Last summer Citi started competing with American Express and Chase by making their ThankYou points transferable to airline partners.
Basically the goal was to make the Citi Premier℠ Card competitive with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express. And it is indeed competitive in terms of annual fee, category bonuses, etc.
ThankYou points can be transferred to the following airline partners:
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Etihad Guest
- Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Citi ThankYou has just recently announced their newest transfer partner, Qantas Frequent Flyer.
I’ve received a lot of emails from readers along the lines of “I like Qantas, so I should be excited about this, right?”
Well, on one hand more transfer partners are always a good thing, so it’s certainly not bad news. That being said, I can’t off the top of my head think of a single redemption where Qantas miles are the best way to book that ticket.
Qantas A380 at Sydney Airport
As a general rule of thumb, Qantas Frequent Flyer:
- Imposes hefty fuel surcharges for travel on their own flights and on partner airlines
- Has really high redemption rates for travel on their own flights
- Has a distance based award chart for travel on partner airlines, which isn’t at all compelling
For example, Qantas charges 144,000 miles for a one-way first class award between Sydney and Los Angeles (in the off chance you’re actually able to find availability):
In addition to that there’s ~$260 in fuel surcharges:
Meanwhile a Los Angeles to Brisbane award will cost you 96,000 miles one-way in business class:
In addition to that there’s ~$390 in fuel surcharges:
And a quick one-way business class domestic hop between Sydney and Melbourne will cost you 16,000 miles:
In all cases there are substantially cheaper ways to book those flights:
- American AAdvantage charges 72,500 miles for first class between the US and Australia, and doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges
- American AAdvantage charges 62,500 miles for business class between the US and Australia, and doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges
- British Airways Executive Club charges 9,000 Avios for business class between Sydney and Melbourne
As you can see, in all three cases awards on Qantas metal can be had for almost half the cost just by strategically going through other programs instead.
For travel on oneworld partner airlines, Qantas has a distance based award chart, based on the one-way distance you’re traveling, as follows:
Again, I don’t think there’s a single redemption value on the chart that I’d consider to be especially lucrative.
I give Citi credit for how they’ve built up the ThankYou Rewards program. Their airline partnerships are unique, in that they have some partners that the other major transferable points currencies don’t have.
What’s kind of funny is that they partner with a lot of the airlines I want to fly with, but don’t want to redeem miles with. In a really odd way, there’s sort of an inverse correlation between the quality of an airline’s product and the value of their frequent flyer program.
Citi ThankYou has some awesome transfer partners, like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Air France/KLM Flying Blue. I don’t, however, see myself redeeming ThankYou points for a Qantas points transfer anytime soon.
But it’s nice to have the option, I suppose…
Is there anything I’m missing? Are there any cases where Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program offers a compelling redemption value?