related: What credit score do you need to get the Citi Double Cash Card?
Citi Custom Cash Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn $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.
Rewards rate: Each billing cycle (roughly every month or so), you’ll earn 5% cash back (5 ThankYou points per dollar) on the first $500 of purchases in your top spending category from a list that includes things like dining, groceries and gas stations; then 1% back (1 ThankYou point per dollar) on other purchases.
Annual fee: None.
Card benefits: No standout benefits.
Official application link: Citi Custom Cash Card
Related: Flexible 5% cash-back: A review of the Citi Custom Cash credit 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 partner at a 1:1 ratio, except Choice Privileges, where you get a 1:2 rate.
Some other Citi ThankYou cards earn basic ThankYou points that are only transferable to three programs at lower rates:
- Choice Privileges: 1:1.5
- JetBlue TrueBlue: 5:4
- Wyndham Rewards: 1:0.8
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 “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 recognize transfers from Citi ThankYou Rewards quicker than others. Citi says transfers can take up to 14 days to process. TPG ran some experiments to determine how long Citi ThankYou points take to transfer.
So, you may be wondering which Citi travel partners are most valuable. Our monthly TPG valuations give you an idea about 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 plan to travel. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Related: Why mile and point valuations don’t always rule my world
Best Citi ThankYou transfer partners
TPG values Citi ThankYou points at 1.8 cents each. This valuation is based on the value obtained when you transfer your points to select partners. So, here are five of our favorite Citi ThankYou transfer partners.
Avianca LifeMiles is a popular currency for booking flights on Star Alliance carriers with its 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:
You can dig into LifeMiles partner redemption options on the LifeMiles website.
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: The best websites to search for Star Alliance award availability
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is usually your best bet if you’re looking to book long-haul premium-cabin flights on Singapore Airlines. If there’s saver award space, you can book the nonstop flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) for 111,500 miles one-way in business class.
In addition, KrisFlyer usually discounts routes each month through its Spontaneous Escapes program.
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: A first timer’s guide to Singapore’s hawker centers
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, 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.
Another excellent way to redeem Turkish miles is on U.S. domestic flights. You’ll pay 7,500 miles one-way in economy and 12,500 in business class no matter where you fly in the U.S., including Hawaii. This makes Turkish the best Citi transfer option for most domestic flights and by far the best option for flights to Hawaii — though you’ll need to find saver-level awards in order to utilize this sweet spot.
Related: Devaluation after devaluation, 8 TPG staffers share their favorite award redemptions that are still around
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Even after Virgin Atlantic Flying Club suddenly devalued its Delta award chart, it can still a great program for booking certain Delta-operated flights to Europe. In particular, you can book flights on nonstop Delta-operated routes using Virgin Atlantic miles that avoid the U.K. (and those hefty fuel surcharges):
- From 30,000 miles for economy class from the U.S. to Europe (each way).
- From 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. 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 145,000-170,000 miles for first class. You can see the full 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, Bilt 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 in the following seven Citi ThankYou transfer partners.
Aeromexico Club Premier
While Aeromexico Club Premier has an award chart in theory, it uses dynamic pricing in practice. When you search for a flight, you might find a different price than what you see on the award chart.
Still, you may get good value from Aeromexico if you 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.
Some redemptions are certainly appealing, though. For example, business class between the U.S. and Europe starts at just 55,000 Flying Blue miles one-way. But Flying Blue will add fuel surcharges that can be hefty on some routes.
One bright spot is that Flying Blue offers monthly Promo Rewards on its website, which offer discounts of up to 50% on award tickets.
Related: Flying Blue to add free stopovers: Here’s why this could make your miles a lot more valuable
ALL Accor Live Limitless
Accor has 54 brands, including popular names like Sotifel, Fairmont, Raffles and Movenpick. Its redemptions are simple — 2,000 points are worth 40 euros (around $43, based on current exchange rates). That means each Accor point is worth around 2.15 cents.
By transferring Citi points to Accor at a 2:1 ratio, you’ll get just over 1 cent per point, so Accor generally isn’t the best transfer partner.
Since 2,000 Accor points are worth 40 euros, you could opt to partially reduce the out-of-pocket cost of an upcoming Accor stay, especially if you’re traveling during peak travel times. In this sense, you aren’t worrying about limited availability for standard rooms, which can be problematic with other hotel loyalty programs.
If you have a limited number of Citi points, Accor could be an option. If you transfer 4,000 points to another Citi partner, that’s rarely enough for a redemption. However, converting 4,000 Citi points to 2,000 ALL points gets you 40 euros off your stay.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles uses distance-based award charts for flights on its own metal and Oneworld partner awards. Long-haul flights, such as those between the U.S. and Hong Kong, can be expensive. Specifically, you can book one-way “ultra-long” Cathay Pacific flights of 7,501 miles or longer 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. The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles booking engine can be frustrating and difficult to decipher. But if you can manage it, there can be value in the program.
