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Note: The 80,000 point offer this article was written about has expired. The offer is now 60,000 points for the same spend. Please note accordingly as you read the article as the bonus is producing 20,000 fewer points. The rest of the strategy remains the same.
The Citi Premier Card is currently offering a best-ever sign-up bonus of
80,000 60,000 ThankYou Points. However, if you don’t know the ThankYou Point program, it may be hard to get excited about this bonus. After all, the Citi ThankYou Point transfer partners are rather eclectic.
However, if flying to Europe in business class is part of your travel goals, you’ll want to give the Citi Premier Card and ThankYou program a closer look.
After all, you can earn enough points to fly round-trip in business class to Europe after spending enough to earn the card’s sign-up bonus. In this post, we are going to show you how step-by-step how to earn and use Citi ThankYou points to book such an award.
In this article
Why You Should Consider the Citi Premier Card
The Citi Premier is turning heads right now thanks to its best-ever
80,000 60,000 point sign-up bonus. However, the Citi Premier is a great core travel card that can easily justify its $95 annual fee even after you earn the sign-up bonus.
You’ll earn 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent in the following spending categories:
- Gas stations
- Air Travel and Hotels
This is an excellent earning structure for a card that charges such a reasonable annual fee. For comparison, the Chase Sapphire Preferred only earns 2X points on dining and travel, meaning you’ll earn just 1X points at supermarkets and gas stations.
The Value of Earning Citi Points
With other cards earning up to 14X points, earning 3 points per dollar may not sound impressive. After all, different types of points have different values. So, let’s make this earning rate a lot more relevant by connecting it with Citi’s transfer partners.
For example, you can think of it as earning 3X American Airlines AAdvantage miles every time you swipe at the supermarket or a restaurant. Or, consider it as earning 3X JetBlue TrueBlue points every time you fill up your tank, purchase a flight or book a hotel.
By optimizing these spending categories and Citi’s transfer partners, you can spend as little as:
- $2,000+ to earn enough for domestic economy Web Special awards (via American Airlines AAdvantage)
- $2,500 for an economy award to Hawaii (via Turkish Miles & Smiles)
- $14,700 for a business class award to Brussels or Casablanca (via Etihad Guest)
- $15,000 for a business class award to Europe (via Turkish Miles & Smiles)
- $15,000 for a business class award to Japan (via Virgin Flying Club)
- $17,000 for a business class award to India (via Turkish Miles & Smiles)
(To be clear, the above chart means that the listed amount of spend on a Citi Premier card in a 3X bonus category would earn enough points for the corresponding award ticket.)
In addition to being a points-earning powerhouse, you can more than offset the Citi Premier’s $95 annual fee with just one card perk. Each calendar year, Citi Premier cardholders can save $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (before taxes and fees) when you book a stay through the thankyou.com website.
Citi ThankYou Point Business Class Sweet Spots to Europe
As you can see, you can potentially get a lot of value from Citi’s diverse set of airline partners on a variety of flights. However, in this post, we are focusing specifically on flying to Europe in business class using Citi ThankYou points.
With Citi ThankYou points, there’s no lack of business class sweet spots to Europe at or under 50,000 points each way:
- Etihad Guest: 44,000 miles each way on Brussels Airlines or 50,000 miles each way on American Airlines
- Turkish Miles & Smiles: 45,000 miles each way on Turkish Airlines or Star Alliance partners
- Virgin Atlantic: 50,000 miles each way on Delta Air Lines (excluding UK flights) — or from 48,500 miles each way on Air France or KLM on off-peak dates
- Emirates: 90,000 miles round-trip on Emirates
The downside for most of these sweet spots is that you need to find and book nonstop award availability. That’s the case whether you want to score sweet spots flying in Emirates business class (between New York and Athens or Milan) or Delta One Suites.
However, there’s one sweet spot that’s especially flexible: Turkish Miles & Smiles. Turkish charges the same 45,000 miles for business class no matter if you fly nonstop or connect and whether you fly on Turkish Airlines or one of its Star Alliance partners.
How to Earn
90,000 70,000 ThankYou Points
For all of these sweet spots, you’ll need to earn around 90,000 ThankYou Points. The Citi Premier Card’s current
80,000 60,000-point sign-up bonus will get you part of the way there.
To earn this sign-up bonus, you need to spend at least $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. Those purchases will earn you a minimum of 4,000 ThankYou points. However, by spending in the Citi Premier’s bonus categories, you can earn up to 12,000 points on $4,000 in spending.
For example, you could earn exactly 10,000 ThankYou points by using your Citi Premier to spend: $1,500 on groceries + $1,000 at restaurants + $500 on gas + $1,000 on other purchases. By making these purchases within the first 3 months of signing up for the Citi Premier, you’ll earn 80,000 bonus points for a total of 90,000 ThankYou points.
How to Search for Star Alliance Award Availability
Anytime you’re considering transferring points to an airline program to book an award, it’s best to find award availability before transferring points. Once you transfer points to an airline partner, you can’t transfer those points back. So, you’ll want to make sure that the award you want is bookable before transferring points.
For finding United, Turkish, or other Star Alliance award availability, I recommend using the United website. That’s because you can see up to two months of availability at a time and easily limit to nonstop options. Plus, as you’ll see below, Turkish Airlines requires you to log into your account before you can search for awards.
You can start right on united.com. In the booking widget, select “book with miles” and “flexible dates”. Enter your preferred month of travel, the number of travelers, and your preferred cabin. Then click “find flights”.
