American AAdvantage partners with Citi ThankYou—at least for now

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The American AAdvantage program has long been considered one of the more difficult programs to rack up miles in, but this is not due to a lack of co-branded credit cards. In fact, consumers can easily rack up American miles with cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® — both popular options due to their sign-up bonuses and frequent flyer perks.

The problem with American AAdvantage is the fact this program hasn’t managed to forge a partnership with flexible programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards—a feat accomplished by competing programs like Delta and United. This means American AAdvantage has been largely off-limits for consumers who choose to earn most of their rewards with a handful of premium travel credit cards that are known for their flexibility.

Interestingly enough, as of July 18, 2021, you can now transfer points earned in the Citi ThankYou program to American AAdvantage. This option is only temporary, however, so you’ll want to act fast if you want to make a transfer. At the moment, this option is slated to expire Nov. 18, 2021.

Related: Best American Airlines credit cards

Citi ThankYou partners with American AAdvantage

If you have a travel credit card that earns Citi ThankYou points, you already know these rewards are good for statement credits, merchandise, and even payments to a student loan or a mortgage. Yet, you can also use your rewards to book travel through the Citi portal or for transfers to its roster of frequent flyer programs.

The American AAdvantage program is currently on that list, and you can transfer your Citi points at a 1,000:1,000 ratio if you have the Citi Prestige® or the Citi Premier® Card. If you have the older Citi ThankYou® Preferred (no longer taking applications) or the Citi Rewards+® Card, on the other hand, you can turn 1,000 Citi ThankYou points into 500 American AAdvantage miles.

If you have the Citi® Double Cash Card or the new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, you can only transfer your rewards to airlines (including American AAdvantage) if you also have the Citi Prestige® or the Citi Premier® Card. If you have the Citi® Double Cash Card, you’ll also have to take an initial first step to convert your cash back to Citi ThankYou points. You can do this once you have at least $1 in rewards in your account.

How to (quickly) take advantage of this promotion

If you have a stash of Citi ThankYou points already, then you can go ahead and initiate a transfer to your American AAdvantage frequent flyer account. If you don’t have any Citi ThankYou points yet, however, now is as good a time as any to begin building up your rewards.

While the Citi Prestige® is not currently available, the Citi Premier® Card is offering 80,000 bonus points when you sign up and spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. If you sign up now and meet the minimum spending requirement quickly, you could have enough time for your statement to close and your bonus points to post to your account before the transfer cutoff date of November 18, 2021.

While the Citi Premier® Card does have a $95 annual fee, this card also lets you earn 3X points at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets and on air travel and hotels, as well as 1X points on other purchases.

Whether you work quickly to earn Citi ThankYou points or prepare to transfer rewards you already have, you should know that transfers to the American AAdvantage program and other frequent flyer programs are one-way. This means you can transfer them out of the Citi ThankYou program to a partner of your choosing, but you won’t be able to transfer them back if you change your mind.

Other ways to use Citi ThankYou points

The Citi ThankYou program lets you redeem your rewards in numerous ways, including for gift cards, merchandise, statement credits or payments toward a student loan or a mortgage. You can also use your points to book travel, including airfare, through Citi’s own travel portal.

Citi’s travel portal has long been the only way to redeem your points for American flights. Like the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, Citi’s travel portal lets you redeem your points directly for flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and more without transferring them to another loyalty program.

Now you can also transfer your points to the American AAdvantage program (through November 18, 2021), but there are other airline partners to consider as well. Current frequent flyer programs that partner with Citi include:

  • American AAdvantage
  • Aeromexico
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Flying Blue / Air France
  • Intermiles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

The bottom line

If you’re eager to build your rewards balance with the American AAdvantage program, there’s yet another way to do just that—but only for a limited time. Since the American AAdvantage program lets you fly to more than 1,100 destinations with American and its oneworld® partners, there’s no reason to delay. This is especially true since the AAdvantage program has plenty of sweet spots—including off-peak round-trip flights to Europe in economy for as little as 45,000 miles and round-trip flights to the Caribbean for 25,000 miles.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."
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