You can transfer your Citi points to Avianca LifeMiles with a 25% bonus (until Aug 20).
UPDATE 8.20.21: Extended until August 27.
Or you can transfer your Citi points to American AAdvantage (until Nov 13).
For many this is a no-brainer. American AAdvantage is a venerable program. It’s much easier to use, not nearly as quirky as Avianca LifeMiles, and offers some undeniable values. The current 25% transfer bonus to LifeMiles is probably not a high enough incentive to sweep a majority of frequent flyers off their feet. Here is why.
The major cons of the LifeMiles program
- The award chart (which Avianca stills uses even though it doesn’t publish it anymore) is hardly generous.
- The online booking possibilities are limited (basically, the online search engine doesn’t display many connections).
- Avianca is in bankruptcy proceedings. While LifeMiles is a separate entity from the airline, there is a chance, albeit very unlikely, that Avianca will be dissolved.
But that’s just one half of the story, because
- While the Avianca chart is not very generous, this 25% bonus makes it better than American in most cases.
- Unlike American, there are no fuel surcharges for any partners.
- That “quirkiness” can play in your favor sometimes (as you’ll see below).
- The connections that LifeMiles doesn’t show online can still be booked by sending an email.
- Their customer services and response times have gotten much better recently, at least in my limited experience.
So, no, the choice is not as easy as it may appear, and you might agree if you read some of the posts about Avianca I’ve written over the years.
Are there any cons in transferring Citi points to American?
You can transfer your Citi points to American Airlines until November 13, 2021. The Citi Premier and Prestige give you 1 mile per point, while the Citi Rewards+, in the absence of a premium card, gives you 0.5 mile per point.
The only con I can think of is the mere fact that American is working on a massive devaluation that will probably ditch the AA award chart entirely and complete their journey toward a fully-implemented, dynamically-priced program. That’ll be absolutely awful for redeeming Business and First Class awards.
However, if you’re going to redeem AA miles until November 13, they probably won’t gut the AA chart before then (I think). 🙂
Avianca Sweet Spots with the 25% Citi transfer
My recent post explains Avianca LifeMiles sweet spots in better detail, but here are the highlights (all flights shown are per one way in Business Class).
- Los Angeles to Bogota: 33,000 Avianca miles / 27,000 Citi points
- U.S. to Brazil: 49K / 40K
- U.S. to Europe: from 60K / 48K
- U.S. to South Africa: 78K / 63K
- U.S. to South East Asia: 75K / 60K
- U.S. to Australia: 80K / 64K
Avianca unicorn spots with the 25% Citi transfer
- 35,000 miles / 27,000 Citi points for a Business Class ticket from JFK to Lisbon on TAP
- 65.070 / 52,056 for a FIRST CLASS ticket from Los Angeles to Tokyo on ANA
- 70,560 / 56,448 for a FIRST CLASS ticket from JFK to Tokyo on ANA
Granted, the last two require skiplagging (when you skip the second leg of your trip) and airlines don’t like it, to put it mildly, but I don’t believe they would penalize you for one or two transgressions. People who get in trouble for skiplagging tend to do it habitually, which I would never recommend.
I would say 52K or 56K points for a first class ticket to Japan is pretty epic – wouldn’t you agree?
Just don’t check your bag, OK?
The skiplagging examples above are hardly the only ones to be found on Avianca, so if you don’t mind playing with their award booking engine you’re bound to find more super-sweet spots.
There is one more option, of course
Do nothing. Avianca bonuses is a regular thing, so if you don’t have any immediate booking needs, you’re likely to find similar options in the future. As to the AA transfer, you have until November, so there is no rush, either.
With a choice between a temporary transfer promo to American and 25% bonus to Avianca, it may be a tough call. To most people American Airlines is a very familiar program that still holds a great redemption value, even though this value may be very short-lived. On the other hand, if you love playing with booking engines and hunting for a bargain, the 25% bonus to Avianca can considerably sweeten the deal. The choice is yours, including the choice of doing absolutely nothing.
What are your thoughts? Have you transferred, are you going to, or are you sitting this one out?