Citibank introduced the points transfer to airline partners option back in July 2014. This was rumored in 2013 (but with other partners) and finally happened with a number of partners that Citi had an established transfer system with from its cards in Asia and the Middle East.
Since most programs are from an airline based in the Middle East or Asia, almost all programs charge heavy fuel surcharges. Plus the redemption charts are rather inflated in general (lots of exceptions apply though!)
For an upcoming trip, I want to fly from Male (MLE) to Kuala Lumpur. It's just a 4-hour ride, but ticket prices are sky-high. Tiger Airways had a couple of good prices around $200 for the one-way, but they did not work for my schedule.
My first thought was to use Avios for the 1,963-mile hop. It prices at 10,000 Avios, plus $147 in surcharges. Malaysia Airlines has given up on fuel surcharges for most Asian flights, though.
I tried to convince the BA agents, but that was a no-go.
Other options with SriLankan Airlines aren't any better, with a huge amount of miles and fuel surcharges.
I have 3,000 Enrich miles due to expire at the end of the year, so I checked prices at Malaysia Airlines Enrich. The one-way from MLE to KUL can be had for 'just' 12,750 miles and $84. Interestingly enough, Malaysia Airlines charges just about half the fees that BA Avios charges for the same flight!
I went on to the Citibank transfer page and sent 10,000 points towards my Enrich account. The interface is slick and worked with fewer security checks than with American Express.
Once confirmed, the transfer went through in 48 hours and I booked my flight with Enrich online just now.
Given the high fees, I got just about 2 cents of value for this points transfer. However, this is better than the fixed 1.3 value you used to get from redeeming Citi ThankYou points for a flight purchase (you would potentially earn some miles for that flight).
It's great to have another option of using miles, though. Citi partner Etihad Guest has a lot of redemption partners that are otherwise not available on miles. Short-haul Economy redemptions with Etihad Guest (and partners) can be good value. Without a doubt, the most aspirational awards are Singapore Airlines redemptions!
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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