Citi ThankYou Points: 25 Percent Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Worth It?

Citi ThankYou Points: 25% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Worth It?

The Citi ThankYou Point 25% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club expires March 2, 2017–is it worth taking advantage of? TravelSort Client Jim writes “I'm planning to close my Citi Prestige card before the $450 annual fee is charged, and need to figure out what to do with my ThankYou points. Should I transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club with the 25% bonus? Or to Singapore KrisFlyer, even without the bonus? My partner and I would like to travel to Asia or possibly Europe later this year or in 2018.”

This is a great question, and as I didn't highlight the Citi ThankYou 25% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club earlier, better late than never since there's still over a week to decide.

Closing a Citi ThankYou Card? Transfer Your Points Since Another Citi ThankYou Card Won't Keep Them Alive

While Jim already recognizes this, for those newer to the Citi ThankYou program, it's important to be aware that having another Citi ThankYou card will NOT keep alive any ThankYou points earned from a ThankYou card that you close. In other words, if you have both a Citi ThankYou Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, if you close your Citi ThankYou Prestige, you'll have just 60 days to use all the points earned from that card before they expire.

Great Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Redemptions

If you're thinking of transferring Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, it's important to note that partner redemptions must be roundtrip; one way awards are not permitted (or rather, you have to book it as a roundtrip for the roundtrip price, whether or not you use the return). 

There are two redemptions in particular that I'd focus on: ANA First Class and ANA Business Class from the U.S. to Japan or via Japan to elsewhere in Asia, and China Airlines First Class from London to Beijing. LHR-PEK-LHR in Air China First Class, if available, is 75,000 miles + taxes and fuel surcharges, while Air China Business Class is 63,000 miles + taxes/fuel surcharges.

More interesting from an airline product quality standpoint is ANA First Class, which is 120K miles for NYC-TOK-NYC or 110K miles roundtrip from the West Coast to Tokyo. Business Class is 95K miles from the East Coast to Tokyo or 90K miles from the West Coast, and I'd definitely suggest spending the extra miles to fly First Class if possible.

Meanwhile, since the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club devaluation as of January 15, 2017, for travel on Virgin Atlantic metal, there are standard and peak award prices which have made premium awards in Upper Class more expensive. The lower amount is for standard dates and the amount is for peak dates:

  • 95,000-115,000 miles + fuel surcharges of >$1000 per ticket for roundtrip between the East Coast and London
  • 135,000-155,000 miles + fuel surcharges of >$1000 per ticket for roundtrip between the West Coast and London
  • Standard dates: January 16 – March 30, 2017; April 19 – June 21, 2017; September 7 – December 12, 2017
  • Peak dates: March 31 – April 18, 2017; June 22 – September 06, 2017; December 13 – January 3, 2018

Because of the high fuel surcharges on these awards, and the periodic availability of great fare sales to Europe, I find it hard to justify Upper Class awards on Virgin Atlantic post-devaluation and would definitely rather use Flying Club miles to get to Japan and Asia on ANA.


How Does Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Stack Up Vs. Other Citi ThankYou Partners?

Other Citi ThankYou airline transfer partners include:

  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus

While JetBlue TrueBlue is also a possible transfer partner, 1000 Citi ThankYou points transfer to only 500 TrueBlue miles, so I don't recommend it.

If you don't have a specific award in mind yet but know you want the flexibility of redeeming for a one way award, I recommend Singapore KrisFlyer, since even if you don't redeem for an award on Singapore Air itself, such as Singapore Suites on the A380 or Singapore Business Class, you could redeem for one way awards on Star Alliance partners, such as ANA, Air New Zealand, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, United, etc. You can also easily supplement your KrisFlyer miles with transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards or AMEX Membership Rewards points.

Other than Singapore KrisFlyer, if you're planning travel to Asia via Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can make sense as it gives you the earliest possible access to Cathay Pacific First Class awards, because its award calendar opens up before oneworld partners such as British Airways, AAdvantage, etc.

Or for business class travel to Europe, you may want to transfer to Air France FlyingBlue which is also a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and AMEX Membership Rewards. Etihad Guest offers a great award redemption on Brussels Airlines, but award seats can be very limited unless booking far in advance. See Book Brussels Airlines Business Class with Etihad Guest Miles.


Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles Expire 36 Months After No Earning or Redeeming Activity

As with many other frequent flyer programs, Virgin Atlantic miles do expire: specifically, if you have no earning or redeeming activity for 36 months, they expire. So be sure to keep your miles alive if you do transfer.

Do you plan to transfer Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club with the 25% bonus?

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