How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions: ThankYou Points

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Let’s talk about transferring ThankYou Points to airline partners for redeeming on domestic awards. This is part one in a series that will allow you to master redeeming awards within the United States, no matter what kind of points or miles you might have.

“How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions” Series Index

Citi ThankYou Points are transferable to one hotel and 12 airline programs. Folks who have a Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to (click links for posts on basics and sweetspots of that program):

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You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points, and 1,000 ThankYou Points to 500 Virgin America Elevate points.

Redeeming ThankYou Points for a Fixed Value on Revenue Tickets

You can also redeem ThankYou Points on cash flights for a fixed value. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi ThankYou® Premier are worth 1.25 cents each on any airline. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi Prestige® can be redeemed on any airline for 1.33 cents.

ThankYou Points earned solely from the Citi ThankYou® Premier cannot be redeemed for 1.6 cents on American and codeshare partners, but if you also have the Citi Prestige® Card along with the Premier, you can pool the points and redeem them like you would ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige.

As you’ll see with some of the examples below (or the examples in any of the Citi ThankYou transfer partners’ sweetspot articles, linked above), it is possible to redeem your ThankYou Points for a higher value than 1.33 cents each. But 1.33 cents is decent, and it could be worth investigating if you can’t get more than 1.33 cents of value per mile transferring to an airline partner or using a different type of point or mile completely (not to mention you will also earn butt-in-seat miles redeeming ThankYou Points this way, which you wouldn’t by redeeming miles).

Redeeming ThankYou Points for fixed value is obviously going to be better in cases when you can book the flight with plenty of notice, there’s a fare sale, or any other factor that makes the cash price cheaper.

For example, take the flight below:
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This economy flight between Dallas and Philadelphia costs $130 to book out of pocket, which translates to 9,775 ThankYou Points if you redeem them for a fixed value of 1.33 cents each. I got that number by dividing the price (130) by .0133.

In the case of this example, it would cost less ThankYou Points to redeem them on this American Airlines flight for 1.33 cents each then it would transferring them to any of the airline transfer partners.

Now let’s get into some of the higher value redemption options on awards within the United States when transferring your ThankYou Points to one of their 12 partner loyalty programs.

Qantas Club

Qantas is a part of oneworld Alliance along with American Airlines. The strength in Qantas’ redemption charts is the price of short distance flights, since their award pricing is based on distance flown and not regions. For example, here is Qantas’ chart for flying American Airlines:

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You can fly American Airlines flights under 600 miles for only 8,000 Qantas miles. For perspective, American Airlines charges 7,500 American Airlines miles for direct flights of 500 miles or less, and United charges 10,000 United miles for flights of 700 miles or less.

Qantas is also partners with Alaska Airlines, so you can use Qantas miles on Alaska flights. Again, the strength in the chart is short distance flights.

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Flying Blue

Both Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) and Delta are part of the Skyteam Alliance. It costs 30,000 Flying Blue miles + standard taxes/fees (no fuel surcharges) to fly roundtrip in Delta economy between the mainland United States and Hawaii. You can also book one way Flying Blue Awards for half the price of a roundtrip (in this case, 15,000 Flying Blue miles).

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Delta charges 45,000 miles roundtrip between the mainland United States and Hawaii.

Stopovers are not allowed on one way Classic Flying Blue Awards. It is not clear how may stopovers you can have on a roundtrip, but definitely at least one. Travel is Free also reported that you have to call Flying Blue (1 800 375 8723) if you’d like to include stopovers as a part of your roundtrip award.

**BONUS** 

There is currently a glitch with Flying Blue’s award prices between the mainland United States and Kauai (LIH) specifically. While it should be priced at 15,000 Flying Blue miles, it’s actually priced at 12,500.

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Read Flying Blue Glitch: 12,500 Miles to Kauai to learn more.

Singapore Krisflyer

Singapore Airlines and United are fellow members of Star Alliance. You can redeem Singapore Krisflyer miles between the continental United States and Hawaii on United flights for 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles in First with no fuel surcharges. United charges 22,500 and 40,000 miles respectively for the same flights! (Get the flat bed in first!)

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You can also fly within the United States on United Business Class for 20,000 Krisflyer miles each way.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have flights within the United States, but they are partners with Delta.

For 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles you can fly Delta One roundtrip within the United States, which is 5,000 miles less than what Delta charges for it. It must be booked as a roundtrip however, as Virgin Atlantic partner redemptions will cost the roundtrip price even if you book a one way.

You can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Hawaiian or Delta flights to Hawaii from the mainland as well, but you can find better deals (like those stated above) redeeming Krisflyer or Flying Blue miles.

Virgin America

Virgin America is also a Citi ThankYou Point transfer partner, but the transfer ratio is 2:1 which normally wipes out the value– unless there is a transfer bonus, in which it might behove you to take advantage.

Bottom Line

Just because Citi ThankYou Points don’t have any 1:1 transfer partners that are American loyalty programs does not box you out from using ThankYou Points on domestic awards. There are transfer partners that open you up to the majority of American award space (Singapore can book United flights, Qantas can book American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and Flying Blue can book Delta). Singapore will probably provide you the highest value redemptions overall domestically (not to mention internationally), but there are handful of good options, especially to Hawaii.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. HI Scott-

    “ThankYou Points earned by the Citi ThankYou® Premier are worth 1.25 cents each on any airline. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi Prestige® can be redeemed on any airline for 1.33 cents, or on American Airlines for 1.6 cents each.”

    Does the above mean that the points earned on the Premier card will be worth only 1.25 cents on each airline *even if* the Premier points were merged into an existing Prestige account?

    -g

    • No, if you have a Prestige and Premier and you pool the points into the Prestige’s ThankYou account, you can redeem all points for 1.33 cents on any airline/1.6 cents on American Airilines (as well as codeshare partners). The Premier earned ThankYou points essentially turn into Prestige-earned ThankYou points. Thanks for pointing out the missing info, I added it to the post.

  2. Scott,
    If I redeem ThankYou points for a refundable ticket on AA for 1.6 cents each what happens if I cancel the ticket for a refund?

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