Can you transfer loyalty points between card issuers?

Cashing In columnist Tony Mecia
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

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Question Dear Cashing In,
I have two cards, a Chase Freedom and a Chase Sapphire. I opened them to take advantage of the frequent flier miles. This year, I have to make a $7,000 purchase for my season tickets. Is there a credit card that I can open, that I can total all my miles together regardless of company or bank I have cards from in the past? Will Chase miles work with Citibank card miles? – Jay

Answer Dear Jay,
You are asking a number of different questions here, so let’s break them down a little bit and walk through the thought process of applying for a new card. 

The origin of your question seems to be that you have a major purchase approaching – the annual cost of your season tickets – and you are wondering what card to open to take advantage of that large purchase. To receive sign-up bonuses on most reward credit cards, you need to spend a few thousand dollars in the first few months of having the card. A $7,000 purchase would instantly satisfy most spending requirements. 

Some people might say that you shouldn’t open a credit card just for the purpose of charging a major expense. But it sounds as though you are interested in earning additional miles or points from sign-up bonuses and are viewing the season tickets as a vehicle for meeting spending requirements.

One aspect to consider is whether there is a card that can take special advantage of your major purchase. For instance, if you were planning a wedding reception at a hotel or restaurant, you might want to get a card that gives extra points at hotels or restaurants. But tickets to sporting events are rarely eligible for extra reward points. However, depending on the expense, there might be options. For instance, if the tickets you’re buying are pro football tickets, the Barclaycard NFL Extra Points credit card (no annual fee) might be an option, because it offers double points on NFL tickets, in-stadium expenses, team shops and the like. Points can be redeemed for cash back.

If that card doesn’t work for you, then you indicated it is important to try to have your points in one pool, not spread out among different programs. Keep in mind that banks compete with each other, and like most competitors, they don’t usually join forces. If you were a member of Dunkin’ Donuts’ loyalty program and Krispy Kreme’s loyalty program, you probably wouldn’t ask, “How can I bring together all my donut loyalty points in one place?” It’s the same concept – points from Chase, American Express, Citibank and so on cannot be transferred to each other or consolidated.

But there are ways to transfer points or miles into the same loyalty accounts of airlines or hotels. For instance, since you have Chase points, you could transfer them to United, Southwest, Hyatt or Marriott, for example. If you signed up for a new credit card affiliated with one of those programs, the points from your different cards would be in the same account. Be careful, though, because hotel and airline points can expire, while bank points generally don’t, as long as you hold onto the card.

You can see that there are a lot of factors to consider, so it will come down to what is important to you.

See related: 5 questions to ask before applying for a rewards card, Weighing the value of special card reward deals

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Updated: 02-18-2019