CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
While the Citi ThankYou Rewards program allows you to redeem points for cash back, gift cards and through its travel portal and get 1 cent apiece in value for them, simplicity isn’t going to give you the best value. Instead, you can transfer ThankYou points earned from some of our favorite credit cards, such as the Citi Premier® Card, to 16 different travel partners — giving you a much better value. While this takes a little extra time and effort, it’s well worth it and will help you book your next trip at a significantly lower cost.
So if you’re wondering how you can get the best value from your Citi ThankYou points, especially with the 60,000 bonus points earned from the Citi Premier Card card after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening, we have many options for you.
And of course, some of these partner options can be utilized for many other Citi ThankYou Reward credit cards, such as the Citi Double Cash Card. Although marketed as a cash back credit card, the Double Cash in fact earns Citi ThankYou Rewards points, which can also be redeemed for free travel towards your next vacation.
Transfer Citi ThankYou points to JetBlue
When it comes to using frequent flyer points, JetBlue TrueBlue is one of the easiest programs to use, as there are never any blackout dates or issues with award availability. If there’s a seat available for sale on a JetBlue flight, you can always use JetBlue points to book it. You can even use your points to fly in a JetBlue Mint seat and experience a great domestic first-class experience.
The reason is that JetBlue doesn’t have a classic award chart. Instead, the number of points you need to redeem for a seat is roughly tied to the ticket price — when the cash price goes up or down, the points price follows.
With the Citi Premier, points transfer at a rate such that 1,000 ThankYou transfers to 1,000 TrueBlue points — and points can transfer in blocks of 1,000 whenever you need them, and most transfers happen instantly. This means that the 60,000 ThankYou points earned from the sign-up bonus equates to 60,000 TrueBlue points, which are worth $840 towards JetBlue travel — since JetBlue points are worth about 1.4 cents apiece, according to frequent flyer website The Points Guy. If you were to redeem those same 60,000 points through the travel portal, that would only be worth $600 towards a flight.
Points earned from the Citi Double Cash can also be transferred to JetBlue, but at a slightly lesser rate where 1,000 ThankYou points equals 800 JetBlue points. However, if you pair the Citi Double Cash with the Citi Premier, points transfer at an equal one-to-one rate, giving you an even higher number of JetBlue points to redeem for travel.
Stay at a home rental through Vacasa
Many people prefer vacationing in a home or condo rental, but also want a way to redeem their points and miles. Historically, this hasn’t been an option — until now. Wyndham Rewards has partnered with Vacasa Management Rental in such a way wherein you can redeem your points for any available home rental at a fixed cost of 15,000 points per night per bedroom. Rent a one-bedroom condo and the cost is 15,000 points per night; rent a four-bedroom house and the cost is 60,000 points per night. The sweet spot here is a large condo or house that only has one listed bedroom but additional living space, such as a loft, basement or alcove.
For those who have not heard of Vacasa until now, it’s similar to Airbnb or Virbo where you are renting an individual person’s home, with the main difference being that Vacasa is the property management company for the particular rental.
Fortunately, Wyndham is a transfer partner for all Citi ThankYou Rewards credit cards. Points earned from the Citi Premier card transfer at a 1,000-to-1,000 ratio, which means the 60,000 points earned from the sign-up bonus can allow you to book a 4-night stay in a 1-bedroom home rental. With frequent-flyer site The Points Guy valuing Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents apiece, as long as you book a home rental for more than $255 for the night, you are redeeming your points at a great value.
But there’s one catch — even though a home rental is available for a paid stay on Vacasa, it doesn’t mean it’s available when paying with points. There are blackout dates, and typically, the home rental has to be less than a certain price for it to be listed with points. Unfortunately, the only way to check availability is to call Wyndham directly, which can be a lengthy process.
If used strategically — which we have done first-hand — the points earned from the Citi Premier can easily be worth up to $2,000 towards your next home vacation rental.
Or, if you have the Citi Double Cash Card and earn points with your everyday purchases, you can transfer your points at a 1,000-to-800 ratio. This means for every 1,000 Citi ThankYou points you transfer, you’ll earn 800 Wyndham Reward points. If you’re able to rack up 19,000 points, you’ll end up with 15,200 Wyndham Reward points — enough for one free night in a home rental.
Click here to earn enough bonus points with the Citi Double Cash card to book a home rental.
Fly throughout the United States with Delta Air Lines
Although Delta SkyMiles isn’t a partner of the Citi ThankYou program, it’s still possible to use your ThankYou points to book Delta flights. The trick is to instead transfer your points to Virgin Atlantic, which is a partner of both Citi and Delta. From there, you can use Virgin points to book many Delta flights.
When it comes to Delta flights within the US, Virgin Atlantic has a distance-based award chart for economy seats that looks like this:
- Flights between 0 and 500 miles cost 7,500 points
- Flights between 501 and 1,000 miles cost 8,500 points
- Flights between 1,001 and 1,500 miles cost 11,500 points
- Flights between 1,501 and 2,000 miles cost 12,500 points
- Flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles cost 15,000 points
- Flights between 3,001 and 4,000 miles cost 22,500 points
- Flights between 4,001 and 5,000 miles cost 27,500 points
- Flights between 5,001 and 6,000 miles cost 35,000 points
- Flights over 6,001 miles cost 45,000 points
This means when award space is available, a round trip nonstop Delta flight between Boston and Los Angeles costs 30,000 Virgin Atlantic points. That can sometimes be cheaper than booking the exact same flight using Delta’s own miles, which fluctuate depending on the cash price of the ticket.
