Transfer partners: Chase vs. Citi

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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.

Flights

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
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 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. Air France offers very good business class award pricing between the US and Europe & Israel.
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, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
Emirates SkywardsThe best use of Emirates miles has been to fly Emirates itself. Unfortunately fuel surcharges can be steep. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip. Another great use is to book JetBlue Mint flights. See: Book JetBlue Mint (including Mint Studio) with Emirates miles.
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, Aer Lingus, and Qatar.  See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
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. JetBlue points can also be transferred to Amtrak 2 to 1 (with Amtrak points worth up to 2.9 cents each, this transfer can offer good value).
Qatar Privilege Club AviosQatar has reasonable award prices for flying Qatar itself. Points are now transferable 1 to 1 to British Airways (and from there to Aer Lingus or Iberia)
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 a few great sweet spot awards including ANA first class between the US and Japan for as low as 55K points one-way; and US to Europe on Delta One business class for 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
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.
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 MileagePlusUnited offers free award changes, and free cancelations 30+ days before departure. Like Avianca and Aeroplan, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. Unfortunately, United charges many more miles for international first class awards. Good uses of miles include United's Excursionist Perk awards and (sometimes) dynamically priced United economy awards.

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
CitiUp to 40% transfer bonus from Citi to Qatar Avios6/1/222022/06/30
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Air France/KLM Flying Blue5/1/222022/05/20
Citi20% transfer bonus from Citi to Qatar10/3/212021/11/2
Citi25% transfer bonus: Citi to Avianca LifeMiles8/9/212021/08/27
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Air France/KLM Flying Blue3/22/212021/04/16
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Avianca LifeMiles1/27/212021/02/25
Credit Card Points15% Bonus: Bank Points to Singapore KrisFlyer11/16/202021/01/15
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Avianca LifeMiles08/17/202020/09/18
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi 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).
1/1/202020/01/31
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Avianca11/17/192019/12/11
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to JetBlue9/22/192019/10/19
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.
06/3/192019/07/05
Amex or CitiUp to 30% targeted transfer bonus from Amex or Citi to Qantas6/1/192019/06/30
Citi30% Transfer Bonus From Citi To Virgin Atlantic5/19/192019/06/22
Citi25% transfer bonus + 40% targeted bonus from Citi to Qantas4/1/192019/04/14
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Qantas3/7/192019/04/13
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi To Turkish Airlines1/27/192019/02/20
Citi25% transfer bonus from Citi to Avianca11/15/182018/12/12
Citi30% transfer bonus from Citi to Virgin Atlantic9/1/182018/10/13
Citi30% transfer bonus from Citi to Air France/KLM Flying Blue7/6/182018/08/29
Citi30% transfer bonus from Citi to Air France/KLM Flying Blue7/6/182018/08/29
Citi15% transfer bonus to Asia Miles from Thank You points
Keep in mind that there is a devaluation coming on June 22nd.
6/9/182018/07/04
Citi30% transfer bonus from Citi to JetBlue3/22/182018/05/19
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.
9/7/172017/10/25
Citi33.3% transfer bonus from Citi to Hilton (1,000 to 2,000)7/6/172017/09/20
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

Analysis

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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[…] I think this was pretty good too, grades are very fair: Transferable Points Programs: Amex vs Chase vs Citi vs Capital One. And another one by Frequent Miler: Transfer partners: Chase vs. Citi. […]

Darcie

Ahhhh. The complicated, time consuming efforts of citi points! Because I and most of my colleagues/ friends travel out of the country only once a year, if that, we have found UR points much more valuable. I simply can not sit in a seat more than 5ish hours! I would love to see a post /challenge on US travel based rewards with various cards. I feel many of us that are not out of the country frequent travelers have a difficult time finding valueable information these days when most posts are out of country related. Anyone else with me here?

Hadley V. Baxendale

Read my posts above and you will see why the UR cards are good choices for domestic travel — especially if you have a United hub near you. Failing that, SW is a ready and decent transfer partner that is likely a good fall back transferee.

CaveDweller

HVB
Good Posts I upgraded to the SW new $149 card with 53k left over for 48 state travel .. Sw from MDW does has sweet spots and that card makes it a better deal for me then the cheaper cards .
CHEERs

CaveDweller

HaHa I just got the Hawaiian Airlines Card (60K) by ur link .Had it a few years ago and canceled I guess Barclays misses me .Sounds good Hnl> BNE like I did in Oct.

CHEERs

Miles Ahead

Really well thought through and we’ll written post, Greg. Thank God for competition between credit card companies. They develop currencies that under certain circumstances ‘can’ provide outsize value and u did a great job explaining why TYP is not garbage or shitty and why Chase is not the be all end all of great travel point redemptions. With a little work and research, one get great value from TYP, UR, MR and others and it’s articles like this that help point people to where they might find these opportunities. Thanks Greg and Nick.

JHG

I’ve had such a hard time using a total of maybe 100k TYP in the last few years, (whereas I have probably redeemed close to a million UR in that same time with little trouble.) I received 20k extra TYP after I had an increased signup bonus matched initially when I got my Prestige card. Subsequent to this, I used about 22k TYP for some flights (buying them with TYP, not as a transfer to the airlines.) Then when I went to transfer my remaining TYP to an airline they said that I couldn’t transfer all of them since I had 20k TYP that were “non-transferable.” I hadn’t even known that the extra 20k bonus points that they gave me were non-transferable, and besides that, I had used 22k TYP already in a non-transferable sense! So frustrating! So I transferred what TYPs I could to Etihad and it took FIFTEEN DAYS for the transfer to go through! (Whereas I had transferred some additional MR to Etihad and they transferred instantly.) I had called Citi a number of times during this delay and they finally said they would reverse the transfer and restore the points to my account after 2 weeks, but of course they didn’t, and then I was stuck with all of these Etihad miles and the multiple awards that were available at the time of the transfer were all gone! I do still have my Prestige card. The main reasons I have kept it are 1) the travel delay protection (which was really worth it when it was 3 hours) and 2) the Priority Pass membership covers my whole family of 4, and 3) the grandfathered $350 annual fee (for now.) I got my husband a Sapphire Reserve this year and I will cancel the Prestige when my annual fee increases. As much as I might like to make use of some of Citi’s unusual transfer partners, I don’t often transfer speculatively and I am really reluctant to try transfers after my Ethihad debacle. Besides transferring to airline partners, I use the Chase travel portal to book all kinds of additional travel, and I think our family gets way more value from the CSR than we do from the Prestige.

