6 Top Business and First-Class Redemptions With Citi Transfer Partners
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Citi Prestige Card
One of the best travel rewards credit cards out there right now is the Citi Prestige Card, which was recently updated to include a sign-up bonus of 75,000 ThankYou Rewards points after $7,500 in purchases within three months of account opening. This haul is worth $1,125 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, but the card carries a host of other benefits like Priority Pass Select membership, the renowned 4th Night Free perk and a yearly $250 air travel credit.
You have many options to redeem ThankYou points, but if you want to get maximum value on these redemptions, you’re probably best off transferring them to one of the program’s 14 partners. Last week I wrote up 5 off-the-beaten-path ways to accomplish this, but these aren’t necessarily the “best” redemptions out there, especially when it comes to flying in a premium-class cabin. Today I’ll go through my list of best premium redemptions using Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partners.
This post will follow the same format as my previous one. For each of the award options, I’ll first go through an overview of the redemption and then provide a specific example. This will include a calculation of the value of the transferred points (based on TPG’s valuations, keeping in mind that points must be transferring in increments of 1,000) and a calculation of the value of the redemption. In all cases, you’re getting more value by transferring, though keep in mind that award inventory can change by the minute, so there’s no guarantee that the itineraries I use below will still be available when you read this. Nevertheless, they’re meant to serve as examples of just how to leverage the new bonus on the Citi Prestige Card to get outsized value.
(NOTE: One-way fares tend to be incredibly expensive compared to round-trip fares, so the values for each one-way redemption below may be inflated. However, they still represent a great option for making the most of your ThankYou points, especially given the flexibility of one-way tickets.)
So what are some options for redeeming 75,000 ThankYou points? Here’s my list, in no particular order:
1. Round-Trip First-Class Flights From New York to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific
If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’re probably aware that Cathay Pacific first class is among one of the most comfortable and luxurious ways to fly. While long-haul overseas flights typically require a ton of miles, you may not be aware that one of the carrier’s flights from New York-JFK has a stop in Vancouver en route to Hong Kong, and you can book a first-class seat on just the first leg by transferring ThankYou points to the Asia Miles program. 70,000 points will get you a round-trip award ticket, opening up 5-6 hours of bliss for a single sign-up bonus. The best part? Availability is generally quite good.
Here’s an example of a 10-day trip in the middle of October:
If you were interested in paying for the flight instead of redeeming miles, you’d need to spend a pretty penny:
You’ll also have 5,000 ThankYou points left over for a future redemption.
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 70,000, worth $1,050
- Total Value of Redemption: $6,389.01 (or 9.13 cents per point)
2. Singapore Suites (or First Class) From Japan/South Korea to Singapore
If Cathay Pacific first class to Vancouver isn’t up your alley, maybe you’ll be all right with Singapore Airlines first class. Even though the carrier’s KrisFlyer program underwent a devaluation earlier this year, there are still some great ways to get solid value out of the program. If you’re thinking about using the sign-up bonus from the Citi Prestige for Singapore first class, your best bet is either flights from Japan or South Korea (65,000 miles) or from Dubai (70,000 miles). Be sure to pay attention to the type of plane on these routes, as redeeming miles for the carrier’s A380 will ensure several hours in Suites Class.
Availability isn’t great, but after a few minutes of searching, I did find the following Suites Class award ticket from Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to Singapore (SIN) on November 6:
That same flight would set you back 669,510 Japanese Yen (~$6,050) if you paid for it directly, so once again, you’re getting some incredible value.
Note that another option within your reach would be Singapore’s nonstop flight from New York-JFK to Frankfurt on the A380, which would be 76,000 KrisFlyer miles. However, availability is virtually non-existent on this route, so if you can find a seat that works with your schedule, book it!
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 65,000, worth $975
- Total Value of Redemption: ~$6,026 (or 9.27 cents per point)
3. One-way Business Class From the US to Europe Through Flying Blue
If these first two redemptions are a bit too out of the way for you, consider transferring your points to Flying Blue for a one-way business-class ticket from the US to Europe. This will cost you just 62,500 miles, and if you can find availability on Delta (as opposed to Air France, KLM or Air Europa), you’ll save a couple hundred dollars in taxes and fees. Fortunately, the Flying Blue search engine makes it relatively simple to find availability on these flights, and the calendar view allows you to quickly identify options with lower fees.
Here’s a snapshot of the flexible-date results when searching for a one-way flight from Miami (MIA) to Munich (MUC):
If you see $23.60, that’s an indication that the long-haul flight is on Delta; the higher amounts indicate that the long-haul flight is on another carrier.
If you wanted to book the flight on November 16, a revenue ticket would cost you $7,660.60, while the award ticket would be a mere 62,500 miles plus $23.60.
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 63,000, worth $945
- Total Value of Redemption: $7,637 (or 12.1 cents per point)
3a. One-way Business Class From the US to Israel Through Flying Blue
Another angle to play with Flying Blue is how far this 62,500-mile rate extends. Even though Israel isn’t a part of Europe, you’ll redeem the same number of miles for a one-way business-class award ticket from the US. Here’s an example of a one-stop itinerary from Miami (MIA) to Tel Aviv (TLV) with a connection in Paris (CDG):
The paid ticket on this flight would set you back $6,827.61.
