Citi ThankYou points sweet spots for high value redemptions

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While ThankYou points came out less valuable than Chase or Amex points when we last updated our Reasonable Redemption Values (See: A big change to Frequent Miler’s point values.), ThankYou points still have plenty of great uses (some of which are shared with those other transferable currencies). Here are some of the easy ways to get good value out of your Citi ThankYou points. Note that this post does not cover all of Citi’s transfer partners, but rather the ones where you’ll find easy value.

First class flight

Getting value out of Citi ThankYou points with Domestic US flights

One thing that stands out about Citi ThankYou points as compared to Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards is that Citi doesn’t have a single domestic US airline legacy program partner. They do partner with JetBlue, though since TrueBlue is revenue-based and opportunities to use points with partners are nearly nonexistent, it is harder to get outsized value. Ironically, despite not partnering with American Airlines, United, or Delta, they still have some of the best partners to use for domestic US flights.

Avianca LifeMiles (for United)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United within a single "zone" at excellent prices. Some flights price even less than the "official" rates.
  • Miles required: As per the old award chart, the US is split into 3 zones. Within a single zone is officially 7.5K one-way in economy class or 10K one-way in business class. Between Zone 1 (most of the East Coast) and Zone 2 (most of the states apart from the far west) is 10K one-way in economy or 15K in business class. Note that some routes price below the chart for no clear reason. Note also that mixed-cabin itineraries can price favorably in some instances. See: Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing. First class for less.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Change and cancellation fees: Theoretically $50 within a region, though flights between regions can cost $200 to cancel.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Turkish Miles & Smiles (for United Airlines)

  • The short story: Turkish offers incredible value on domestic Star Alliance flights. This makes Turkish the absolute cheapest way to book flights within the US on United -- including to Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class domestically on United within the US or domestically on Air Canada within Canada (can include connections for the same price). For North American international flights (e.g. US to Canada or Mexico), 10K each way in economy class or 15K each way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search United.com and look for "Saver Awards". You can also try searching via the Turkish Airlines website, but it does not always show full availability.
  • How to book awards: Not all available flights are displayed online at the Turkish Airlines website (and for many months the checkout page has been broken and missing a button to pay for your reservation. Then they added a checkout button but flights fail to ticket). Previously phone bookings have worked and may again be possible. If all else fails, try booking via email. See our guide for booking United flights with Turkish for more detail.
  • Change ang cancellation fees: The fee to change or cancel is $25 per passenger, though I've been unsuccessful in finding agents who know how to change a partner award. Thus cancelling for $25 is your best bet.
  • Key warnings: Turkish agents occasionally can't see availability even though it is marked as "Saver". You may just have to try again with a different agent. Irregular operations can cause a huge headache in getting in touch with Turkish to get your flight fixed. Booking via Turkish is not for the faint of heart (or those who can not drop back 10 yards and punt when things go sideways).
  • Transfer from: Bilt, Citi, Capital One

Singapore KrisFlyer (for United)

  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer charges the same 12.5K miles each way in economy class both within the US and between the US and Canada. While not the best deal in all situations, Singapore miles are easy to accumulate since they are partners with all of the major transferable points.
  • Miles required: 12.5K miles each way in economy class (business class at 34.5K each way is not competitive with the best rates from other programs)
  • How to find awards: Search for available United Airlines space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles– but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written).
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer.
  • Change and cancellation fees: $50 change fee, $75 redeposit fee for saver awards.
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way domestic award. Be aware that United.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com or with a phone agent before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.
  • Transfer from: AmexCitiChaseCapital OneMarriott

Qantas Frequent Flyer (for American Airlines)

  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than traditional American Airlines or Alaska Airlines award prices on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for those who need to connect on short itineraries as Qantas measures cumulative distance rather than pricing segments separately.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles or 12,000 miles for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles. (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions). No fuel surcharges on American or Alaska.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account). Note that for Alaska space you'll need to search AA.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com for American Airlines. Call for Alaska until Alaska becomes available for oneworld bookings.
  • Change and cancellation fees: 5,000 miles per passenger to change / 6,000 miles per passenger to cancel.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Air France / KLM Flying Blue (for Delta)