iahphx

Thanks for your analysis After decades of playing this game, my general view is that travel loyalty programs are too complicated. A US airline frequent flyer program is now about as complicated as the US Tax Code. So when you’re dealing with the proprietary credit card programs that then enable transfer to various partners, it’s almost like have to be an expert in not only the US Tax Code, but also the tax codes of Britain, Singapore, Malaysia, France, the UAE, etc. In other words, it’s basically impossible, even for very experienced frequent flyers.

For this reason, I much prefer the Chase program to the Citi program. For 95%+ of travellers, the “best” thing they can do with their Citi points is redeem travel at 1.25 cents per point. Most everything else is too obscure or too complicated for cardholders to figure out — even very experienced cardholders! Chase, on the other hand, is much more comprehensible. You can still buy travel and get 1.25 cents, or you can use relatively-easy-to-understand transfer partners. Transfer partners that you likely have some existing familiarity with. As you note, the Hyatt transfer is terrific for good quality hotels in all categories, from an airport Hyatt Place to a fancy Hawaiian beach resort. WN and UA transfers will also be valuable to many American travellers, and the Avios program — which has a slight additional learning curve — is understandable and sometimes very valuable. When you combine these marquee transfer partners with the ease of actually earning Chase points, the Chase program is a clear winner over the Citi program.

JustSaying

Lot of drama in the discussion. Greg this is the perfect opportunity for one of your PERT diagrams showing the different avenues for spend in different categories to get to a end redemption. I get great value from buying wine in the Citi 2X entertainment category and will until this summer. Also 5X to dine is a no brainer. Sports tickets 2X. It’s really a lifestyle question.

Hadley V. Baxendale

Thank you JS — I had forgotten about that. We have used the Prestige to great effect for our “high brow” entertainment purchases. Without explicitly revealing same, JS indicated that the 2 points/$1 spent for such purchases are ending, as well on 9/1/2019 — Yet another reason why the Citi TY Prestige and program have lost its lustre for us.

Our annual fee comes due in 10/19 and you can bet that it won’t be renewed — even though it’s effective cost to us is $100 OOP.

With the AMEX Aspire, AMEX Ascend and SPG Luxury card now out, their annual fees are to us much more worthy than Citi’s new effective cost, especially since for us the AMEX Aspire had no cost at all, the Ascend’s annual fee was more than surpassed by the retention offer we received, as well as this past year’s AMEX offers, and the fact that an effective $150.00 annual fee for the SPG Luxury Card is worthwhile to this lifetime Platinum member of Marriott Reward in exchange for a certificate good for example at the Ritz Carlton Vienna and I believe the hotel Bristol in that same city — just an example how the $150 effective fee is surpassed by that calibre/category’s hotels’ room night costs. (Otherwsie, it is truly a sock drawer card).

Of course, we have a great deal of non-bonus spend to make also holding an AMEX Ascend worthwhile, but if you don’t have same, that’s fine — choose what is best for yourself, as CD says.

However, all that I am saying is that the upping of 5x points on dining and 3x for certain travel expenses by Citi, is more than offset to this Chase Reserve holder who sees 3x travel expenses via Citi still a pale comparison to the Chase Reserve’s 3x travel expenses which are still more varied. Thus, all that the new Citi formulae offers to me is 5x dining — sorry, but I will still favor 3x Ultimate Rewards from the Chase Sapphire due to the better stable of transfer partners and the fact that I will earn 1.5 cents per UR point from airline redemption from the Chase Rewards mall — which under Citi’s new scheme is very similar to the effective value of UR points redemption earned from dining.

5 TY points from $1 spent on dining = 5 cents from the Citi travel mall for airline or other redemption.

3 UR points from $1 spent on dining = 3 X 1.5 cents for travel purchases from the Chase UR mall = 4.5 cents value from UR redemption.

1/2 cent more from simply dining expenses is a poor excuse in my book to continue to pay the effective cost to me of $100 for the Citi Prestige card, especially when the UR transfer partners are really so much better.

As noted above, AMEX’s new Hilton and SPG cards are a good value IMHO, and the $100 effective fee from the Prestige is better allocated to the annual fee from one of these products.

Thus, with Citi eliminating the 2x bonus on Entertainment purchases, yet another Citi benefit to me will be extinguished and the card’s utility becomes even more esoteric.

CaveDweller

HVB
That’s great for you the AMEX cards work you I had trouble spending on like the 5 I had . Where I shop they didn’t take them so the IRS payment was the key for the min. .,Post your next high end card u get I have room for only one . I have till 7/15/2019 to change my mind .
CHEERS

Hadley V. Baxendale

CD —

I am probably set for a good long time now, as I recently picked up the AMEX Ascend, AMEX Aspire and SPG Luxury card within the last couple of months, and before that the SPG Personal and SPG Biz cards, as well as the Hyatt cards.

Therefore, I have now 5 Marriott Free Night cards (Chase Personal and Biz and AMEX Personal, Biz and Luxury).

Inasmuch as I am now a Lifetime Paltinum MR member, the Luxury Card is a sock drawer keeper.
I likely will jettison some of the other cards down the road but I am waiting for Marriott to unveil their peak and off peak pricing of hotels before I do so.

