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You can fly all over the world with Citi ThankYou® points, thanks to the airline’s extensive roster of airline transfer partners. But a big drawback to Citi℠’s rewards program is that you can’t transfer your points to a major U.S. airline, such as United. The budget airline JetBlue is currently the only domestic airline that partners with Citi.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t use ThankYou® points to book United flights.
Five of Citi’s international airline transfer partners also partner with United through the Star Alliance program, including Avianca, Eva Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines. So if you’d like to use your Citi ThankYou points to book a United flight, you can transfer your points on a one-to-one basis to one of those programs and then book your United flight using the partner airline’s awards prices.
The value of your miles will vary, depending on the airline and where you want to fly. However, you may be able to find an even better deal through one of Citi’s transfer partners than you would find if you booked a flight directly through United’s MileagePlus program.
Earn 3X Points on Travel, Including Gas Stations, Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment, Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
No Foreign Transaction Fees*
- Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- 60,000 Points are redeemable for $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
- No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
- Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
See additional details for Citi Premier℠ Card
Here’s a closer look at some of your options.
Searching for United flights on United.com
Before booking your flight, make sure United offers a Saver Award flight on its own website for the day you plan to travel. Otherwise you may not be able to book it through a partner airline. United doesn’t allow airline transfer members to book Everyday Award flights. If you’re curious how the partner’s awards price corresponds to United’s own price, you can also check the United chart here.
To search for your ticket, go to United.com and click on “advanced search.”
Select “Yes” where it asks you if you want to book a MileagePlus award ticket. You don’t have to sign in. However, if you are a MileagePlus Premier member or MileagePlus credit card holder, signing in may give you better availability.
Fill out the rest of your travel information. You can search for nonstop flights in any class of service. To do so, just click on the class you prefer under fare preferences, then click “search.”
You’ll be presented with a list of options on the next page. However, only some of those options will be Saver Award flights. If it’s a Saver Award flight, there will be a “Saver Award” notation just above the number of miles that are needed to book the flight.
Booking United flights with Singapore KrisFlyer
Singapore KrisFlyer miles are often a good option if you want to travel within North America, or to Hawaii, Central America, South America, the Middle East or Europe.
For example, KrisFlyer offers excellent award rates to Hawaii — especially if you purchase a budget fare. You can fly economy for as little as 35,000 miles round trip or purchase a business-class ticket for 69,000 miles round trip. KrisFlyer also offers great economy and business class rates for travel in the continental U.S. For example, a round-trip business class ticket will cost you 46,000 KrisFlyer miles. Meanwhile, an economy flight will cost 25,000 miles, which is equivalent to what United charges MileagePlus members for longer domestic flights.
Flights to Asia are less attractive. You may be better off using a different airline partner, such as Avianca or Thank Royal Orchid Plus for some of those flights.
Below is a chart of award prices for United flights that are booked with KrisFlyer miles. We’ve marked them, based on the value of your KrisFlyer miles.
- Green means that KrisFlyer miles get you an excellent United redemption value.
- Red indicates a poor value for United flights booked with KrisFlyer.
- Black means that you’ll get a decent return for the miles you spend to book your flight.
We’ve got a full guide to using Singapore KrisFlyer, but keep in mind:
- Transfers can take between two to four weeks.
- Singapore Airlines does not add a fuel surcharge to United flights.
- One-way tickets are available for 50% of the price of a round-trip ticket.
- You can change your award booking relatively inexpensively: Singapore Airlines charges significantly less than United does for route changes and revised dates.
Booking United flights with Thai Royal Orchid Plus miles
Unfortunately, Thai Royal Orchid Plus awards require a lot of miles to fly out of the Continental U.S. However, Thai Airlines offers a few decent deals.
Below is a chart showing Thai’s round-trip award prices for flights on United and other Star Alliance partners.
If you’re flying out of the U.S., you’ll get the most value out of your Royal Orchid Plus miles if you redeem your miles for business class.