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 63,000, worth $945
- Total Value of Redemption: $6,561.79 (or 10.4 cents per point)
4. One-way Business Class From the US to Doha
If you’re looking for a longer flight, consider redeeming your ThankYou points for a one-way flight to Doha (DOH) on Qatar Airways. There are actually two ways to do this:
- Transfer to Asia Miles: 70,000 miles each way, or 120,000 round-trip
- Transfer to Qatar Privilege Club: 70,000 miles each way, or 140,000 round-trip
Since Qatar won’t even let you search for award tickets unless you have the requisite number of miles in your account, it’s unclear as to how much the carrier would charge for award tickets on its own metal. As a result, the total value below is based on transferring to and then redeeming through Asia Miles.
There are a couple of reasons why this particular redemption is attractive. The first is if you’re able to book a route with the carrier’s new A350. However, an even better option would be for flights in the carrier’s new Qsuites, which TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig reviewed in June from Doha to London. While it’s not totally clear when this new business class will be available on flights to the US, New York-JFK has been identified as the first gateway, so booking award flights for next year could get you into this luxurious cabin.
Let’s say you wanted to fly from New York-JFK to Doha on Monday April 9. Both of Qatar’s nonstop flights have award availability that day, though you may want to choose the 777-300ER in an effort to maximize your chances of enjoying the Qsuites:
As you can see, a one-way award ticket booked through Asia Miles will set you back 70,000 miles plus ~$240 in taxes and fees. However, paying for this flight out of pocket would cost $5,964.15, ensuring that you’re getting some terrific value from your ThankYou points.
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 70,000, worth $1,050
- Total Value of Redemption: $5,726 (or 8.18 cents per point)
5. One-Way Business Class to South Africa Through Singapore KrisFlyer
Singapore’s recent devaluation fortunately only impacted redemptions on its own metal; award flights on Star Alliance partners remain unchanged (for now). One particularly attractive destination for redeeming KrisFlyer miles is South Africa, as the program only charges 72,500 miles each way from the US. There are several airlines that allow you to connect in Europe en route to South Africa, but the most direct option is the nonstop flight from New York-JFK to Johannesburg (JNB). Availability isn’t great, but if you can find a seat using a Star Alliance search engine (like United or Aeroplan), it should be bookable through Singapore. You can also use ExpertFlyer to search award inventory — it also has the added feature of setting alerts to notify you when a seat opens up.
As an example, let’s say you were looking to fly from New York-JFK to Johannesburg on Friday January 26. A quick search on ExpertFlyer finds business-class award inventory available (which you can then verify on United.com):
Unfortunately, Singapore does charge fuel surcharges on most of its Star Alliance partners, so based on current exchange rates (and what I was quoted when I called KrisFlyer reservations), you’d need to pay ~$265 on top of the 72,500 miles. However, that pales in comparison to the cost of a revenue ticket:
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 73,000, worth $1,095
- Total Value of Redemption: $8,073.10 (or 11.06 cents per point)
6. Air China First Class Between London and Beijing
While we’ve focused on flights from the US so far, here’s a sweet spot that’s just too good to pass up. This award could help complete a DIY around-the-world award trip involving London and Beijing. What better way to fly between these two world-class cities than in a first-class product? And, who’d guess that you can fly 11 hours in a first-class product for just 37,500 points?
This sweet spot has likely survived this long due to its obscurity. You’re going to need to transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club to book the only Air China redemption option: London – Beijing.
The chart shows round-trip redemption rates. However, unlike Flying Club’s ANA redemption chart, you’re able to book one-way Air China award flights. That means you can book Air China economy on this long-haul route for 28,000 miles… or first class for 37,500 miles. Not a tough choice there. The astronomical cash fares for this product ensure that there’s plenty of award availability.
The tough part of this redemption is the booking process. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club doesn’t allow online award bookings, so you’re going to have to call Flying Club to book these flights. But it’s worth the hassle. At these rates, you can get two one-way first-class flights from the 75,000 point Citi Prestige Card sign-up bonus.
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 75,000, worth $1,125
- Total Value of Redemption: $20,442 (or 27.26 cents per point) for one-way flights for two, or $15,010 (20.01 cents per point) for one round-trip.
Bonus: One Night at the Conrad Maldives
A final fantastic redemption actually doesn’t come through an airline but instead is through the Citi ThankYou Rewards program’s only hotel partner: Hilton Honors. You can normally convert ThankYou points into Hilton points at a 1:1.5 ratio, but this has been bumped by 33% through September 20. While I normally wouldn’t recommend utilizing this particular partner (even with the bonus, you’re still sacrificing value based on TPG’s valuations), there may be some unique cases where it does make sense.
Take the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, for example. If you were hoping to book a stay at the beginning of January, you might balk at the prices on some nights ($2,000+). However, on the night of January 8, for example, you can redeem 95,000 Hilton points for a “standard” beach villa that is going for over $3,000 per night (when you include taxes and fees):
The rates do come down significantly on subsequent dates, but if you’re hoping to book a trip to the Maldives and are trying to keep money in your pocket for the various dining and excursion options on Rangali Island, this could be a great way to do it.
- Total ThankYou Points Transferred: 48,000 under the current bonus (worth $720), 64,000 under the standard transfer ratio (worth $960)
- Total Value of Redemption: $3,166.08 (or 6.6/4.9 cents per point)
The transfer partners of the Citi ThankYou Rewards program aren’t as exciting or valuable as some of those offered through other programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. That being said, the current sign-up bonus on the recently refreshed Citi Prestige Card makes this an ideal time to carefully analyze the program to consider your redemption options if you do choose to apply. Just be aware that the card’s application page includes the following language:
“Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.”
If you’re still eligible for the bonus and interested in applying, I hope this post has highlighted a few options to make the most of transferring your ThankYou points to the program’s partners!
Featured image of Singapore Airlines first class.
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