[LAST DAY] Will Citi Transfers To American AAdvantage Really End November 13, And What Comes Next?

In mid-July Citibank points suddenly became transferable to American Airlines. That was a huge surprise and for many cardmembers with Prestige and Premier products a nice increase in the value of their points. Citi hadn’t had one of the large U.S. airlines as a transfer partner.

In fact, it was odd that American Airlines wasn’t a transfer partner before this. And odder still that the relationship was introduced as temporary, running only though November 13.

It occurs to me that a couple of things changed. I assumed transferable points wouldn’t be on the table until the next co-brand card deal was done.

  1. Vasu Raja became Chief Revenue Officer, and the Chief Revenue Officer was put in charge of AAdvantage. Maximizing revenue means selling points and the AAdvantage program has a lot of revenue to generate now that it has a $10 billion mortgage behind it.

  2. A month before Citi transfers went into effect, Bilt Rewards announced that its points would transfer to AAdvantage. Bilt would have a credit card, and thus its customers could earn AAdvantage points using its credit card.

Both of these things led me to believe that a new future of American selling its miles as part of transferable points programs made sense, and its Citi partner made sense in a number of dimensions as the major bank to offer this.

Yet the transfer arrangement was announced as limited-time, expiring November 13, 2021. A couple of readers have reached out to me telling me that Citi representatives have said the transfer relationship is not ending. My understanding is that they are not correct.

  • Those agents probably didn’t realize the end date which was in place
  • Rather than having any special knowledge about the future of the program

That said, I don’t see how Citi can sit on the sidelines and not pay American to keep this in the program for the competitiveness of Thank You Rewards. If they don’t get transfers to American, they almost have to preclude others from having such transfers in any future co-brand deal.

Meanwhile, though not offering points transfers as a way of gaining AAdvantage miles is one way to juice the co-brand portfolio (you have nowhere else to go to earn so many American Airlines miles), American is juicing card spend with Loyalty Points and they’re giving up on exclusivity for earning their currency in any case (at a minimum, with Bilt).

So even though the current transfer arrangement does, apparently, end November 13 I wouldn’t be surprised to see more changes in this space soon-ish.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I know a number of hub-captive AA fliers who said they’d immediately dust off or open co-branded Citi/Barclays cards to earn new loyalty points. The move is pure genius and likely means AA won’t care about people transferring in points to the program as long as high-dollar spend from elite flyers they care about continues to go on their co-brands.

  2. I too spoke with a supervisor that said it was ending
    Its anyone’s guess where this is going and what the Citibank strategy is long term
    They killed of The Prestige once the greatest travel card ever and I likely will cancel one of my Citi Thank you points cards unless a miracle happens

  3. The current transfer window was likely a trial run to see if the economics made sense on both sides.

    And good point Gary about Loyalty Points – it could give users who want those reason to stick with the AA cards and those that don’t reasons to use the TY network.

    And since Citi pays more for AA points now that they have a “Loyalty Points” attached to them, perhaps a new agreement was signed or the current one modified to allow the TY transfers to continue?

  4. Awaiting Premier card in the mail, so hopefully it won’t end November 13 — would be wonderful to transfer all 80,000+ points to AA.

  5. Transferred ~80K Thank You points to AA (earned from CIti Premier spending, Double Cash Spending, Custom Cash Sign up bonus) and earned another 50K via the Citi Executive card. Next year, I am strongly considering spending 40K on the Citi Executive to give me a boost to AA status. I will also complete the Amex credit card spend for their MQD waiver which will give me Plat for another year. With these credit card incentives it becomes easier to maintain status in multiple programs.

  6. Fingers crossed — as of today only halfway through the $4k spend on the Premier card we just got and would love to transfer to AA.

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