For example, it only costs 125,000 miles to fly to Europe in business class, which is slightly less than KrisFlyer charges. Similarly, a business-class trip to Oceana will only cost you 130,000 miles in business class. United, by contrast, charges MileagePlus members between 140,000 miles and 350,000 miles for the same trip. A trip to Australia costs 150,000 to fly business class if you book through Thai Airlines. If you booked the same trip through United, you’d be on the hook for 160,000 miles to 400,000 miles, depending on the flight.
You can also get a decent redemption value for trips to parts of Asia, including northern China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia. For example, a business class trip to one of those regions will cost you just 144,000 miles.
Keep in mind:
- Transfers can take up to seven days.
- One-way flights are not permitted for Star Alliance flights.
- However, you do get a free stopover outside the country you depart.
- Changes to award tickets cost $95.
- You will have to call Thai Airlines to book a reservation. Thai will only book Star Alliance flights online if they fly out of Bangkok. To book your seat, call 800-767-3598.
Booking United flights with Eva Infinity MileageLands miles
The Taiwanese Airline Eva Air doesn’t offer the best value for Star Alliance flights booked out of North America. For example, it costs 39,000 miles to book a domestic economy flight and 50,000 miles to book a flight to Hawaii. Meanwhile, trips to South America and Europe cost at least 68,000 miles round-trip. You’ll typically get a better value booking through other partners.
Keep in mind:
- Transfers can take up to one to two business days to process.
- You can purchase a one-way flight for half the cost of a round-trip ticket.
- You can’t book partner flights online. You’ll have to call Eva’s reservation desk at 1-800-695-1188.
Booking United flights with Avianca LifeMiles
Depending on where you fly, you may also be able to get a substantial amount of value out of your ThankYou Rewards points if you transfer them to the Colombian airline Avianca and use them to purchase a United flight. For example, you can fly from New York to Florida for as little as 7,500 LifeMiles one-way or 15,000 miles round trip if you purchase an economy seat. Or you can travel from Massachusetts to California for just 12,500 LifeMiles one-way. United, by contrast, charges MileagePlus cardholders between 10,000 and 32,500 miles for one-way economy flights within the U.S.
Trips to Asia also provide a decent amount of value. For example, you can fly economy to northern Asia for 75,000 miles round-trip or to southern Asia for 78,000 miles round-trip.
Keep in mind:
- You don’t have to wait to transfer points: Avianca converts Citi ThankYou points into Avianca LifeMiles instantly.
- Avianca does not add a fuel surcharge to United flights.
- You can purchase a one-way ticket for half the price of a round-trip ticket.
Booking United flights with Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
You can also transfer your Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Airlines and book a United flight to somewhere in North America, South America or Oceania. Ticket prices for economy flights aren’t ideal. However, you may be able to score a better deal on a domestic business class flight through Turkish Airlines than you would through another partner. For example, a business class seat for a flight within North America costs 30,000 miles when you book through Turkish Airlines. A longer domestic flight booked through Avianca, by contrast, would cost you up to 50,000 miles for a business class ticket. Meanwhile, KrisFlyer charges up to 46,000 miles for domestic flights on business class.
Keep in mind:
- Transferring your ThankYou points may take up to one to two business days.
- You can only book round-trip tickets when you book through a partner airline.
- You can schedule one open-jaw reservation.
- Stopovers are not allowed on partner flights.
- You can’t book a partner flight online. You’ll have to call Turkish Airline’s reservation desk at 800-874-8875.
Booking United flights on the Citi ThankYou® Rewards website
You can also use your ThankYou points to book a United flight through Citi’s ThankYou rewards website. However, your mileage value will vary, depending on what Citi card you carry. If you have the Citi Premier℠ Card, for example, you’ll get a 25% rewards bonus when you redeem your points for travel. As a result, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each when you purchase airfare. However, if you use a different Citi travel card, such as the Citi Prestige® Credit Card*, your points will only be worth 1 cent each.
Booking a United flight through the Citi ThankYou portal is a good option if you’re able to find an inexpensive ticket. For example, a $300 ticket will cost you 24,000 points if you use a Citi Premier℠ Card. You may even be able to find a better deal through Citi’s rewards website than if you transferred your miles to a partner airline.
*The information related to the Citi Prestige® Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.