Citi Transfer Partners: Get the Most From Your ThankYou Points

With 14 airline transfer partners and multiple credit card options, Citi ThankYou points may become your new favorite rewards program.
Last updated Sep 26, 2020 | By Lee Huffman
Man viewing flights at the airport

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Flexible credit card points are some of the most valuable rewards you can earn. Many people focus their time and energy on earning on Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards — but if you're not earning Citi ThankYou Points, you're missing out.

Here’s why Citi ThankYou Points are so valuable, how to earn them, and why transferring them to one of 14 airline partners is often a good idea.

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4 credit cards that allow you to transfer Citi points

Citibank offers multiple credit cards that earn Citi ThankYou Points for consumers, including:

  • Citi Rewards+ Card: Earn 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations on the first $6,000 in purchases per year, and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Citi Premier Card: Get 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus, your points are worth 25% more towards airfare when booked through Citi.
  • Citi Prestige Card: Earn 5X points on airline purchases and restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Citi Double Cash Card: This cashback card can up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay. You can then convert your cash rewards into ThankYou points.

Note that not all cards are eligible to transfer ThankYou points directly to every airline partner. For example, points from Citi Rewards+ or Citi Double Cash cards can only be transferred to JetBlue.

However, there is a workaround. If you also hold a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier Card, you could transfer your Citi Double Cash rewards to one of those Citi credit cards, and then you’d have full access to transfer points to every airline partner. Read the fine print in your card’s terms to understand what kinds of transfers you may be eligible for.

14 Citi transfer partners

Citibank partners with 14 different airlines that provide enhanced value for your ThankYou Points when you transfer points and redeem for award flights.

Airline Airline Alliance Min. Transfer Transfer Ratio
Aeromexico SkyTeam 1,000 1:1
Air France SkyTeam 1,000 1:1
Avianca Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Cathay Pacific Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Etihad None 1,000 1:1
Eva Air Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
JetBlue None 1,000 1:1 for Citi Prestige and Premier Cards

1:0.8 for Citi Rewards+ and Double Cash cards

Malaysia Airlines Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Qantas Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Qatar Airways Oneworld 1,000 1:1
Singapore Airlines Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Thai Airways Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Turkish Airlines Star Alliance 1,000 1:1
Virgin Atlantic None 1,000 1:1

When you redeem any airline miles, your best redemptions are often going to be for business or first-class fares. The same goes for your Citi ThankYou points that are transferred to airline partners. Here are a few examples of incredible redemptions you can have when transferring points to miles:

Singapore Airline to Frankfurt

The Singapore Airline suites are one of the most premium in-flight experiences available. For only 86,000 miles each way, you can fly for seven hours in your own personal "suite" in the sky from New York to Frankfurt.

Air France to Europe

The Flying Blue program from Air France and KLM offers tremendous value accentuated with regular promotions that lower the cost of flying even more. This year, I booked flights to take my daughter to Belgium and son to Amsterdam through promotions that discounted business class flights by 25%. We flew from Chicago to Brussels for only 39,750 miles each.

Delta One to China

You can experience the luxury of Delta One by using Virgin Atlantic miles to book award flights. For only 82,500 miles each way, you'll have almost 16 hours in Delta's premier first-class product, flying from Detroit to Shanghai, China via Atlanta.

How to know if you’re getting the best value with Citi transfer partners

Before transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to an airline, you need to check two things. First, is there award availability for the flight you want? Then, what is the cash price for that same flight?

Is there award space available?

Transferring miles to an airline sounds great in theory — but if there’s no award space available, you've traded in your flexible Citi points for miles that can only be redeemed with that airline (and its partners). Before clicking transfer, make sure that the flight you want is available as an award redemption. If possible, call the airline and ask them to hold the ticket while you wait for the points to transfer.

Is it cheaper to book a cash ticket?

Even more important is to check the cash price of your desired ticket before transferring your points. In some cases, the cash price of the flight may actually cost fewer points when booking as a paid ticket (using points as cash) instead of an award ticket (transferring points to an airline). Be sure to factor in the taxes and fuel surcharges that you must pay into the equation.