  • The short story: Air France sometimes charges far fewer miles for Delta flights than Delta charges its own members.
  • Miles required: Variable, but starting around 11.5K one-way in economy, or 28K one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Change and cancellation fees: None if your flight is cancelled by the airline or your request for change or cancellation is made before departure of your first flight.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling. Note also that for very short-distance flights, you may be able to save some miles by booking via Virgin Atlantic.
  • Transfer fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex Cash, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (for Delta)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers a distance-based award chart for Delta flights that may be advantageous (particularly for short direct itineraries).
  • Miles required: From 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 17,500 miles each way in business class (for nonstop flights) within the continental US, Alaska, and Canada. Note that the number of miles required increased based on distance flown (if flying more than one segment, each segment is priced separately). See the distance bands here and use a tool like gcmap.com to calculate distance between airports.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.  See: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
  • Change and cancellation fees: While there is officially a change / cancellation fee, Virgin Atlantic no longer charges it when the taxes are less than $55 per person.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.
  • Transfer from: AmexCitiChaseMarriott, Bilt

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • The short story: JetBlue TrueBlue points are typically only worth about 1.43c towards the cost of a flight (See: What are JetBlue TrueBlue points worth?), but in some instances it may be possible to do a bit better.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be less than other options when cash prices are low.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at JetBlue.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at JetBlue.com.
  • Change and cancellation fees: None for award tickets except for Blue Basic. For those Blue Basic fares, changes are $100 on itineraries in the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico, Central America or $200 for other routes.
  • Key warnings: Note that transfers from Membership Rewards cost a small excise fee. Transfers are free from other transferable currencies.
  • Transfer from: AmexCitiChaseCapital OneMarriott

Great value for Citi ThankYou points to Hawaii

While saver business class awards to Hawaii can be difficult to find (and even rarer in lie-flat seats), Citi has, hands-down, the best value for awards to Hawaii with Turkish Miles & Smiles. While the booking process is perhaps the slowest and/or more convoluted of any of the sweet spots on this page, the value of flying to Hawaii in economy class for 7500 miles each was or in business class for 12,500 miles each way is hard to beat.

Turkish Miles & Smiles (for United Airlines)

  • The short story: Turkish offers the same pricing on flights to Hawaii as for other domestic US awards, making them an unbelievable value for flights to Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class (can include connections for the same price)
  • How to find awards: Search for available award space at United.com.  Important: make sure that the results indicate that the award is a "saver award", otherwise it won't be bookable.
  • How to book awards: While it's theoretically possible to book online (details here), you'll likely have much better luck via phone.  Even then, it may take several calls to get an agent who can see that the award space is available.  Details for booking via phone can be found here.  See also:  Turkish still a mixed bag, but patience helps.
  • Key warnings: Turkish appears to have a max connect time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary, so itineraries with a longer connection would require 2 awards. Also, for an unknown reason, Turkish agents often can't see award space that other partner airlines can see.  You may have to call several times to get an award booked.  Keep in mind that transfers to Turkish are not instant; it will take 1-2 days for the miles to show up in your Turkish Miles & Smiles account.  As a result, we highly recommend calling to put an award on hold before you transfer points to Turkish miles.

Singapore Krisflyer (for United Airlines)

  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer charges fewer miles for domestic flights to Hawaii than United does for the same flights. Additionally, they have a great chart for Alaska Airlines for those originating in parts of the US other than the East Coast.
  • Miles required: For United flights: 19,500 miles each way in economy or 39,000 in business (as compared to 22.5K / 40K through United). For Alaska Airlines flights: award prices range from 13.5K to 14K one-way in economy class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available United Airlines space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles– but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written). For Alaska Airlines award space, search at AA.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer. Alaska awards must be booked over the phone.
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way domestic award. Be aware that United.com and AA.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com or with a phone agent before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.

Virgin Atlantic (for Delta Airlines)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights to Hawaii for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries. This can be a particularly good value for Delta’s life-flat routes to Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 20,000 miles each way in economy class or 37,500 miles each way in business class (for non-stop flights)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.  See: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.

Citi ThankYou points sweet spots for Europe

While Membership Rewards points may offer more sweet spots to Europe at first glance, Citi ThankYou points shares many of the same sweet spots while adding one more with redemptions on Royal Air Maroc via Etihad Guest.

