You Can Now Transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin America

Sep 20, 2015

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Citi Prestige and Citi Premier

Citi’s really been stepping up its game, making its cards more competitive and adding quite a bit of value to the ThankYou Rewards program. Last summer, Citi introduced transfers to airline partners, including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, EVA Air, Etihad, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Flying Blue was added a few months later. Then, earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic became a partner, followed by Qantas.

All of these airlines have one thing in common: they’re not based in the US. That’s right — until this weekend, Citi didn’t have a single US transfer partner, besides Hilton HHonors. Beginning today, however, you can now transfer points to Virgin America. Officially, only cards like the Citi Premier Card and the Citi Prestige allow transfers to Virgin America and other partners, but as long as you have at least one Citi card that lets you transfer to partners, you can move points over. Virgin America is also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards.

Transfer Citi ThankYou points to Virgin America.
You can now transfer Citi ThankYou points to Virgin America.

Should you Transfer?

Through October 21, you’ll earn a 25% bonus when you transfer 1,000 points or more. With the bonus, 2 ThankYou points will equal 1.25 Virgin America Elevate points — without a bonus, points will transfer at a 2:1 ratio. TPG values Citi ThankYou points at 1.6 cents each (as you can always get 1.6 cents in value by using points to book AA flights) — Virgin America Elevate points, meanwhile, are worth 1.5-2.3 cents apiece. Unfortunately that means that with a 2:1 ratio, you’ll generally get better value out of your points if you don’t transfer them to Virgin America.

Still, there’s no downside to adding a transfer partner, and we’d love to see Citi grow its ThankYou partner pool even further — American Airlines is an obvious candidate, considering the airline’s existing relationship with Citi. We can only hope AAdvantage becomes a partner before a massive devaluation, which, considering moves by Delta and United, doesn’t seem too far off at this point.

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