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At the same time Citibank has launched their own transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, 30% through October 13.
The best card for earning transferable Citi ThankYou points is the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. And it has the best initial bonus offer Citi has even made for the card right now at 60,000 points after $4000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of account opening. It has a $0 annual fee the first year then $95.
Earning with this card is:
- 3X Points on Travel, Including Gas Stations
- 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
- 1X points on All Other Purchases
Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card transfer one-to-one to a variety of frequent flyer programs or can be spent directly at 1.25 cents apiece towards airfare on any airline or redeemed for 1 cent apiece for gift cards.
This card’s points transfer to:
- Star Alliance: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, Avianca LifeMiles
- SkyTeam: Air France-KLM, Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
- oneworld: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Non-alliance: Etihad Airways Guest, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, jetBlue, Jet Airways JetPrivilege
Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t worth as much as other miles. However they do have strategic uses and I believe the single best one is ANA first class roundtrip from the Central U.S. and East Coast for just 120,000 miles per person. (San Francisco and Los Angeles is just 110,000 miles roundtrip, while business class runs 90,000 or 95,000 miles depending on the city.)
- While Virgin Atlantic does hit you with fuel surcharges when redeeming miles where paid tickets would incur fuel surcharges, Japan awards have fairly modest fuel surcharges.
- Awards are round trip only. And travel beyond Japan would be a separate round trip award.
- You cannot book these awards online.
- Virgin Atlantic awards have a $50 per passenger change fee, and a cancel/redeposit fee of $50 as well. That’s low by US program standards, but there are no changes at all within 24 hours of departure (you can cancel for $50 but you won’t get your miles back, just the taxes paid).
- You can put an award on hold for 24 hours.
I believe that the ANA first class awards with Virgin Atlantic miles are too good to last over time, since the best deals — those orders of magnitude better than what most programs deliver — always go away eventually.
Another strong use of Virgin Atlantic miles is Delta business class between the US and Europe for 50,000 points each way, which becomes an amazing deal witht he 30% tansfer bonus.
There are other award chart sweet spots, like Australia and New Zealand, but availability for those is fairly non-existent.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)