Why It Pays To Transfer Credit Card Reward Points To Airline & Hotel Partners

by Miles Jackson

We need a guide on how to transfer reward points between programs. It’s no secret that airlines are devaluing your miles as each day passes. Some airlines (cough, cough, Delta) often make changes without any notice.

There are two distinct strategies against this trend. The first strategy is to “earn and burn” those miles as they accrue. That way your earned miles are redeemed for the best current valuations, and before the next devaluation!

The second strategy involves changing your mindset about the points and miles game. For years, people collected airline miles because loyalty meant something — and they were rewarded by the airlines for that loyalty. Today’s economics means you might be better off with a liquid currency so you can move from one great redemption to another. That is, picking out your best value with your hard-earned points.

Along with your strategies you need a guide to understand how to transfer reward points.

The Solution? Credit Cards With Transfer Benefits

Credit cards that offer travel points — points which can be transferred to an airline’s frequent flyer program — are the cards you should hold in your wallet and use wisely for your travel plans.

Using this guide to transfer reward points to airline programs will be a valuable tool in helping you maximize value from your earned rewards.

Related: The Best Credit Card Sign-Up Offers Right Now! 

Having miles accumulated with a specific airline can be great, but the value in being able to transfer points to a dozen or more airlines gives you the freedom of choice. When that next devaluation comes from your favorite airline, you can snub your nose at them and transfer your points as miles into another carrier’s program and get a great redemption.

Spotlight: Award Cost Comparison

For example, let’s look at a simple transatlantic award redemption from Detroit to Amsterdam on Delta.

There are a couple of options here either including:

  1. Using Delta SkyMiles
  2. Using Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club miles to fly on Delta. 

First up: Virgin Atlantic. I’m seeing availability on various dates between Detroit (DTW) and Amsterdam (AMS) on Delta’s A330 lie-flat business class for 50,000 Flying Club miles and $5.60 in taxes.

Now, let’s look at booking that same flight with Delta SkyMiles. It’s going to be a lot more expensive — 86,000 SkyMiles and $5.60 in taxes.

This is a prime example of why programs that allow airline transfers are more valuable than pure airline miles for redemptions. In this case, American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to both Delta and Virgin Atlantic.  At a 1:1 transfer ratio, clearly you should transfer points to Virgin Atlantic.

Find a great deal and transfer the points necessary to get the bargain redemption. Partners may often offer cheaper redemptions.

Our affiliate partner Juicy Miles can help you book any award ticket with your earned points and miles. They also offer a mileage run service helping clients earn miles and elite status.

Ultimate Guide to Transfer Reward Points

Five Major Programs With Transfer Points To Airlines & Hotels

A number of credit cards provide trip delay insurance, though with different coverages

Guide to Transfer Rewards Points to Valuable Transfer Partners

So, let’s explore your options with five great transferable currencies from credit cards and programs you should consider having in your portfolio. With more than 50 partner airlines and different transfer ratios between them, you need some help to keep track of them all.

So, let’s show you our master list of the major programs that allow transfer of their points to airline frequent flyer programs. These programs are

  • American Express
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Before we begin our exploration, you should understand a couple of things. First, the goal of collecting these program points is to transfer into an airline’s frequent flyer program. However, once the transfer is made you cannot transfer them out. It’s a non-reversible transfer. That means you should make sure you have an award flight in mind or use Juicy Miles to help.

As a general rule of thumb, your points are better stashed away in the credit card program than in an airline’s account. Remember, airlines may (and do) devalue at a whim — don’t let that happen to your points and miles, especially due to transferring.

Now, let’s take a look at transfer options and estimated times of transfer. I’ll cover those alphabetically.

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express boasts 16 airline transfer partners and three hotel partners. So while flexibility and easy earning opportunities make Membership Rewards points a must for any frequent traveler, there are a few downsides to keep in mind.

Be advised that American Express will charge a small fee (.06 cents per point) on transfers to domestic airlines. For example, if you transfer 100,000 points to Delta or Hawaiian, you’ll be charged $60. These fees are capped at $99 per transfer.

Here’s the full list of Membership Rewards transfer options:

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClubAirline1:1N/A
Aeromexico Club PremierAirline1:1.62-12 days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLM Flying BlueAirline1:1Instant
Alitalia MillemigliaAirline1:1Instant
ANA Mileage ClubAirline1:11-2 days
Avianca LifeMilesAirline1:1Instant
British Airways Executive ClubAirline1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesAirline1:1Instant
Delta SkyMilesAirline1:1Instant
Emirates SkywardsAirline1:1Instant
Etihad GuestAirline1:1Instant
HawaiianAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:11-3 days
JetBlue TrueBlueAirline1.25:1Instant
Singapore KrisFlyerAirline1:112-48 hours
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubAirline1:11-2 days
Choice PrivilegesHotel1:1Instant
Hilton HonorsHotel1:2Instant
Marriott BonvoyHotel3:1Instant

How to Earn Membership Rewards Points: There are a number of cards that earn Membership Rewards points, such as the AMEX Gold card, the AMEX Everyday and Everyday Preferred, just to name a few. However, the most notable and premium card that earns Membership Rewards is The Platinum Card from American Express. The card offers a bunch of benefits like 5x points on airfare booked with the airline, $200 airline fee credit, $200 in Uber credit, and more. (See rates & fees.)

