I’ve often called Citi ThankYou Points the forgotten transferable points program — sometimes it feels like I’m on a mission to prove their worth. Look, I get it Amex Membership Rewards partners with Delta and Chase Ultimate Rewards partners with United while Citi doesn’t have a domestic transfer partner.
However, if that stops you from earning ThankYou Points, you’re making a big mistake. Citi has partnerships that overlap with Amex, Capital One and Chase which means it can supplement transfers if you need more miles for an award.
It also means ThankYou Points can allow you to save your other points for a unique opportunity. Think about it, Chase is the only transfer partner of World of Hyatt. Rather than transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore KrisFlyer to book an award, you could transfer Citi points and use the Chase points for a Hyatt stay.
If that’s not enough to convince you of their value, perhaps these 10 brilliant ways to redeem ThankYou Points will do it.
Lufthansa First Class With Avianca LifeMiles
Booking Lufthansa first class with partner miles can be tough as they don’t release award space until 14 days from departure. With a little flexibility, though, you can use 87,000 Avianca LifeMiles to book it. As we’ve mentioned time and again, it’s not just the flight that makes this a fun experience. In fact, it’s the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt (FRA) that really takes Lufthansa first class to the next level.
If Frankfurt is your departure point, you’ll find that it really is its own terminal where a personal assistant will get you checked in for your flight. The First Class terminal even has its own duty-free shop.
Once inside, you can enjoy à la carte dining (or buffet if you choose) and take a look at the champagne list to see what you fancy. Of course, there’s a bar complete with just about everything you can imagine.
If you’ve had a day out in Frankfurt or are connecting after a long flight, you can grab a shower or even a bath complete with a souvenir rubber ducky. At this point, what else can you really ask from a lounge?
Well, with Lufthansa, you get a Porsche ride to your flight. You don’t even have to keep track of the time as your lounge assistant will let you know it’s time and take you to the car. If you can’t find enjoyment driving across the tarmac and walking up to a Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, please let us know and we’ll take your place.
Don’t worry, don’t worry. The flight is also amazing. Honestly, take in the whole experience from the moment you set foot on the plane. Throw on the pajamas Lufthansa provides, poke around your amenity kit and enjoy the first of a few glasses of champagne.
Should you choose to partake in the caviar service, they’ll pair it with ice-cold vodka to complete the experience — unless you’re like me and think vodka is basically rubbing alcohol; prove me wrong.
So, how many miles do you need to book Lufthansa first class? Well, with Avianca LifeMiles only 87,000 miles and no surcharges — even fewer if you connect in business or economy. Not bad when you consider United requires 110,000 miles and Aeroplan requires 70,000 plus steep surcharges.
Cathay Pacific Business Class From New York To Vancouver
If flying Cathay Pacific business class from New York (JFK) to Vancouver (YVR) isn’t the best way to fly across North America, it’s certainly in the running. With many transcontinental flights outfitted with domestic first class recliners, a lie-flat seat is a real treat.
Regardless of which direction you’re flying, your trip will start off with a nice visit to a lounge — American Airlines Flagship Lounge in New York or Cathay Pacific’s own lounge in Vancouver. Having spent time in both, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
At only 50,000 Asia Miles for a round-trip business class award, this is a great way to try Cathay Pacific business class if you can’t quite fit in a trip to Hong Kong.
Oman Air Business Class With Etihad Guest
While Oman Air doesn’t fly to the U.S., there are a few great opportunities to try their business class product between the Middle East and Asia or Europe. If you really want to get the most out of the experience, we’d suggest trying the Muscat (MCT) to London Heathrow (LHR) route or the Muscat to Manila (MNL).
If you haven’t heard much about Oman Air, no one can blame you. It’s not part of a major airline alliance and thus easily slips under the radar of many. However, as a partner of Etihad, you can book with Etihad Guest miles and get a solid deal on business class.
On the Muscat-London route, you can use 44,000 Etihad Guest miles to book a one-way award while the Muscat-Manila route will cost 51,000 miles – not bad for flights that are 7 or 8 hours. Hopefully, these routes will give you enough time to really take in the excellent service and food. If not, you just might have to book a round-trip.
