Citi Thank You Points Just Became Really Useful Again!

Two-plus years ago there was much speculation about Citi introduces points transfer partners to the Thank You Points program.

A year and a half ago they introduces transfers to Hilton HHonors. And that was it.

Now they’ve gone ahead and done it!

Back in the day these were really valuable points.

  • You could use them to buy any revenue ticket that met a series of qualifications, and some people forced full fare tickets across the Pacific with a single non-refundable segment. Citi ‘devalued’ the program and the best you could do was three points per dollar.

  • But that was still awesome, because you could earn as much as 12 points per dollar on gas and groceries with the Citi Drivers Edge card (6 points for the category bonus, matched by the miles you drove). That meant a 36% rebate on purchases made at grocery stores and gas stations.

  • They devalued again. And again. And have since cut back on earning.

But they’ve finally made these better than a poor ‘rebate towards travel’ set of cards with the introduction of several 1:1 points transfer to miles partners (in 1000 mile increments) for Citi Thank You Premier, Prestige and Chairman cardmembers.

Here’s the list of transfer partners.

  • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

Thai’s devaluation seals the deal on that program for me.

You can redeem Etihad Guest points for their new A380 Residences. And there are a handful of good values like Europe – Middle East in first class.

AsiaMiles has some good short distance-based awards. They’re also an American Express transfer partner.

The Best All-Around Option Here is Singapore Airlines Krisflyer

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a surprisingly useful program.

If you book on the Singapore website you get a 15% discount of the prices on the award chart. So, for instance:

  • San Francisco – Hong Kong in ‘suites class’ is 70,125 miles one-way.
  • Houston – Moscow in first class is 57,375 miles one-way.
  • New York JFK – Frankfurt in suites class is 57,375 miles one-way.

You can have one enroute stopover on a roundtrip award.

Singapore adds fuel surcharges to awards (whatever the cost of a fuel surcharge would be on an equivalent paid ticket).

If you want to fly Singapore Airlines, which really has one of the world’s best first class products, the way to do it is with Singapore’s own miles.

There are also strong values redeeming Singapore miles on partners. Singapore’s partner award chart is here. The chart lists roundtrip award prices, but one-way awards are half the cost of roundtrip. These awards have to be booked over the phone.

  • US – Hawaii costs 35,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 60,000 miles roundtrip up front (in ‘business class’ — United classifies their domestic first class as business class for award purposes, for experts out there that means United’s domestic first class awards book into “I class”.)

  • North America domestic first class awards cost just 40,000 miles roundtrip (again, because United books their domestic first class into “I” which is Star Alliance business).

  • North America – Europe is 130,000 miles roundtrip in business class; 160,000 miles roundtrip in first.

  • North America – Middle East is 115,000 miles roundtrip in business class, 150,000 miles roundtrip in first.

  • South Africa is 145,000 miles roundtrip in business class.

There are no fuel surcharges on US domestic awards (or awards between the US and South America).

Singapore of course is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. So not a ton unique here in this addition.

The increased number of transfer partners though does mean that Singapore is even more useful as a place to pool your miles (but bear in mind that miles expire after three years — not three years of inactivity).

Singapore is also a great place to credit the occasional United flight next year once United flight earning goes revenue-based.

Here’s the bottom-line on Citi’s new transfer partners:

  1. They’re actually breathing life into the Citi Thank You program.

  2. They’ve mostly got third-tier transfer partners, but there are transfer partners. And they’ll span the global alliances.

  3. I value Singapore miles at more than Thank You points are otherwise worth in airfare (except to Citi Prestige cardmembers using their points on US Airways and American).

  4. More options are good, and these options do increase the value of the points… not enough that I want to focus on the program, but enough that folks who have been earning 5 points per dollar category bonuses should rejoice.

(HT: toomanybooks)

Update: Dan’s Deals says that points can be transferred to Malaysia Airlines Enrich. That got me looking around, and I found the same thing claimed on Flyertalk. But Malaysia is not listed as a transfer partner on the Thank You website. Maybe it was there earlier and then pulled.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. wow, awesome that they added this but timing couldn’t have been worse for me – I just burned ~70k TY points about 3 weeks ago on some intra-asia short hop flights at 1.33 cents per point. Granted, it saved me ~$950 out of pocket for flights that I had to book anyways, but damn, what a punch in the gut thinking about what I could have gotten for them with a transfer to SQ 🙁

  2. All we need now is Barclays to join the club so those 40k Arrival miles can be put to better use!

  3. So they track each batch of earned or transferred miles separately and expire each one of them individually? Is there no way to extend the expiry past 3 years?

  4. I’m not complaining because more is better (especially with the beating this card has taken since its glory days) but, save SQ, this seems like such an odd bundle of misfit airline programs. I can’t imagine anyone not into the miles game would see those airlines and expect this card to be valuable to them.

  5. I’m surprised that there are no US or European carriers.

    On FT someone was saying that Citi wouldn’t want to devalue their AA cards by making TYP transferable to AA, but you’d still be using a Citi card, I don’t see why Citi would care.

  6. I know that M&M has expanded availability for SQ flights, does the same apply in reverse? Can KrisFlyer book LH F > 2 weeks out if M&M has availability?

  7. Gary: great meeting you this weekend at Advanced FTU. Can you provide the best links to all the credit cards that provide transferable Thank You points to take advantage of this new opportunity? Thanks.

  8. @Brian – it’s probably because of people like me, with high TYP balances from various lucrative promotions. I still get 5x TYP on dining and bookstores/Amazon.

  9. Gary, I looked at Garuda’s chart for Skyteam and Etihad redemptions … but to complete the redemption, you have to travel to a Garuda ticket office with all your documents.

    These aren’t great partners … I value my TYP at 1.6 cents each because that’s how much I get when I redeem them for flights on AA/US (which is my primary carrier now).

  10. Any idea whether transfers to airlines count towards Citi’s annoying policy of taxing redemptions over $650 in a year? I’ve all but sworn off TY points for redemptions above that amount, but the transfer may be a way around it.

  11. @Amol – yes I flag at the end of the post that I consider the 1.6 cent use better for folks with Prestige.

    @Daniel M – there’s a citi premier offer of 50k but you need to wait until year 2 for 60% of the bonus.
    http://vftw-links.com/typref

    I don’t see a ton of strong Thank You signup bonuses presently.

  12. @Tarheel traveler I cannot imagine they could report as taxable a rebate earned from a credit card provided in the form of miles.

    Personally i would fight any thank you points redemption tax treatment since those are rebates, anyway, but they do not 1099 American AAdvantage miles or hilton hhonors points earned via those co-branded cards

  13. Dang it, I should have not cashed out my manufactured stash of 3 million TYP points! Oh well, more churning in the future.

  14. 450 out of 500 of those who had the city thank you cards got shut down and points taken away back in 2013 & 2012 for all those drug store visits! too late

  15. If one were to get points without one of the listed cards (e.g. via the preferred card or through a checking account) would the points you’ve already earned be eligible if you were to apply and get one of the premium cards? I know that works with Amex MR and Chase that all points you’ve earned can be combined and used with the benefits of the top card, but I wasn’t sure if there were separate “buckets” of points, so to speak.

  16. I have one of the old Citi Forward cards that uses ThankYou points (the card that had 5% back on Amazon/bookstores/restaurants/movies/music). Does this program effect me at all?

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