If you want to maximize your credit card rewards, I always recommend earning transferable points currencies with your credit cards whenever possible. This maximizes your flexibility and shields you from points devaluing. Earning points is one thing, but how should you redeem them? In this post I wanted to take a look at the best uses of Citi ThankYou points.
Citi ThankYou points are easy to earn
There are several credit cards that earn Citi ThankYou points, and the most popular is the $95 annual fee Citi Premier® Card (review), which is currently offering a best-ever welcome bonus of 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months.
There are lots of reasons to get this card beyond the initial offer, including the card offering excellent bonus categories of 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, airfare, and hotels, plus the card offering a $100 annual hotel credit.
There are a few no annual fee cards you can complement this with in order to really maximize value:
- The Citi® Double Cash Card (review) offers 1x ThankYou points when you make a purchase and 1x ThankYou points when you pay for that purchase, making it one of the best cards for everyday spending
- The Citi Rewards+® Card (review) has an innovative “rounding up” feature on spending, and the card also offers a 10% rebate on redemptions, which can net you up to 10,000 ThankYou bonus points per year
- The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (review) offers 5x points on your top eligible spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 of spending per billing cycle; potential categories include drugstores, fitness centers, gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, live entertainment, restaurants, select streaming services, select transit, and select travel
Between those cards, Citi ThankYou points should rack up pretty quickly. Read about my Citi credit card strategy here.
How much Citi ThankYou points are worth
Based on my methodology of valuing points currencies, I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each. For that matter, that’s how much I value all major transferable points currencies. There’s no science to that, but rather I think it’s a fair but conservative valuation for how much value you could get if you’re maximizing your rewards.
How you can redeem Citi ThankYou points
Let’s take a brief look at how you can redeem Citi ThankYou points, and then we’ll talk about how you should redeem points to maximize value. Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners. The program has the below 16 partners, including 14 airlines and two hotel groups, and all transfer at a minimum of a 1:1 ratio.
Aeromexico Club Premier
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
There are a variety of other ways to redeem Citi ThankYou points, though generally they’ll offer at most one cent of value per point. Among other things, you can redeem Citi ThankYou points in the following ways:
- Toward the cost of a flight through the Citi ThankYou travel portal
- Toward a statement credit, direct deposit, or check
- Toward a gift card with a variety of retailers
- Toward shopping directly with popular retailers, ranging from Amazon to Best Buy
The catch is that aside from points transfers, you’ll get at most one cent of value per ThankYou point.
The best uses of Citi ThankYou points
Admittedly with each Citi ThankYou partner there are some niche redemptions that allow you to maximize value. However, I wanted to cover what I consider to be the seven most valuable transfer partners, in terms of the general appeal.
It’s important to understand that you’ll generally get the most value redeeming your points for international flights, especially in business class. Also, if you’re new to redeeming points, check out my top 10 tips for redeeming points, so you can hopefully get the best value.
Below are my favorite Citi ThankYou partners, in alphabetical order.
Transfer to Air France-KLM Flying Blue
If you want to fly across the Atlantic in business class, it’s tough to beat Flying Blue, as this is the key to unlocking Air France business class and KLM business class awards. Not only is this great if you’re looking to travel to Amsterdam and Paris, but the two airlines have extensive route networks throughout Europe and beyond.
You can generally expect that transatlantic business class awards will start around 55,000 miles one-way, with mild fuel surcharges (around $200 one-way). You can sometimes get even better pricing if you can book a Flying Blue Promo Rewards offer.
Transfer to Avianca LifeMiles
If you want to redeem your Citi ThankYou points for travel on a Star Alliance airline, Avianca LifeMiles is your best bet. The program gives you access to all Star Alliance airlines without fuel surcharges, so this could be useful whether you’re looking to fly to Europe on Lufthansa, or fly to South America on Copa.
For example, a transatlantic business class award will generally start at 63,000 miles one-way, while a business class award to Southeast Asia will start at 78,000 miles one-way.
Transfer to Emirates Skywards
Emirates is regarded as one of the world’s best airlines, and Emirates Skywards is the best way to book most Emirates tickets with miles. This could be useful whether you want to take one of Emirates’ fifth freedom flights (from Newark to Athens or New York to Milan), or whether you’re looking to fly with the airline to Dubai and beyond.
It’s even possible to redeem miles for Emirates first class, though it could take some work. A shower in the sky is a worthwhile reward, though! A first class award between the United States and Europe costs 85,000 Skywards miles one-way, if you can find award availability.
Transfer to JetBlue TrueBlue
Admittedly not everyone is looking to redeem for international premium cabin flights, so let me share a practical redemption that will get you way more than one cent of value per point. JetBlue TrueBlue is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner, and has a revenue based frequent flyer program.
You can generally expect that each TrueBlue point will get you around 1.5 cents toward the cost of a JetBlue economy ticket, which is way more than the one cent “cash out” value otherwise available with ThankYou points. For example, take the below flight from New York to Los Angeles, which costs either $162 or 10,300 points plus $5.60 in taxes.
Transfer to Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Citi ThankYou is the only major transferable points currency to partner with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, and that’s pretty exciting. Privilege Club uses Avios as its award currency, and this is a great way to redeem for Qatar Airways’ incredible Qsuites business class. For example, you can potentially travel between the United States and the Middle East for just 70,000 Avios one-way in business class.
There’s another fun angle here, as you can transfer Avios 1:1 between British Airways and Qatar Airways. There are lots of amazing uses of British Airways Avios (including for awards on Alaska and American within the United States), so that essentially makes British Airways an indirect transfer partner of Citi ThankYou.
Transfer to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singapore Airlines restricts most of its first class and business class award space to members of its own KrisFlyer program. So while the airline is in the Star Alliance, don’t expect to be able to snag Singapore Airlines long haul premium cabin awards through other programs.
Fortunately Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer has fair redemption rates, pretty good award availability in business class, and limited surcharges. For example, a one-way business class award on the world’s longest flight will cost you 111,500 miles, while a one-way business class award from New York to Frankfurt or Houston to Manchester will cost you 81,000 miles.
Transfer to Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, and it’s also one of my all-around favorite airline brands. On top of that, Turkish Miles&Smiles has some pretty amazing award redemption opportunities, if you can find award availability on Turkish.
For example, you can fly one-way from the United States to Europe for just 45,000 miles in business class, or one-way from the United States to the Middle East for just 47,000 miles in business class. This pricing is among the lowest you’ll find with any programs, and I consider this to be one of the best award sweet spots out there.
How not to redeem Citi ThankYou points
I tend to think that if you feel good about an award redemption then that should be enough. At the same time, I’d generally aim to get more than one cent of value per Citi ThankYou point, purely based on the other card ecosystems out there.
You’re typically going to get at most one cent of value per point if you redeem your Citi ThankYou rewards through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, or redeem them toward gift cards, statements credits, or purchases with retailers. Personally I’d try to avoid those redemptions, simply because there are better options if you’re looking to redeem your points as cash toward travel purchases, or are looking to earn cash back.
Citi ThankYou is a valuable transferable points currency, which I’ve been collecting for years. It’s hard to beat the combination of the Citi Premier® Card and Citi® Double Cash Card, so that you can earn 2-3x points per dollar spent.
In general Citi ThankYou points are a currency that I’d recommend collecting if you intend to transfer points to airline partners, as that’s the way to maximize value. You can unlock some amazing international first & business class redemptions with these points, with options including Air France, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and more. They can also be redeemed pretty efficiently on JetBlue.
To those who collect Citi ThankYou points, what are your favorite uses of the currency?