El Al Business Class With Qantas Frequent Flyer
Finding award space to Israel out of the U.S. isn’t the easiest task unless you want to connect in Europe. However, there’s one airline that is often overlooked as it’s not part of a major alliance — starting to see the theme? — that flies non-stop from several U.S. airports. In fact, it’s Israel’s own El Al.
With a business class layout similar to the new United Polaris business class on their Dreamliners, you’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable flight without anyone climbing over you (or vice versa). You can also count on having plenty of Kosher meal options — much better than what you’ll find on other carriers.
While Qantas Frequent Flyer has a distance-based award chart, you can book a one-way from the east coast — think New York (JFK) — for only 78,000 Qantas points. Unlike some Qantas awards, you won’t be on the hook for surcharges so you can keep the cash cost to a minimum.
Singapore Suites With KrisFlyer
One of the flight experiences we hear talked about most often has to be Singapore Suites — we’re not just talking the new suites either. We get it. A double bed in the sky and both Dom Perignon and Krug champagne flowing, who wouldn’t want to try it?
And, let’s not forget the ability to select your meals prior to flying with the Book The Cook option with an extensive list of choices. Top it all off with crews that are astonishingly good at what they do and you’re sure to have a blast.
The toughest part with Singapore Suites is that you can only book with Singapore KrisFlyer miles and you can only fly it into or out of New York (JFK). However, for 132,000 KrisFlyer miles, you can fly Singapore Suites one-way between Singapore and New York — there’s a stop in Frankfurt on the way.
You could book a flight to/from Frankfurt for 86,000 KrisFlyer miles but you might find that the flight is a bit too short to fully enjoy the experience. Either way, Singapore Airlines won’t hit you with surcharges on its own flights so you don’t have to worry about steep cash costs.
EVA Business Class With Infinity MileageLands
EVA Air business class has a great reputation thanks to great crews, Rimowa amenity kits — on flights out of Taipei — and champagne you’ll often find in first class. Generally, people book with United or Aeroplan miles but don’t sleep on Infinity MileageLands.
Until Captial One partnered with EVA Air, only Citi ThankYou Points could be transferred to Infinity MIleageLands so now it’s even easier to take advantage of one of my favorite options. What’s that option? Well, EVA sometimes releases one more business class seat to its own members than to partners.
A one-way business class flight between the U.S. and Taipei will only require 75,000 miles which is the same as Aeroplan. This is a great example of how you can supplement other transferable points with Citi points. You could transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan to book one seat then grab the last one with Infinity MileageLands. Boom!
Delta One With Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
We regularly hear from people who are frustrated with the award rates Delta SkyMiles charges for international business class flights on Delta. We hear you and we’re on your side. That’s why we suggest looking to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book these same flights for far fewer miles.
Let’s take a quick look at the differences between what Delta and Virgin Atlantic will charge for a one-way Delta One award on a few routes:
|Route||Delta SkyMiles||Virgin Atlantic
|U.S. to Europe||82,000 miles||50,000 miles|
|U.S. to Asia||80,000 miles||60,000 miles|
|U.S. to South Africa||95,000 miles||60,000 miles|
|U.S. to Australia||110,000 miles||75,000 miles|
Unless you’re just trying to get rid of some SkyMiles, Flying Club is clearly the superior option. In fact, Delta has recently been charging 105,000 miles for a one-way business class award to Europe. One might think this isn’t saver level and thus not bookable with Virgin miles, but it is. That’s a 55,000-mile difference!
The one thing to keep in mind with Flying Club is that connections require additional miles. Although, at some of the rates Delta is charging, you still might save points with Virgin Atlantic.
Don’t forget, if you want to book with Flying Club, you can have Virgin hold the award for 48 hours so you can lock in the space before transferring ThankYou Points.
American Airlines Premium Cabin With Etihad Guest
With rumors swirling that Etihad might be ending its partnership with American Airlines to hook up with United Airlines, we might not have much more time to take advantage of this option.
Rather than using American AAdvantage miles to book a flight on America, you can often get a much better deal when booking with Etihad Guest miles. When booking international and business class awards, the difference can be huge.
Premium cabin award space on American can be tough to find, but now’s the time to book if you can find it. As a partner of both Citi ThankYou Points and Amex Membership Rewards, you won’t have any trouble earning enough miles.
