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Citi ThankYou Points flies under the radar a bit, but the program provides a lot of value via 13 airline transfer partners and two hotel transfer partners. Even if Citi isn’t the focus of your points-earning, it’s still a great program to supplement your efforts.
The key to unlocking the value you ThankYou Points offer is the Citi Premier Card. While other cards earn ThankYou Points, you need to pair them with the Citi Premier if you want access to all of the airline transfer partners.
Before you get started, keep in mind that this one is difficult to book. There’s a lot of value here but you’ll need a lot of patience to wait on the phone.
You can include flights on any of Aeromexico's SkyTeam partners and between 3 and 15 stopovers. You must fly either from east to west or from west to east - backtracking is a no-no. You must also take all flights in the same class of service. Therefore, all flights must be in business class if you desire a business class round-the-world ticket.
Unlike the Amex Membership Rewards transfer ratio 1:1.6, Citi only transfers to Aeromexico at a 1:1 ratio so you’ll need 320,000 points to book. So, if you have Amex points, you might want to consider transferring from there.
Flying Blue bases its saver level award rates on origin and destination pairs. Business class awards for a handful of US/EU city combinations are just 53,000 miles one-way. Surcharges make taxes and fees somewhat pricey at ~$250-$300 one-way. A nice way to keep the overall cash cost down on a trip is to book a Flying Blue award in one direction then and use another program (that doesn’t pass on surcharges) for the other direction.
Each month, Flying Blue releases Promo Awards from select airports. When these promos include routes from the US or Canada, they represent one of the best times to use Flying Blue miles.
A Promo Award can require 25-50% fewer miles than the usual saver level award rate. A 25% discount would drop a 53,000-mile award down to only 39,750 miles while a 50% discount would drop it to only 26,500 miles. The taxes and fees are not discounted.
Often forgotten, Flying Blue is a solid way to book a non-stop business class flight on China Airlines at 89,000 miles from the west coast. Domestic connections on Delta can increase the award rate as can flying China Airlines’ flight from New York-JFK.
You can use Virgin points to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, but you’ll be on the hook for some steep taxes/fees thanks to ~$800 in carrier-imposed surcharges. However, you can use 68,500 Flying Blue miles from JFK to book and keep the taxes under $200 on a one-way award.
Please keep in mind that the US airport to/from which you fly impacts the award rate. For example, it’s 85,000 miles from Tampa. Also, if departing London, the UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD) fee will add over $200 to the total taxes/fees.
LifeMiles is a great choice for booking Star Alliance business class award tickets to Europe due to its competitive rate of 63,000 miles one-way and its policy of not adding surcharges to tickets, which results in reasonable taxes and fees.
LifeMiles will be one of the better options at 78,000 miles one-way if you want to book Star alliance partners to any of these three areas, especially when you take into account the fact that you won't be on the hook for surcharges.
If you're considering booking a one-way business class award ticket to North Asia, you'll find that both Aeroplan and LifeMiles require 75,000 miles for a non-stop flight. However, if you need a connecting flight with Aeroplan, the cost could increase to 87,500 miles, making LifeMiles a more attractive option for many travelers.
If you're looking to book a business class ticket to Australia or New Zealand, LifeMiles is a great choice at 80,000 miles, whether you're taking a non-stop flight on United or Air New Zealand or connecting through Asia on a Star Alliance carrier. While a connecting flight may add some travel time, you'll have the opportunity to experience some high-quality business class products on your journey.
LifeMiles divides South America into two regions: Northern and Southern. If you want to book a one-way business class award for travel to the Northern region, you can do so for 45,000 miles. This region includes popular destinations like Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
For travel to the Southern region, you'll need to redeem 60,000 miles for a one-way business class award. This region includes countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
If you want to book a one-way business class ticket on Cathay Pacific for an itinerary covering 7,501+ flight miles, you can do so using 85,000 Asia Miles. This could include a non-stop flight from New York to Hong Kong or a flight to Australia, South Africa, Thailand, etc. with a connection in Hong Kong.
If you're departing from the west coast and want to book a one-way, non-stop business class award on Cathay Pacific, you can do so for 70,000 Asia Miles. You can also include a short connection in your itinerary, as long as the total flight distance does not exceed 7,500 miles.
