Have you heard of “transferring points” before but don’t really understand how it works? In the credit card rewards space, there are two major learning curves: earning and redeeming. Most people tend to love one more than the other. Earners love to stack offers and maximize the return on spending. When it comes to redeeming, understanding transfer partners can lead to incredible experiences like luxury hotels or flying first class. Learn how Transferring Points and Miles Work in this basic breakdown!
Transferrable Award Currencies
When it comes to credit card rewards there are typically three different categories.
- Transferrable Points & Miles
- Co-Branded Points & Miles
We are going to focus on transferrable points and miles in this breakdown but it’s important to understand the difference between the three categories. Co-branded points are simply tied to the brand of the credit card, like Hyatt or Southwest. The points earned with co-branded credit cards will likely receive the best value when used for that particular brand. While cash back credit cards earn cashback.
Basic Travel Tip – Do you love cash back? One option folks don’t realize they have with transferrable points and miles is the option to redeem for cash. This is typically not advised, as the value is better for travel but the earnings are almost always higher than a typical cashback credit card.
Why are Transferrable Award Currencies so valuable?
The ability to transfer points and miles across a variety of programs creates flexibility. For example, I could transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest to book flights and Hyatt to book a hotel. More options is always better versus being locked into only having points that can be used at a specific brand. The other perk of transferrable award currencies is sweet spots and valuation. Essentially, having the ability to move points between programs creates unique opportunities to book flights and hotels for 5-10 times the base cash value of those transferrable points.
Basic Travel Example – For our honeymoon, we transferred 87,000 Citi ThankYou Points to the LifeMiles program in order to book a seat in Lufthansa First Class. The cash rate of an airline ticket was $10,000 versus the base cash rate of 87,000 ThankYou points being $870. That’s over a 10X valuation there!
Four Major Transferrable Award Currencies
In the Credit Card Award space, there are four major currencies. Each of the four has multiple credit cards that earn the particular currency and have their own unique transfer partners. For more in-depth information about each program, click the bolded program below!
Basic Travel Tip – It’s important to note that some of the programs overlap transfer partners which creates more opportunity for flexibility. If someone is short points and miles, they can transfer from multiple transferrable currencies to a single transfer partner.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Points
- Capital One Rewards Miles
Chase Ultimate Rewards
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program has 14 different transfer partners. There are 11 airline partners and 3 hotel partners to choose from.
|Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner||Minimum Transfer||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|British Airways Executive Club||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1,000||1:1||1 Day|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|IHG® Rewards Club (Hotel)||1,000||1:1||1 Day|
|Marriott Bonvoy® (Hotel)||1,000||1:1||1 Day|
|World of Hyatt® (Hotel)||1,000||1:1||Instant|
American Express Membership Rewards
The American Express Membership Rewards program has 21 different transfer partners. There are 18 airline partners and 3 hotel partners to choose from.
|Membership Rewards Transfer Partner||Minimum Transfer||Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Cathay Pacific||1,000||1:1||Average 1 Week|
|Choice Privileges (Hotel)||1,000||1:1||Instant|
Citi ThankYou Points
The Citi ThankYou Points program has 18 different transfer partners. There are 16 airline partners and 2 hotel partners to choose from.
|ThankYou Transfer Partners||Minimum Transfer||Ratio||Transfer Time|
|EVA AIR||1,000||1:1||24-48 Hours|
|MALAYSIA AIRLINES ENRICH||1,000||1:1||24-48 Hours|
|QANTAS FREQUENT FLYER||1,000||1:1||24-48 Hours|
|QATAR PRIVILEGE CLUB||1,000||1:1||24-48 Hours|
|SINGAPORE AIRLINES||1,000||1:1||Approx. 24 Hours|
|THAI ROYAL ORCHID PLUS||1,000||1:1||Up to 6 Days|
|TURKISH AIRLINES MILES & SMILES||1,000||1:1||24-48 Hours|
|VIRGIN ATLANTIC FLYING CLUB||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|CHOICE PRIVILEGES (HOTEL)||1,000||1:2||Instant|
|WYNDHAM REWARDS (HOTEL)||1,000||1:1||Instant|
Capital One Rewards Miles
The Citi ThankYou Points program has 16 different transfer partners. There are 14 airline partners and 2 hotel partners to choose from.