Don’t forget, you can visit one of American’s Flagship lounges if you book an international or transcontinental — on select routes — premium cabin award on American.
Flying Blue Promo Awards
With award rates discounted 25-50%, it’s hard not to like Flying Blue Promo Awards. Sure, you’ll have to pay some surcharge when flying either Air France or KLM but that can easily be offset by how few miles you’ll need.
Some Promo Awards will only allow you to fly Air France while others will only allow you to fly KLM. However, we’ve found that you can fly either to/from North America most of the time.
Since Flying Blue has variable award pricing for its own flights, we suggest using the Miles Price Estimator to figure out the saver level cost on your desired route. The Promo Award rate should be based on this rate.
If you want to keep the mileage cost to an absolute minimum, booking a connection to one of several European cities will help. There are a number of cities that allow you to book a one-way business class award from North America for 53,000 Flying Blue miles including:
- Tel Aviv (Flying Blue considers it to be part of Europe)
With a 25% discount, you’re looking at only 39,750 miles for a one-way business class ticket to/from one of these cities. If you can book a 50% discount, you’ll only need 26,500 miles — less than many economy awards to Europe.
There are other cities in Europe with a business class saver level redemption rate of 53,000 miles so make sure you use the Miles Price Estimator.
Turkish Airlines Business Class Via Miles & Smiles
The Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles program doesn’t get talked about much because of the obstacles to booking partner awards — hopefully, that’s gets cleared up soon. That can certainly be frustrating but we shouldn’t completely ignore the program as there are some solid awards just waiting to be booked.
As an example, you can book Turkish Airlines business class to/from Europe for only 45,000 Miles & Smiles miles. You can even include a stopover.
While Turkish Airlines doesn’t have Qsuites-level business class seats, they are launching a new business class seat (see image above). Turkish is also known for having some of the best inflight catering in the sky.
Soon, you’ll even be able to check out Istanbul’s new airport. If the new Turkish business class lounge is anything like the old one, you’ll want a long layover to enjoy it.
Bonus: Take Advantage Of Transfer Bonuses
Like American Express, Citi regularly runs transfer bonus promotions to select airline transfer partners. You can expect a bonus of 15-30% when Citi runs transfer promo.
In the last 6 months, we’ve seen several bonuses including:
- Avianca LifeMiles – 25%
- Qantas Frequent Flyer – 25%
- Turkish Miles & Smiles – 25%
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – 30%
Take the Qantas 25% bonus, for example. You could transfer 63,000 Citi ThankYou Points to get the 78,000 Qantas points you’d need for a one-way business class award from New York on El Al. That’s a killer deal to the Middle East if you ask us.
How To Earn Citi ThankYou Points
The Citi ThankYou Points portfolio doesn’t provide quite as many options as you’ll find with Amex Membership Rewards (Learn More), but the options are good ones. Let’s take a quick look at some of your options.
The Citi Prestige is their high-end card with a $495 annual fee. Of course, it also has lucrative bonus categories including 5X on dining and airfare, 3X on hotels and cruises and 2X on entertainment (until August 31, 2018). It also comes with a $250 travel credit which helps offset the annual fee as well as a Priority Pass Select membership.
If that’s more than you need, the Citi Premier earns 3X at gas stations and on travel as well as 2X on dining and entertainment. This card carries a $95 annual fee but it’s waived the first year.
There are also two ThankYou Points cards with no annual fees that have useful benefits. The Citi Rewards+ Card earns 2X at gas stations and grocery stores up to $6,000 per year. Additionally, each purchase is rounded up to the nearest 10 points. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% rebate on up to 100,000 points you redeem each year.
Finally, an option you don’t hear about too often is the Citi Access Card. It earns 2X on purchases at eligible retail and travel sites. Basically, it allows you to earn bonus points on many online purchases — Amazon, Best Buy, etc.
Citi ThankYou Points might not be as popular as Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards, but forgetting this program means missing out on some great ways to book awards.
If nothing else, it’s a great program to pair with other transferable points programs to either help supplement earning miles with overlapping partners or to fill in the gaps with better booking options.
Once you have some ThankYou Points, the real challenge becomes deciding what award to book.