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How to Use Citi ThankYou Points for United Flights

by on Tue May 3, 2016 • 5 Comments
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Citi ThankYou points let you do lots of things thanks to a big roster of airline transfer partners, but a big drawback is you can’t transfer them into real miles with any of the big U.S. airline programs like United MileagePlus.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use ThankYou points to book United flights.

Three of Citi’s international airline transfer options are partners with United, so you can transfer your points to one of those programs and book United flights using their award prices. Some offer very good deals, others not so good, depending on where you want to fly.

Here are links to rundowns of each option:

Searching for United flights on United.com

Before booking your flight, make sure United offers the lowest Saver rate on its own website for the day you plan to travel – otherwise you won’t be able to book it on a partner. Also, if you’re curious how the partner’s award price corresponds to United’s own price, check the United chart here.

To search for your ticket, go to United.com and fill out your travel information. You don’t have to sign on, although if you are an elite member or MileagePlus credit card holder, signing on may give you better availability.

Note that you can currently search for nonstop flights in any class of service. Just check the corresponding box.

UNITED 1_700

The colors on the next page mean the following:

Yellow: economy Saver flights might be available.
Green: economy and premium class flights available.
Blue: premium class only flights.
White: no Saver flights are available.

However, if your date is set in stone, still check the results, even it falls on white,.While the new United.com website is an improvement compared to the old one, it’s still a bit buggy. In our example, there is a flight on United available for 12,500 miles one-way in economy and business, which are saver rates. Just click on the “Economy (lowest)” or “Business (First) Saver Award” boxes, and it will pull the availability if any.

UNITED 2_700

Booking United flights with Singapore KrisFlyer

Singapore KrisFlyer points are a good option if you want to travel within North America, or to Hawaii, Central America, Southern South America, the Middle East, and Europe.

There are excellent award rates to Hawaii (35,000 / 60,000 miles roundtrip for Economy and Business) and great Business Class rates for travel in the Continental U.S (40,000 miles roundtrip).

Basic Economy flights within North America are the same 25,000 miles United charges when you use its own MileagePlus miles.

Flights to Asia are less attractive, and you’re better off using Thank Royal Orchid Plus (listed below) for some of those flights.

Below is a chart of prices for United flights booked with Singapore flights.

  • Green means that KrisFlyer points get you an excellent United redemption value.
  • Red means poor value.
  • Black means it’s decent.

SINGAPORE STAR ALLIANCE AWARD CHART_700

You can’t book partner flights using Singapore miles online, so you will have to call Singapore to book at: 312-843-5333.

We’ve got a full guide to using Singapore KrisFlyer here, but keep in mind:

  • Transfers are usually under 48 hours.
  • You can’t hold an award.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • One-way tickets are 50% of a round trip.
  • Changes and cancellation fees are cheap – much lower than on United.

Booking United flights with Thai Royal Orchid Plus miles

The problem with the Thai Royal Orchid Plus awards is that they are excessively expensive for almost all flights originating in the Continental U.S., but there are a few decent deals.

Here are Thai’s roundtrip award prices for flights on United and other Star Alliance partners.

Basically, use Thai miles if you want to fly Business Class to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea, or northern China (Beijing, Shanghai). You’ll get lower prices than by using Singapore KrisFlyer.

thaistarchart

  • U.S. to Europe in Business Class is 125,000 miles roundtrip, cheaper than using Singapore miles
  • Oceania / New Zealand seems OK, too. It’s 80,000 miles in economy, on a par with United’s own price, and in Business Class it’s only 130,000 miles roundtrip, much cheaper than what United charges, if you can find availability. Note that Australia is not included in Oceania, and has its own, higher set of prices, though 150,000 miles roundtrip for Business Class is a fair price.
  • U.S. to Asia 3 (which includes Shanghai, Beijing, Japan, and Korea) for 140,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class is also a decent deal.

You will have to call them for a Star partner’s redemption at: 800-426-5204, and changes to awards cost $95.

No one way awards are permitted, but you do get a free stopover outside the country you depart.

Booking United flights with Eva Infinity MileageLands miles

There are no good values in this chart that we could find – thus we can’t recommend transferring your Citi ThankYou points to the EVA Infinity MileageLands program to fly on United (or any other EVA Star partner airline for that matter).

Booking United flights on the Citi ThankYou website

Whether or not booking a United award flight directly for the ThankYou points might be an OK or a decent deal depends on what Citi card you carry. If you have the Citi Premier Card, every point is worth 1.25 cents toward airfare; if you have the Citi Prestige card, every point is worth 1.33 cents toward airfare.

Use this option if you’re trying to book a flight that’s pretty cheap in cash. For example, a $300 ticket will cost you 24,000 points if you have a Citi Premier and 22,500 points with a Citi Prestige.

Note that redeeming ThankYou points for an international premium class seat would cost hundreds of thousands points, but if you’re booking Economy it’s often cheaper to book like cash via the Citi ThankYou website than to transfer your points to a United partner like Singapore or Thai.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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5 thoughts on How to Use Citi ThankYou Points for United Flights

  1. Sam

    Can you use Thai Roal to book LH? If so, do fees include LH high fees, UA no fees (no reason UA structure would play here-this is just an example)-or something else?

    Thanks very much.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sam – Yes you can book LH – though you’d pay whatever carrier fees LH imposes. UA doesn’t impose carrier fees on its flights.

      Reply
      1. Sam

        What I meant was:

        Book an award flight on LH with Miles and More miles, and LH charges a big TATL fee. In business class, the total fees eastbound can be >$400 per ticket. Book the same flight using UA MP miles, and you pay just the $5.50 TSA fee.

        Any idea where the fees would wind up using Thai Royal miles? Your answer above suggests a full pass through of the high fees LH charges but I want to be sure that’s what you meant.

        Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jay – Yes – same process and mileage prices as United. There are fuel surcharges on flights across the Atlantic and Pacific, otherwise none.

      Reply

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