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A Case Study: From Boston to Hawaii Via Citi Thank You Points

Last week, I wrote about a super cheap pricing via miles from Kauai to Boston. There was a reason for that, I was writing  a post on this very subject. One of my readers has contacted me because he was looking to apply for Citi Prestige. The reason? So he could redeem points for flights on American from Boston to Kauai. After all, you get 1.6 cents per point towards that particular airline and its codeshares. But is it the best route to take? He was looking to fly in January, and here is a simple pricing for that particular route:

boston-kauai

So, unless a fantastic sale comes along, you would have to redeem around 60K Citi Thank You points for just one economy seat. Is there a better way? You betcha! But it does require some flexibility. Without further ado:

Transfer to Air France Flying Blue

I have to say, this is one quirky program. I don’t know what their logic for pricing awards is, but as my post has pointed out, Kauai-Boston route was running at only 12,500 miles one-way.  Officially, it should be 15,000 miles. Also, unlike other foreign programs, Air France has several tiers for redemption on partners. What that means is that even if Delta doesn’t have any saver (lowest level) award seats,  you will still be able to book them via Air France (a partner), albeit at a higher price.

air france kauai-boston cheap

Notice how some dates return pricing of 25,000 miles one-way? That pattern appears to mimic Delta variable pricing on its own website, although, the rates are a bit different. This is actually to consumer advantage because it gives you more options. Let’s say you redeem 25,000 miles one-way instead of 12,500 or 15,000 (will the real rate stand up?). It’s still less than 30K points you would spend on paid AA flights. Business class redemption starts at 37.5K miles one-way, and the same principles apply.

Naturally, you would want to utilize the lowest possible award level and leverage flexibility to your advantage. In order to get the most accurate picture, you probably would want to start on Delta.com and do a  search there:

delta, no codeshare

If you are looking for an economy flight, you want to make sure of two things: 1) The award prices at 22.5K mies one-way on Delta website, 2) There are no codeshares, so you only see DL letters at the top. That’s because Air France will not be able  to help you with flights operated by Delta partners. See this post for more.

OK, so, you found the flights and everything is in order. Now, march on to Air France website and perform a search there. The award should show up, if not, you may need to call and give Flying Blue rep specific details so he/she can look it up manually. Read this post for more information on transfer to Flying Blue from Citi Thank You program.

Other programs that transfer to Flying Blue: Amex Membership Rewards (instant), SPG (may take a few weeks).

Transfer to Singapore Krisflyer program

This is another good option for those who live near airports served by United Airlines, Singapore partner. It costs 17,500 miles one-way to fly from Mainland to Hawaii in economy and 30,000 miles in business class. You won’t be able to search availability on singaporeair.com, but would need to do it via United website. Once again, the pricing  will be be different, just ignore it. What you are looking for is this:

boston-maui united

The flights need to be on United metal (UA letters), and economy  award should price out at 22.5K via United, and business class at 40K miles one-way. I don’t believe Singapore offers variable pricing like Air France, but comment if I’m wrong on this one.

If you can find availability, call Singapore airlines office in USA and try to get them to book the flights using Krisflyer miles. Be aware, I saw various reports on Flyertalk saying that Singapore agents tried to add extra $100 tax to the award ticket. That’s incorrect since United does not impose fuel surcharges on award tickets. If you experience this, you need to HUCA (hang up call again) and insist on correct tax of $5.60 one-way.

Unfortunately, the transfer from Citi Thank You program takes 1-2 days to go through, so I recommend you have a Plan B ready, just in case. Your desired United flights might be gone by then, especially if you are looking to fly during a popular time of the year. Some have been able to put award tickets on hold without having any miles in their account, so check with Singapore agent and beg them to do it.

One important note: If you happen to have Chase United credit card, you will probably see more award availability when logged in. You should log out and perform a search again. That’s because United provides extra award availability to those who have their co-branded card. Obviously, Singapore program can not provide the same perk, so they will only see award flights available to general public.

Other programs that transfer to Krisflyer: Chase Ultimate Rewards (1-2 days), Amex Membership Rewards(1-2 days), SPG (up to 3 weeks).

Prestige or Premier?

If you plan on transferring Citi Thank You points to one of those award programs, you can go with Citi Thank You Premier card instead. The card offers 50K points sign-up bonus (the link for 60K points is now dead), which is identical to Prestige. Side note: If you’ve recently applied for 50K offer on Premier, send a message to Citi and ask them to add extra 10K points.

There are some key differences between Prestige and Premier:

  1. Premier card comes with a waived first-year fee. Even though you can make up for $450 fee on Prestige, especially if you apply within the next few months, it may involve some hassle. If you have some paid flights coming up, then it’s probably a non-issue. If you have to buy and resell airline gift cards, that’s a different story.
  2. Each point earned via Premier card can be redeemed for 1.25 cents towards travel, including car rental, hotels and cruises. You can get 1.33 cents per point towards any paid flights (and only flights) via Prestige, 1.6 cents toward American and its codeshares. Of course, if you have Prestige and Premier (like I do), you can take advantage of both benefits by transferring points from one account to the other as needed. Be aware, transferred points expire after 90 days, but they are used first when you make a redemption.
  3. Prestige offer has all kinds of goodies bundled in: golf benefit, every 4th hotel night free, airline lounge membership, evacuation insurance etc.( see my post). If you care about those,  then this may be a match made in heaven. If not, maybe it’s best to go for Premier.

Both cards pay me referral, and you can see more details on these offers in my page “Best credit card deals for family” Of course, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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7 thoughts on “A Case Study: From Boston to Hawaii Via Citi Thank You Points

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