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Can transferring miles between two cards get you more miles?

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Cashing In
Cashing In columnist Cathleen McCarthy
Cathleen McCarthy is a journalist whose articles on travel, commerce and consumer topics have appeared in dozens of publications. She writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert Dear Cashing In,
Years ago, I had an American Express Platinum card and would receive a 40 percent bonus when I moved my air miles to AmEx's Delta Skymiles card. Now I have a Capital One card and would like to earn extra miles by transferring my air miles to my Delta Skymiles card. Is this possible? Thanks for your response. -- Royal

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert Dear Royal,
If the miles you are referring to are SkyMiles, then you don't need to transfer them -- they're already parked with Delta. But unless your Capital One card was issued in Canada, those aren't SkyMiles you've earned. That's because Capital One doesn't issue a co-branded Delta SkyMiles card in the U.S.

Either way, you're not going to get that 40 percent bonus, I'm afraid.

From what you've said, it's unclear which Capital One card you currently have. Capital One issues a Delta SkyMiles World MasterCard in Canada, but not in the U.S. Assuming you're in Canada and have that card, you can claim whatever SkyMiles are banked with Delta. If you are currently earning SkyMiles with either American Express or the Canadian version of the co-branded card, Delta is managing those miles.

This is the way it works with all airline-specific miles, by the way. Once you've earned those miles -- whether by flying or by making charges on a co-branded airline credit card -- the airline controls the frequent flier miles, not the bank that issued the card. So you don't need to transfer those miles and you don't lose them if you cancel the card you were earning them with.

If you have a Capital One card issued in the U.S., however, then it's not co-branded with Delta -- which means you probably have generic miles, like the ones you'd be earning with the Capital One Venture card. In that case, you're not going to be able to transfer those miles to your Delta SkyMiles card or any other airline-specific miles account. Delta SkyMiles won't accept generic miles or points from a bank-issued rewards program, and if you've been earning SkyMiles with your current card, they're already in a SkyMiles account.

The only way to transfer generic miles earned on a Capital One card would be to park them in a rewards program shared by another Capital One card. No transfer fees are charged to move miles between Capital One accounts in that case -- but no bonuses are awarded either.

Generally speaking, points and miles are not transferrable from one loyalty or bank rewards program to another. While American Express may have been encouraging transfers from one of their cards to another at some point, no bank is going to reward you with bonus miles for transferring an account away from them to another bank or card issuer.

A Capital One representative tells me that at this point, they are not offering any bonuses for transferring reward points or miles from one of their cards to another, but they won't penalize you if you do. That's the best news I can offer on this!

See related: Transfer miles or buy outright to gift flights?

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Published: June 26, 2012


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