Related: Asia Miles eliminates two award types, introduces Miles Plus Cash bookings
The bulk of Choice properties fall on the budget side of the spectrum, but there are some hidden gems abroad. For example, you can get an excellent deal when booking hotels in Japan and Northern Europe. This one-night stay at the Funken Lodge in Longyearbyen, Norway, costs just 12,000 Choice points per night. The same stay retails for $357.69.
But that’s not the best part. Citi points transfer to Choice at a 1:2 ratio, meaning this redemption only requires 6,000 ThankYou points. You’ll get nearly 6 cents per point in value from that particular redemption, which is excellent for Citi ThankYou Rewards.
Of course, not all redemptions will yield that much value. Here in the States, most Choice hotels fall into brands like Econolodge, Clarion and Sleep Inn. These typically provide less value due to low cash rates, so you’ll want to hold off on Citi transfers unless you’re heading abroad.
Related: 19 ways to earn more Choice Privileges points
Emirates Skywards is perhaps most useful for booking award tickets for Emirates business class or first class. But its award prices are high. For example, a one-way flight from JFK to Dubai International Airport (DXB) in first class typically costs 138,000 miles and $838 in taxes and fees.
A more viable option is to look at one of the carrier’s fifth freedom routes between the U.S. and Europe:
- Daily service from New York-JFK to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) on the Airbus A380.
- Daily service from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) on the Boeing 777-300ER.
These can be a great option, even after this year’s devaluation. One-way award rates start at 87,000 miles plus ~$100 in taxes and fees, but if you can find round-trip, saver-level awards, your total price drops to just 108,000 miles.
Related: Best ways to redeem Emirates Skywards miles for maximum value
Etihad Guest used to be a fantastic program for maximizing partner redemptions. Unfortunately, Etihad slashed all its sweet spots and increased award rates by over 300% on some routes. There are still a few routes where you can maximize Etihad Guest miles. For example, flights from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO) start at 60,003 miles.
It’s worth noting that American AAdvantage now offers lower award rates for Etihad flights compared to Etihad Guest. However, American AAdvantage doesn’t have 1:1 transfer partnerships outside of Bilt Rewards.
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: Your ultimate guide to searching award availability for the major airlines
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas generally isn’t the most lucrative loyalty program with its high fuel surcharges and a lackluster 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 find some value from short Qantas-operated flights that are expensive when using cash.
Related: Destination unknown: Qantas to relaunch famous ‘mystery flight’
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Qatar’s loyalty program doesn’t offer a ton of value, but since the carrier’s switch to Avios as its currency, there are some reasons to consider it as a transfer partner.
For starters, it’s the only Avios-accruing program to partner with Citi ThankYou Rewards. The others — British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus and Aer Lingus AerClub — partner with other transferrable currencies but not Citi.
And since you can combine your Avios across all four of these programs, you can transfer ThankYou points to Qatar and then utilize sweet spots in other programs — like 34,000 Avios for off-peak, business-class flights from New York to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) on Iberia.
Here are a few other redemptions that might be worthwhile:
- American Airlines and Iberia: U.S. to Europe from 35,000 and 70,000 Avios in economy and business class each way.
- Qatar Airways: Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) to Europe from 64,500 Avios in first class or from 70,000 Avios from the U.S. to Doha on the Qsuite.
- Royal Air Maroc: U.S. to Morocco from 70,000 Avios in business class.
Related: Sweet Spot Sunday: How to book Qatar Qsuites to the Maldives for just 85,000 points
Citi ThankYou points transfer to Wyndham at a 1:1 ratio. Wyndham has a simple award chart: Award nights cost 7,500, 15,000 or 30,000 points per night. Not all properties are a good deal, but you can sometimes find bargains in expensive cities, at high-end properties or over holidays and other peak travel times.
You can also use Wyndham Rewards points to book Vacasa vacation rentals. These rentals cost 15,000 points per night per bedroom, so you’ll get the best deal on studio and one-bedroom rentals. All Vacasa properties are bookable with points, but you must call to find award space and book.
Related: I redeemed points for a home rental in a way you’ve probably never heard of — here’s how
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 beaten 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 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 round-trip in economy or 55,000 miles in business class. Likewise, the “South West Pacific” and “South America” regions also look appealing.
You can 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
Redeeming JetBlue TrueBlue points for the carrier’s flights is simple: The more a flight costs in cash, the more it will 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 travel on Hawaiian Airlines. This award chart has some good deals, including one-way intra-Hawaii flights for 6,000 points in economy and 12,000 points in business, though these frequently have low cash rates. You can also book long-haul international Hawaiian Airlines flights from Hawaii for 30,000 points in economy and 70,000 points in business.
Related: How to earn points in the JetBlue TrueBlue program
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Despite some appealing intra-region award pricing, you won’t find much value in Thai Royal Orchid Plus. 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: Citi Premier credit card review: 60,000 bonus points with valuable earning rates
As you can see, there are plenty of options for 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. Once you know where you want to go, you can determine which transfer partners provide the best options and value for your trip.
Additional reporting by Kyle Olsen.