British Airways is known for charging high surcharges on award tickets. Both BA's own program and other oneworld programs pass on all of these surcharges to travelers. However, Asia Miles only passes on some of the surcharges, which can help keep the cash cost of your ticket lower.
It's usually best to begin your award ticket on British Airways outside of the UK. If you start your journey from the UK, you'll be required to pay the expensive Air Passenger Duty (APD) fee. However, if you only connect or arrive in the UK, you won't need to pay the APD fee.
Finding award space in business class on Finnair can be challenging, but if you're able to secure a seat, you can book it for 61,000 miles one-way. If you want to include a connection to other European cities, the rate will increase to 75,000 miles one-way.
Asia Miles provides one of the best ways to book a multi-carrier award ticket on oneworld partners. If you can avoid airline partners with steep surcharges, this can be an excellent way to include multiple stops on an itinerary.
More specifically, you can include up to 5 stopovers on a multi-carrier award ticket. Additionally, 2 open-jaws and 2 transfers are allowed to be included. To book, your itinerary must include at least 2 oneworld airlines other than Cathay Pacific. You’ll need to call to book.
Emirates business class between JFK and Milan can be booked for 72,500 Skywards miles + ~$110 in taxes and fees one-way, which is a good rate. You can also get the same rate for travel between Newark and Athens, although the business class cabin on Emirates' Boeing 777 does not have lie-flat seats.
Additionally, the cabin is arranged in a 2-3-2 layout, so some seats do not have direct aisle access. This may still be worth considering when booking, but it's important to keep this in mind.
When it comes to booking Japan Airlines business class between Seattle and Tokyo, Emirates offers slightly better value than British Airways Avios, at 76,000 miles compared to 77,250 Avios.
Emirates' partnership with Korean Air is sometimes overlooked, but Emirates Skywards provides a good option for booking business class award tickets at 88,000 miles one-way. This can be a solid choice for travelers who are familiar with loyalty programs and looking to redeem their miles for business class travel.
Finding business class award space on Brussels Airlines flights from New York (JFK) orWashington Dulles (IAD) to Brussels (BRU) can be difficult, but if you do find availability, you can book with 44,000 Etihad miles. Please note that partner flights must be booked by calling Etihad Guest directly.
Using Royal Air Maroc is a good way to fly to Casablanca (CMN) from JFK, Washington Dulles, and Montreal (YUL) for only 44,000 Etihad miles one-way. While you'll have to pay surcharges, the total taxes and fees are not excessively high, especially when considering the award rate.
While American AAdvantage has good business class award rates for its own flights, many people find it easier to earn Etihad Guest miles. Additionally, Etihad's award rates on American flights are lower in many cases. This makes Etihad Guest a solid option to consider when booking business class awards on American flights.
You can book Air Serbia's nonstop flight from JFK to Belgrade for 64,081 Etihad miles, which is a good option for travel to the Balkans. It's unclear why the award rate is not a round number like 65,000 miles. If you prefer not to call Etihad Guest to book, you can also use 70,000 Aeroplan points to book Air Serbia business class.
My favorite way to use EVA miles is to grab one extra business class seat on a longhaul flight between the US and Taipei. While EVA Air does release business class award space to partners, they often release an extra seat to their own members.
If you can find business class award space on Star Alliance carriers that don’t have surcharges (Air Canada, United, etc.), 67,500 EVA miles is a great way to book a flight to Israel. Just make sure you avoid partners with surcharges as EVA will pass them onto you.
At first glance 90,000 Qantas points might not jump out as a great option. However, there aren’t many non-stop options between the US and Israel and it’s the best way to book El Al. The key is keeping the total flight distance below 5,800 miles which leaves you with options to/from Boston, JFK, and Newark.
Qatar Airways Qsuites are generally considered to be among the top two business class cabins in the world. You can book a non-stop flight to or from Doha for just 70,000 Avios round-trip. If you want to include a connection within the Middle East, the cost will increase to 75,000 or 80,000 Avios, depending on the routing.
Sometimes, booking Qsuites awards with connecting flights through Qatar Airways' own program, rather than British Airways, can require fewer Avios. It's worth the extra effort to open a Qatar Privilege Club account in addition to your BA Executive Club account, and link the two. This will allow you to transfer Avios between the accounts.