Capital One 

Capital One is the latest entry into the world of transferable points. The Capital One points program gives cardholders the opportunity to earn more than the one cent per point already available when booking travel directly through Capital One’s travel portal.

Points transfer to most airlines on a 2:1.5 basis. So with 40,000 points, you would get 30,000 miles on the airline of your choice. Most transfers are at a rate of 2 Venture miles to 1.5 airline miles, but Emirates and Singapore Airlines will transfer at a ratio of 2 Venture miles to 1 airline miles. There is a transfer minimum of 1,000 Venture miles and miles can be made in 100 mile increments. Read our review of Capital One’s points and transfer partners program.

Here’s the full list of Capital One transfer options:

ProgramTypeRatioTransfer Time
AeromexicoAirline2:1.5Same Day
Air Canada AeroplanAirline2:1.5Same Day
Air France/KLMAirline2:1.5Same Day
AlitaliaAirline2:1.5Same Day
AviancaAirline2:1.5Same Day
Cathay PacificAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
EmiratesAirline2:1Same Day
EtihadAirline2:1.5Same Day
EVA AirAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
FinnairAirline2:1.5Same Day
HainanAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
QantasAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
QatarAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
SingaporeAirlines2:1Up to five business days

How to Earn Capital One Points: I already find value in the Capital One Venture card because it offers an easy way to save $500 on a flight with its standard 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in three months. However, with the transfer possibilities, you could get even more value by smart transfer partner usage.

There’s an even better offer right now for high spenders. Earn up to 200,000 points with Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card.  50,000 points are awarded after spending $5,000 in three months and then earn another 150,000 points after spending $50,000 within the first six months of card opening.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase features some excellent transfer partners through their Ultimate Rewards program. With nine airline and four hotel partners, Ultimate Rewards is not the largest liquid points currency (American Express takes the cake there), Ultimate Rewards should remains a standard for any frequent flyer.

Here’s the full list of Ultimate Rewards transfer options:

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:1Instant
JetBlueAirline1:1Instant
Singapore AirAirline1:112-24 hours
Southwest AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
United AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
World of HyattHotel1:1Instant
IHGHotel1:11 day
Marriott RewardsHotel1:12 days

 

How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: The Chase Sapphire Reserve is currently offering 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in three months, while also providing some of the best benefits of any card in this category. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is also offering 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in three months.

Currently, two of my favorite Ultimate Rewards cards are the Chase Ink Business Cash and the Chase Ink Business Preferred.

The Ink Cash offer includes a generous $500 cash back bonus after the user spends $3,000 in their first 3 months, and earns a fantastic 5% cash back at office supply stores and various business utility costs on the first $25,000 spent each year. It also earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants for the first $25,000 a year, and 1% on everything else.

Big Sign-Up Bonuses: Chase Ink Preferred at 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points, the Chase Ink Cash at 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is still one of my top travel rewards card, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid recommendation as a first-time travel card. This card is currently offering 60,000 Ultimate Reward Points; its single highest ever public offer!

Citi ThankYou Points

While Citi is probably my least favorite rewards card program, there are still worthwhile transfer partners. Unfortunately, Citi does not any hotel transfer partners. Pooling points among friends and family members sharing the same billing address is a great advantage of the card. If one of your desired recipients has a Citi ThankYou account, then the shared address requirement is not needed. But do note the points transferred between accounts expire within 90 days.

How to Earn Citi ThankYou Points: Citi ThankYou points can be earned from the Citi ThankYou Premier and their top tier Citi Prestige credit card. The ThankYou Premier card is currently offering 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Here’s the full list of ThankYou transfer options:

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aeromexico Airline1:1TBD
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
AviancaAirline1:1Instant
CathayAirline1:112-24 hours
EtihadAirline1:15-7 days
EVA AirAirline1:11-3 days
Garuda IndonesiaAirline1:11-2 days
JetBlueAirline1:1Instant
Malaysian AirlinesAirline1:12-3 days
QantasAirline1:11-2 days
QatarAirline1:11-2 days
SingaporeAirline1:112-48 hours
ThaiAirline1:14-7 days
TurkishAirline1:11-2 days
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant

Marriott Bonvoy Rewards

Marriott’s rewards program isn’t a credit card company per se, but their Marriott Bonvoy program features 44 airline transfer partners in all.

