Avianca LifeMiles and Citibank USA are now partners for points transfers, allowing Citi credit card customers that collect ThankYou points to move their loyalty currency to the LifeMiles account.
Citibank offers a wide portfolio of different cards that earn ThankYou points and there have been some rather large sign up bonuses for these cards recently.
The ThankYou network itself offers a wide variety of redemption options and transfer partners (see their website here) but not all of them make a lot of sense.
Here is the redemption/transfer option for LifeMiles as a new partner:
At the face of it this transfer actually come with a pretty fair 1:1 transfer ratio which is a pretty decent way of redeeming your points, especially to a program where you can book flights as universally (for Star Alliance flights) as Avianca LifeMiles.
The possible downside of it is that you can always purchase LifeMiles under one of their almost monthly sales promotions (see the last one we wrote about here) for as low as 1.47 cents per mile. That’s a very low rate and given how often they are on sale it makes very little sense to transfer Citibank points to LifeMiles unless you find an excellent award available.
From all the Citi ThankYou transfer partners I found Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Eva Air to be the most useful options to move your points for airline miles as they offer some limited redemption options that are otherwise not available (such as Singapore Airlines Suites & First Class) and the ratio is fair as well (all are 1:1 transfers).
If hotel stays are your thing you can transfer to Hilton HHonors on a 1:1.5 ratio however given the often horrible HHonors redemption rates I can’t really recommend that except in isolated cases. It makes more sense to use the ThankYou points for hotel gift cards that can be redeemed on hotels.com or Mandarin Oriental (10,000 points are worth $100). Think about it, what hotel can you get with 10,000 HHonors points? Not many, most decent Hilton properties start at ~ 30,000 points per night, yet you would be able to book a night at exactly the same hotel for $100 in many instances. That being said I’d take 10,000 airlines miles over $100 hotel redemption any day of the week. I do realize though that not everyone wants or needs to get more airline miles so this might be another way out.
I’m always happy when the customer is offered more redemption options for their points and it’s certainly a good thing that LifeMiles is now a partner for Citibank. At the same time I always urge people to consider if it’s worth it moving a currency that is otherwise worth a lot more, especially when it’s for airline miles that can be bought at pretty much any time for a very low rate.