CardMatch™


Best Use of Citi ThankYou Points – Airline Transfers

Citi has some new airline partners, so I thought I’d take a second to explain some of these new partners. If you like the Hidden Gem series I did a while back, or if you have Citi points, check out details on all of these odd partners.

We’ll go over each transfer option, how it works and how it compares to other options. Understand that all of these airlines pass on fuel surcharges. Each one of these airlines used internationally could rack up a ton of fuel surcharges. The exception is always flights within North America and South America (and the Caribbean). Therefore use the Master Chart of Avoiding Fuel Surcharges to see if there’s an airline within an alliance you can redeem points on that doesn’t have fuel surcharges.

First, the cards that transfer to partners: Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige® and Citi Chairman® 

(Note that all of the airline transfers are at a ratio of 1:1).

And the transfer partners:

  • Asia Miles
  • Singapore
  • Eva
  • Etihad
  • Flying Blue
  • Garuda
  • Malaysia
  • Qatar
  • Thai
  • Hilton

 

Cathay’s Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles are extremely generous and similar to ANA in that they allow 4 stopovers (5 destinations total). When a flight doesn’t include Cathay or has more than two partners you’d use the follow Asia Miles OneWorld Award Chart: This is not only a decent award chart that allows a ton of stopovers, it’s a part of OneWorld alliance, which according to the chart for avoiding fuel surcharges, is probably the best alliance for avoiding fuel surcharges. Many partners don’t have fuel surcharges: Air Berlin, LAN, TAM, US Airways, AA (within the Americas), Aer Lingus, Alaska, and Air New Zealand (only on flights from Hong Kong to Auckland). This actually gives a few international spots without fuel surcharges, besides South America… although there are good redemptions there as OneWorld now has the best reach of Latin America.

For 60,000 Asia Miles I drew out how you could fly New York – Cancun – Lima – Quito – Miami – New York, and spending as much time as you want in each place. This is because they allow so many stopovers and it’s 7,620 flown miles. So what you do is take the route and put it into GCMap in order to find the total miles flown. Then you take that amount and compare it with the award chart above. This would fall under award zone 06 and thus be 60,000 miles for economy, or 85,000 miles for business class.

Comparing to the other airlines this is a very decent option. It’s not as good as perhaps ANA or American, but it is probably the best Citi transfer and there are still really great redemptions. To fully understand fuel surcharges, the different award charts and partner options please read the post, How To Redeem Big With Asia Miles.

Singapore KrisFlyer Miles

Singapore KrisFlyer Miles are known as a favorite Citi transfer if only because of the option to fly in Singapore’s famous “Suites Class” and the chance to fly in the double bed in the sky. But besides that, there are some great redemptions.

Singapore Airlines Star Alliance Award Chart starting in North America (in oneways): This is actually a really decent award chart and if American Airlines is the best award chart around, this actually compares in a few ways. In my Best Use of Singapore Airlines post, I made a chart comparing the two and got the following results: Singapore Airlines was better than AA’s award chart on:

  • Business & First within the USA  (for 20k/30k)
  • Economy, Business & First to Hawaii  (for 17.5k/30k/40k)
  • Economy to Europe  (for 27.5k)
  • Economy, Business & First to the Middle East  (for 37.5k/57.5k/75k)
  • Business to Central/South Africa  (for 72.5k)

Star Alliance doesn’t have great non-fuel surcharge options to Europe but if you’re looking to pay a premium in order to fly premium cabin, it does have decent prices for biz/first to the middle east and biz to South Africa. And premium cabin within the US and Hawaii is a great deal as well as economy to Hawaii.

Comparing to the other airlines

Singapore has some unique and cheap redemption options and besides Asia Miles, is probably one of the best transfers for Citi ThankYou points. Also, the suites class is really only bookable with Singapore miles. In order to see Information about non-fuel surcharge options with Air New Zealand and Pacific flights, as well as Virgin Australia flights, and to better understand Singapore’s award chart, stopover rules, and see the complete chart of Singapore Airlines Suites prices (showing hours flown and prices) please read the Best Use of Singapore Airlines Miles.

