Part 3: Maximizing Citi Thank You Rewards Airline Partners
Just as important as it is to know how to earn lots of Citi Thank You points, you also need to know how to maximizing their value when redeeming them for travel.
As outlined in the redeeming Citi Thank You points post, there are several ways in which you can redeem your points…
- Fights, hotels, cars, travel packages and activities
- Travel gift certificates
- Transfer to select loyalty programs
- Cash off your credit card statement
When to Redeem All or Partial Citi Thank You Points in Exchange for Flights or Hotel Stays on Citi’s Online Booking System
One of the reasons I’m fond of Citi Thank You points is that you can redeem your Citi Thank You points to pay for any flight or hotel stay on Citi’s online booking system. If you are short on points, you can pay using partial points and pay the cash difference.
This gives you a great deal of flexibility because you can select any flight with any airline. No blackout dates!
Best part is that you can still accrue frequent flyer mile points! (NOTE: you would not be able to accrue hotel points). For example, if you redeemed Citi Thank You points to book a flight from Seattle to San Francisco using Citi’s online booking system, you can accrue 678 frequent flyer miles for the flight.
If you were to redeem, lets say United miles for an award flight, you would not be able to accrue frequent flyer miles.
It does not always make sense to redeem your Citi Thank You points in this way. For example, if you are looking to book a flight in business or first class, you would want to transfer your Citi Thank You Points to one of their select loyalty programs (example: Air France, Thai Airways, etc.).
Lets take a look at a few examples…
1. Round-Trip Flight from Kansas City to New York City in economy class — value of ticket: $250
In this case, you would save 5,000 Citi Thank You points by booking the flight directly on Citi’s online booking system rather than transfer points to one of their exchange partners (in this case, Singapore Airlines).
Keep in mind, that this example if working off the assumption that there would be a United award flight available to Singapore Airlines frequent flyer mile members. Generally speaking, partner airlines only make a few seats available to their partners.
Also, if you selected the first option to redeem your points on the Citi Thank You booking system, you could still accrue frequent flyer miles for the flight.
You would not be able to accrue miles if you exchanged points to Singapore Airlines for an award flight on United.
BEST VALUE: Redeem Citi Thank You Points on Citi’s online booking system
2. Round-Trip Flight from Phoenix to Paris in business class — value of ticket: $2,800
If you exchanged your Citi Thank You points to Air France miles, you could save 99,000 Citi Thank You points when booking a flight from Phoenix to Paris in business class.
However, you would have to make sure that Air France has an award flight available before exchanging your Citi Thank You points.
BEST VALUE: Exchange Citi Thank You points to Air France miles
How to Maximize Airline Partners
You can transfer your Citi Thank You points to the following loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio (exception Hilton)…
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Etihad Guest Miles
- Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
- Hilton Hhonors (1:1.5 ratio)
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
This means that for every 1,000 Citi Thank You points, you can get 1,000 frequent flyer miles with the programs above. The only exception is that 1,000 Citi Thank You points is equal to 1,5000 Hilton Hhonors points.
Each major alliance is represented; OneWorld (American Airlines and partners), SkyTeam (Delta and partners) and Star Alliance (United Airlines and partners). To learn more about the three major alliances, please read my eBook.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Promotional Flights: On the first of every month, Flying Blue releases promo flights that can save you up to 50% off the number of miles needed for an award flight. For example, currently it only costs 12,500 miles for a one-way from Detroit to Europe.
- Flights from Mainland USA to Hawaii: Flying Blue requires the fewest amount of miles needed for a one-way or round-trip flight from mainland USA to Hawaii. You would need 15,000 miles for a one-way and 30,000 miles for a round-trip. While Air France does not operate flights to Hawaii, plenty of their partners do.
- Flights to the Caribbean: Flying Blue includes several Caribbean locations as part of North America. This means it would only cost you 25,000 miles round-trip to fly from mainland USA to Saint Maarten, Aruba, Bonair, and Curacao.
- 15% off award Singapore and SilkAir flights: Singapore require 15% fewer miles when booking award flights on its own flights as well as flights on SilkAir.
- Use miles for a discount: you can pay for all or a portion of your award flight using miles. If you do not have enough miles, you can pay the difference in cash.
- No last minute ticketing fee: normally airlines charge for booking an award flight within 21 days of departure. Singapore Airlines does not charge a fee.
- Domestic business class seats: Singapore Airlines only requires 40,000 miles for a round-trip domestic business class award flight, compared to the 50,000 United miles required.
- Suite class: Singapore Airlines has a class above first called Suite class. Just like it sounds, you get your own suite. The only way to book an award flight in Suite class is to redeem Singapore Airline miles.
As you can see, there is no hard and fast rules about the best value of Citi Thank You points.
Before you redeem your Citi Thank You points, you really need to play around with different redemption scenarios to see which offers the best value. Use the examples and rules outlined in this post to help you. You can also leave a comment below and I will do my best to help you.