Qantas Added As Citi ThankYou Points Transfer Partner — Should You Care?

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Last summer Citi started competing with American Express and Chase by making their ThankYou points transferable to airline partners.

Basically the goal was to make the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card competitive with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express. And it is indeed competitive in terms of annual fee, category bonuses, etc.

Citi TY

ThankYou points can be transferred to the following airline partners:

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

Citi ThankYou has just recently announced their newest transfer partner, Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Qantas-Citi-ThankYou

I’ve received a lot of emails from readers along the lines of “I like Qantas, so I should be excited about this, right?”

Well, on one hand more transfer partners are always a good thing, so it’s certainly not bad news. That being said, I can’t off the top of my head think of a single redemption where Qantas miles are the best way to book that ticket.

Qantas-First-Lounge-Sydney-60
Qantas A380 at Sydney Airport

As a general rule of thumb, Qantas Frequent Flyer:

  • Imposes hefty fuel surcharges for travel on their own flights and on partner airlines
  • Has really high redemption rates for travel on their own flights
  • Has a distance based award chart for travel on partner airlines, which isn’t at all compelling

For example, Qantas charges 144,000 miles for a one-way first class award between Sydney and Los Angeles (in the off chance you’re actually able to find availability):

Qantas-1 Qantas-2

In addition to that there’s ~$260 in fuel surcharges:

Qantas-YQ-1

Meanwhile a Los Angeles to Brisbane award will cost you 96,000 miles one-way in business class:

Qantas-3 Qantas-4

In addition to that there’s ~$390 in fuel surcharges:

Qantas-YQ-2

And a quick one-way business class domestic hop between Sydney and Melbourne will cost you 16,000 miles:

Qantas-5 Qantas-6

In all cases there are substantially cheaper ways to book those flights:

  • American AAdvantage charges 72,500 miles for first class between the US and Australia, and doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges
  • American AAdvantage charges 62,500 miles for business class between the US and Australia, and doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges
  • British Airways Executive Club charges 9,000 Avios for business class between Sydney and Melbourne

As you can see, in all three cases awards on Qantas metal can be had for almost half the cost just by strategically going through other programs instead.

For travel on oneworld partner airlines, Qantas has a distance based award chart, based on the one-way distance you’re traveling, as follows:

Qantas-Oneworld-Chart

Again, I don’t think there’s a single redemption value on the chart that I’d consider to be especially lucrative.

Bottom line

I give Citi credit for how they’ve built up the ThankYou Rewards program. Their airline partnerships are unique, in that they have some partners that the other major transferable points currencies don’t have.

What’s kind of funny is that they partner with a lot of the airlines I want to fly with, but don’t want to redeem miles with. In a really odd way, there’s sort of an inverse correlation between the quality of an airline’s product and the value of their frequent flyer program.

Citi ThankYou has some awesome transfer partners, like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Air France/KLM Flying Blue. I don’t, however, see myself redeeming ThankYou points for a Qantas points transfer anytime soon.

But it’s nice to have the option, I suppose…

Is there anything I’m missing? Are there any cases where Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program offers a compelling redemption value?

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Comments

  1. I think QF can offer some decent value if you’re looking to go from the East Coast of the US to Europe in F/J, compared with the new BA peak levels, LH M&M, and UA on UA metal (with YQ for the first two). For travel to Australia, I’d agree that this probably wouldn’t be the best program.

  2. Hope to see AA added as a transfer partner sometime this year. That would make me get this card very quickly.

    Would be similar to BA & UA’s relationship with Chase both are UR transfer partners and both have co-branded cards with Chase.

  3. Other than toasters from the QFF store the only thing Qantas miles are really good for is upgrades on Qantas flights, and you basically have to be at least Gold or higher to have any shot at winning the upgrade lottery.

    QFF has to be one of the worst value FF programs from any major airline.

  4. I’ve been banking 3X Diner’s Club to transfer to SPG to transfer to JAL for distance based SW Asia Emirares flights. Seems like Citi points to Qantas for distance based Emirates is better?