If you aren’t logged in, United will likely pop up a box prompting you to log in. For the most relevant results, do not log in. That’s because United credit cardholders and Premier elite members have access to additional award space through the MileagePlus program. But, to book through the Turkish Miles & Smiles program, you’ll need award space available to partner airlines.
On the initial results page, you’ll hopefully see a Morse code of dots and lines. The solid lines represent dates that have economy award availability while five dots indicate dates with premium cabin awards.
If you want to only see dates with nonstop award availability, click the “show only nonstop flight availability” option.
Heads up that this option can be buggy when there aren’t nonstop flight options on that route. So, you might see some false positives in that case.
To check the flight options for a particular date, click on that date on the calendar.
Keep in mind that United and Turkish have slightly different airline partners. So, just because there’s availability on United’s website doesn’t mean that it will be available through Turkish. However, if the flight is operated by United or a Star Alliance partner, it’s likely going to be bookable through Turkish Airlines.
Transferring Citi ThankYou Points to Turkish Miles & Smiles
Once you’ve confirmed award availability, the next step is to transfer points from Citi to Turkish. Thankfully this is a straightforward process.
Setting Up a Miles & Smiles Account
Before you can transfer points to Turkish, you’ll need to have a Miles & Smiles account. If you don’t have one yet, take a few minutes to create a new Miles & Smiles account:
Transferring ThankYou Points
To transfer ThankYou points, you’ll first need to log into your Citi account on thankyou.com. Once logged in, you can go to the list of Citi point transfer partners and click “Continue” in the Turkish Miles & Smiles listing:
On the next page, enter how many points you want to transfer to Turkish Miles & Smiles. Points must be transferred in increments of 1,000 points, so you may need to round up to the nearest 1,000 points to make sure you end up with enough points in your airline account.
Enter your Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles member number… and then enter it again to confirm it. Accept the terms and conditions and click “Continue”.
You’ll get a chance to review the transfer on the next page before clicking “Transfer Now” to transfer points. Transfers between Citi ThankYou points and Turkish Airlines can take 1-2 days.
Note: If you found space that you think may not be there in 1-2 days and don’t already have the points in your account, you can call Turkish whose agents can generally put the award on hold for you for 48 hours. The two calls (one to hold and a second to ticket) will probably take you 30 minutes each, but that call can be pivotal when award space is scarce. The number is 1-800-874-8875.
Also note that if you are booking for yourself and a second passenger that you haven’t previously booked for, you won’t be able to do that online so again, you’d have to call.
How to Book Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Awards
Once you have the points in your Miles & Smiles account, it’s time to book your business class award to Europe.
Awards on Turkish Airlines Flights
Turkish Airlines makes it straightforward to search and book a Turkish Airlines award using Miles & Smiles miles. Once you’re logged into your Miles & Smiles account, click the “award ticket – buy a ticket with miles” link on the Turkish Airlines homepage. Or click here for the award search page.
Start by entering your origin, destination, dates, and number of passengers. Then, on the results page, make sure to select the business class option and choose your preferred flight.
If you’re booking a round-trip flight, scroll down to select your return flight.
If you have enough miles in your account — which I don’t quite yet — you’ll be able to move forward to entering your passenger information and completing the booking.
Awards on Star Alliance Partners
Turkish Airlines doesn’t make searching and booking Star Alliance awards quite as easy. As with awards on Turkish, you’ll need to be logged into your Miles & Smiles account to search. But, there’s a different searching and booking process.
If you’re logged into your account, you can try this link to go to the Star Alliance search page. Or, from the homepage, click on your name at the top right corner and click “miles transactions“.
On this page, click “Book Now” in the Star Alliance award ticket box:
This will finally get you to the Star Award Ticket page. Once here, enter your origin, destination, and dates. Then click the red arrow to start your search:
On the results page, select your preferred outbound and inbound flights.
If you have the choice, you’ll want to stick to United flights. That’s because Turkish Airlines passes along fuel surcharges, and those can really jack up the out-of-pocket cost to fly out airlines like Lufthansa.
Thankfully, the taxes and fees are very reasonable for award flights on United Airlines. For example, you can book a roundtrip between Newark (EWR) and Amsterdam (AMS) in United Polaris for 90,000 Miles & Smiles plus just $66.55 round-trip:
Honorable Mention – Qatar Airways’ QSuites via AAdvantage
While this signup bonus won’t quite get you a round trip on this product, you can experience the “fan favorite” QSuites Business Class product operated by Qatar Airways – one way.
The bonus on this card would get you enough to fly from the US to the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent (including the Maldives or Sri Lanka) for just 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles and all the way from the US to Africa (via Doha) for 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles (each way). MilesTalk has reviewed Qatar’s QSuites in the past if you are curious.
This option (via transferring points to AAdvantage) is available to Citi ThankYou members through November 12th, 2021.
If you don’t have the Citi Premier Card already, now’s a great time to consider it. The current
80,000 60,000-point sign-up bonus was the best we’ve ever seen offered on this card. And, as you’ve seen in this post, Citi ThankYou points can be quite valuable.
By combining this
80,000 60,000-point bonus with at least 30,000 points earned through spending, you can book a business class flight to Europe on any Star Alliance airline — including flying all the way to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines.
Alternatively, 90,000 Citi points are enough to fly Emirates business class round-trip between New York and Athens or Milan, or round-trip to Brussels on Brussels Airlines. Or, you can utilize another Miles & Smiles sweet spot to fly three round-trips to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, or Mexico in business class for just 12,500 – 15,000 miles each way!
And if this post helped you, please consider sharing it!
You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.