In mid-July we saw a fantastic development to the Citi ThankYou program, whereby it’s now possible to transfer points to American AAdvantage for a limited time. I wanted to recap this opportunity, and also share my take on whether it makes sense to speculatively take advantage of this.
Citi ThankYou adds American AAdvantage as partner
For a limited time, through November 13, 2021, Citi ThankYou points can be transfered to American AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio. This assumes that you have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, which are the cards required in order to transfer points to Citi ThankYou airline partners.
This is really exciting to see — among the “big three” carriers in the United States, American Airlines was the only one with a mileage currency that couldn’t efficiently be earned through one of the major transferable points currencies (Amex points can be converted into Delta SkyMiles, and Chase points can be converted into United MileagePlus miles).
American AAdvantage has some awesome mileage redemption options for travel on partner airlines, especially for those looking to redeem in premium cabins on Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, and Qatar Airways. For example, for a one-way business class award ticket on one of the above partners you’ll pay:
- 60,000-70,000 AAdvantage miles between the United States and Asia
- 70,000 AAdvantage miles between the United States and the Middle East/India
- 75,000 AAdvantage miles between the United States and Africa
These are some of the best award redemption values out there, and this is no doubt a transfer option that many people will appreciate.
Earn 80K points with the Citi Premier Card
For anyone looking to earn American AAdvantage miles, this is the ideal time to pick up the Citi Premier® Card (review). The card is offering its best-ever welcome bonus of 80,000 ThankYou points. This was a huge bonus to begin with, but has just become even more valuable, as you can now use this to earn American AAdvantage miles.
There are lots of great benefits to the Citi Premier Card, including the bonus categories. The Citi Premier® Card offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, airfare, and hotels, making this one of the most well-rounded cards for everyday spending. There are several other great cards potentially earning ThankYou points as well.
Should you transfer Citi points to American?
Since this transfer option has become available, lots of readers have asked if it makes sense to take advantage of this and make a points transfer. Here’s my take in general:
- There are some phenomenal uses of American AAdvantage miles, and lots of redemptions where it could make sense to transfer points
- That being said, a large part of the value of transferable points currencies comes from the flexibility, and you lose that when you transfer them
- I certainly wouldn’t make any speculative transfers right now, because this opportunity is available for another three months
- Come November, I could see it making sense to speculatively transfer some ThankYou points to AAdvantage, but only assuming you have a redemption in mind within a few months
- American AAdvantage hasn’t devalued partner awards in about five years now, and I suspect that we’ll eventually see a devaluation of some sort
- That brings me to another topic, which I’ll address below — while nothing has been announced, it’s possible this partnership could be extended
Could this transfer option become permanent?
While this transfer option is currently available through November 13, 2021, personally I don’t think it’s out of the question that this could be extended, or even become permanent. For years points hobbyists have wondered about why Citi ThankYou points didn’t transfer to American AAdvantage miles, especially given the co-brand card relationship, and the policies of competitors.
Presumably up until recently this has come down to one of two factors:
- American and Citi couldn’t agree on a fair price for points transfers
- American was worried that a transfer option like this would cannibalize its co-brand card portfolio
I suppose there are a few ways to look at this temporary opportunity:
- American is testing the waters on a transfer option like this, and what impact it has on its co-brand card portfolio, transfer volumes, and how people redeem miles
- In light of coronavirus American views this as an easy way to generate some revenue
- American’s economics on the cost at which transfers make sense has changed; this could be due to the ways people redeem miles, planned devaluations, etc.
Only time will tell what the real explanation is, though personally I don’t think it’s out of the question that this could be extended.
Through November 13, 2021, Citi ThankYou points transfer to American AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio, which is a cool development. While this is only valid for a limited time as of now, who knows, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become permanent. This is all the more reason to pick up the Citi Premier® Card, given the current bonus of 80,000 ThankYou points.
If you’re thinking about whether or not to transfer points, I wouldn’t make a decision just yet, unless you have a short term use in mind for AAdvantage miles. I’ll circle back on this topic in early November, when this opportunity is closer to expiring (assuming it’s not extended).
What do you make of AAdvantage being added as a Citi transfer partner? Will you transfer points?