Prolific Frequent Miler Insider Brant Stookey posted something in our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook group that caught my interest in our Facebook group yesterday: it is possible to transfer points from Citi ThankYou to SAS Eurobonus, albeit in a roundabout way. Given the circuitous nature of the path from Citi to SAS, this won’t be a great option in most instances, but Brant’s example got me to peek at the SAS award chart in search of a sweet spot. I didn’t find much of anything that would appeal to most North America-based travelers, but for those who might look to piece together longer / more complex trips, there are some instances where this could come in handy. Maybe. At the very least, I enjoyed taking a look.
The creative play here is a multi-step conversion. Citi Points transfer to Choice Privileges at a rate of 1 Citi point to 2 Choice Privileges points. Choice Privileges Points then transfer 1: 2 to Radisson Americas. We’ve covered that part before — it works out to be 1 Citi point = 4 Radisson Americas points.
For most people, there wouldn’t be much intrigue in anything beyond that step. There are some Radisson Americas properties where that might be attractive enough, though there aren’t a ton of great uses of Radisson points. That’s what made the thought of perhaps transferring on to an airline intriguing to me.
Radisson Americas to airline partners is mostly a bad deal — but is SAS a sweet spot?
Radisson points transfer to most airline programs at an absolutely abysmal ratio of 10 Radisson points to 1 airline mile (in increments like 2000 Radisson points to 200 airline miles, 5000 Radisson points to 500 airline miles, or 100K Radisson points to 10K miles. You can access the point transfer page with that information here.
That’s generally not a good deal even with the 1:4 ratio from Citi to Radisson Americas. It means that you’d need to transfer 2500 Citi points to end up with 1,000 airline miles. It is hard to imagine that there are many awards where that would make sense.
However, SAS EuroBonus gets a slightly better ratio of 7 Radisson points to 1 airline mile (which is noted on the Radisson to airline miles transfer page). This creates weird ratios that look like this:
- 500 Citi points = 1,000 Choice points = 2,000 Radisson points = 286 SAS miles*
- 12.5K Citi points = 25K Choice points = 50K Radisson points = 7,143 SAS miles*
- 25K Citi points = 50K Choice points = 100K Radisson points = 14,286 SAS miles
*Note that the first two levels noted above are based on the Radisson to SAS ratio, but in reality you need to transfer Citi points to Choice in increments of 1,000, so you’d need to double the first redemption and bump up the second level to 13K Citi points, thereby orphaning some points in Choice/Radisson.
Does it make sense to transfer 25K Citi points for 14,286 airline miles? That’s a ratio of 1 Citi point to 0.57 airline miles. Without looking at the SAS award chart, my first thought was that SAS would need to have some amazing award values to make this interesting.
Spoiler alert: they don’t really having amazing award values. And for most purposes, they don’t even really have useful sweet spots (basic stuff like the US to Europe would be so far overpriced as to not make sense). However, for those who piece together complicated trips to/from/through different regions, they do have a couple of things that piqued my interest.
Domestic flights within Scandinavia could be acceptable, but not as good as Turkish
The most practical redemption would be for domestic flights served by SAS. Flying entirely within one country on SAS would cost 10K miles round trip in economy class. SAS allows one-way redemption for 60% of the price of a round trip, which means 6,000 miles one-way.
This is mostly useful for those looking to get to remote parts of Norway or Sweden since SAS serves some routes within those countries that can be outrageously expensive when booking with cash.
You would need to start with 18,000 Citi ThankYou points and convert them to 36,000 Choice points and onward to 72,000 Radisson Americas points in order to have enough Radisson points to redeem for 10,000+ SAS miles (you’d end up with some leftover points that could stay with Choice/Radisson or be mostly converted to SAS depending on where you’d like to orphan miles. That’s probably not bad, but since Turkish charges 7,500 miles each way for a Star Alliance domestic award, you would save a little but by transferring to Turkish (assuming you can find the availability via Turkish and book it).
The main SAS sweet spot is flights within a region
Like many airline frequently flyer programs SAS EuroBonus has a region-based award chart where awards from Region A to Region B cost the same regardless of which country in Region A is your origin and which country in Region B is your destination.
You can access the full SAS Eurobonus award chart on this page.
Unfortunately, in almost all situations, SAS just won’t make sense for flights between regions based on this 1:0.57 ratio.
The only situation that really seemed to me to make much sense on the SAS award chart was flights within a single region.
After going through the award charts for each region, I realized that they all had the same redemption level for redemptions with an origin and destination within a single region:
- 25K round trip in economy class
- 50K round trip in business class
- 70K round trip in first class
Put in terms of converted Citi ThankYou points, that’s:
- 44K Citi = 88K Choice = 176K Radisson = 25,147 SAS (round trip economy)
- 88K Citi = 196K Choice = 292K Radisson = 41,714 SAS (round trip business)
- 123K Citi = 246K Choice = 492K Radisson = 70,286 SAS (round trip first)
SAS allows for one-way redemptions at 60% of the miles required for a round trip. For one-ways those redemption levels become:
- 27K Citi = 54K Choice = 108K Radisson = 15,428 SAS (one way economy)
- 53K Citi = 106K Choice = 212K Radisson = 30,286 SAS (one way business)
- 74K Citi = 148K Choice = 296K Radisson = 42,286 SAS (one way first)
Note that in cases above where you end up with an amount that is more than 286 SAS miles beyond the amount you need to book the award, you could keep some of the points in Choice / Radisson (it just depends on where you’d like to strand points, though it probably makes sense to strand them in Choice/Radisson).
