Did you know you can use points earned from your Citi Prestige Visa on Garuda Indonesia First Class or Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, avoiding expensive plane tickets to South America, or for booking Radisson Blu hotels at a much lower cost than standard rates?
In this guide, we go beyond the common transfer partners that you probably are aware of and explore unique ways to use your Citibank Rewards points.
Common transfer partners for travellers from Australia
We have written extensively about the following frequent flyer programs, which are the most useful for Australian based travelers (the ratio in brackets is the transfer rate, explained later on):
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (2.5:1)
- Etihad Guest (3:1)
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (2.5:1)
- Virgin Australia Velocity (2:1)
You can also transfer to the programs listed below, however the above programs represent better value to these:
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue 3:1)
- Emirates Skywards (2.5:1)
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands (3:1)
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich (3:1)
- Qatar Privilege Club (3:1)
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid (3:1)
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (3:1)
- Hilton HHonors (2:1)
- IHG Rewards (2.5:1)
- Radisson Rewards (2:1)
Unique transfer partners
Air France/KLM Flying Blue (3:1)
Flying Blue run monthly promotions for travel 8-12 weeks out, during which it discounts Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class award redemptions by 25-50% on routes that have substantial award space available. The promotion focusses mainly on flights within Europe and from Europe to North America, the Caribbean, South America and Asia.
As neither Air France nor KLM flies to Australia, and these promotions apply only to these two airlines and not to their SkyTeam partners, you’ll need to look for awards that link overseas legs of your trip.
For example, during the current August 2018 promotion, there is 25% off Business Class awards between Europe (which includes as far east as Israel and down to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and many Canadian cities such as Calgary and Vancouver for 47,625 and 44,625 miles one-way respectively and 50% off Business Class award between Europe and Calgary for 30,250 miles one-way.
Be aware that premium cabin award redemptions through Flying Blue tend to attract high fuel surcharges (e.g. ~$230 USD for the routes above).
Qatar Privilege Club (3:1)
With Qatar’s best First and Business Class product being on their A380s, Australian travelers are lucky that they flying this aircraft to both Sydney and Perth from their Doha hub, as well as to London, Paris, Bangkok and Guangzhou.
Sydney to Doha one-way will set you back 101,500 miles in Business Class, or 159,500 miles all the way to London. If you do the reverse trip departing from Doha, you’ll get access to the excellent Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge.
Like Flying Blue above, Privilege Club runs regular Easy Deals promotions, giving discounts of up to 50% on award travel on selected Qatar Airways routes.
Two other advantages of this program are that there are no fuel surcharges and stopovers are permitted.
Garuda Frequent Flyer (3:1)
Garuda Indonesia is a bit of an underdog, but it is rated as one of only eight five-star airlines in the world, which is higher than Emirates and Etihad.
Unfortunately, the only way to redeem Garuda Indonesia First Class is through their own frequent flyer program.
First Class is offered on the Boeing 777-300ER, which is currently flying from Jakarta to Amsterdam and London (via Singapore), as well as between Bali and Tokyo Narita (and slated to continue onto Los Angeles and/or Seattle from sometime around April 2017). Current routes are in red and proposed routes in white:
Flights in green to its Indonesian hubs of Jakarta and Bali from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are on two-cabin (i.e. only Business and Economy Class) Airbus A330s.
With over 17,000 islands (of which only a third are inhabited though) and the fourth-largest population of any country in the world, there has been boom in low-cost carriers such as Lion Air and AirAsia Indonesia since the turn of the century, which has decreased the price of flying within Indonesia.
Still, if you are island hopping around and find a route that is monopolised by Garuda and, therefore, quite expensive, an Economy or Business Class award redemption may represent good value for you.
Now comes the bad news: there is a complicated award booking process, in which you have to phone the call centre to make the redemption, print out and sign a form, take it in person to a Garuda sales office and claim your award ticket there. The only sales offices in Australia are in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Garuda, along with many Middle Eastern airlines, lacks an award chart for redemptions on its own metal, so you’ll have to use the mileage calculator tool.
For redemptions on SkyTeam partner airlines, you are better off using another SkyTeam airline program such as Delta SkyMiles or Air France/KLM Flying Blue to avoid the complicated award booking process.
Radisson Rewards (2:1)
Capping off the top five unique transfer partners for the Citi Prestige card is the owner of the Radisson, Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Park Plaza hotel brands.
Citi devalued their Rewards program in June 2017, which saw transfers to most programs increased to a ratio of 2.5-3:1. Meaning 2.5 or 3 Citibank Rewards points now transfers to 1 frequent flyer point in the chosen frequent flyer program.
The notable exception was Virgin Australia, which remained at 2:1.
Citibank has recently amended the minimum number of Citi rewards points that can be transferred, and the change is a welcome one. Previously, the minimum number of points that could be transferred was 20,000, and points could only be transferred in blocks of 20,000 points thereafter.
The new requirements vary by frequent flyer program, and are as follows:
- Velocity Frequent Flyer – Minimum 2,000 points in 1 point increments
- Singapore KrisFlyer – Minimum 20,000 points in 1 point increments
- Emirates Skywards – Minimum 15,000 points in 1 point increments
Any balance less than the minimum is ineligible to be transferred to frequent flyer programs until the minimum threshold is reached.
A special case, you can transfer to Qantas Frequent Flyer at variable rates based on your spend as follows:
1.5:1 – All international spend and for selected domestic purchases made and booked directly from a range of major: restaurants and restaurant chains, hotel chains, airlines (flights only), travel agencies and travel aggregators
1:1 – For selected domestic purchases made at major: petrol outlets, supermarkets and national retailers
0.5:1 – Everywhere else on eligible domestic transactions
You have to pay an annual fee of $49 and there is an automatic transfer of your Citibank Rewards points to Qantas, meaning you are locked in to that frequent flyer program as your only transfer partner.
The aim of this article was to explore alternative Citi Rewards redemption partners to the ones we tend to focus on here in Australia.
Having said that, the reason we focus on these programs is because they offer good value. KrisFlyer, Asia Miles, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer and Etihad Guest should be at the top of your research list for the next trip you are looking to book using points earned from your Citi Prestige Visa card.
However, if are wanting to experience Garuda Indonesia First Class, you will need to transfer miles to its respective program.
If you can find award space on any of Qatar Airways’ A380 flights, then your Privilege Club miles may come in handy for a solid First or Business Class redemption.
Finally, once your flights are sorted, why not use a smaller amount of points leftover to grab a good deal at a Category 1 or 2 hotel with Radisson Rewards?
All images courtesy of Point Hacks and the respective airlines and hotels.