Max Out Your Citi ThankYou Points With These 5 Amazing Redemptions

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best Citi ThankYou Point redemption business class

Best Citi ThankYou Point Redemption Options

Ever get overwhelmed with the number of options for redeeming you points and miles? I sure have been at times. This is especially true when you’re searching for awards with a particular bank currency. When I first got a Citi Premier card, I struggled to find the best Citi ThankYou Point redemption options.

This is the issue you run into with a currency that can be transferred to numerous partners. With Citi, things were even more of a conundrum, as there were several partners with award programs unknown to me.

But slowly I began to find both the better partners and better options for ThankYou points, which really changed my mind about the value of the currency.

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

Before we dig into the best ways to redeem Citi ThankYou points, I thought we should discuss the best ways to earn them. The quickest and easiest way is to pick up a new Citi card with a good welcome offer to quickly boost your balance. Here are some cards worth considering:

Premium Cards

These cards earn fully transferable Citi ThankYou points.
  • Citi Prestige – 50,000 ThankYou points with a $495 annual fee thereafter after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The card has a $250 annual travel credit, Priority Pass membership, and earns 5x ThankYou points on air travel and at restaurants.
  • Citi Premier – 60,000 ThankYou points with a $0 intro annual fee ($95 annual fee thereafter) after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. It is the best starter Citi ThankYou card in my opinion. Earns 3x points on travel and gas.

No Annual Fee Cards

You need one of the Premium cards above to be able to combine or transfer these points with in order to use transfer partners.
  • Citi Rewards+ – 15,000 ThankYou points with no annual fee after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months. Card earns 2x at grocery stores and gas stations. The most unique feature is the “round up” benefit to the nearest 10 points per transaction.
  • Citi Double Cash – No current welcome offer (supposedly a $100 statement credit offer is available in-branch). Card earns 2%/2x (cash back can convert to ThankYou points) on all purchases, 1% after purchase and 1% after the purchase is paid off. No annual fee.

The Citi Double Cash card is an excellent pick now in combination with either the Premier or Prestige. Given the devaluation of the Prestige, I’m actually more fond of the Premier these days with its $0 intro annual fee and then just $95 per year thereafter. You can often get a retention offer for the card as well.

Note that you can only get one of the above cards (with the exception of the DoubleCash) subject to Citi’s 24-month account opening/closing rule!

Citi ThankYou Point Partners Worth Considering

There are some Citi transfer partners that I pretty much write off. These may offer some value, but compared to other programs, there isn’t a lot.

These include:
  • Aeromexico
  • EVA Air
  • JetBlue
  • JetPrivilege
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Sears “Shop Your Way”
This leaves the following as the best Citi ThankYou Point transfer partners:
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Among these, I’ve boiled things down to what I consider to be the best Citi ThankYou point redemption options, when it comes to particular awards within programs. The key here is uniqueness. These are the sorts of awards where the value is truly best among all other options.

best Citi ThankYou Point redemption hawaii turkish

Turkish Miles & Smiles Hawaii Sweet Spot

If you’ve read my other posts on Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, you’ll know that I am obsessed with the program. It’s been my favorite of the year, and I’ve now used it to book 5 different award tickets. One of these was to Hawaii for just 7,500 miles.

The best thing about the Turkish program is that is considers Hawaii to be in the same region as the rest of the United States. It prices as domestic, and the award prices are as follows:

  • 7,500 miles in economy
  • 12,500 miles in business/first

If you can find the business class award space (good luck), this is the best deal by far. But I’ll happily settle for economy to Hawaii for just 7,500 Citi ThankYou Points transferred to Turkish Airlines.

You do need to go through some legwork to book these awards. The current system is to email a Turkish reservations office who will send you back a record locator for an itinerary on hold. You’ll then need to call Turkish Miles & Smiles to pay and get it ticketed. This whole process typically takes no more than 20 minutes.