MR members of longstanding know that the Chase Marriott Free night certs lost much of their value over the years but with the addition of SPG and the re-ordering of the awards charts, the new Cat 5 certificates that are to be issued with the refreshed Rewards cards again have hotel redemption in many downtown city cores –something that had been lost over the years. So, I will wait and see whether history repeats itself with Marriott and/or they make many desirable hotels off-limits during much of the year with their new peak pricing.

With the advent of the Aspire card, Hilton has again become interesting to me and therefore, so has the Ascend card. Even as some have indicated that earning Hilton points is often not a great proposition, because of the variability in the points/award structure = it is essentially a dynamic points currency, free weekend nights with Diamond status is a winning proposition – especially since it does not require much effort at all to earn that status!

Finally, Hyatt, although the smallest of the chains permits the best bang for the buck in award redemption, given the general quality of its hotels, and locations, the fact that you can transfer UR points into the program and the annual free night by just holding the credit card which can be used at many interesting destinations — any day of the week.

Moreover, although it is exceedingly difficult to earn top tier status with the credit card — even in conjunction with hotel stays — unless you are a big MSer — what has not been mentioned about the program is that you can indeed “buy” lounge access or a suite upgrade, or both by funneling more points per your nightly redemption. So, if you really want that suite in Hawaii, you can get that by anteing up more points — something that the UR program permits, and moreover the Hyatt credit card is none too shabby with, as well, given its new bonus categories for dining and local transportation.

As one might have guessed, I also have the $49 “old” IHG card that gives 1 uncapped Free night at any IHG hotel — but this will be the last year of that as IHG has decided to cap that card at 40,000 points per night — at $49 it will not kill the utility of the card to me, but increasing its price — might do so. We will see.

Good luck on your endeavors and Happy New Year!

Pam

Thanks again, HVB – I feel your excellent analysis best details/compares the differences important to most readers. I find it laughable that Citi actually INcreased their AF by 10% while downgrading card benefits to a far greater extent.

Clearly I understand where folks using the Fourth Night Free feature would have/might still make out ok. And I do frequently eat out, but even if I dined 3x day, every day of the year an extra 55k points (based on $75/day/expenses x 2 points difference) would just only barely outpace Citi’s ridiculous fee for the program’s value (at 1 cent/point).

Increasing AFs are becoming part & parcel of premium cards. Yet in every case besides Citi I am able to find value well over the fee with room upgrades from elevated status with the card or quality partners, etc.

To each their own, of course, but the mere fact of so much dialogue over desperately trying to defend a card signals an inherent problem to me with the Prestige relaunch. Chase didn’t/isn’t having issues with folks trying to decide if the recurring fee is worth it, because their program is easy with solid value that most can discern.

Hadley V. Baxendale

Pam,

Many thanks for the kind words. I know some of my views are considered heretical among the FF boys and gals here, but so what. Yes, it certainly is nice to fly Biz, especially on some routes, but I have hard enough time finding economy award seats when I want, therefore, finding those with higher redemption value are even more difficult — since I have never redeemed awards for other than standard or off-peak award values, never peak values.

In addition, since I spend more time in my hotel room than a flight, I would prefer to get my value in those surroundings. Further, although I don’t really go by certain hotel room nightly costs, as I believe that decent accommodations can be found at certainly a lower price point depending on the area, so too, do I neither go by the valuation an airline sets on its business class or first class seat for sale — as economy class is often is fine for me.

Therefore, if nightly rates at certain hotels are grossly inflated from what I would be willing to spend, that observation is even truer for First or Biz class seats as they are even more inflated in cost than their Economy counterparts.

Therefore, point valuations based on difficult to find and fill into one’s busy schedule for First and Biz class award seats are a poor indicator to me of a point’s overall value — hence my real issue with the TY points program and the AMEX MR program.

Although the latter has become more useful to the likes of me because of their addition of Marriott, there redemption value for that partner and Hilton still is somewhat unimpressive — although the Hilton 3:1 transfer bonus motivated me to more MR points toward that program because I believe that a MR point is roughly worth 1 cents and that transfer put it in my book at 1.2 cents.

Delta transfers are a sham, and the moniker SkyPesos is apt, therefore, MR points in my mind are not that worthwhile, hence my favoring UR again.

However, as noted above, AMEX has come out with some pretty fine SPG and Hilton rewards cards, and have upped their game on that front.

In fact, I think that with respect to Marriott points, AMEX ‘s SPG product line up now exceeds that offered by Chase and the Aspire and Ascend cards are a powerful 1-2 punch, especially for those who can’t earn status through biz travel.

Best of luck to all on your endeavors and travels in the New Year!

Pam

HNY HVB,

I also find the hotel portion of the AMEX MR program lacking – to the extent I don’t use for hotel bookings. I, too, have gravitated towards holding AMEX’s premium hotel cards instead. At first the total AFs of all cards were a bit of a sticker shock, but I’d rather have more skin in the game and receive corresponding value rather than a lower fee with nothing I’m too excited about using.

I was happy with earning Hyatt stays thru Chase and was ready to cancel my Hyatt card, for instance, when the WOH program was launched. Now THAT is a card (re)launch a company can be proud of and Citi should take notice of in terms of adding value for an increased fee.

Today I received $250 off $500 at Miraval this year, no registration required or strings attached. I will use this at the new property in Austin, and this ONE offer pays for almost 3 years of fees. I am excited about their push towards wellness/fitness with Exhale and even my own gym (with a bonus category). There are so many things actually to like about this card and some of it has nothing to do with actual hotel stays. Once again, Chase has got it right.

It’s called value added, Citi . . . not a loss in value.

JustSaying

It seems to me that the smart frequent flyer almost always uses the highest multiple 5X rules and then banks all programs and redeems based on best return. If you stay ahead of the game then that has to be the best strategy as opposed to focusing on one trip and one redemption.

