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On Why I Decided to Cancel My Mom’s Avios Booking and Use Citi Prestige Points Instead

Yesterday I’ve mentioned that I went ahead and canceled mine and my husband’s Citi Prestige. Of course, I needed to do something with our leftover points first (see my post for more on Citi rules).  It wasn’t a huge amount, just 3,500 points between the accounts, but I didn’t want to lose them either. First, I took advantage of “Share” option so I could combine them for free (see my post).  After that, I started looking around Citi Thank You portal for various redemption options.

My first sad discovery was the fact that Walmart gift cards are now gone. This was by far the best option aside from booking airfare where you get 1.33 cents per point on all flights, and 1.6 cents on American and codeshares, a Citi Prestige perk. Well, you can redeem points on mortgage and student loans and get 1 cent per point in value, but it’s not something I could take advantage of.

Another problem was the fact that all decent $50 gift cards require 5,000 Thank You  points, and  $25 require 2,500, with nothing in-between. There are a few retailers where you can get a $5 gift card for 1,000 points.

If you happen to have Citi Thank You Premier card (I didn’t), you’ll get 1.25 cents toward travel purchases. But then I remembered my mom’s Avios booking which I wrote about few months ago. The flight was set to depart from Miami to Philadelphia at noon, and cost me 7,500 Avios+$5.

We’ll be staying in Key Largo, so it will take us at least 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the airport. Since I don’t like to cut it too close, we’d have to leave by 9:00 AM. Not ideal, but this was the only award flight available at the time.

I decided to check my options via Citi Thank You booking portal:


mia-phl citi thnak you

Hmm, this flight is supposed to leave at 2 PM, which would make it less stressful for us  in the morning during check-out. As I’ve said earlier, the reason 3,500 points yielded such favorable return is due to the fact that you get 1.6 cents on American flights with Citi Prestige.

But is it worth canceling Avios booking? Well, the best thing about domestic flights on American and Alaska Air is that when you cancel, you only lose what you’ve paid in taxes. In my case, it was only $5.60. This only applies to Avios award bookings, not AAdvantage. Avios refund

I went ahead and canceled Avios award and used up my Citi Thank You points with $39 copay.  Was it the right decision? I’m not 100% sure that it was, but let me walk you through my reasoning process. You might remember that I value most miles at 1 cent each. This means that’s what I would actually pay for them.

Assuming I  would  otherwise redeem my Citi Thank You points for a $25 + $5 gift cards, we have a total price of about $75. That’s because I’m adding cash co-pay of $39.54, plus Avios cancellation fee of $5. So, effectively, I paid $75 for 7,500 Avios.

Of course, you can usually get gift cards at a discount by buying them through thrid-party resellers like Cardpool (my link, you’ll get $5 after first purchase). Still, that’s pretty close to being  a wash, but there were other factors involved.

Like I said earlier, I much prefer a 2 PM departure, so this was definitely a swaying factor. I looked, and AA didn’t have any sAAver award flights on that day. Those are the only ones bookable via Avios. The miles my mom will earn on AA flight mean very little to me, but I’ll redeem them for some magazine subscription, which is worth at least  a few bucks.

But most importantly, that 7,500 Avios will increase my British Airways account balance to 25,000 miles. This amount is good for a one-way flight form Orlando to Dublin via Aer Lingus. It could come in handy in the case of emergency where I would have to get to Europe on a short notice. I don’t like to hoard miles, but Avios may also prove to be useful for one of our flights in the future. Short-haul within Europe still costs 4,500 Avios one-way.

Since BA program has recently adjusted  its award chart, I feel I’m somewhat protected from a huge devaluation. At least I hope so. Worst case scenario: I’ll use them for hotels where you get 0.8 to 1 cent in value per point. Chase British Airways Visa is one of my top picks when it comes to sign-up bonuses. You can also transfer flexible  points to Avios on 1:1 basis from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can read about both offers here

Knowing when to “buy” miles and when to “sell” them is one of the most challenging things in this hobby. There truly is no right or wrong answer because everyone’s circumstances will be different. Some shoot for 2 CPM (cents per mile), some like me will settle for 1 CPM. I believe the less you have in your real savings account, the less picky you should be when it comes to mileage redemption values.

Still, all in all, I thought it was a good idea to “buy” my Avios back at this particular time. I didn’t get a spectacular deal, but I didn’t sink hundreds of dollars into it either.

Readers, what do you think? Deal or no deal?

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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.

4 thoughts on “On Why I Decided to Cancel My Mom’s Avios Booking and Use Citi Prestige Points Instead

  1. So how did your experience with Citi prestige go. Was it worth it. Will you do it again if you go back in time and know what you experienced now. I already have Citi premium card and now in the process of applying Citi Prestige card soon. I have never played golf so that does not help. I travel once or twice a year so global entry is good but not that in my case. Complimentary fourth night is great but I always use reward points and don’t know when will I pay for three nights back to back. So despite the fact that it is a very good card for certain situations and extremely useful card for frequent travelers and people staying in hotels with cash, I am still not very convinced that it is a great option for me. What do you say?

    • @Caveman Thanks for stopping by! It’s funny, your preferences match mine almost 100% I don’t play golf, never used “fourth night free” benefit and only took advantage of lounge access once (not a big deal). Also, I never even bothered with Global Entry benefit. Basically, most of the Citi Prestige goodies were wasted on me.

      That said, I’m very happy I got the card and would do it again. I used my 50K points for my mom’s flight from Belarus. So, each point was worth 1.33 cents in airfare where I would have otherwise paid cash. Mileage redemption was not a good option in this case. So, the bonus was worth around $660 right there. See my post //milesforfamily.com/2015/12/14/no-american-munich-is-nowhere-close-to-moscow/

      Of course, there is an annual fee of $450 when you apply via online link, $350 if you apply in-branch (according to some reports). But you can get an airfare allowance of $250 per calendar year, so this will wipe out the fee and net you $50. The credit is valid for flights or gift cards as well. I got some for Southwest, and will resell them if I’m short on cash.

      Also, I got CitiGold, so my fee ended up being $300 total. Basically, I got $500 in gift cards in exchange for $300 fee. So, all in all, I think this sign-up bonus is terrific. You will do better if you apply in late fall. That way, you can take advantage of this year’s airline credit, then one for 2017, and you can cancel and get a pro-rated refund of the annual fee.
      Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting it now. It just depends on your goals. There is Amex Platinum 100K offer floating around, which is probably more lucrative.

      • Thanks for your input. Yes that Amex Platinum 100K offer is too good to be true. I plucked that offer yesterday along with my less reluctant wife who I always have to drag in this hobby. Any way I thought I might turn this into a mini app o rama by adding Citi Prestige but then I think it might be a large bite to swallow, so not sure. May be I can wait next year around this time if Citi Prestige is still around with the same benefits.

    • Caveman, not problem! Congrats on picking up Amex Platinum. On Prestige: Definitely do what you are comfortable with. Hopefully, if the offer on Prestige is reduced, there will be some advance notice. Hard to say, but I doubt it will go down soon. That $450 fee scares people, for sure.

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