  5. Qantas opens its award chart further out than AA’s booking engine goes, so a lot of the good seats are taken before AA members have access. BA is another option, but given their huge pending devaluation (and the fact that they charge hefty fuel surcharges), this could be worth a look, no?

  6. @ Miles — Keep in mind that Qantas awards almost always go back into inventory when canceled, so you can always book via a program that has access as soon as the schedule opens, and then cancel and rebook once American’s schedule opens.

  7. @ Matthew — Can’t say I’ve looked much into the Emirates chart, given how horrible the values I saw looked.

  8. @ sud — With upgrades on Qantas the problem isn’t necessarily the price, but rather that it’s almost impossible to actually clear without status. So I don’t think that’s all that tempting for the average member.

  9. Lucky,

    The *only* upside to QF miles is the fact their schedule opens for award bookings before AA does. It’s one of the two currencies that will get you on that premium cabin flight across the pond before the AAdvantage members come and snap up those seats.

  10. JQ is only redeemable with QF or EK. Don’t know what EK redemption rates are like, but QF redemptions on JQ metal are reasonable value on some flights. To and from Japan, and Hawaii for instance.

  11. @Drew Jolesch – I’d like to see AA as well. I honestly cannot fathom why they aren’t a part of the program already.

  12. Any thoughts on QR as a transfer partner? Award chart doesn’t look terrible (though I assume fuel surcharges). If they provide additional QR award space across the pond they could be particularly valuable.

  13. Wow, 36,000 miles for a mid-con flight on American when Avios charges 20,000! Now I really see why you’re not exactly thrilled.

    I haven’t looked, but I guess I can assume a DFW-SYD economy flight is more cheaply booked with AA miles?

  14. Qantas have Oneworld award fares like AA used to.

    140k in Y
    280k in J
    420k in F

    280k is undoubtedly a reasonable use of points. Only caveats are mileage limits (35,000 miles) and must travel on at least two other oneworld carriers.

    Taxes and YQ’s vary, but are typically around the $1k AUD mark. For a $12-14k AUD air fare, that’s pretty reasonable value IMHO.

  15. Qantas’ FFP is very expensive in redemption mainly because:

    1. No competition here. Virgin is the only other competitor, whose FFP also charge as much as QFF.

    2. It’s very easy to earn if you fly Qantas. Just 6 months ago, even the cheapest economy fare would earn you 100% of the miles flown. So for a sale rt ticket between BNE-LAX (which I bought for AUD$1200), I earned >14000 QFF points (you get 50/75/100% bonus if you are silver/gold/platinum). And there was a minimum 1000 miles guarantee for any flights. So a short hop between BNE and SYD on a cheap sale ticket for AUD$90 would get you 1000 miles. It has been devalued since Jul 14 but still you earn around 80% of miles flown on cheapest ticket, and still get the minimum 800 points guarantee.

    You can also earn points by flying Jetstar as an option. For $50 extra, you get meal plus 100% miles flown. So during their sale time, you can get a rt ticket Gold Coast – NRT for $700 AUD and still get full miles! Or, fork out bit of an extra, fly business class for AUD$1600 rt, and get ~13000 miles plus almost enough status credits to get you silver.

    So, it’s like any currency, when you print too much bill, you get inflation.

    I agree, transfering points from credit card is just not worth it especially when you have the option of transferring to KF at the same rate. But if you earn the points from flying, it’s actually not that hard to accumulate. So I won’t call it useless.

  16. Amazingly, even with these redemption prices which make Delta Skymiles look like good value, last year Qantas gutted earning on lower fares and on their oneworld partners when flying routes which Qantas want you to fly with them on.

  17. The sole benefit of the QF program is that they open their own metal awards to their members 30 days before releasing them to partners.

  18. @Drew, 280k in J around the world with 5 stops is a fantastic deal and something QFFF is worth to accumulate.

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