Virgin Atlantic (for Delta Airlines)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries. This can be a particularly good value for Delta’s life-flat routes to Europe and availability is often surprisingly good. While Virgin Atlantic changed most Delta awards to a distance-based award chart in early 2021, they have maintained the old zone-based pricing for Delta flights to/from Europe.
  • Miles required: 50K miles each way in business class (for direct flights) between the US and Europe (excluding the UK, which as a separate chart).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. See: Book Delta with Virgin Atlantic miles online! (again).
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries. Note that taxes on flights originating in Europe can be high, but are only $5.60 when originating in the US. Some major European airports are not loaded into Virgin Atlantic’s website, so you may have to call to check availability / book.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, especially in first class, with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: 63K each way in business or 87K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance, with some routes inexplicably pricing well below the official award chart like Newark to Lisbon for 35K miles in business class (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). Mixed-cabin business class itineraries can price from as low as 49K. See: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com, though you may be able to email for a manual booking. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Air France / KLM Flying Blue (for Sky Team)

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but the "normal" price to Europe is around 60K one way in business class. Promo awards often offer better value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s. On rare occasion, we have seen some destinations price in the 20K's one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable (about $150-$250 in taxes and fees each way)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

Etihad Guest

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, or Royal Air Maroc between the US and Europe.
  • Miles required: 44K each way in business class on Brussels Airlines or 44K to Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc (connections to Europe will add additional miles now, fuel surcharges around $170 each way) or 50K each way in business class on American Airlines (no fuel surcharges). First class on AA is only 62.5K miles one-way, but AA only operates 3-cabin first class on a couple of routes and award space may be hard to come by.
  • How to find awards: Search for Brussels award space on United.com, American award space on AA.com (you may want to double-check availability at Qantas.com), or Royal Air Maroc award space on RoyalAirMaroc.com (you'll need to create a free Safar Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

Great value Citi ThankYou points options for Asia

While Virgin Atlantic stands out as the hands-down best value here, Avianca LifeMiles may also be a good choice for routes to Asia, especially if you’re able to take advantage of mixed-cabin pricing referenced in the Avianca sections above.

Virgin Atlantic (for Delta Airlines)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic used to offer very competitive pricing for Delta business class between the US and Asia. Unfortunately, in early 2021 Virgin Atlantic moved to a distance-based award chart which has increased prices dramatically. They may still offer better pricing than Delta does and in some cases you may find six or more seats available in business class, so this can be a useful option for those looking to fly many passengers (though it is pricey and availability is inconsistent and unpredictable). Taxes leaving the US are just $5.60 one way.
  • Miles required: From 105K miles each way in business class from the mainland US. 80K each way in business class from Hawaii to Northern Asia (Honolulu to Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka). See the distance bands here and use a tool like gcmap.com to calculate distance between airports.
  • How to find awards: Search VirginAtlantic.com to find Delta award space.
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com or call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1 800 365 9500.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so this award is best for direct flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Virgin Atlantic (for ANA)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers incredible value for ANA first class between the US and Japan (and decent value for business class).
  • Miles required: 110K / 120K round trip for first class between the US West Coast / US East Coast and Japan or 90K / 95K miles in business class
  • How to find awards: Search United.com to find ANA partner award space.
  • How to book awards: Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1 800 365 9500.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so this award is best for direct flights. They also add fuel surcharges for ANA flights, though total taxes and fees are still quite reasonable (about $270 round trip at the time of writing).
  • Transfer fromAmex, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles increased redemption rates in 2022, but business class awards may still be a good deal since they are semi-hackable by finding the right partners and/or adding a long economy class leg.
  • Miles required: From 90K each way in business or 120K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Those prices are not very good, but note two things: first, there is sometimes variance by partner or city pair (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart); second, it is possible to pay less by combining a long-haul premium cabin flight with a long-haul economy class flight. See: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

Citi ThankYou points for Caribbean / Latin America

Similar to domestic US flights, Avianca LifeMiles and Qantas can offer better value than United and American for the same flights.

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United to the “rest of North America” (i.e. not the US) for 12,500 miles each way in economy class.
  • Miles required: 12,500 miles each way in economy class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Qantas (for American Airlines)

  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than traditional American Airlines award prices on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for short international flights like Miami to Grand Cayman or other points in the Southern US to the Caribbean.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles (like Miami to Grand Cayman) or 12,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles (like Miami to most of Central America and the Caribbean). (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

High value Citi ThankYou points to Africa

It’s hard to beat the value of using Etihad Guest for Royal Air Maroc to get to Africa, especially considering the fact that Royal Air Maroc serves many destinations that may be otherwise more difficult to reach on an award ticket. That said, Turkish and Avianca offer some advantages on Star Alliance routes.