When you have the Citi Premier Card, remember that your points are worth 25% more when booking flights through the Citi ThankYou travel portal.

Example flight from New York to Paris

Let's look at booking a flight from New York (JFK) to Paris, France (CDG) in December 2019. I was able to find a round-trip Economy flight for just $386 on Air France.

If I were to book that flight using AirFrance miles, it would cost 44,000 miles plus $194 in taxes. Because you're spending 44,000 miles for the $192 difference between the cash price and the taxes paid on the award flight, that's an absolutely horrific redemption value of 0.44 cents per mile!

The same flight on the Citi ThankYou Points travel portal is available for $414. You can redeem 41,435 points for the flight with most ThankYou Points credit cards. However, if you have the Citi Premier Card, your points are worth 25% more when redeeming for airfare through the Citi portal — making your points go even further.

How to transfer Citi rewards to an airline

Transferring Citi ThankYou Points to an airline is very simple and straightforward. Here's how to do it in seven easy steps:

  1. Log in to Citibank online
  2. Click on "Redeem ThankYou Points”
  3. Hover over "Travel" and click "Points Transfer
  4. Select your preferred airline and click "Continue"
  5. Choose how many points to transfer
  6. Enter your frequent flyer number and click "Continue"
  7. Review your transfer request and click submit

Taking advantage of airline partner transfer bonuses

Every so often, one of the Citi ThankYou partner airlines will offer a transfer bonus for even more value. These limited-time offers are excellent opportunities to redeem your Citi ThankYou points for extra airline miles to book that vacation you've been planning.

At the time of this article, for example, Avianca is offering 25% additional LifeMiles when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points into their program. That means that 1,000 Citi points is equal to 1,250 Avianca LifeMiles.

Although some of these airline transfer bonuses are attractive, be cautious about moving points to an airline if you’re not ready to book a flight soon. First, airline programs devalue their points on a regular basis. You don't want your valuable points sitting in a frequent flier program for longer than needed since they could become worthless without warning.

And when you keep your credit card points flexible, you can take advantage of other opportunities that arise. Once you've transferred Citi ThankYou points to an airline, you cannot transfer them back to Citibank. If there's no award availability on your chosen airline or a better offer comes up at another airline, you don't want your points stuck with a carrier that isn't working for you.

FAQs

Can I transfer my Citi ThankYou points to someone else?

You can share Citi ThankYou points with friends and family as long as they have a ThankYou points account. You can share points in any amount with no minimums. Points that are shared are only valid for 90 days from the date they are received.

Members can share a maximum of 100,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, the maximum number of points you may receive in a calendar year is also 100,000.

Can I transfer Citi points to hotels or other programs?

Citi does not partner with hotels, so you can’t transfer your points to a hotel program. 

Citi ThankYou Points can be transferred to the Sears Shop Your Way loyalty program. You can redeem those points for in-store and online purchases Sears and Kmart. You receive 12 Shop Your Way points for every one Citi ThankYou Point transferred, and there are no point transfer minimums.

How long do Citi points take to transfer?

Transfers may take up to 14 days to appear in airline loyalty accounts but may happen faster. In my experience, some point transfers happen immediately.

What’s the benefit of using transfer partners over earning points and miles directly for the airline I want?

There are two reasons to earn with a Citi ThankYou Points credit card over an airline credit card. First is the flexibility of using your points how you want — redeem for cash, use for travel, or transfer to airline. Second, you may have the ability to earn higher rewards on your spending with category bonuses not available with airline credit cards.

ThankYou points offer tremendous value when transferred to an airline partner

Citi ThankYou points are incredibly flexible for savvy travelers. And with multiple Citi credit cards to choose from, you'll likely be able to find one of the best travel credit cards from Citi that can fit your needs.

Luxury Travel Benefits

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Benefits

  • 50,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 5X points on airline purchases and restaurants
  • Up to $250 travel credit every calendar year
  • Complimentary 4th night hotel stay
  • Transfer points to airline partners