Just remember that Virgin Atlantic prices awards by adding up the miles required for each flight segment. So a routing that requires a connection will cost more than a nonstop flight, because the two connecting flights will be priced separately, then added together.
Also, if you’re wondering whether you can transfer your Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic and redeem them for flights to Europe and the United Kingdom, you can — but I don’t recommend it. That’s because Virgin adds extremely high carrier surcharges to their own award redemptions — as much as hundreds of dollars, which often make your “free” flight not worth the cost. Fortunately, you won’t see those high surcharges when you’re redeeming Virgin points for domestic Delta flights.
Keep in mind though that points can only be transferred to premier partners, such as Virgin Atlantic, from the Citi Premier card and not the Citi Double Cash. However, if you have both cards, you can combine your Citi ThankYou points from the two cards. From there, your points are eligible to be transferred to the entire Citi ThankYou partner suite at the highest transfer ratio.
Redeem points from the Citi Premier card for Delta flights through Virgin Atlantic.
Fly to Hawaii using Turkish Airlines miles (yes, really)
Hawaii isn’t part of the continental United States, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles award chart. The airline groups the Hawaiian Islands in with the rest of the 48 mainland states, making it incredibly cheap to use Turkish miles to fly to Hawaii.
Of course, you’re probably thinking to yourself that Turkish Airlines doesn’t fly from the rest of the US to Hawaii — and you’re correct. But Turkish Airlines is part of the Star Alliance airline partnership, which means you can redeem its miles for flights on United Airlines, which is also part of the Star Alliance. And you can transfer your Citi Premier points — although not Citi Double Cash points (unless you have a premium card) — to Turkish Airlines, since it’s one of Citi’s 16 travel partners.
For just 7,500 Turkish Airlines miles one-way — or 15,000 miles round trip — you can fly on a United flight from almost any destination in the US to any Hawaiian island when there’s award space available. Or, if you’re looking to sit up front, you can fly the same route for just 25,000 miles round trip in business class.
Now, if you’re on the East Coast and Hawaii is slightly too far away for your liking, you can instead visit Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands for the same 7,500 miles each way, since those destinations are also grouped together as part of the US on the Turkish Airlines award chart.
With the 60,000 points earned from the Citi Premier card, you and up to three additional family members can fly to Hawaii round trip in no time.
Use Citi Premier points to fly your family to Hawaii.
Fly in one of the world’s best first class seats
Singapore Airlines has one of the very best first class seats — or as the airline calls them, “Suites” — in the world, and recently started flying its A380 aircraft with these Suites to the US. And believe it or not, you can actually redeem Citi ThankYou points to get a Suite for nearly nothing.
While Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, the carrier only releases award space for its Suites to members of its own frequent flyer program, known as KrisFlyer. Fortunately, it’s free to join KrisFlyer, and once you’ve joined, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points from a premium Citi credit card to KrisFlyer at a one-to-one rate, meaning you can easily acquire enough KrisFlyer points from the Citi Premier to book one of these fantastic suites. Unfortunately, points earned from the Citi Double Cash card can’t be directly transferred to this program either.
Right now, Singapore is only flying the A380 on one route to and from the US — New York’s JFK to Singapore by way of Frankfurt, Germany. But it’s possible to book just the segment between New York and Frankfurt, meaning you can get from the US to Europe this way and then use any other airline to make a quick hop to any other country on the continent that you’d like to visit.
Even better, it’s cheaper to book an award to Frankfurt than booking the entire run to Singapore. For a one-way flight from New York to Frankfurt, you can expect to pay 86,000 miles for a seat in Suites at the lowest “Saver” level, but only when Singapore has released award space at that level for the day you want to travel. But if you can find space, the 60,000 bonus points on the Citi Premier card give you a good start to accruing the necessary points needed.
Even if you can’t find saver-level space and need to book at the higher “Advantage” level, which costs 140,000 miles one-way, the bonus from the Citi Premier will get you almost halfway there, and you can then either earn more points by using the card on a regular basis, or transfer additional points to Singapore from one of the other credit card programs that also partner with KrisFlyer, including Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One miles.
Click here to earn enough bonus points with the Citi Premier card to fly first class to Europe.
Visit Europe without paying hefty carrier surcharges
While you shouldn’t transfer your Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic for flights to Europe due to that carrier’s high surcharges, there’s another option for transatlantic trips without paying huge fees.
Avianca is another airline that’s both in the Star Alliance network and a Citi transfer partner (only for premium cards, such as the Citi Premier and not for the Citi Double Cash), and while its LifeMiles award chart might look slightly more expensive than some other airlines’ award charts, it’s one of the few programs that doesn’t pass along major surcharges on partner awards, although it does charge a small $25 fee for all award bookings.
The number of Avianca LifeMiles required for an award flight from the US to Europe depends on which route you’re flying. LifeMiles divides both the US and Europe into regional zones, which means there’s a different award chart tier for each zone you’re flying to and from.
For example, if you’re flying on a Star Alliance partner out of New York (United States Zone 1) to London (Europe Zone 1), it’ll cost you only 20,000 miles one-way on a Star Alliance partner. But Los Angeles (United States Zone 3) to Athens (Europe Zone 3) will cost you 30,000 miles one-way. Still, those are very reasonable redemption rates for flights across the pond.
Additionally, you can use Avianca miles to fly domestically around the US on United Airlines, since again, both are members of the Star Alliance. One-way flights within the US are typically 7,500 miles each way, but there are times you may find routes as low as 3,500 miles one-way using LifeMiles.
Learn more and apply now for the Citi Premier card.
Looking for the best overall credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards of 2022.
Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.