How To Use Citi ThankYou Points For Flights On The 10 Largest Airlines

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How To Use Citi ThankYou Points For Flights On The 10 Largest Airlines

How To Use Citi ThankYou Points For Flights On The 10 Largest Airlines

Just like we did with using Membership Rewards and using Ultimate Rewards, today we’ll look at how to use Citi’s reward program called ThankYou Points for flights on the 10 largest airlines in the world. We’ll list the 10 largest airlines in the world, then we’ll figure out how to book and fly on all of them with Citi ThankYou Points. Most of these bookings require use of alliances and partnerships. It’s possible to fly all 10 of the world’s largest airlines using ThankYou Points earned from credit cards.

What Are The 10 Largest Airlines In The World?

As stated previously, the best way to gauge the 10 largest airlines in the world is by annual revenue. This shows us airlines that go to many places with lots of passengers. The 10 largest airlines in the world by annual revenue are:

10. Air China
9. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
8. China Southern
7. Southwest Airlines
6. International Airlines Group (British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, & Vueling)
5. Air France-KLM
4. United
3. Lufthansa
2. American Airlines
1. Delta

How Do I Earn Citi ThankYou Points?

Citi ThankYou Points are a bit of a dark horse in this hobby. They are far less talked about and far less popular than points from Chase or Amex. Despite being a distant 3rd place, they still have great uses. With revamped earning potential, it’s also easier than ever to acquire and maximize them. The simplest way to get a lot of them is from welcome offers on their credit cards. Here are some current offers to take advantage of:

  • Citi Rewards+ – The card automatically rounds up in your favor on points earning, which makes it the best card for small transactions. It also offers 10% of your points back after redemptions and earn 2x points at supermarkets & gas stations. The card has a $0 annual fee and an introductory 0% APR. For new cardmembers, you can earn 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.
  • Citi Premier – This card offers 25% extra value on redemptions through Citi’s travel portal and also has the largest amount of points in its welcome offer. Start in August, you’ll earn 3x points on travel, gas, restaurants & supermarkets. It has a $95 annual fee. For new cardmembers, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in your first 3 months.
  • Citi Double Cash – This card earns 1% cash back on the purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill. However, a new link between this and other cards allows you to choose between cash back or converting the cash back into ThankYou Points. This is a great card with no annual fee that can quickly earn an unlimited 2 points on everything. The card has no annual fee and an introductory 0% APR.
Why Citi ThankYou Points?

A key perk of ThankYou Points (or TYP) is that you can transfer them to numerous partners or to make purchases through their own travel portal. They have 16 airline programs you can transfer points to. This allows us to use multiple different airlines for travel, rather than having points with only 1 airline or hotel program. Now that we have them and know how to combine points in your Chase and / or airline accounts, we’re ready to book travel on the 10 largest airlines in the world.

Booking The 10 Largest Airlines Using Citi TYP

From 10th place to 1st place, here’s how you can fly on the 10 largest airlines in the world using your ThankYou Points. Not all bookings are created equal, obviously. Without considering “sweet spots” or ideal routing, here’s how we can fly on the 10 largest airlines.

10. Air China

Air China is a member of Star Alliance. I cannot transfer my ThankYou Points directly to an Air China account to make bookings. However, I can transfer my TYP to their partners Singapore KrisFlyer, Avianca LifeMiles, EVA Air, Thai Airways, & Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. Using their programs, I can book flights on Air China. It’s possible to use Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles for Star Alliance awards, but they have some quirks and aren’t the easiest to redeem online. Don’t discard it entirely, but it’s not my preferred option.

Best Option: Singapore Airlines

Transfer ThankYou Points to KrisFlyer for flights on ANA

9. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

ANA also is a member of Star Alliance. As with Air China, I will book through their partners Singapore, Avianca, EVA, Thai, & Turkish. This is because I cannot transfer points directly to ANA.

Best Option: Singapore

8. China Southern

China Southern is a former member of SkyTeam but still partners with most if its members. I can’t transfer points directly from Citi to China Southern. Instead, I can transfer to their partner Flying Blue, which is the loyalty program of the Air France-KLM partnership.

Best Option: Air France-KLM

Use 'pay with points' and a phone call to book Southwest flights with Citi TYP

7. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is not a member of any alliances. Because we can’t transfer ThankYou Points to them or any partners, we need to use “pay with points”. If you have the Citi Premier, remember that all Citi TYP are worth 1.25 cents each towards travel. If not, your points are worth 1 cent each. Call 1-800-THANK-YOU and have the phone agent book the flight for you. I recommend looking up the flights you want before calling, and since this is technically a ‘travel agent booking’ Southwest probably won’t notify you if the flight is changed/delayed/canceled, so keep track of that yourself.

For flights on British Airways, transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Asia Miles

6. International Airlines Group (British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, & Vueling)

London-based International Airline Group (IAG) owns British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Spain’s low-cost carrier Vueling. I can’t transfer from Citi to any of these, so we’ll need to use their oneworld partners. Transfer points to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, or Qatar Airways. From there, you can book flights on IAG partners.

Best Option: Asia Miles

5. Air France-KLM

Flying Blue, the rewards program from Air France-KLM, is a transfer partner of all popular rewards programs. I can transfer my ThankYou Points straight to my Flying Blue account and then fly on Air France or KLM flights to my destination of choice.

Transfer Citi points to Star Alliance partners for flights on United

4. United

United has credit card agreements with Chase, so you can’t transfer your ThankYou Points directly to United MileagePlus. Instead, we’ll use their Stair Alliance partners. These include Singapore, Avianca, EVA, Thai, & Turkish Airlines. Using their programs, I can book flights on United.

Best Option: Singapore Airlines

3. Lufthansa

Because of its credit card partnership agreements with Barclays, Lufthansa is not a transfer partner from Citi. Again, we will use Star Alliance partners to fly on Lufthansa. Transfer points to Singapore, Avianca, EVA, Thai, & Turkish Airlines to book Lufthansa flights using points & miles.

Best Option: Singapore

Asia Miles is the best option for using Citi points to fly on AA

2. American Airlines

American Airlines is another member of oneworld alliance. Because of its credit card agreements with Barcalys and Citibank, they’re not a transfer partner from Citi. Instead, I will transfer points to Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, or Qatar Airways.

Best Option: Asia Miles

Flying Blue from Air France-KLM is the best option for using TYP on Delta flights

1. Delta

By annual revenue, Delta Airlines is the largest airline in the world. They’re a founding member of SkyTeam and have credit card agreements with American Express. That means you can’t transfer Citi ThankYou Points to your SkyMiles account. Again, we’ll leverage their partnerships. Transfer points to Garuda Indonesia or Flying Blue, which is the loyalty program of the Air France-KLM partnership.

Best Option: Flying Blue

Final Thoughts

There it is. Now we know how to use Citi ThankYou Points for flights on the 10 largest airlines in the world. We looked at what those 10 airlines are and whether they’re transfer partners with Citi. When they aren’t, we looked at how to use partners or even “pay with points” to book these flights using points & miles. While ThankYou Points aren’t the most common points in this hobby, they are still useful and worth having.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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6 COMMENTS

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6 COMMENTS

    • Yes, when you do pay with points options, the airlines see these as cash purchases (since you didn’t transfer over points and make a ‘redemption booking’), so you’ll earn points that count towards companion pass, points for awards, status, etc.

  1. sounds great but yesterday when I compared the fares that Citi was charging compared to the 3 airlines themselves it would have cost me 10 – 15% more to book via Citi. No Thanks

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