Malaysia Airlines

I would say one of the gems of using Malaysia Airline miles is the fact that you get 5 stopovers. And their awards are sometimes competitive to slightly high, but it’s made up for by the fact that you get 5 stopovers.

However, they have different rules for different types of awards (with mixing airlines) and different award charts. So it’s probably the most confusing set of miles out there at first glance. But if you read the following post, I lay it all out there: Best Use of Malaysia Airlines Miles.

This also makes Malaysia Airline miles hard to explain in just a few paragraphs. Plus they have more options than most – cash and points, companion passes and more partners.

Malaysia’s OneWorld Award Chart

Prices are okay, but the odd benefits could come in handy.

 

Flying Blue

Update: Kenny says that their promo awards are mild fuel surcharges for the price. We’re talking trips to Europe for 12,500 miles and $100 – $200 for a oneway. It’s a pretty awesome deal

Also they do offer 30,000 mile roundtrip flights to Hawaii, which I find to be a great deal.

These are the two best uses of Flying  Blue points and they are great uses.

 

EVA Air Infinity MileageLands

A few details about Eva’s award redemptions before starting:

  • Two stopovers are allowed for a round trip award ticket, including one in outbound and one in inbound. The turnaround point and stopovers cannot be the same with the origin or destination’s nation.
  • One open-jaw segment is allowed for the whole itinerary;however, the open-jaw must be in the outward point of departure or turnaround point and they must be in the same area. Ex: TPE-LAX (open jaw) SFO-TPE 
  • $50 to cancel
  • Maximum of six sectors are allowed for each Star Alliance award ticket

I made an award chart that’s North American based. (Prices are in roundtrip, but oneways are half the price).

North America Hawaii, Central America South America Europe Middle East North Africa Central, South Africa North Asia SE Asia Central, South Asia SW Pacific
Econ 39 50 68 68 86 93 100 115 120 120 120
Biz 58 80 105 130 135 160 185 175 195 195 195
First 77 125 170 170 210 250 290 210 225 290 255

One important detail here is that I renamed a couple groups because the pricing was the same. I combined a lot of it with the actual “North Asia” category as defined by EVA. So North AsiaHong Kong, Macau, Tawain, China, & North Asia – Guam, Japan, Micronesia, Palau, Russian Far East, South Korea, Marshall Islands.

However, I do find it particularly odd that North Asia includes South Korea, “Russian Far East” and Guam, Palau, Micronesia area. And it may or may not be worth mentioning that flights to Asia from Central America are cheaper… likely because Central America is in the same zone as Hawaii. But they’re only cheaper in economy:

From: Hawaii, Central America Central, South Africa North Asia SE Asia Central, South Asia SW Pacific
Econ 100 100 110 105 110
Biz 185 185 195 200 195
First 290 290 290 290 255

Actually, Central and South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) for 105,000 miles round trip is not a bad deal. The problem with all of this is the fuel surcharges. The premium cabin prices are very high and the prices within the Americas are high. Nothing here would justify the fuel surcharges.

Comparing to the other airlines

There is nothing that stands out. There’s nothing awesome enough to warrant any fuel surcharges. If I had the miles I’d come up with something good, but I don’t see anything off hand that beats the other redemptions. (They are however discounting upgrades from paid economy tickets on EVA to North America and Europe. Doesn’t help me. See here.)

 

 

Garuda Miles

Partner Award Chart:

Garuada Miles award chart skyteam

As you can see the award chart is okay at best. But distance based programs tend to have their sweet spots. Specifically the Caribbean is really not that far from a southern city like Atlanta. In this way, it could end up being a normal priced ticket; 15,000 – 22,500 for a oneway to the Caribbean or Central America.