CaveDweller

Well Said !! If it works for u Great !! But look @ the longer run ..It’s changing but since 2010 i can still get my Cheap Butt in a seat from ORD>CDG to So called Look around .in One new CC.. Annual Fee $95 +$88 fees..

CHEERs

WR2

I disagree about your bucketing of EVA in the “not recommeded” bucket. The primary use for EVA is US to Asia. Their J product is one of the world’s best, if not the best. With EVA it is 75k miles, while Singapore is 88k, and with the deval soon to go up further (95k?). Taxes/fees with EVA are very reasonable, about $150 for a one way from SE Asia to USA. Finally, availability is excellent when using EVA miles. It is pretty much wide open every time I look, while they are not so generous in opening up availability to partners. So good luck using Singapore miles on EVA, you’ll need it.

EVA is where the vast majority of my TYPs end up, while Hyatt gets pretty much all of my URs. I still don’t think that’s enough of a reason alone to keep the CSR. I downgraded mine last year after proactively transferring my URs to Hyatt. I will then soon upgrade back to CSR so I can double dip the travel credit, and repeat that process as long as they’ll let me.

Pam

I also certainly think that addtl value s/b assigned to Chase by having more airline partners that can be easily booked “as is,” without having to go thru “other partner” gyrations to get to the good stuff, a la Citi.

I am certain some have figured out how to eek maximum value out of Garuda(?) airlines, for example, but most people want to book on UA, SWA, & BA by comparison. The convenience factor is worth something and a whole LOT to me.

As for hotels, their cost is often the most expensive part of a trip with one night often being more than a round-trip plane ticket. Lodging is a critical part of a travel budget and to just not even have any yes, imo, makes Citi Shi*#i (nice rhyme, thx for the tip) as a “travel” card.

Hadley V. Baxendale

I have to disagree with you…. Citi stinks.

First and foremost, for US centric flyers it is far easier to understand and use USA based miles currency than foreign miles currency because of the general familiarity and ways to extend mileage balances within the USA through various partners that foreign based carriers may not have.

Moreover, some of the above foreign carriers will expire your miles no matter what spend you may do in trying to extend those miles — it is a use it or lose it proposition — none of the USA based carriers do this and Jet Blue (and Delta with respect to AMEX have no expiration policy), unlike Singapore miles — so you had better to be able to use them for a specific identifiable and available award or you could come up quite short.

Third, US airline transfer partners place no fuel surcharges on their awards at all, whereas some of those you have noted above do so, and others mentioned above you are silent about but do so, as well — such as Singapore Airlines. So, foreign airlines are no great panacea for US centric travelers.

So, among some of the airlines you mention, such as KLM/AF or Singapore or Virgin Atlantic, there are fuel surcharges that US flyers just may not put up with.

You mention Avianca, but you don’t mention the fact that it has been reported that it is sometimes difficult to get those award tix when dealing with their awards back office.

Furthermore, their pricing may be better than United in some instances but what you only partially explain is that if one has status with United or hold their credit cards, United award availability is simply far superior to that of its Star Alliance partners, and although you may get a less expensive miles cost ticket through a partner, additional availability will not be shown via that partner’s award web site, whereas United’s will display that additional availability — therefore, you likely will find many more and better and more convenient opportunities to redeem those United miles than Avianca miles — especially if flying economy is not “offensive” to one’s sensibilities.

Sixth, you are simply incorrect concerning the transfer ratios of Citi and JetBlue — for Prestige and Preferred card members, it is again 1:1, and as such, I don’t expect to see any more bonuses for such transfers.

Consequently, for a US based individual, Chase’s roster of transfer partners are more easily understandable, less restrictive overall and are far more easily utilizable than Cit’s partners.

Cit has not hotel partners, Chase has many – Hyatt, Marriott/Starwood and IHG.

Chase has United, Southwest and British Airways/Iberia/Aer Club Aer Lingus for short haul flights on us based American Airlines AAdvantage– a great boon as this allows OneWorld redemptions — one of the other great Airline alliances.

Thus, Chase covers Star Alliance with United, allows for American/One World short haul redemption at better than those available on American, itself, and has the number 1 US based Low Cost Carrier — that still does not charge for checked baggage = Soithwest.

Against this Citi merely has Jet Blue — which does charge for checked bags and whose point to point network is far more limited that Southwest’s.

Sorry, Greg, but for the majority of US based travelers, Chase UR offers fat more availability and utility than does Citi.

Finally, Chase offers far more stability than does Citi.

How many iterations has the Citi Prestige card and Thank You program gone since it’s launch a couple of years ago??

The Prestige has lost AAdvantage lounge access, the Golf benefit and now the 4th night free benefit is being sharply curtailed and will soon be rendered into non-existence for those who wish to earn hotel awards points on their future reservations.

Further, Citi has lost its only hotel partner — Hilton — to AMEX, and now has none.

It will also only earn 1 cents per point on any and all redemption via their travel award mall.

Against all of the above, I should be happy that they increase spending on dining to 5 points and upped the points structure for travel related items???

Sorry, but if one just uses the Hyatt point as an example, Sapphire Reserve cardholders get 3x UR points for dining and travel expenses = 4.5 Hyatt points = 4.5 cents.

Citi points will return 5x for dining = 5 cents to be put to use at the Citi awards mall — and this negligible difference is supposed to persuade me that Citi has finally gotten it right for its award program and there will be no more negative changes — even though redemption diminishes by .25 cents per point?

Nope, the cosmetic changes for redemption are simply not there vis a vis a straight cash conversion, and as noted above, the transfer partners are truly lacking for US based travelers, except in certain specific instances….

I know that I am trying to run off my TY points balance as quickly as possible with airfare redemption while it is still at 1.25 cents per point. Failing rendering my account to zero, I will dump the rest of my points into Jet Blue and be done with the Prestige card and Thank You points.

