Like other credit card issuers, Citibank offers a card that earn a transferable points currency. I don’t yet have a card that earns Citi Thank You Points (TYPs). TYPs can be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel partners on a 1-to-1 basis, except where noted:
- Asia Miles (currency for Cathay Pacific and others)
- EVA Air Infinity Mileage Lands
- Etihad Guest
- Air France Flying Blue
- Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Hilton HHonors Worldwide (1:1.5)
All transfers are for a minimum of 1000 points and must be transferred in 1000-point increments.
Recently Qantas was added as a transfer partner, making Citi the first US card issuer to allow direct transfers to Qantas Frequent Flyer (QFF). Several bloggers have pointed out that it’s not particularly a great deal given that Qantas awards are distance-based and international flights will incur fuel surcharges.
What this transferability does offer is flexibility. Qantas is part of the oneworld alliance along with American Airlines, British Airways and others. Qantas (and BA) open their booking schedules approximately three weeks before American opens theirs. This, combined with how few premium cabin seats Qantas makes available, mean that award seats can be booked using QFF (or BA Avios) as soon as they’re released – leaving those with only AA miles to pick up the crumbs that are left.
The downside is that Qantas charges 168K QFF miles and BA charges 150K Avios each way in first class from North America to/from Australia. And both programs incur fuel surcharges of $390 each way to go along with the taxes and fees.
Short-haul flights using QFF miles are cheaper than the US legacy carriers at 8000 miles each way for flights of up to 600 miles but BA only charges 4500 Avios each way.
So would you ever want to transfer your Thank You Points to Qantas? Probably not, but it depends on your situation. If you’ve been saving up TYPs for a trip Down Under this will get you in the door more quickly though you’ll still have to shell out over $400 for first class flight. But it may be worth it to you to lock in a first class flight well in advance. Once the American Airlines calendar opens up, you could cancel your ticket bought with QFF miles and watch for the seat to go back into award inventory and then use your AA miles to pay for it. The question is: is the reward worth the risk of losing your first class seat? For me, the answer is no. I’d rather pay the $400 and lock in my flight than risk losing it. Since a first class ticket goes for $9600-$10,300 (depending on whether you depart from Los Angeles or Dallas) each way, it’s absolutely worth it to me to lock it in and not worry about the $400 – but as always, it’s your call.