Etihad Guest (for Royal Air Maroc)

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on Royal Air Maroc between the US and Casablanca.
  • Miles required: 44K miles each way in business class between North America and Casablanca plus about $170 in fuel surcharges one-way. Additional segments are priced individually.
  • How to find awards: Search for award space at RoyalAirMaroc.com. You’ll need to create a free Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer account to search.
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again). Note also that Etihad Guest does add fuel surcharges. The best way to find the total in taxes & fuel surcharges is to check ITA Matrix.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi ThankYou Points.

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: Officially, 78K each way in business or 105K each way in first class with no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). In short, it is possible to pair the long-haul flights in business with connecting segments in economy class to pay fewer total miles.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, Marriott Bonvoy

Turkish Miles & Smiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Turkish offers excellent pricing to North Africa on Star Alliance carriers and decent award pricing to Central and Southern Africa.
  • Miles required: 60K miles each way in business class to North Africa, 72.5K miles each way in business class to Central Africa, and 85K each way in business class to Southern Africa
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at united.com and call Turkish to book or go to turkishairlines.com, log in to your account, go to "Miles transactions" to find the Star Alliance booking tool and click "book now" to go to that search tool (not the tool on the home page at turkishairlines.com). Note that there may be bookable options that do not appear on the site (hence checking United and calling when necessary).
  • How to book awards: Book online at turkishairlines.com using the instructions above or over the phone at 1-800-874-8875 or via email
  • Key warnings: Turkish is sometimes unable to see Star Alliance availability for no explicable reason. However, Turkish allows a hold for long enough for points to transfer from Citi. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you get your desired itinerary on hold via phone or email before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Capital One, Citi ThankYou points, Marriott Bonvoy

Citi ThankYou points for Australia / New Zealand / Oceania

Ever popular destinations, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific are notoriously challenging to reach on an award ticket. Flights are long, prices are high, and availability is scarce. However, if you can find availability, these are your best bets.

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles might have somewhat hackable awards if you could find premium cabin space on the long-haul.
  • Miles required: 80K miles in business class from the US to Australia / New Zealand / Oceania, but see Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for info on how this might be hackable if premium space exists. Note also that Air New Zealand economy class flights price lower than the chart shows for flights to/from Los Angeles. Business class may also price lower if you can find availability.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you'll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.

Etihad Guest (for American Airlines)

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers flights on American Airlines based on the old American Airlines chart (which itself devalued several years ago).
  • Miles required: 62.5K each way in business class, 72.5K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for American saver award space on AA.com (you may want to double-check availability at Qantas.com)
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again). Note that finding saver premium cabin availability on American Airlines is only slightly more likely than getting struck by lightning.

Virgin Atlantic (for Delta Airlines)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic used to offer a decent sweet spot for Delta flights to Oceania. Unfortunately, they changed to a distance-based award chart in early 2021 and prices have since skyrocketed. This option is only worth considering if you need multiple seats as Virgin sometimes has access to multiple seats on Delta flights (though availability is often tough to find to/from Oceania)
  • Miles required: 165K miles each way in business class on routes of 6,000 miles or more (from the mainland US to Oceania), which makes this a relatively poor value.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. See the distance bands here and use a tool like gcmap.com to calculate distance between airports.
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.  See: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.

Virgin Atlantic (for Air New Zealand)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic also offers good deals for Air New Zealand premium cabin flights if you can actually find availability.
  • Miles required: 45K each way for business class to/from Hawaii, 45K each way in business class from the "South Pacific" to :ps Angeles, 62.5K each way in business class from New Zealand to North or South America
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com (I believe that Air New Zealand space does not show up at VirginAtlantic.com)
  • How to book awards: Book over the phone with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately (i.e. an itinerary with a single connection will cost 25K miles), so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries. Furthermore, Air New Zealand business class award space is extremely rare.

