Should You Move Your Citi Points to American While You Can?

I’m sure that you’ve heard this before… but “transferable currencies” – i.e. credit card points that can be converted to miles/points from a wide variety of airlines, hotel chains, etc. – are probably the best way to “travel hack” your way to premium travel experiences.

But the main “transferable currencies” in the US don’t actually convert into all of the airline programs you might be most comfortable or familiar with – i.e. Alaska, American, Delta or United. The options that do exist – for example Chase to United miles – are nearly as inflexible as co-branded cards. This factor explains why some people are quite excited by the announcement that Citi Thank You points can be converted to American Airlines AAdvantage miles for a limited time.

But should you really rush to convert your Citi points to American miles?

First of all, there’s no rush. You can convert your points to American miles up until late November, 2021. The entire value of “transferable” is the flexibility to transfer. If you don’t need AA miles today, then wait until late October at least. Any conversion made now is irreversible!

By November, we ought to have better information about how AAdvantage in particular is going to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic. Is this temporary deal with Citi part of the negotiation of a major commercial deal, or a mere revenue grab before a major award chart devaluation by AAdvantage?

More importantly, there might be better conversion options than American for you. Here are Citi ThankYou Reward’s airline partnerships:

  • Oneworld: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Star Alliance: Avianca LifeMiles, EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • SkyTeam: Aeromexico Club Premier, Air France KLM Flying Blue
  • Non-alliance: Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, JetBlue TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Some of those partnerships can be easily ignored, but here at InsideFlyer we are big fans of:

  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles – domestic US awards are cheap, but hard to book. Business Class flights to/from Europe are a much better option (45,000 miles each way)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – you can still find good value with rewards on Delta, and the fantastic First Class / Business Class rewards to Japan on ANA

There is also a lot of value – often over-looked – in programs such as Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, EVA Air Infinity MileageLands and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. Depending on your travel preferences, any of these programs could work much better for you than AAdvantage.

The Bottom Line

New airline partnerships are almost always good news, especially when providing additional conversion options to existing credit card points balances. But that doesn’t mean you should jump on the AAdvantage option, just because it’s being pitched as “limited time only”…

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