For me, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will be my multi-purpose card, and AMEX has recently come out with high annual fee niche market cards such as the Hilton AMEX Aspire and the SPG Luxury Amex Card whose annual fees I would rather pay than that of the Citi Prestige — and whose program constantly changes with the season, and which has an unremarkable and inferior roster of transfer partners.

CaveDweller

Good post HVD Sorry it doesn’t work for u but I need different cards for when they devalue or different travels . I need my Ink and Prestige card (till 7/15/2020) only out of 6 now . Both have been Goldmines for me better class of travel @ a lower price for the common traveler.
CHEERs

Hadley V. Baxendale

CD — Glad Prestige works for you – I do acknowledge that some instances, esp. non-economy flight travel, card and program can work in specific instances — that are the exception to the rule, rather than the norm.
I would rather have a rewards system that covers the bulk of my needs/wants without fuel surcharges on air carrier tix and allows me to earn hotel points — which Citi 4th night free extinguishes as of 9/1/19 — than 3rd party OTA bookers — in fact my travel pattern has precluded me from EVER using Citi 4th Night Free benefit — others, I know have made out like bandits — but it is mostly all going away as of 9/1/19.

Also, those invested with Citi banking, your relationship bonus with the Citi prestige ends on 9/1/19 — for many not a lot of points — but still a nice sweetener — soon that goes by the wayside, as well.

Would rather have 4.5 Hyatt points for Travel or Dining spend per $1 spent, than the marginally more “valuable” 5 Citi TY points per $1 Dining spent.

First, I don’t credit Citi points “worth” as worth a cent due to being captured by their inferior rewards mall, second I like to earn hotel program points so rewards mall, and soon 4th night free benefit will also not give you such points booking.

If I redeem by a rewards mall, Chase via the Reserve card will give 1.5 cents per UR point — 1/3 more than a Citi point for such redemption, and as noted above many more diverse and eminently utilizable rewards transfer partners, especially for US centric travelers.

The only large prestigious program neither card covers is Hilton family of hotels, and with new AMEX Aspire and Ascend cards, that is covered wholly by AMEX which is the better supplement to the Chase UR cards and points programs, as AMEX covers Hilton family — Wyndham and Choice are largely downmarket programs, and Fairmont has been absorbed by Accor, which I have read does not truly return a good return on your $$ stay investment when compared to the US programs.

So, in the end the Citi TY cards and program are merely eccentric supplements to the two powerhouses of rewards currencies — UR and AMEX MR (which I also think falls quite short). AMEX makes up for it with it new hotel card offerings, though, which can guarantee you Hilton top tier by just having the Aspire card and its initial outlay of its annual fee — which can be earned back and then some over the year.

If Citi were really serious at making a competitor of the TY rewards program they could do one very simple thing under their ready control — make American AAdvantage, a OneWorld founding member part of its program.

That it has declined to do so over the years, tells you all you need to know as to how they even view their sad multi-currency rewards program.

CaveDweller

Good post again i wish like u Citi would allow transfer to AA not just get the Citi AA card which I have 2 and may have to keep the personal one . U can get 2 nites Free booked after 9/1 then 2 booked after 1/1 which works for me but not you .Hopefully their get their Shxt together and add airlines and or change the limit on the 4th nite Free .. For Me not others $250 max back unlimited would work BUT others are doing thousands of dollars per stay which no card can handle .
CHEERs

Pam

@ Cave Dweller – HVB has beautifully explained in interesting detail (thx HVB for great reasons I hadn’t even considered) the disparity between Chase & Citi, & your reply is you use Ink (Chase) & Prestige (Citi) exclusively. So it appears you like Chase just fine.

Other than keeping Prestige for FNF where are you finfibg comparable utility out of Citi while also spending comparable time with using?

CaveDweller

Pam
U folks are in a different spending thing from me .I spend like $30k a year and can do $5k sign up in one min..But Chase can turn that into 60K+ points a year.. I use FNF and transfer points to Singapore + Ins+ P Restaurants (which Ink doesn’t have $$$) ..This stuff is always changing I don’t want to upset Citi nor Barclays then I will get nothing but Chase which is only HALF of my travel costs..
I”ll get the $500 air credit in 6 months then like $3K or $4K total on a $450 fee how much should I get a million ??
CHEERS

Hadley V. Baxendale

First, let me categorically state that yours is one of the most incisive, honest and well thought out blogs available to serious points and miles junkies and I always consult it when making my own valuation determinations, as well as for breaking news about these matters — although I hate it when people call this game — a hobby.

I’m sorry, but I:

1). Don’t MS, as I don’t have MS friendly Walmarts near me;
2). Probably would not know what to do if there were;
3). and am fortunate to have organic spend between me and my spouse that can substitute.

Second, let me also categorically state that I don’t buy into the apparent value that many here do on points use for using them as vehicles for obtaining First Class or Business Class seating…

I don’t agree with the points valuations of the AMEX MR and the Citi Prestige card because much of the high apparent value for each of their respective points is contingent upon:

1). Obtaining said First Class or Biz Class seating; often on
2). Foreign airline programs which either expire points regardless of what you may wish to do to extend them and/or which charge unconscionable fuel surcharges.

For me, and only me, First and Biz Class seating is NOT a deal breaker.

I don’t value yearning to earn points for what is at most a 24 hour trip (and often is far, far less) trip in a tin can in the air, where my whims are catered to. I generally don’t like that service and the experience is too brief for me to say that is the be all and end all of my travel wants, needs or desires.

Don’t get me wrong, on my long trips that I have taken to Hawaii or to Europe (I have not gone to Asia of the Middle East), or a red-eye flight to/or from the foregoing, and if I can obtain a decently priced award seat in Biz I would take it in a heartbeat, but that is not what I concentrate my travel plans around.

The experience is too fleeting and not worth the time I value in earning those points or using them.

