Citi Prestige ThankYou Points Not As Valuable As You Might Think

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The Citi Prestige Card has become one of the best credit cards around and one that it is constantly among my highest ranked cards. Among the many great benefits of the Prestige card is the ability to redeem ThankYou Points at a 1.6-to-1 ratio for American Airlines tickets. In other words, if the cost of an AA ticket is $480.00, you would only need to redeem 30,000 Prestige TY Points (the same ticket would require 38,400 TY Points earned from the Citi Premier Card).

On paper, this benefit is an indirect way of transferring points from Citi to AA given that the rate for discounted economy and premium cabin fares will often require a similar amount of points than a saver award booking with AA. In some cases, the amount of Prestige TY Points required could even be lower than what AA would require for an award on the same itinerary. And keep in mind that if you redeem Prestige TY Points for AA tickets you are for all intents and purposes buying a paid-ticket, which means you will earn miles and be able to upgrade your ticket, neither of which would happen on an award ticket.

Unfortunately, I have began noticing a trend that makes this Citi Prestige benefit kind of a myth and borderline misleading in some cases. The reason for this is that Citi uses a travel agency (Connexions Loyalty, Inc.) that often does not have access to the same fares offered directly by airlines or by other online travel agencies like Expedia. Let me illustrate this with a real-life example:

If I go to Kayak and search for a business class ticket from San Diego to San Juan on October 16, here is the lowest fare I get:

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So Kayak is offering me AA’s web site fare of $402 (actual fare is $401.40). Expedia has access to the same itinerary for the same fare:

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Therefore, if Citi had access to the same fare, I could purchase this itinerary for only 25,088 Prestige TY Points, which is almost exactly the same amount of miles AA would require for an award on this itinerary (25,000 miles). However, not only does Citi not have access to the same fare, but the fare they are offering for the same itinerary is 2.5 times higher than what is offered by AA and Expedia:

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Therefore, instead of only needing to redeem 25,088 Prestige TY Points you would need to redeem 68,415 Prestige TY Points for the same itinerary! What good is it to be able to get so much more value by redeeming Prestige TY Points for AA tickets if the fares quoted for those tickets are significantly more expensive than what is available elsewhere?!

Bottom Line

This is not something that will happen every time you try to redeem Prestige TY Points for AA tickets. However, I have noticed this trend enough lately to begin considering Prestige TY Points to be a little less valuable than before. If this is the main reason you have a Citi Prestige Card, perhaps it is time you do the same.

I did complain to Citi about this and, based on their response, they do not seem to care at all.

Have you experienced similar problems trying to redeem Prestige TY Points for AA tickets?

Comments

  1. Unfortunately this seems to have been the case for awhile now, but only for discounted F fares on AA, where for some reason Connextions does not have access to the same discounted F inventory. So far, I haven’t seen an example of this with coach fares.

      • Just priced out a Jan 1 one-way from FAT-LAX-SJD and the TY point fare was based on a fare of $243 – same Itinerary bookable elsewhere at $214.25 almost negating any benefit. Interestingly, for just LAX-SJD, TY point pricing is based on the lowest rate.

        Probably need more examples of connecting one ways vs. N/S.

  2. have you tried searching as one ways? I noticed that issue with B6 on roundtrip fares, but when splitting it up into separate one-way fares the prices matched.

  3. so today I had completely different situation, I was looking for flights SDF to MCO for Saturday June 18, I checked Kayak, Google Flights and I could only find 1 way flights for about $350.00, I then went to AA to check for miles and no saver award lowest cost was 30,000 miles, I then said OK I will pay for ticket and found on AA 1 way at $88.00. I said WOW, let me check with Citibank, I found same ticket for $88.00, I immediately booked 2 tickets with the Citi Thank you points, for less than half of what a normal 1 way saver award would cost which was not available, GREAT SAVINGS

  4. 1. I don’t book F tickets but I have yet to see this on 10+ AA bookings via Citi TY. I’ve had a great experience so far. You just have to call in to get your Business ExtrAA number added.

    2. Carlos – this is happening a lot. Always price one-ways out before buying. Airlines are being sneaky. I just bought a 3 leg triangle (AAA – BBB – CCC – AAA) itinerary where it was $35 cheaper to buy the first leg as a one-way and the other two as a multi-city on AA.

  5. I had the same issue the one time I went to use my TYP for paid non-AA flights. I really ended up with about $0.011/pt in value instead of $0.0133 because Citi’s fares are higher. Interestingly, when plugged the confirmation into JetBlue’s site and pulled up the receipt the fare paid showed the same as what JetBlue was charging and not what I actually paid to Citi. Connexions must take a skim off the fare somewhere.

  6. It’s not just AA – Citi doesn’t have access to a lot of discounted first class inventory. I was trying to use points to book a trip to Hawaii, and AA, United, Hawaiian, and Alaska all showed F inventory for at least 3x what I could find booking directly (or through Amex or City National, for that matter). Only Virgin F priced at the same rate.

  7. I also complained to Citi about this and got a bunch of doubletalk and gobblygook. (AKA BS) Bottom line: Citi does not care.

  8. It is not just air fare- same with hotels– they do not get even the same price as on the hotel site -I find u get 1 ty= $ 1.00 with many hotels

  9. i have found that if i’m very specific (down to specifying the flight time), i can find my target flight. often the low price ones don’t show up until i specify the flight time.

  10. slightly off topic, but could a friend book through my prestige for the 1.33/1.6 cpp rate and still get credit towards his own FF account? TIA

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