Unlike Chase which partners with United, and American Express which partners with Delta, Citi doesn’t have a major U.S. airline partner. But it does have many foreign airline partners that you can transfer ThankYou points to and book one of the three domestic legacy carriers.
In many cases you can actually save miles using a foreign airline program to book a flight on a U.S. airline. Here is the list of all Citi airline partners along with their U.S. partners in parenthesis.
- Air France/KLM (Delta)
- Cathay Pacific (American)
- EVA (United)
- Etihad (American)
- Garuda Indonesia (Delta)
- Malaysia (American)
- Qantas (American)
- Qatar (American)
- Singapore (United)
- Thai (United)
- Virgin America
- Virgin Atlantic (Delta)
As you can see, the lack of major U.S. partners doesn’t mean you can’t book an award flight on a U.S. carrier if they offer the best route to your destination. Here are the best values for your ThankYou points you might want to look into and the worst values you might want to stay clear of.
Best of Air France/KLM
You can transfer your ThankYou points to the AIrFrance/KLM program to take advantage of some excellent redemption opportunities. Here are some of them.
1. Book Delta to fly to Israel for 50,000 miles
Delta, just like most airline programs, puts Israel in the Middle East (where it belongs); Flying Blue, for some reason, considers Israel a part of Europe. The result is quite spectacular – if you book a Delta award ticket with Delta miles, it’ll cost you 80,000 miles for a round-trip flight, but if you book the same flight with Flying Blue miles, that’s only 50,000 miles. You’ve just saved 30,000 miles.
2. Book Delta to Hawaii
You can book a Delta round-trip flight with Flying Blue miles to Hawaii for only 30,000 Flying Blue miles. That’s 20,000 miles cheaper than getting the same Delta award ticket with Delta miles, which costs 50,000 Delta miles. Depending on where you are flying from to Hawaii, it can be 30,000 miles for a very long flight. That’s a gift.
3. Transfer ThankYou Points to Flying Blue to use on Promo Awards
Every month, Flying Blue publishes a list of promo awards with discounts running up to 50%. If you find a route you like, that can be a terrific way of saving miles. Even with a more modest 25% discount, which is quite common, you are looking at less than 40,000 miles for a round-trip flight to Europe in economy and less than 100,000 in business. Note, however, that Air France does add a fuel surcharge, and while it’s not much in economy, it may add around $500 to the cost of your taxes in business.
4. Use Flying Blue miles to fly to French Polynesia
This is a very specific award, but if you’ve been dreaming of experiencing the beauty of Bora-Bora or Moorea, you can fly Air France from Los Angeles to Tahiti for mere 60,000 miles per round trip. This is what major U.S. airlines normally charge for a flight to Europe.
Worst of Air France/KLM
Flying Blue has relatively decent business class rates to Europe and Latin America (125,000 miles per round trip), but if you’re looking to fly ultra-long-haul routes in business, Flying Blue is not your program. It has horrendous business class levels: 200,000 to Asia, Africa, India, and 250,000 miles to the Pacific. It does have more reasonable business class rates to French Polynesia (150,000 per round trip), but finding award space at this rate is nearly impossible.
Best of Singapore
1. Book Singapore First Class Suite. If you want to fly in the world-famous Singapore A380 first class suite, there is no other way to book it but with Singapore KrisFlyer miles. Singapore never opens first class suites to its airline partners – but, fortunately, it’s partnered with a few U.S. rewards programs including Citi ThankYou. A first class flight between Los Angeles or New York and Singapore will cost you 92,000 – 94,000 miles one way with the online 15% discount. Note that Singapore does add around $200 in fuel surcharge.
2. Fly Singapore from San Francisco to Hong Kong for about 64,000 miles in business and about 70,000 in first class. You won’t be flying in a famed A380 suite, but any Singapore first class seat is an experience. Besides, there is no fuel surcharge to Hong Kong.
3. Fly Singapore from the West Coast to Australia, New Zealand, Africa, or the Middle East for 81,000 – 85,000 miles and make a stopover in Singapore or another city on the way there for $100. You can add up to 3 stopovers for $100 each, or have one free stopover on a round-trip ticket.4. Fly from New York to Frankfurt (in an A380 suite) or Houston to Moscow for about 49,000 miles in business or 57,000 miles in first.
5. Use Singapore miles on a premium class domestic award ticket on United (including Alaska) without fuel surcharges. You will save 10,000 miles on a round-trip flight in both business and first (20,000 and 30,000 miles respectively).
6. Fly United to Hawaii for 17,500 in economy, 30,000 in business and 40,000 in first each way and save 5,000 – 10,000 miles over United levels (no fuel surcharges).
7. Fly to southern South America for 50,000 miles in business with no fuel surcharges. This is better than business class levels from all major U.S. airlines (no fuel surcharges).
Worst of Singapore
Singapore charges more moderate fuel surcharges on its own flights than it usually adds to most of its airline partners. Unfortunately, for most destinations not listed above, flying Singapore partners means paying massive fuel surcharges in addition to high mileage costs. So, transfer your ThankYou points to Singapore when it makes sense and look for other Citi partners when Singapore miles don’t work for your travel.
Cathay Pacific and Etihad
Transferring your ThankYou points to Cathay Pacific can be a terrific way to fly to Asia and other world regions such as South America. Etihad also presents a wealth of opportunities, including Etihad’s own first class redemptions, redemptions on American at the old, pre-devaluation levels, as well as the cheapest transatlantic business class award seat redemption in the world.
You can see the how best and worst use ThankYou points to Cathay Pacific and Etihad in our earlier post.