Rather, a decent Economy Class seat award when I can use it with my spouse as we are both hard working individuals is easier to obtain than the Great White Whale of Biz of First Class seat in same, for a time that we can both take off.

Given the stinginess of award ticket availability this is a major concern and is all the more so with those with kids in tow — thus my decision to concentrate on Economy Class award tix to get me somewhere, and if Biz tix are available for same — then it is a bonus, not the goal.

As you can guess, I concentrate on what call the red headed step-child of the game, hotel programs — which have gained renewed interest from otherwise miles junkies in recent years with the introduction of many new and lucrative credit card products.

Putting aside a fawning service policy, I value room or suite upgrades, free breakfast and/or lounge access, etc. during the entirety of my hotel stay, which can last up to 4 days, and up to 7 days on an award stay (Marriott travel package), than the time that I am a passenger in an airplane.

This evolved the way it did as I have been a points and miles junkie for over 20 years, so when I started, there was no AirBnB to shift my gaze away from hotel accommodation, and now that I have accumulated serious points and status in a couple of programs, switching to the former is not an option for me.

In addition, when I began this game, I could not afford to travel everywhere at a moment’s notice in an airplane, as air travel was and often still is more expensive than hopping in one’s car (another
non-millennial thing to do) and going away for a long weekend. For example the cost of round-trip airfare for 2 in cash or award points even today I think is unjustified were I to drive to Montreal from my NYC-centered surroundings — but that’s just my calculation, even though one could say that we are now quite comfortably financially.

Thus, earning free nights and hotel status has been the thing I have chased and now after some business travel, much more leisure travel, as well as study of the programs, I am now Lifetime Platinum in Marriott Rewards and Diamond in Hilton by virtue of holding the AMEX Aspire card.

Further, I don’t lust after trips to the Maldives, or Mauritius, or Tahiti or Australia or New Zealand — they will have to wait for my and my spouse’s retirement, for to do them any justice, you have to spend at least a couple of days there — and given that each will take about a full day of flying to and from the destination, that leaves precious little time left for 2 very busy people to be able to coordinate a vacation, let alone, one on awards.

Thus, the furthest West I have traveled from my NYC centric environs is Hawaii, and East to Europe with the North America, in between — that constitutes my travel parameters.

I know others have a different take, but I wanted to explain my rationale for my choices in my response to you below, as everyone sets different priorities as to what is important to them.

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Hadley V. Baxendale

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Let me try to answer these one by one…

1) US-centric flyers: Chase is better (paraphrasing)

Yes, Chase is absolutely easier if you want to fly Southwest or United. Chase is probably easier for flying AA due to transfers to BA, but that’s debatable. For flying Delta, the two are identical in my mind (use Air France or Virgin Atlantic). For flying JetBlue, they’re identical (both transfer 1 to 1).

RESPONSE — I value UR points more than Prestige points — obviously, so I would run off TY or MR points to BA before UR points. I fly from EWR a great deal, so United and by consequence UR is a better fit for me, than either AMEX MR — primarily Delta, or Citi — primarily Jet Blue.

Of course, I can fly either of the latter mentioned airline, but having status or my spouse in United allows free-checked bags and upgrades to more leg space on United, something that is not available to me via Delta — who has a seriously overvalued points program.

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2) Some non-US airlines make it difficult or impossible to keep your miles alive.

That’s true. Etihad miles expire after 3 years with no way to keep them alive. That’s a knock on Citi’s program since Etihad is a recommended transfer partner. Air France also makes it very difficult to keep points alive, but that’s an equal knock on both programs for those who want to fly Delta/SkyTeam.

RESPONSE — I believe that Singapore’s much vaunted program also expires miles after 3 years, as does Cathay Pacific. No Thanks!! It is hard enough to cobble together a vacay for 2 very busy people. Harder still when those vacations often get cancelled at a moment’s notice because of client demands — and they have — therefore, mandatory expiration is not something I gravitate towards, and I would believe that would double for families with limited overlapping time for job absences and school vacations, not to mention unpredictable childhood illnesses. No thank you!

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3) Fuel surcharges.

I’m not sure I understand your point here. If you want to fly a US carrier then most of the time you won’t be charged fuel surcharges even if you use a foreign carrier’s miles to book the flight. And if you want to fly a foreign carrier that usually charges fuel surcharges you can avoid that equally with United or Avianca. Can you give an example where you would incur fuel surcharges with Citi but not with Chase? I can’t think of any off the top of my head. You gave examples of Air France and Singapore, but those are Chase partners too.

RESPONSE — The point is that I don’t want to fly a foreign carrier with esoteric rules, mandatory points expiration or fuel surcharges — even if they can be gamed for big savings.

As I have noted, a large proportion of those big savings are for Biz or First Class fares that initially don’t hold much interest for me and their restrictions don’t fit in with my time requirements. Why skew towards Avianca (TY points) or Air Canada (MR points) when you really want to fly United, anyway.

Couple the above with superior award availability on United if you hold their credit card or are elite in their program, and those gyrations are just too mind numbing and unlikely rewarding for one’s time an energy — even if you can find an award savings — which you very likely may not.

So, UR does not have Avianca to funnel points into United, or Air Canada to funnel points into United flights — why do I need those currencies when I am a United elite, have superior award availability than either of those, and can funnel UR points into United directly — without fear of fuel surcharges or expiration of points!

So, some partners are necessary for United/Star Alliance flights, but they are no real substitute for the real deal — United, itself.

Further, IMHO, SkyMiles is a seriously devalued program so I don’t often fly them, and coupled with status on United, with the chance of upgrades and a certainty of free bags, it is a poor 3rd choice in my book.

AAdvantage with its stingy roll out of award seats is no great shakes, either, but being an UR members allows me to potentially find non-stop short haul flights on BA’s website that will cost less than the AAdvatage program, itself.

In addition, it does not hurt to be Lifetime Gold in AAdvantage giving me free bags and a potential exit row upgrade — hence AAdvantage is my second carrier of choice.