ANA First & Business Class Using Virgin Atlantic Miles

All Nippon Airways offers some of the nicest first class and business class products in the sky. The airline is consistently rated among the top 5 in the world. This should come as no surprise, given the reputation of Japanese service culture.

One of the better ways to book ANA fist or business class is using Virgin Atlantic miles. While other currencies transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, there are other uses for which I would rather save my Ultimate Rewards, in particular.

You can book ANA business class round-trip between the U.S. and Japan for just 90,000-95,000 Flying Club miles in business class and 110,00-120,000 Flying Club miles in first class. Again, these are round-trip prices, and Virgin only allows you to make round-trip booking for ANA awards.

Lufthansa First Class Using Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca LifeMiles are the way to book prestigious Lufthansa first class awards between the U.S. and Europe. They may not offer the very best price in terms of miles, but Avianca LifeMiles is the perfect sweet spot, requiring fewer miles than United and not passing along Lufthansa’s enormous fuel surcharges.

You can fly from the U.S. to Europe in Lufthansa first class for a maximum of 87,000 LifeMiles. I say maximum, as if you’re able to tack on additional segments in either business of economy class, the cost of the award will actually be reduced. An award from Chicago to Lisbon via Munich with the final segment in economy should price at ~75,000 LifeMiles.

Sure, it’d be a bummer to move from Lufthansa first to economy after your trek across the Atlantic, but you just saved yourself 12,000 miles and got to your actual destination.

My one comment is that I’ve found it difficult to find much Lufthansa inventory on the LifeMiles website. It doesn’t always show everything that I find with United, which is where I typically search first. Remember, Lufthansa doesn’t release first class space until just 15 days prior to departure.

best Citi ThankYou Point redemption

United Transcontinental Premium Business Through Turkish

Turkish Airlines gets a double feature on this list since they just so incredibly amazing. The domestic pricing strikes gold again. Rather than fly to Hawaii in first, you can use 12,500 Turkish Miles and Smiles to fly United transcontinental Premium Service (p.s.), including on some of their Polaris-configured aircraft!

I spent 25,000 points a few months ago on a round-trip, just to see if it was possible to book this redemption. While award space can be tough to find, I was able to book the seats I found at united.com easily.

There is no cheaper way to fly a premium cabin from coast to coast, making this solidly one of the best Citi ThankYou point redemption options.

American A321T First Class with Etihad Guest Miles

It was a toss-up between Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points for which program I’d prefer to use for this award, but Citi ThankYou has a slight edge. The deciding factor was the transfer bonus opportunity I see for Membership Rewards for other programs.

We haven’t seen an Etihad Guest transfer bonus for years, and I’d rather burn my TYP for this award, saving my Membership Rewards for these options instead.

You can book American’s A321T transcontinental first class product for just 25,000 Etihad Guest miles one-way. This is literally half the price American charges for the same award. I don’t know of a better way to book this product, which will allow you access to Flagship First lounges and dining.

American operates this 3-class service between JFK and LAX, JFK and SFO, LAX and BOS, and LAX and MIA(only 777-300 on this route).

The partnership between American and Eithad may be coming to a close. This was rumored months ago, so I wouldn’t sit around if you hope to book one of these awards in the near future.

Concluding the Best Citi ThankYou Point Redemption Options

With the introduction of amazing Turkish Airlines awards into the mix, the best Citi ThankYou Point redemption options on the table went from good to great. I’d previously shied away from the currency, preferring to accrue both Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards.

But now with the ability to transfer Citi Double Cash cash back to ThankYou points and increased value with some of their partners, I’m far more inclined to choose ThankYou points over other currencies.

Be sure to check out the other articles in this series

What are your favorite Citi ThankYou point award redemptions?

Features Polaris photo courtesy of United Airlines. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. If you have the Premier card, is it worth it to redeem with hotels from Citi Travel portal? The 1.25 cents/point is not bad, is it?

    • Personally, I would keep them for airline mileage transfers. But if that isn’t appealing, getting 1.25 cents through the portal is just fine.

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