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In an unannounced move, Citi ThankYou Rewards has eliminated Garuda Indonesia from its list of airline transfer partners. While the relationship was somewhat lackluster due to the limited Garuda routes and high prices on partner awards, this frequent-flyer program produced what was arguably the best-ever award sale a couple of years ago when it offered a crazy 90% off award tickets.
Impact of the Termination
Garuda is the national carrier of Indonesia with 142 aircraft. The airline operates primarily within Southeast Asia with a small selection of long-haul international routes. Currently, there are no U.S. flights, a single Amsterdam flight connecting travelers to Europe, and service to Asia-Pacific hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan.
Garuda Indonesia is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, and the frequent-flyer program, GarudaMiles, allows redemptions with all 20 member airlines. However, the pricing for SkyTeam awards isn't especially competitive, and the limited selection of routes operated by Garuda has made finding good values particularly difficult.
We never like it when a transfer partner is eliminated; it's better to have more options—even if you don't frequently use some of them. However, unless you travel frequently to Indonesia, the disappearance of this partnership shouldn't affect the value you can get from your ThankYou points. You can still transfer Citi Points to 14 airline programs including Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Singapore KrisFlyer, Avianca LifeMiles, Etihad Guest, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Although this development sets a worrisome precedent for no-notice program changes, we don't see this as a game-changer for most ThankYou cardholders.
With Amex, Chase, and Capital One all recently expanding their lists of transfer partners, we'll keep our fingers crossed that Citi feels some competitive pressure to replace GarudaMiles—hopefully with a more valuable program.
- 80,000 point signup bonus worth $800 towards airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
- 3X points per $1 on airfare and hotels and at gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets
- Annual Hotel Benefit: Save $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book through ThankYou.com
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- 3X points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels, and at gas stations
- 3X points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants, including cafes, bars and lounges
- 3X points per $1 spent at supermarkets
- 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases
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