Hence, no need for MR as I don’t value Delta highly, and Air Canada substituting for United is worse than the real deal. So too, is TY points and its ersatz United replacement — Avianca. That it has BA simply duplicates the UR points cards outstanding stable of transfer partners — thus, for my needs, no need for the “new and improved” Prestige card or the TY points program.

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4) Avianca can be difficult to deal with.

Yes. That’s absolutely true.

RESPONSE — So I have heard, have not redeemed myself, so even though their may be a miles savings, it generally would pale in response to greater award availability open to me.

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5) United award availability is better if you have their credit card.

Yes. True.

RESPONSE — Ditto.

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Hadley V. Baxendale

—————————————————————————————–I

6) Transfer ratio to JetBlue:

Yes, with Citi you need either the Prestige card or the $95 Premier card to get 1 to 1 transfers, but with Chase you need at least a $95 card in order to do transfers at all. So, those are equal in my mind.

RESPONSE — Yes, that’s true, but with UR, you have United and the more extensive point to point domestic US airline in Southwest, that does not charge bag fees. So, I will give you a semi-equal trade – free bags on SW vs. more leg room on Jet Blue. Equal, but certainly one does not need the TY points program to have extensive coverage of domestic US flights.

UR gives you United, SW and as noted above American via BA. Neither program gives you Delta, but who really cares when you have such domestic coverage!

The cost for transferring same may require at least a $95 card, but the transfer partners attendant to both are not — I personally value UR partners more.

I should also note here because I have not mentioned it elsewhere, that that minimum $95 UR Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, as well as it’s more expansive and expensive sibling, the Chase Reserve offers something quite valuable that no Citi TY points card offers — and that is Primary car rental insurance.

This convenience alone can save hundreds of dollars each year, an at a minimum, pays for the Preferred’s annual fee after about 7 days of renting a car — this feature is therefore quite valuable and is another reason demonstrating the superiority of UR points over that of TY or MR points.

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7) Chase’s roster of partners are easier…

Yes, United and Southwest are super easy. If you want to fly something other than Star Alliance or Southwest, though, I don’t see much difference.

RESPONSE — TRUE, but United and SW are much of the ball game, especially for domestic audiences. Jet Blue may be fine for coastal residents, but has paltry concentration in America’s heartland = Major Advantage UR.

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8) Cit has no hotel partners, Chase has many.

Um, yeah. That was pretty central to this post. I think I made it clear that if you care about hotels then Chase is the hands down winner.

RESPONSE – Agreed, and as noted above, and as others herein have stated hotel costs can exceed air costs and/or one may be able to vacation without an airfare component at all, so where does that leave the TY points program — Dead in the water and of no use whatsoever.

Again, advantage UR.

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9) Chase has … British Airways/Iberia/Aer Club Aer Lingus for short haul flights on us based American Airlines AAdvantage.

Yes, and Citi has Etihad which is great for long distance awards on AA.

RESPONSE — That may be true on no matter what you do points expiring Ethiad (don’t know about whether of not they levy fuel surcharges), but why would you want to go Ethiad when you have United at your disposal and for all of the superior reasons I have outlined above?

Ethiad is just a stand-in proxy for AAdvantage, and between award seat availability in Economy or Biz or First Class, I will take United any day over what American provides — therefore, it is easier and with less difficulty and restrictions to find long haul award space on UR’s United, than it is for finding same on an American flight.

Again, advantage UR.

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10) Finally, Chase offers far more stability than does Citi. How many iterations has the Citi Prestige card and Thank You program gone since it’s launch a couple of years ago??

Regarding their transfer partners, Citi has only made their program better over time, not worse. The one exception is Hilton, but that was never a good value transfer anyway. Yes, they’ve changed many other things (some for the worse), but this analysis is specifically about transfer partnerships.

RESPONSE — You cannot isolate the partners when evaluating a proposition such as this, you must also look at the relative value each program provides to points redemption.

For my purposes, Citi’s soon reduction in points used for air ticket purchases from 1.25 cents to 1 cents per point is a MAJOR DEVALUATION and is not in any way offset by their increasing dining to 5x points and some travel to 3x points. This comes up especially short if you have the Chase Reserve card(s) as 3x points on dining and many more travel related expense than Citi’s minimal expansion of its travel categories, just doesn’t match UR.

Therefore, Citi may have expanded its travel partners, but that does not mean that its expansion even matches the roster of UR travel partners — in my mind, it does not.

Then, when you calculate that TY Prestige’s more expansive and generous bonus offerings on some categories generally just mimics what the UR Reserve card offers, the TY program comes up decidedly short when comparing rewards mall purchases of travel wherein UR points hold steady at 1.5 cents per points for many activities, whereas Citi has decided to reduce its anemic air travel value from 1.25 cents to 1 cents.

Any way you look at it, the Prestige Card and the TY points program is simply no competitor to the UR program in scope of utilizable partners, as well, as on bonus categories from which to profit.

I’ll stick with UR as the sine qua non of the multi-partner awards currency.

Pam

BOOM! Questions anyone?

Jeff

I think the flaw in this analysis for me is the assumption that the end user has the knowledge and resources to squeeze every last value out of each point.

I’m no beginner, but after 5+ years in this “hobby” I still struggle to follow all of the “this airline’s rewards also book that airline’s flights, but you only want to use them for partner flights if it’s direct and if you’re departing on a Tuesday that falls on an even-numbered day in an odd-numbered month. Oh, and these 6 Alliances don’t show each other’s flights online so you have to know to look for an award on the first airline and then call the second airline to book over the phone, etc etc etc”. It’s not that it’s so hard to execute, but KNOWING all these ins and outs is something I think you take for granted and far too easily sweep them under the rug for Citi.

