On September 1, 2019, Citi changed the fourth-night free benefit on the Citi Prestige, where reservations need to be booked through the ThankYou portal or by calling a Thank You representative. On September 22, 2019, Citi removed most of their travel insurance and shopping protections from almost all of their cards.
These changes made me rethink our Citi card portfolio, and one of the possibilities was canceling our Citi Prestige card. With Citi, points associated with a card expire in 60 days after you cancel it, even if you’ve transferred those points to another Citi ThankYou card.
If I’m going to need to use these points, I’d need an exit strategy.
I went to the ThankYou website to find out what options are available to redeem our points.
When logging in, one of the first options offered to me was to use my points to pay for recent purchases.
Using ThankYou points this way only gets 0.5 cents of value for each point. This is a horrible deal. Next.
Wow, I can get a Marshalls gift card.
While this will give me 1 cent of value per point, I’m not a huge HomeGoods shopper. Um, no thanks.
Gap and Macy’s? There has to be something else. What about travel? Isn’t that why I earned these points?
If you want to pay for travel with your points, you can use the ThankYou portal to make your reservations. You’ll get from 1 to 1.25 cent per point value depending on which Citi card you have to make the redemption (until April 10, 2021, when all cards will give you one cent per point.)
It’s a better value but I’d prefer not to book directly through the Citi portal. What about transferring points to partners?
Ah-ha. There’s the points transfer option. What are my options?
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Asia Miles
- Avianca Lifemiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air
- Flying Blue
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
That’s several programs I don’t know a whole lot about. While I’m sure there’s value in these programs, it takes a bunch of time to learn about just one program and there are several I know nothing about. I’m going to stick to the ones I somewhat know.
For me, Flying Blue is a useful program to book flights with SkyTeam airline partners. I transferred Citi ThankYou points to FlyingBlue to book our flight in Delta One from Frankfurt to Detroit.
You can also use Flying Blue points to book promo awards for trips within the upcoming three months. While these are last-minute redemptions, they often offer awards at up to 50% off the number of miles needed.
Points transferred into Flying Blue will expire if you have no qualifying account activity within a 24 month period. According to Flying Blue, that would be earning points by flying on KLM/Air France or any of their SkyTeam partners and crediting the flight to Flying Blue or spending on a Flying Blue co-brand credit card. You could always credit a low-cost Delta flight to Flying Blue (you wouldn’t get many SkyMiles anyway) to keep your account active. Just don’t transfer in your points and plan to leave them there forever.
If you’re thinking about using the Flying Blue program, I’d suggest making an account now, even if you don’t plan on using it. Flying Blue has a reputation for shutting down accounts that are opened, have points transferred in, and redeemed in a short period of time. It doesn’t cost anything to open an account and leave it there with no points.
You’re not going to get exceptional value when transferring points to JetBlue, but you do know what your points are going to be worth when you redeem them. While some of the awards will give better or worse value, you can expect to get around 1.4 cents per point for your TrueBlue points.
That’s still better than any of the redemptions for gift cards, statement credits or booking travel directly through the Citi portal.
The advantages of parking points with JetBlue are that the points will never expire and you can pool points with any other TrueBlue member to make an award booking. The disadvantage is that points transfer to JetBlue at a 1000:800 ratio. There are occasional bonuses bringing things back to 1:1, which are worthwhile waiting for if you can.
Singapore is a Star Alliance member and you can redeem points for award flights on those airlines. However, Singapore’s award chart isn’t great for partners. The advantage of having Singapore points is that the airline releases more award space for their own flights to KrisFlyer members. If you have Singapore miles, you’ll be able to book award tickets while people with miles in partner programs, like United, will not. This is how I booked our flight on Singapore Airlines in business class from New York to Frankfurt.
The big downside of transferring points to Singapore KrisFlyer is that points expire three years after being added to the account. So this isn’t the best place to park points unless you know that you’ll be able to redeem them rather quickly.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
I never paid attention to this program because the taxes they charge on award tickets for their own flights are very high. However, I decided to give it another look because I’ve read articles about how Virgin Atlantic miles can be a great way to book flights on their partner, Delta.
Virgin Atlantic points expire if there’s no account activity in 36 months, but since they’re partners with all the major banks, it shouldn’t be hard to add some miles to your account to keep it active.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
Turkish’s program is one that I know very little about. There are some sweet spots in the program, like flying from the US mainland to Hawaii for 7,500 points.
It’s a shame we won’t find this award very useful because those flights are on United, but I’d imagine there’s a bunch of people who’d want to take a bucket list trip to Hawaii and that’s possible with the 15,000 sign up bonus from the Citi Rewards+ card.
There is a load of information out there about how to use points in other programs. There’s a great post from God Save The Points about Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles sweet spots and Nick from Frequent Miler’s post on Avianca LifeMiles award chart.
While at first, second and thirty-fourth glance, the Citi ThankYou transfer partners might seem limited, I assure you there is value to be found in these programs. It might not be as easy to find your award flight with these points as it is with ones that transfer directly to Delta or United, those flights are bookable if saver space exists, and in most instances, that’s when you want to be using your miles anyway.
After doing all of this research, I decided to hang on to my Citi Prestige card for another year. I have one hotel stay planned where the 4th-night free benefit will more than pay for the annual fee.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary