American Status Benefits On Tickets Booked With Citi Points

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Reader Casey asked the following question in the Ask Lucky forum:

My question is – when I use the points to book a r/t flight on AA via the Citi website, does my AA status in anyway come into play? As an example, I am currently Platinum with AA and I was wondering if once I book my reward ticket on-line using Thank You points, can I then perhaps call American for better seat choice and more importantly, request an upgrade on the flights using 500 mile upgrade electronic certificates – as I would do when booking a normal flight on the AA website. I hope my question makes sense. Basically, if I book an economy ticket using my Thank You points, am I eligible for an upgrade based on my Platinum status with AA.

Citi ThankYou points are the currency accrued with the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which are two of my favorite credit cards. In a vast majority of instances I’d say the best use of a transferrable points currency is to transfer those points to an airline transfer partner.

For example, American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Air Canada Aeroplan, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Korean Air SkyPass, and Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

The exception is Citi ThankYou, where it can also make sense to redeem the points towards the cost of a paid ticket on American Airlines. Points earned through the Citi Prestige Card can be redeemed for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of a revenue ticket on American. Meanwhile points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card can ordinarily be redeemed for 1.33 cents each towards the cost of a revenue ticket on American.

The good news is that you can actually combine Citi ThankYou points, so you can transfer points earned on the Premier to the Prestige, so you can maximize their value and redeem them for 1.6 cents each.

I’ve written a tutorial in the past about how to redeem Citi ThankYou points for travel on American, and it’s a pretty straightforward process. The booking has to be made through Citi’s website, though prices should match what American charges directly.

American-787

This brings us to Casey’s question. Tickets booked through Citi’s website using ThankYou points are treated the same as any other tickets. These aren’t award tickets — they’re eligible for mileage accrual, upgrades, status benefits, etc.

So, how do you actually go about getting your AAdvantage number on a reservation booked with Citi ThankYou points?

Let’s use the example of the below flight between Tampa and Miami, which is bookable for just 2,443 points.

Citi-American-1

Once you select the flight and get to the booking page, you’ll see the field where you can specify who the passenger is (ThankYou points can be redeemed for other peoples’ travel — it doesn’t have to be for the cardmember).

Below the fields for basic passenger information you’ll see the option to enter your frequent flyer number (in this case the AAdvantage number).

Citi-American-3

If you enter the number correctly, you’ll actually see that the reservation (almost) immediately displays when you log into your AAdvantage account, since your frequent flyer number is linked to the reservation.

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You’ll be able to select the premium seats your status entitles you to.

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And if you’re eligible for an upgrade, it should already automatically show as having been requested.

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So not only are you entitled to status benefits, mileage accrual, etc., but the process of requesting these perks is super easy. Just add your AAdvantage number when you book with Citi, and the information should correspondingly display on American’s website as well.

Bottom line

I value Citi ThankYou points at ~1.6 cents each. There are several good uses of ThankYou points, including mileage transfers to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Air France FlyingBlue. But I’d say being able to redeem these points for 1.6 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on American is fantastic as well, especially for those of us who frequently fly American.

We’ve been seeing some fantastic fares on American this year. For example, I recently booked a ~$570 ticket from Los Angeles to Beijing on American, which cost ~35,500 ThankYou points. For that ticket I’ll earn ~33,000 AAdvantage miles. Not bad!

Has anyone else been redeeming Citi ThankYou points for travel on American?

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Comments

  1. Do you realize how many times you have pushed this Cit Prestige card, I enjoy the blog but these credit card referrals are really getting out of hand.

  2. News flash idahost…CC referrals are how these bloggers earn their living. This was informative and if you enjoy the blog, what exactly is out of hand in your mind?

    Do you want him to do it for nothing? Oh and the cards they “pimp” are generally awesome. Ummm…case in point, the subject of this post, the Citi Prestige.

  3. I loved this post, have a Citi Prestige credit card, and had the same question.

    Lucky was answering someone’s question, for crying out loud.

    Idahost’s bizarre whine is what’s out of hand, IMO. Nobody’s forcing him/her to read this blog.

  4. Lucky, your blog is amazing! Thanks for all you do and keep it up.

    I was about to click on your Prestige Card link and apply for the card (and your referral) when it dawned on me that my current Citi AA MC might be my best bet given my spending and travel preferences. I’m an AA Lifetime PLT member (free access to oneworld lounges internationally) and a CItiGold client (I get the AA MC PLT Select card for free). I am looking at a DFW-MAD Econ fare of $1,400. With the Citi Prestige card, that fare would cost 87,500 points (1,400 / 0.016). Under the current AA program, the off peak award is 40,000 miles? Aren’t I better off using the free AA MC I have?

    I think these “points for dollars” affinity cards break down when you entertain First Class fares. I just booked a First Class ticket to Sydney on Qantas worth $17,000 for 145,000 AA miles. Good heavens….with the Citi Prestige card, that ticket would cost 1,062,600 points? Even if I used the Citi Prestige card only for airfare/hotels at 3X, that means I’d have to charge $354,000 to earn over a million points?

    Please…next reader shoot a hole in my theory. I want to be wrong :o) This Citi Prestige card looks very enticing indeed.

  5. @Martini Masher – yes, you will almost certainly receive better value by booking an award directly with airline FF miles, but the missing item in your analysis is award availability. If a Mile SAAver award is available for the dates that you need, then sure, you’re better off with the Citi AA card, as your points value at 3.5 cents/mile vs. 1.6. Where Citi Prestige comes into play is if you don’t have the flexibility to plan around award availability (or, as is too often the case with AAdvantage awards, the only off-peak Mile SAAver availability is on BA with their obnoxious fuel surcharges). In that case, 87,500 points at 1.6 cents/point is better than nothing, and is better than most “cash back”-type cards, which redeem at only 1 cent per point (140,000 points in your example). Hope that helps.

  6. @MeanMeosh – very helpful, thanks! And yes, I most often plan ahead which is probably why I overlooked that piece in the analysis. I predict I’ll become very disenchanted with AA after their devaluation and welcome the chance to redeem points on other airlines in which case, Citi Prestige would be my preferred card.

  7. I book award flights with ThankYou points! I ran into an interesting issue when I mistyped my little brother’s name when booking the flight. Neither Citi nor American could change his name (even one letter), so I had to cancel and rebook the award ticket. Since this all occurred within the 24 hour window, I incurred no penalties.

  8. These tickets can also be upgraded with eVIP systemwides.

    Some agents will state that they are bulk tickets but cannot be, however I have always had success hanging up and calling back.

  9. By chance do these count towards qualification dollars? Than maybe it would be worth more points. Probably not my guess.

  10. Related question. I am looking to use citipoints to book a Hilton hotel. I have diamond status, will this come through on my citi points booking?

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