Transfer partners: Chase vs. Citi


Recently, Nick and I have published a number of posts about the Citi Prestige card’s new 5X earning power and our thoughts about whether or not to keep our Sapphire Reserve cards (which earn 3X in similar categories):

In response, a number of readers asserted that Citi’s transfer partners are awful (shitty, garbage, useless, etc.) compared to Chase’s partners.  If true, this is important because the best value use of Citi or Chase points is to transfer points to a loyalty program for high value awards.  If Citi’s transfer partners truly pale compared to Chase’s, then maybe 5X isn’t better than 3X after all.

Let’s put this to the test

Hotels: Chase wins by default

At the time of this writing, Citi doesn’t have any hotel transfer partners whereas Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Hyatt, Marriott / Ritz, or IHG.  Of these, only Hyatt consistently offers better than 1 cent per point value towards hotel stays, so that’s the only Chase hotel partner that I find useful.  But, it’s fantastically useful.  Hyatt has a very reasonable award chart and they do not charge resort fees on award stays.  Point transfers to Hyatt are how I’ve personally used most of my Chase Ultimate Rewards points… by far.

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica Mixology Class
The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica is a Hyatt property that costs only 15000 points per night. When I last visited during peak season, the same resort was charging about $1,500 per night! In other words, you could say that I got about 10 cents per point value from this award. That’s phenomenal.


Aside from the occasional big hotel win, transferable points are usually best used to book high cost flights for relatively few miles.  And it’s important to understand that you don’t necessarily need miles with the airline you want to fly — you can often book the same flights with a partner’s airline miles and often at better prices.  Here’s an example: Suppose you want to fly United first class to Hawaii.  Cash prices for first class are usually sky high.  For example, round-trip flights from Denver to Honolulu in business/first usually cost $1700 or more.  Round-trip awards for the same flights can cost as few as 80,000 miles when booked with United Airlines miles.  That gives you a decent value of 2.1 cents per mile.  Even better, though, you can book the same United Airlines flights using Singapore Airlines miles and pay only 60,000 miles round-trip.  That gives you a value of 2.8 cents per mile.  And both Chase and Citi allow you to transfer points to Singapore Airlines.  Caution: This was just an illustrative example. In real life it can be extremely difficult to find first class saver level awards to Hawaii except when traveling during their rare off-seasons.  Make sure the awards are available before transferring points!

One of the best uses of transferable points is to book international business or first class flights for relatively few miles. Delta One Suites, as pictured here, tend to be far cheaper to book with Virgin Atlantic miles than with Delta SkyMiles. Both Chase and Citi offer point transfers to Virgin Atlantic.

Shared Airline Transfer Partners

Several of transfer partners are available as 1 to 1 transfers from both Chase and Citibank:

Rewards ProgramBest Uses
Air France KLM Flying BlueMonthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.
Emirates SkywardsThe best use of Emirates miles is to fly Emirates itself. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip.
JetBlueJetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one of these cards.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerUse to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members), Alaska Airlines economy awards, or for Star Alliance awards (including United Airlines).
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubVirgin Atlantic offers quite a few sweet spot awards including ANA first class between the US and Japan for as low as 110K points round-trip; and US to Europe on Delta One business class for only 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).

Each of the above transfer partners are extremely useful under the right circumstances.  For example, I’ve recently found that Air France often prices Delta flights cheaper than Delta does.

Unique Airline Transfer Partners from Chase

In addition to the transfer partners listed above, Chase offers 1 to 1 transfers to the following airline loyalty programs:

Rewards ProgramBest Uses
Aer Lingus AviosAer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.  See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
Air Canada AeroplanRedeem for Star Alliance flights and/or flights with Air Canada partners (such as Etihad). No fuel surcharges; $39 CAD award booking fee; 5,000 points to add stopover on one-way award. See: Air Canada Aeroplan: Everything you need to know.
British Airways AviosWhile flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Excellent value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, and Aer Lingus. See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
Iberia AviosIberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, and Aer Lingus.  See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
Southwest Rapid RewardsAward flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.
United MileagePlusLike Avianca and Aeroplan, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. Unfortunately, United usually charges more miles for the same awards that are bookable with other Star Alliance miles. One good use of miles is to make use of United's Excursionist Perk awards. United no longer charges change or cancellation fees on awards cancelled at least 30 days prior to booking.

Unique Airline Transfer Partners from Citi

In addition to the transfer partners listed above, Citibank offers 1 to 1 transfers to the following airline loyalty programs…

Unique Recommended Transfer Partners from Citi

Rewards ProgramBest Uses
Avianca LifeMilesAvianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.

Unique Worth a Look Transfer Partners from Citi

 serve-cardserve-free-reloadsserve cash backServe online loads

Unique Not-Recommended Transfer Partners from Citi

Rewards ProgramBest Uses
Jet Airways Inter MilesJetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.
Malaysia EnrichGiven Malaysia's award chart devaluation in June 2017, I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles.