Qantas

  • The short story: Qantas's low-cost-carrier Jetstar flies between Hawaii and several Australian cities and can be booked with Qantas points.
  • Miles required: 57,600 miles one-way in business class from Honolulu to Sydney on Jetstar before September 18, 2019, 61,500 miles thereafter.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Jetstar flights can be quite cheap. While their business class is much more expensive than their economy class fares, it's worth comparing to cash fares to be sure you're getting a decent value.

Qantas (for Emirates)

  • The short story: While the award cost here is substantially higher than others included in this sweet-spot post, it may be worth it to those who really want an indulgently long experience in Emirates business class. It is possible to spend upwards of ~30 hours in A380 business class by routing via Dubai (note that some US cities have 777 service, which is likely angled in business class).
  • Miles required: 159,000 miles one-way in business class between North American cities and those cities served by Emirates in Australia and New Zealand.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Choose A380 routes to get a fully-flat aisle access business class seat with a bar at the rear of the plane.

High value Citi ThankYou points sweet spots: Bottom line

Citi ThankYou points often get little attention compared to Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards. While Chase and Amex offer some even better transfer partners, Citi is not without good value spots (as seen above). Keep in mind that this post does not list all of the value spots in Citi’s transfer partners but rather easy (or easy-ish) ways to get good value from ThankYou points. If you’re willing to put in some more time and effort, programs like Turkish Miles and Smiles and EVA MileageLands may also offer solid value for Star Alliance flights. However, if you’re looking for relatively simple values, there are plenty to be had with ThankYou points.

For sweet spots in other programs, see:

Amex Membership Rewards sweet spots
Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots
Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots
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MatCyr

Hi there Nick! Thank you. Just transferred the points from Citi to Qantas to book AA and the point transfer was immediate.

I do have a question – it looks like seat selection is not available in Economy for the bookings. I am travelling with kids and am now concerned that I won’t be seated next to them. Any guidance you have to help solve for this ?Thank you so much!!!

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ktenorman

Nick – how about 45k each way on Delta in J using Virgin Atlantic from the US to South America? I am looking at ATL-SCL as one good value, for example.

Paul5795

I think it also worth mentioning that before using points for award tickets one should always check the cash price of an airline ticket, and consider using thankyou points to buy a cash ticket. Some domestic routes are quite inexpensive. Currently, for example, you can purchase a one-way first class ticket between SFO and LAS for as little as $99 on Alaska Airlines. So that cash ticket would be only 9900 TY points through the Citi travel portal. Less, actually, if you have the Citi Premier card and take advantage of the 1.25 cents per point through April of 2021. And with cash tickets you also get mileage credit for your flight.

Buzz

Excellent, comprehensive list. I just downgraded my Prestige to Rewards + thanks to your earlier posts. I already have the Premier so perhaps I’ll now add Double Cash to my mix.

Norman

Isn’t Turkish 45k in business from North America to Europe on star alliance? Seems like a sweet spot to me

WR2

I know you are not big fans of EVA redemptions, but they are my TYP go to. They have great availability, low fees, and I’d say a top 3 business class product worldwide (EVA, new ANA, Qatar). 75k one way to SE Asia is a little more than Avianca on ANA, but in normal times good luck finding any ANA availability through partners except at schedule release. In addition, if you do round trip you can do a free stopover, and check out the Taipei night markets. It’s a unique partner of TYP, and a great option to have if you can’t find availability elsewhere.

WR2

Perhaps I’ve had a different experience than you, since I’m out of SFO, a star alliance captive market. ANA availability to Tokyo pre-pandemic is very tight, and EVA availability to partners was equally tight. EVA direct though has been a reliable backup plan to get to asia if no other <2week availability opens up. It’s not necessarily a sweet spot, but from a practical standpoint it’s very valuable.

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TJ S

I transferred 50K citi to Asia miles for a business class seat to or from Europe – not a bad value either.

Troy

Nick, surprised you didn’t add Singapore for Europe as there are some huge values there as well?

Darcie

Great post. Thank you!!!

Darcie

Darcie

SlinkeyTravel

Turkish Airlines anyone? Some great deals hiding in that program….

JustSaying

Best post you have ever written! Keep it up!