The rates above probably look to be “not bad” depending on the region definitions and routing rules. While this post doesn’t exactly have a hidden easter egg, there are instances where those factors converge to make things interesting.
SAS region definitions offer some (maybe) interesting options
SAS includes their region definitions on the same page as their award chart. Ideally, you’re looking for regions that include destinations that aren’t very geographically close and/or where tickets would otherwise be very expensive and/or where you can leapfrog within a region on the SAS chart but to a region that’s more advantageous for some other award.
Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia is one area that stuck out a bit initially with the following destinations included:
Brunei, Guam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore
It seemed to me that Singapore to Guam must be a decent distance. Indeed, a straight line would be a bit longer than a transcontinental flight in the US. Given that one could (at least theoretically) fly from Singapore To Manila to Guam, it would be possible to stay entirely within that region definition.
That said, I searched Seatspy and didn’t find a single date with even one seat in business class on the United flight from Manila to Guam shown above. Since United operates that route with a 737, it wouldn’t be terribly exciting even if they did have business class awards available (United’s 737 business class just doesn’t compete with Singapore’s).
Still, based on the ratios above, an award like this would be decent value on par with the best of other programs on the same route even if not an earth-shattering redemption.
South America & the Caribbean
Another one that isn’t the most terrific value but may not be a terrible deal is South America and the Caribbean – specifically for the ability to fly from Caribbean destinations to South America for what could be a decent deal at 27K Citi points each way in economy or 53K Citi points one way in business class (or 44K / 88K round trip)
Antigua, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Bermuda, Bonaire Sint Eustatius, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Curacao, Ecuador, Guyana, Grenada, Guadalupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Thomas, Sint Maarten, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela
Given that you may be able to position to the Caribbean quite cheaply, this could potentially make for an attractive-enough redemption for some cases.
One thing I don’t know for sure is whether or not SAS will allow you to transit North America on a redemption from a Caribbean island to somewhere in South America. That would be necessary in order to fly Copa since Copa Airlines keeps its hub in Panama City, which is in North America.
North / Central Africa & the Middle East
Here’s the one that might be most interesting (I’m not sure that it is immediately interesting and it’ll only be interesting in fringe circumstances — but all that out of the way . . . ). The following countries are included in this region:
Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kongo & Central Africa, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Republic of Cape Verde, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
That represents a fairly large geographic region, but that’s not even the “most interesting” part (which I put in quotation marks intentionally since this is still highly niche).
According to this post from Nonstop Dan, SAS EuroBonus in some cases allows transit via a third region. One of the examples he gives is transiting Europe for awards “within” this North/Central Africa & Middle East region.
That is of interest to me because it means that it should at least theoretically be possible to book awards on long-haul metal using this intra-region sweet spot. My first thought for this redemption would be Lufthansa first class since I think it would (at least potentially) mean transiting the first class terminal in Frankfurt. That depends of course on finding a route or routes where Lufthansa actually offers first class and then finding first class award availability (which they typically only release to partners within 2 weeks of departure. Still, given that they do fly to/from some of the destinations in this region and Dan specifically calls out Frankfurt in an example, I think it might not be impossible.
The other big “gotcha” is that Lufthansa levies very high surcharges on their awards. Based on the way things are worded on the SAS site, it sounds to me like SAS passes on surcharges — which would tank the value of this redemption. That said, I’m not positive whether or not Lufthansa awards booked via SAS come with high surcharges.
Intra-region flights only make sense in a few circumstances
Flying from one region to another mostly wouldn’t make sense when transferring from Citi at a less-than-1:1 ratio from Citi points to airline miles. However, it might make sense for Maritime Southeast Asia to/from Mainland Southeast Asia for example. Generally through, there’s not much to see on intra-region travel.
I found this idea from Brant to be a prime example of the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that can sometimes lead to interesting finds. In this case, I didn’t find a any crazy runaway value, but I found a number of instances where awards weren’t a terrible value. That can be knowledge worth holding for a rainy day. If SAS were to run an award sale or offer a way to get a bunch of miles from car rentals and you needed tot op off your account for a redemption, keeping this strange redemption daisy chain in mind could make for a good option.
Amex UK also transfers to SAS directly, why not Amex in US?
You meant INTER region not intra region in the last section
a couple years ago or what not I xfr’ed some Radisson to top off an Asiana award (Points from BofA Asiana card)…used for Turkish business North America – Turkey.
Talk of Asiana going bust or merging or whatever…due to C19…use it or lose it was my thinking.
too bad the BofA Asiana card got nerfed…
So I live in France and AMEX here transfers to SAS at a 5 to 4 ratio, how would you say the value equation & the examples above differ if I had my more favourable transfer ratio?
Wow. If I ever commit a major crime and it becomes a cold case, I sure hope you’re not the detective who reopens it after 20 years. If so, you will certainly piece together the entire series of events which occurred and I’ll be busting rocks into gravel on a 20 to life stretch at the Gray Bar Hotel. That’s an amazing amount squeezing for the juice you got! Well, at least you ran most possibilities to ground, so I didn’t have to. Glad I could provide you with something to do while you’re enjoying a “free” cruise with your family.