Of all the transferable points programs, Marriott easily provides the most airline transfer partners. You can transfer Marriott points to most of these partners at a 3:1 ratio, but some transfer at a different rate — so check out the list below.

With more than 40 airline transfer partners, Marriott hotel points are perhaps the most flexible in the points and miles category.

A 3:1 transfer ratio to most airlines makes these points one of the few, if not the only, hotel point currencies which make sense to transfer. The kicker: Marriott adds a transfer bonus by adding a 5,000-mile bonus for every transfer of 60,000 Marriott points. For most airlines, this makes a 60,000 Marriott points transfer equate to 25,000 miles.

I consider it my top program when buying miles to top off an airline account to book an award.

My Tip: Transferring Marriott points is not an instant process. You should expect it to take anywhere between one day to two weeks so plan your transfer carefully if you need those points for an award you are planning to book.

Here’s the full list of Marriott Bonvoy transfer options

ProgramTypeRatioTransfer Time
Aegean AirlinesAirline3:13 Days
Aeroflot BonusAirline3:120 Days
AeroMexico ClubPremierAirline3:14 Days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline3:14 Days
Air China Phoenix MilesAirline3:15 Days
Air France/KLM Flying BlueAirline3:13 Days
Air New Zealand Airpoints™Airline200:11-2 Days
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan®Airline3:14 Days
Alitalia MilleMigliaAirline3:17 Days
ANA Mileage ClubAirline3:14 Days
American AirlinesAirline3:148 hours
Asiana Airlines Asiana ClubAirline3:14 Days
Avianca LifeMilesAirline3:1<24 hours
British Airways Executive ClubAirline3:13 Days
Asia Miles™Airline3:15 Days
China Eastern Airlines Eastern MilesAirline3:13-4 weeks
China Southern AirlinesAirline3:13 Days
Copa Airlines ConnectMilesAirline3:13 Days
Delta SkyMiles®Airline3:11-2 Days
Emirates Skywards®Airline3:13 Days
Etihad GuestAirline3:13 Days
Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns®Airline3:14-6 weeks
Hainan AirlinesAirline3:18 Days
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles®Airline3:1<24 hours
Iberia PlusAirline3:11-2 Days
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage BankAirline3:148 hours
Jet Airways JetPrivilege®Airline3:17 Days
JetBlue TrueBlue™Airline6:11-2 Days
Korean Air SKYPASSAirline3:11-2 Days
LATAM Airlines LATAMPASSAirline3:17 Days
Lufthansa Miles & MoreAirline3:12-3 Days
LATAM MultiplusAirline3:15-6 Days
Qantas Frequent FlyerAirline3:14-6 Days
Qatar Privilege ClubAirline3:13-5 Days
Saudia AirlinesAirline3:15 Days
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer®Airline3:11-2 Days
South African Airways VoyagerAirline3:13 Days
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®Airline3:11-2 Days
TAP Air PortugalAirline3:13-7 Days
THAI AirwaysAirline3:14 Days
Turkish Airlines Miles&SmilesAirline3:13-5 Days
United MileagePlus®Airline3:1.11-2 Days
Virgin Atlantic® Flying ClubAirline3:11-2 Days
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent FlyerAirline3:11-2 Days

Juicy Miles Expert Help

If you don’t want to bother learning all the rules, partners, and transfer ratios, you can simply sign-up for one of Juicy Miles’ membership plans which easily present redemption options and calculations in a Kayak-like award search tool. Better yet, the tool now incorporates limited time transfer bonuses when calculating award pricing and alerts you to the latest transfer bonuses!

Juicy Miles alerts you to rewards transfer bonuses

Juicy Miles Award Search

For example, using the tool to find a New York to Tel Aviv flight the site reveals more than 65 possible flights, spread across nine potential currencies (points and miles.) The award redemptions for a business class flight result in a range from a high of 168,000 Points + $228.42 to a low of 55,200 Points + $226.63. If your primary concern is saving a cash outlay, Juicy Miles will provide an award itinerary that costs 82,500 points and only $11.22 in cash.

Of course, you can also let the professional team at Juicy Miles do all the work for you. There is even an option that once you find an award using the tools included in your membership to have Juicy Miles book the award for you or let the team work with you one-on-one for that perfect redemption based on your points/miles/programs and travel wishes.

The Upshot

We get it. Keeping track of the various points and miles programs, along with transfer ratios, rules, partners and time of transfers is complex.  However, it’s worth learning the basics of transfers instead of always using travel portals and airline miles directly. Use this Guide to Transfer Reward Points information to acquire and manage those programs most advantageous to your travel needs. 

What program do you find the most valuable to transfer points to? 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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