I’m sure you’ve heard by now but just in case you haven’t, here’s the background for today’s post: Citi Thank You Points can be transferred to AA between now and November 23rd. (Why this date? No idea.) People are celebrating this and frankly with good cause. Until now, Citi Thank You Points have been my least favorite bank currency amongst the major players — so much so that I’d choose 1.0 Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards over 1.2 Citi Thank You Points. In general I think of Thank You Points as worth exactly a penny and move on to bigger and better things (say, 15x “shop small” with an American Express Platinum from Resy as a great example).
I hear your rebuttal, and yes, the Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles program has some sweet-spots and Citi Thank You Points are uniquely positioned to take advantage of that; but booking Turkish awards can be a long and frustrating process involving multiple unanswered calls and weird email bookings, and the rest of the Citi Thank You Points transfer partners range somewhere between “Chase and American Express can also do that”, and “I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a fork because if I’m going to be in that much pain, I’ll do it to myself.”
But now with Thank You Points transferring 1:1 to American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, there’s some real value to be had. I’m excited, but I’m also very cautious and won’t be transferring all of my Thank You Points to AA miles for one reason: AA Miles are ready to devalue, and for better or worse, that’s coming sooner rather than later. Consider:
- Delta has a dynamic mileage redemption scheme (Asia will cost you 210,000 SkyMiles round trip in business class, if you’re lucky)
- United has a dynamic mileage redemption scheme (Asia will cost you 160,000 MilagePlus miles round trip in crappy business class, if you’re lucky)
- Southwest has a fixed value redemption (Southwest doesn’t fly to Asia. Can you imagine traveling to Asia on a Southwest 737?)
- American Airlines’ fixed award chart is much cheaper than major competitors (Asia will cost you 120,000 AAdvantage miles, with great availability)
For the most part this is illustrative of awards to just about any international destination, we’re stuck in a situation where AAdvantage offers much, much better value than its major competition and on top of that they’ve said they’re moving to a variable redemption scheme. This means that they’re almost certainly going to devalue, and it’s almost certainly going to happen very soon, just as predicted by reversion to the mean. In fact, I’d call this event the catalyst for devaluation and cynically declare it’s a last ditch money grab by AA before the chart gets materially worse (and variable).
My advice to you: Yes, Thank You Points conversion to AAdvantage miles is an exciting development, but don’t go too far with this, transfer the number of points to AA that you need for the next six months or so and plan on an AA devaluation. Don’t be surprised when the rug gets pulled out from you at the end of the year. At that point, I fear we’ll all be thinking of Thank You Points as being worth a cent again.