DSK

Great article but here is my concern. I have lifetime Platinum on AA and Silver on UA (through Marriott) and have the $195/year DL credit card. So, if I transfer my many TY points to a foreign airline program to obtain economy tickets on any of these three airlines, I lose my free baggage and priority boarding (translated as ability to put my carry-on in the overhead compartment on a full plane). That pretty much destroys the value proposition for me. Sure, it doesn’t matter if I fly in front, but that is where it is hardest to find any availability (and when I care about flying in front the least). Am I looking at this the wrong way?

Nun

I used TY points for 2 tickets on TAP and added my star alliance gold number (avianca) to the tickets. I received free bags, miles, and actually got an upgrade (BCN-LIS).

The way I understand it you only lose status on hotel bookings, not airline.

Gabe

The Premier/Prestige combo easily beats both Chase UR and Amex MR for Disney redemptions. Even Premier alone beats Chase and Amex. Chase no longer allows UR points to be redeemed for Disney anything even though it uses Expedia as its 3rd party booking agency and Amex has such horrible points redemption rates for its hotels that it’s not even worth it.

George

I’d add a note about the 10% rebate on up to 100k TYP redeemed/year if you also hold a Rewards+ CC.

Ben

can you explain what this is?

George

The Rewards+ will redeposit 10% of redeemed ThankYou points back into your account, limited to 100k redeemed/10k back. That’s… all there is to it.

You must merge your ThankYou accounts first, of course. Otherwise, the rebate will only work on the account linked to your Rewards+ card.

Middle Age Miles and Out and Out confirmed that it indeed works on merged accounts, getting a rebate on both point transfers (Out and Out) and TYP Portal bookings (Middle Age Miles): https://www.middleagemiles.com/2019/04/29/citi-thankyou-rewards-10-rebate-applies-to-all-typ-redemptions-from-linked-account-experiment-success/

AlexL

The information you are looking for is in this article.
https://frequentmiler.com/citi-rewards-is-a-great-companion-to-premier-or-prestige/

OR97

“One thing that stands out about Citi ThankYou points as compared to Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards is that Citi doesn’t have a single domestic US airline program partner. ”. Jet Blue, no? Not sure what you mean otherwise.

OR97

Thanks. especially since they have such extensive Caribbean routes too.

Dan

I got an offer for 50000 ThankYou points to open a CitiPriority account. I’ve read these points are not transferable to airline partners, is that correct? thanks

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes, that’s correct.

Mark Schor

If you call the number on the Prestige card, you can ask for the points to be combined. You can’t do it online.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Even when the points are combined, you can’t use the points from a bank account to transfer to airline miles. Also, you can combine online but online if all of the personal details are exactly the same, especially the phone number registered with the card account.

Nun

Wow. They shouldn’t even call them ThankYou points if they’re so different.

HoKo

Hey guys, I just thought of another topic that could be really helpful to people: How things are handled on an award ticket when you miss a flight (either due to your fault or the airlines). Here are some example scenarios:

1. I book a simple DCA-DFW flight on AA metal using Avios. I miss my flight and arrive at the airport 30 mins after the flight departs….or get stuck in a long security line..whatever the case may be. I believe most of the legacy carriers have a “flat-tire” rule where they will do their best to accommodate you if you only miss your flight by less than an hour or two. But how would this scenario work when we’re talking about an award ticket booked through another program (avios in this case). What if it’s a cash ticket but booked through an OTA, does that change anything?

2. Similar example as #1 but lets say it was DCA-JFK(AA)-HKG(CX)-BKK(CX) booked using Avios. And lets say you miss the DCA-JFK flight which has a cascading effect and is going to cause you to miss all the other flights on your itinerary. How would this be handled?

3. Same example as #2 but lets say your dca-jfk flight is delayed 4 hours due to mechanical issues. Is AA going to rebook you on CX flights or will they try to pass the buck to Avios? In this scenario AA doesn’t even fly to BKK so they’re gonna have to rebook at least some of your flights on another airlines metal.

4. Would also be nice to know which airlines tend to be more lenient versus more strict if you miss a flight by a short amount of time. Who is going to insist you buy a full-fare walkup ticket versus who will try and accomodate you free of charge.

I’m sure there’s lots more scenarios but thought this would be a great resource for people that find themselves in this stressful sort of situation in the future.

Scott

Great post, Nick. So helpful! What are the transfer times for airline partners? I saw the note on SQ; are all others instant?

AlexL

Under transferable partners, you can see the transfer times for each partners. https://frequentmiler.com/citi-thankyou-rewards/