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Rewards

How to transfer points between loyalty programs

To get the most from your travel rewards, you may want to transfer them to airline or hotel programs

Summary

Transferring your credit card rewards to airline or hotel loyalty programs can get you way more free travel than redeeming directly through the card issuer. Here’s what you need to know.

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You’ve signed up for one or more of the top travel rewards credit cards, and earned a nice stash of points. But when you try to spend them through the card issuer’s site, they don’t seem to go as far as you hoped. In fact, the credit cards with the most popular travel rewards programs – such as those from American Express, Citi and Capital One – will often give you just 1 cent in value per point redeemed directly for travel reservations.

But you can do better. Transferring your credit card rewards to airline and hotel loyalty programs can be a much better alternative to redeeming your points directly through the card issuer. That’s because the right airline or hotel loyalty program can offer you much more than 1 cent in value per point redeemed. To maximize the value of your travel rewards, you’ll need to learn how to transfer them.

Why is it important to transfer points?

Let’s say you want to book a hotel using your Ultimate Rewards points earned from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You look in Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel center, and find a mid-priced Hyatt property that’s selling rooms for $169 a night. But by the time the taxes and fees are added in, the price becomes nearly $200.

The Sapphire Preferred is actually one of the better reward credit cards of this type. You receive a value of 1.25 cents per point when you redeem your rewards for travel reservations booked through Chase. This is 25% more value compared to redeeming your points for gift cards, merchandise or other options. Still, you’ll have to redeem 16,000 points for your $200 hotel reservation.

However, if you had looked at booking the same property with points from the World of Hyatt program, then you would have found it available for just 8,000 points per night. And since you could have transferred your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the World of Hyatt program at a 1:1 basis, you would have received the same room for half the number of points.

And it gets better. When you book lodging reservations through third-party online travel agents, like the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, you won’t receive any hotel loyalty points or any recognition of your membership in their guest rewards program. By contrast, even award nights count toward elite status with Hyatt, so long as you book them using Hyatt points.

Another example where you can realize outstanding value through transferring points is international flights in premium classes. For instance, an international business class ticket to Europe will typically cost $4,000 to $6,000. And with programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points that give you just 1 cent in value per point redeemed, you’ll have to spend 400,000 to 600,000 points for that flight.

However, each of these programs allows you to transfer your reward points to airline miles with numerous frequent flyer programs. On top of that, most of these frequent flyer programs have a dozen or more airline partners with which you can redeem for flights. For example, you might transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways and redeem those rewards for flights on one of more than a dozen airline partners, including American Airlines. In fact, you may only need to redeem 150,000 points for a round-trip, business class ticket to Europe, which means you more than double the value for your points.

How to transfer hotel points or airline miles

Depending on the credit card rewards program you’re using, there will be a different way to transfer your rewards to travel partners. For example, with American Express, you’ll see the option to transfer points in the Rewards tab, after selecting the option to “redeem.” With the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you’ll need to go to the screen to “redeem points” and choose the option to “transfer to travel partners.”

With each program, you’ll first have to link your credit card rewards account with your airline or hotel loyalty account. With most of these programs, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, but there are some exceptions. Some programs regularly transfer at higher or lower ratios, and the credit card programs will occasionally offer transfer bonuses – typically of 10% to 30% additional points – available for a limited time. Most of these credit card rewards programs also require you to transfer points in thousand-mile increments.

How each card issuer’s system compares

Here’s how each system stacks up.

American Express Membership Rewards

Cardholders who earn American Express Membership Rewards currently have 19 airline and three hotel partners to choose from at Amex.

Amex Membership Rewards airline partners

  • AeroMexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • ANA
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Hawaiian
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Amex Membership Rewards hotel partners 

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy

As you can see, Amex Membership Rewards offers a strong list of transfer partners. Worth noting: Except for Delta and JetBlue, most of these airlines offer limited utility for Americans looking for domestic flights.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Cardholders who earn Citi ThankYou points can transfer them to 16 airline and two hotel partners.

Citi ThankYou Rewards airline partners

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air Infinity MileageLands
  • InterMiles (formerly Jet Airways JetPrivilege)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Citi ThankYou hotel partners

  • Wyndham Rewards
  • Choice Privileges

The Citi ThankYou Rewards program clearly has many valuable travel partners. JetBlue is the only airline partner based in the U.S.

Capital One Rewards

The Capital One rewards program currently has 14 airline and three hotel partners where you can transfer your points. Their partner airlines are as follows:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Infinity MileageLands
  • Finnair Plus
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • TAP Portugal Miles&Go
  • Turkish Airlines

Capital One Rewards hotel partners

  • ALL Accor Live Limitless
  • Choice Privileges
  • Wyndham Rewards

Capital One offers a lot of options for transfers, and some can be very attractive. But note that none of the airline partners are based in the U.S.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Ultimate Rewards program currently includes 11 airline and three hotel partners. For airline transfers, you can choose from these options:

  • AerClub, loyalty programme of Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards®
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Ultimate Rewards hotel partners

  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy®
  • World of Hyatt®

While Chase Ultimate Rewards has a shorter list than the others, it includes valuable travel partners not found on competing programs, such as World of Hyatt, United MileagePlus and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. Three of the 11 partner airlines are based in the U.S., worth noting if you’re primarily interested in redeeming for domestic flights.

Bottom line

You can realize incredible value from your transferable credit card reward points, but only if you understand how to use this feature. By transferring your points to the best airline and hotel programs, you can earn more value from your travel rewards points than you may have thought possible.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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