Although one thing that would interest me is the redemptions on discount airline Citilink that has many cheap flights around Indonesia. The following flights are 3,000 miles:

  • Surabaya (SUB) – Denpasar (DPS)
  • Batam (BTH) – Pekanbaru (PKU)
  • Cengkareng (CGK) – Tanjung Pandan (TJQ)

There are a number of flights for 6,000 miles too, and you can see the award chart here.

So for example, if you just want to get from Bali to Java, 3,000 miles is a great deal. Or from Sumatra to Batam/Singapore. These are just great ways to get around Indonesia, which is something I’m actually interested in. Although, the only thing I’m unclear of are any fees for this airliner. If one is interested, call and price it out first, then compare to the paid price.

 

Qatar Airways Privilege Club

Award chart:

Qatar Award Chart Partners

This is a rather overpriced award chart and there’s not much good to say about it. Run the math and nearly every other airline wins.

Cash + Miles

In the example on their website, they are selling the miles for a little less than $.03 USD per mile. And according to the terms and conditions you need at least 50% of the miles.

 

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

Want to see the most poorly designed award chart ever?

While it’s not a stunning award chart, and at spots over priced, there are a few decent options:

  • US to South America for 60,000 miles (a normal price)
  • US to North Africa for 70,000 miles
  • US to New Zealand/Oceania for 80,000 miles

However, Thai’s award chart for its own flights is distance based, so there could be thousands upon thousands of examples, but overall, none of those are great deals.

On the plus side, Asian routing rules and stopover rules are usually generous. At least you get two stopovers.

Rules

  • One enroute stopover in each direction is permitted per Award journey. One open jaw at point of turnaround or origin is also permitted per Award journey.
  • No stopover is permitted in the country of origin.
  • No stopover is permitted on pure domestic travel.
  • Mixing classes of service for Award travel is not permitted.
  • First Class Award travel may not be available on all sectors due to aircraft operations. However, First Class Award redemption will be applied to the entire Award journey.

 

Conclusion

I highly recommend you check out more details on the airlines with good redemptions if you have citi points:

Related Posts:

12 Comments

  1. What about using Flying Blue transfers to take domestic Delta flights, especially one way? I assume booking is still incredibly difficult at the saver levels since Delta doesn’t make much availability….

    Reply
    • You’re indeed right. Using miles domestically is a great way of avoiding fuel surcharges.

      Reply
  2. Good analysis. The Garuda flights look tempting until you check all the airlines that ply those routes. Sriwijaya, Tiger Indonesia, Air Asia, Lion Air all sell seats so cheap – nobody goes through the trouble of booking awards :)

    Reply
    • Yea, I realized that. Although a couple of them I know for sure you can’t get a cheap flight… Especially east Indonesia.

      Reply
  3. Extra benefit of Asia Miles is that they get access to Cathay and Qantas as soon as they release seats (so you get about month’s jump on partners like AA and AS who often have slim pickings). For highly coveted F and J on Qantas’ A380 to/from Australia, it’s about the only way to grab award seats without praying for last minute award seats to open up.

    Reply
    • Didn’t know that. Thanks for the tip.

      Reply
  4. Surcharges on coach AF promo awards I’ve looked at have always been about $100 one-way. Along with only 12.5K miles it’s worth keeping in your back pocket if there are no awards in one direction on AA/AB/UA etc. And it’s not much higher than IB surcharges with access to a lot more U.S. airports.

    Reply
    • You’re saying the promo awards only have $100 in yq?

      Reply
  5. Is Garuda chart per segment like Avios or per trip like Cathay?

    Reply
    • Per trip.

      Reply
  6. I want to use my 60K TYP to redeem a flight from PHX to TPE. What is the best transfer partner?

    Reply
  7. I don’t have any travel plans to use my Citi Thank You points right now, so which airline would you recommend I should transfer the points to before I cancel my Premier card?

    Reply

Leave a Reply to aubergine Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
Go to About Me to learn more.
CardMatch™
SIGN UP: RSS

SIGN UP: NEWSLETTER