So yes, for someone who falls out of bed in the morning knowing all 55 options, in order of value priority, for flying from Austin to Beijing before touching the ground I can see Chase/Citi feeling like a push as far as airline transfer partners. For me at least, the simplicity of Chase (United, Southwest, Jetblue, BA, etc) destroys Citi.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the article and LOVE the outline of how the Alliances will work – but I’m common sense enough to know that if I need to book an award today, slogging through all those rules and exceptions and what-if’s to piece something together with Citi would swallow entire days of research and learning vs. a few hours with my Chase transfer partners. With a young family, I just don’t have that kind of time. Citi demands a much higher game than I have right now, and I think that factor is missing from the analysis.

Jeff

Ha ha yeah, I give BA a “pass” because I know I can manage one level of uncertainty. I would compare it to communicating in languages. I can communicate in English (Hyatt, SW, United) just fine. And if I need to communicate in Spanish (BA) I can muddle through – might not be perfect and I’ll probably miss some but with some extra effort I’m satisfied that I can get through it. What I know I can’t do is communicate in English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Japanese, German, Portuguese, and Finnish all at the same time. I mean, I could slog through all of them one at a time but it would be so brutal and trying to swallow them all at once would be so overwhelming that anything I “learned” would get conflated across the different “languages” and I probably wouldn’t actually learn anything or be in a better position for the next time.

That said, I really did *love* how you laid out many of those interactions above and plan to reference this article in the future. Just a thought – is there a giant matrix out there that cross-references which rewards programs work to get flights on other reward partners? So like, American, United, Delta, BA, Iberia, Singapore, etc across the top, then American, United, Delta, BA, Iberia, Singapore, etc top to bottom and each square is a Yes, No, or “Sometimes”? That would be AMAZING.

CaveDweller

Very rough Game u have to be careful but Ijust booked some hotels on Crete . I saved $150 over Hotels.com on 4 nites with the Prestige card…Thanks Nick !! post ur trip I can cancel my hotels .Remember award points CAN work better then cash.
Great Sport
CHEERs

Pam

These tips come in pieces & parts – would be nice for you or someone in the know could publish a guide for purchase. Or are there good ones already?

tro

You nailed it for me. To add to your specific comment about arcane alliance search strategies, so far the only Citi transfer partner I’ve found that allows me to easily (term used somewhat generously) search for US domestic flights is Avianca. To be fair, I’m more limited than some because my city’s airport just has Delta, United, American.

That said, I also agree this is a great, comprehensive resource and I’ll be referring back to it for sure. Still, I don’t see myself improving on 1.25c via the travel portal for most of my Citi redemptions 🙁

HawaiiDreaming

All good points Greg. Thanks for your analysis. As a hyatt fan, I always lean toward chase. I used to transfer to BA back when the 4,500 point options existed. I have transferred TYP to singapore many times over the years. I also value the biz awards to hawaii and the lack of close-in booking fees on United. I have booked back up flights as insurance this way because of the low cancelation fees. They raised those recently, so this isn’t as good as it used to be. I have found the rare lie-flat unicorn to Hawaii several times in the last 3 years. 4 seats on the United 767 ERW-HNL was wonderful for 30k KF miles each. The kids will never forget it. My key has always been flexibility and persistence.

Ethan

@Greg, very nice analysis! Appreciate the breakdown! I have two questions, however, when you stated Hyatt “…and they do not charge resort fees on award stays.”, does it apply to Andaz Maui as they charge $45 per night (or is this property not considered a resort)? Second question is (though not directly related, but it may be applicable as it’s a very high incentive to pick one program over another) for people newer to this hobby, I find it much more difficult to earn/accrue Citi TY pts compared to Chase. Per my knowledge, Citi only offers sign up bonus on the Premier (now 50K) & the AT&T at 10K. The Prestige & Preferred don’t offer a sign up bonus, so unless one have a very highly monthly charge (not counting MS as not all of us do MS), isn’t it kinda pointless to go the route of Citi? Now on the other hand Chase offers a whole load of cards that have sign up bonuses: CSR (50K), CSP (50K), CIBP (80k), CIBC (50k), CIBU (50k), Freedom (15k), Freedom Unlimited (20k), that’s at potential 265K UR pts vs. 60K Citi TY pts! Wouldn’t you say?

Nick Reyes

I stayed at the Andaz in late 2016. The resort fee is waived for award stays. To my knowledge, Hyatt doesn’t have any exceptions on that (no resort fee on award stays).

CaveDweller

I didn’t paid any fees on my many award hotel stays that’s why I flipped the cards .But check before hand .

Ethan

@Greg & Nick, thanks for your reply. Yes, I was on the Hyatt website just a few days ago looking at this property and it stated a $45/day resort fee when I chose booking with points option. I didn’t go through with the booking as I was just searching for availability.

James

You will always see the resort fee when booking (regardless whether you’re Globalist, booking with points or both). Either way, when you check out it won’t be charged.

(I’ve done dozens of award bookings and/or Globalist bookings, they’ve always been waived, even on prepaid rates).

Ethan

Ahh…good to know, thanks James!

CaveDweller

Good then just cancel and look @ other places Simple.. Thanks

TMount

The stating of the resort fee is standard, however you won’t have to pay it

frugalman

There is a big flaw in this argument: it assume that you have equal amounts of TYP and UR points. but you don’t (at least I don’t). I have churned sign up bonus and done MS without intentionally collecting one over the over. But, over the years, I have earned abundant UR thanks to numerous card types (Freedom, Sapphire, Ink series) and good MS category bonus (Ink, Freedom). But I can’t say the same thing to Citi. Other than Thankyou series (don’t have AT&T More), I don’t have other path to get more TYP. Maybe I miss something, and please educate me if so. Otherwise, that’s my feeling based on my observation and my point numbers.

CaveDweller

I have chase & thank you points can I transfer any points to Olympic Airlines so I can book a Flt.
THANKs !!

James

Should have added amex in this article.