Transfer Bonuses

To my knowledge, Chase has never offered a bonus for transferring points to airline miles.  Citi does so regularly.  You can always view current and expired bonuses here: Current Point Transfer Bonuses.  But, to save you the trouble, here are the bonuses Citi has offered in the past few years:

Transfer FromTransfer Bonus DetailsStart DateEnd Date Sortable
Citi20% transfer bonus from Citi to Qatar Airways10/3/212021/11/2
Citi25% transfer bonus: Citi to Avianca LifeMiles8/9/212021/8/27
Citi25% Transfer Bonus Citi To Air France Flying Blue3/22/212021/04/16
Citi25% transfer bonus Citi ThankYou to Avianca LifeMiles1/27/212021/02/25
Credit Card Points15% Bonus: Bank Points to Singapore KrisFlyer11/16/202021/01/15
Citi25% Bonus: Citi ThankYou Rewards to Avianca LifeMiles08/17/202020/09/18
CitiGet 25% Bonus When Transferring Citi ThankYou Points To Qantas1/19/202020/02/22
CitiCathay Pacific transfer bonus from Amex/Citi (10% bonus)
This transfer bonus comes from Asia Miles and is valid on transfers from credit card programs. You must register first (see link in post).
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Avianca11/17/192019/12/11
CitiCiti ThankYou: 25% Transfer Bonus To JetBlue
With this bonus 1,000 ThankYou points becomes 1,250 JetBlue points.
CitiCiti ThankYou 25% Transfer Bonus To Flying Blue6/23/192019/07/20
Citi25% Avianca LifeMiles transfer bonus from Citi or hotels
This bonus is on the Avianca LifeMiles end, so you won't see it advertised through Citi or hotel partners. The bonus should post instantly.
Amex or CitiTargeted Qantas transfer bonus: up to 30% (really 15% for most)6/1/192019/06/30
CitiCiti: Get 30% Bonus Transferring ThankYou Points To Virgin Atlantic5/19/192019/06/22
CitiTargeted: 40% Qantas Points Transfer Bonus, Stack With 25% Citi Transfer Bonus4/1/192019/04/14
Citi25% transfer bonus to Qantas from Citi ThankYou03/07/192019/04/13
Citi25% transfer bonus to Qantas from Citi ThankYou03/07/192019/04/13
CitiCiti ThankYou: 25% Transfer Bonus To Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles.1/27/192019/02/20
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Avianca11/15/182018/12/12
Citi30% transfer bonus from Citi to Virgin
Transfer 1K points to 1.3K miles
CitiCiti ThankYou Transfer Bonus: 30% To Flying Blue
With this bonus, get 1300 Flying Blue miles for 1000 ThankYou points.
Citi15% transfer bonus to Asia Miles from Thank You points
Keep in mind that there is a devaluation coming on June 22nd.
Citi30% transfer bonus from Citi to JetBlue
The usual transfer ratio is 1 to .8 for Premier and Prestige cardholders. This bonus brings the ratio up to an even 1 to 1.
Citi25% transfer bonus to JetBlue
The usual transfer ratio is 1 to .8 for Premier and Prestige cardholders. This bonus brings the ratio up to an even 1 to 1.
Citi33.3% transfer bonus from Citi to Hilton
The usual transfer rate is 1 ThankYou point to 1.5 Hilton points. With this bonus, the transfer is 1 to 2 (still not a good deal in most cases)
Citi20% transfer bonus to Cathay Pacific8/7/172017/09/06

Important notes about past Citi transfer bonuses:

  • JetBlue used to transfer at less than 1 to 1 from Citi, so the bonuses at the time merely brought the ratio up to 1 to 1
  • Hilton used to be a transfer partner, but that relationship ended in late 2017


Chase is obviously better for transfers to hotel programs since Chase offers them and Citi doesn’t.  In particular, Chase offers transfers to Hyatt which can be fantastically valuable under certain circumstances.

With airline transfer partners, though, there’s no clear winner.

  • If you want to fly Delta, both Chase and Citi offer point transfers to Air France and Virgin Atlantic.  Both great options for booking Delta awards.
  • If you want to fly American Airlines or other OneWorld partners, Chase has the edge with support for transfers to Avios (British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia).  British Airways and Iberia, in particular, have great sweet spot awards.  On the other hand, if you want to fly long distance on American Airlines business class, you’re much better off with Etihad miles and Etihad is unique to Citibank.
  • If you want to fly United Airlines or other Star Alliance partners, I’d say that the two programs are roughly equal.  Both support transfers to Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines.  And both offer point transfers to Star Alliance programs that never pass along fuel surcharges on awards: Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United MileagePlus; and Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer to Avianca LifeMiles.  However, each of these has its own advantages:
    • Advantages to United MileagePlus (a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner):
      • Book excursionist awards (see this post for details)
      • Very good online booking tool
      • Can book awards for flights with no saver award availability (but at higher prices)
      • When combined with a United MileagePlus credit card, you get access to additional economy saver awards
      • When combined with a United MileagePlus credit card, you get last seat availability of domestic economy awards at the standard price (i.e. much higher price than saver awards).  This can be a lifesaver when you need a flight at the last minute. See this post for a real life example.
      • No online booking fee (Avianca meanwhile charges $25 per ticket)
    • Advantages to Avianca LifeMiles (a Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partner):
      • Mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.
      • Ability to book United Airlines domestic flights for as little as 7,500 miles one way (or 15,000 miles one way in first class).  See this post for details.
      • Unlike United, Avianca doesn’t charge close-in booking fees (United charges $75 to non-elites for booking awards within 21 days)
  • If you want to fly Southwest, Chase is the obvious winner since they support transfers to Southwest and Citi does not.  Southwest doesn’t have any partners with which you can book their flights.

Due to Chase exclusively offering point transfers to Southwest, they edge out Citi in this category, but only slightly.  However…

Considering that Citi often offers transfer bonuses, I’m calling it a draw.

Bottom Line: Citi’s transfer partners aren’t shitty at all

After comparing Chase and Citi’s airline transfer partners, I concluded that they have approximately equal value. Chase does have a couple of excellent partners that Citi doesn’t have, but the reverse is true as well.  And, considering Citi’s frequent transfer bonuses, I’d argue that Citi’s airline partnerships are comparable or even better than Chase’s (depending upon your needs).

Hotel partners are a whole different story.  Chase has them. Citi doesn’t.  Chase has Hyatt… drop mic

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