By using this approach, you can fly Qsuites to Southeast Asia for just 95,000 Qatar Avios. Keep in mind that you'll need to open both accounts and link them in order to take advantage of this option.
Even after Singapore KrisFlyer's devaluation in the summer of 2022, it’s still one of the best ways to book Singapore Airlines business class awards. Both of their fifth freedom flights - JFK to Frankfurt or Houston to Manchester - can be booked for 81,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way.
While Aeroplan now has access to business class space starting at 70,000 miles one-way, KrisFlyer members can see additional award space.
When using Turkish Miles&Smiles to fly Turkish Airlines itself, you can include a stopover in Istanbul on a round-trip award booking. This can be a particularly good deal to Europe as a round-trip business class ticket only requires 90,000 miles.
At 45,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket to Euroupe, Turkish miles are a great option if you can find award space on a partner airline that doesn’t have surcharges. Air Canada, United, and TAP Air Portugal are good options but you should avoid Austrian, Lufthansa, and Swiss.
Let’s just start with the fact that United doesn’t operate a ton of flights to Hawaii with lie-flat seats and business class award space is rarely available. All that being said, if you can find business class award space, 12,500 Turkish miles is an amazing way to book.
Istanbul is perfectly positioned if you want to connect to the Middle East. With Turkish Miles&Smiles, you can book a one-way business class to destinations such as Dubai for only 47,000 miles.
Similarly, Turkish miles are a great option to India and Central Asia at 52,500 miles one-way. You can fly Turkish Airlines itself or one of its many Star Alliance partners. Again, make sure you avoid Star Alliance carriers which have steep carrier-imposed surcharges.
Award rates to Asia on Star Alliance airlines can be pretty steep, especially to Southeast Asia. However, you can use 67,500 Turkish miles for a one-way business class award ticket to destinations such as Japan, Singapore.
Another sweet spot with Turkish Miles&Smiles is North Africa. For 60,000 Turkish miles, you can book a one-way business class ticket to countries such as Egypt and Morocco. I’ll keep saying it but avoid partner airlines with steep surcharges.
Last but not least, using 72,500 Turkish miles to book a one-way business class ticket to Central Africa - including countries such as Kenya - is a fun way to use your miles.
ANA is consistently ranked as one of the top airlines in the world, and using Virgin points is a great way to book ANA business class. If you can, try to find a flight with their new business class product, known as "The Room" on one of their updated Boeing 777s.
For just 45,000 Virgin points, you can book a one-way award ticket on a non-stop flight from the west coast. If you're located on the east coast or in the central US, it will cost just 47,500 points for a one-way ticket.
While Delta SkyMiles has crazy high award rates for business class flights to Europe, Virgin points offer a great alternative for non-stop flights to/from Europe. At 50,000 points one-way, it's a much better option than the 205,000 SkyMiles required for the same trip.
It can be difficult to find award space in business class on Air New Zealand, but if you're able to secure a seat, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a good way to book. At only 62,500 points one-way, it's one of the best award rates to New Zealand.
The business class cabin isn't the best but you won't have to connect in Asia or Australia, which can reduce the total travel time. Just remember that connections on Air New Zealand will require additional points.
Typically, you need more points to book an award ticket with connections when using Virgin points. However, this is not the case when booking tickets on Air France or KLM. In fact, Virgin Atlantic sometimes has better award rates than the Air France-KLM Flying Blue program. Between the east coast/central US and Western Europe, you can book an award ticket for just 48,500 points on off-peak dates.
I’ve often called Citi ThankYou Points the forgotten transferable points program. While it’s somewhat understandable as Citi doesn’t have a partnership with an American airline, I wouldn’t sleep on the program. If nothing else, it’s a great program to supplement the points you earn with Amex, Bilt, Capital One, and Chase.
With so many travel credit cards to choose from, where do you start? With consideration of your 5/24 status, we have ranked the top credit card offers on the market.
With my years of experience, as well as my depth of knowledge of all of the programs, my goal is to help demystify the opportunities you have to help you move beyond researching and onto booking your trips.
When booking paid hotel stays, there are tons of perks available via preferred partner booking programs. From food and beverage credits to room upgrades to complimentary breakfast, we can unlock some amazing perks for your next paid stay.