Learn the reward points double-transfer trick
Points can be exchanged twice to get to reward program you really want
Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com
Ask a question.
'Cashing In' archive
Dear Cashing In,
transfer my points from a Chase Visa credit card to my new American Express
JetBlue credit card? -- Glenn
sounds like such a simple question. However, when it comes to spending reward
points and miles, answers tend to be a lot more complicated.
concise answer to your question is "no" -- you generally can't make direct transfers
of points from one bank's program to another's. I think what you're really
asking is can you transfer Chase points to JetBlue's frequent flier program,
called TrueBlue. Again, the simple answer is "no" -- Chase allows customers to
transfer Ultimate Rewards points on a 1-to-1 basis to nine airlines and hotels,
but JetBlue is not among them.
people would look at Chase's airline partners, see JetBlue is not there, shrug
their shoulders and find another use for those points.
there is a way -- a more complicated and less rewarding way -- to convert Chase
points to JetBlue points.
hotel-chain and credit-card loyalty programs have a network of other travel
companies to which you can transfer points. Many people fail to appreciate that
those transfer partners also have transfer partners, which greatly increases
your options on using points.
can get complicated, and you'll also need to sign up for memberships in the
loyalty programs of all the airline and hotel companies that are recipients or
weigh-stations of your points.
take your example, in which you have Chase points that you're trying to use on
JetBlue. Let's say you have 30,000 Chase points, which would be enough for a
domestic round-trip if you transferred them to United or Southwest.
Chase's partners is Marriott. You could transfer those 30,000 to Marriott, for
a total of 30,000 Marriott points.
Marriott's partners is JetBlue. You could transfer those 30,000 Marriott points
to JetBlue's TrueBlue program. However, those points transfer at a 10-to-1 ratio, resulting in 3,000 TrueBlue
points. Round-trip tickets on JetBlue start at 10,000 points (5,000 for a
one-way). You can see that it's possible to transfer, but it's a better value
to go with one of Chase's direct partners.
that this double-transfer technique really only works when you start with a
credit-card company's loyalty program, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards.
this river of points flows only one direction: toward the airlines. Most hotel
programs allow you to transfer points to airlines but not credit-card programs.
Airlines don't allow you to transfer to hotels or credit-card programs, but you
can usually use those miles on airline partners. For instance, you could
transfer the Chase points to Marriott and then to Hawaiian Airlines, then book
flights on JetBlue, because JetBlue and Hawaiian are airline partners that
allow frequent-flier redemptions on each other.
this information is available on the websites of the programs we're talking
about, though you might have to dig around for them. Also, there are a number
of award-travel bloggers who detail a lot of these strategies.
site Hack My Trip last fall came up with several tables that show how rewards programs
intersect, so that could be a good starting point to understanding new ways to
spend the points and miles you've earned.
See related: Professional award bookers promise 'free' flights for fewer miles
Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts
Vexed by a personal finance problem?
CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers every weekday. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.
Published: April 15, 2014
Three most recent Cashing In stories:
- Even with high credit score, some card applicants rejected – How can someone with an 800+ FICO score be denied a new credit card? It may have to do with rewards card churning but the first thing to do is ask the issuer that is denying your application ...
- Using rewards to buy a new car – Some credit cards earn you rewards that can be used as an auto down payment, but consider alternatives such as cash-back cards, too ...
- Getting started with rewards cards – Rewards credit cards can be a good way to earn free travel or other goodies, but for the beginner, the process may seem overwhelming. We break it down to make it easier to get started ...