|Program||Minimum Transfer||Conversion||Transfer Time|
|Aeromexico – Club Premier||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Air Canada – Aeroplan||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Air France KLM – Flying Blue||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|ALL – Accor Live Limitless (Hotel Partner)||1,000||1:1/2||Instant|
|British Airways Executive Club||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Emirates – Emirates Skywards||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Etihad Airways – Etihad Guest||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|EVA Air – Infinity MileageLands||1,000||1 : .75||1-2 Days|
|Finnair – Finnair Plus||1,000||1:1||Instant|
|Qantas – Qantas Frequent Flyer||1,000||1:1||1-2 Days|
|Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer||1,000||1:1||1 Day|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||1,000||1:1||1-2 Days|
|Wyndham Rewards (Hotel Partner)||1,000||1:1||Instant|
Transfer Partner Award Booking Strategy
This is where things can get a bit complicated, especially for advanced bookings where award currency is transferred with the intention of booking a flight through an airline alliance. To keep things basic, let’s review some steps to take for booking travel via a transferrable currency partner.
Create an account with the transfer partner
Let’s say I want to book a flight on Southwest Airlines using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. I would first need to create a Southwest frequent flyer account in order to transfer points from one program to another. When researching tentative flights with any airline partner, I’d suggest making an account with that program to search directly on it. This will help with finding availability and the number of points and miles required.
Use Award Search Websites
Full disclosure, the websites are not perfect. In this hobby, things change quickly and the IT on these sites struggle to keep up. Nonetheless, they are still great options for researching potential options with points and miles.
- Awardhacker.com is a free website that shows the potential lowest number of miles and points required to fly
- Awardmapper.com is a free website that shows the potental lowest number of miles and points required to stay
Wikipedia and Google Flights
Both websites are great for airline routing. I’ll use both to see which airlines fly where to give me an idea of the transferrable currency needed to book an award flight. Sometimes these sites give you ideas on places to visit that you didn’t think of at first. For example, when I was planning my trip to Egypt I noticed that flights from Cairo to Athens on google flights were super cheap via the live map explore-feature. Just like that, Greece was added to that particular trip’s itinerary which was of my favorite trips to date.
Look for inspiration
Using social media and the internet to research bucket list hotels and premium flights is a fun strategy. I’ve found specific flights that I wanted to experience, like ANA First Class from the United States to Japan. Then working backward, I determine the best transferable award currencies to collect in order to book that particular experience.
Create a Google Doc
Use a google doc or whatever your preferred method of recording information is to track information. When I am planning a trip, I’ll create a new google document and record all of the information pertaining to the trip there. Data points like airline routing, required points, hotel options, and even the day-to-day itinerary. This helps to have somewhere to pick back up from when you take a break from researching a trip.
Transferrable Points Frequently Asked Questions
Can you transfer Points and Miles back after transferring to partner?
Nope! It’s very important to know that once a transferrable currency has been moved to a transfer partner, it can not be moved back. Be sure to cross all of the award booking t’s and dot all of the i’s before initiating a transfer. Double-check the number of points and miles required and the availability of the flight!
Are there better times to transfer points and miles?
Yes, many of the transferrable points and miles programs run regular promotions to earn a bonus on transfers. For example, Chase will often run a promotion with Marriott Rewards earning a 50% bonus on transfers. These promotions are a double-edged sword since you cannot transfer back once you initiate the transfer. I know many folks in this hobby love to pad their LifeMiles and British Airways accounts when these promotions come through though.
The flexibility that transferrable points provide to cardholders can not be understated. The sort of points and miles redemptions made possible from travel partners is what dreams are made of. Flying first class and staying in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives is the ultimate bucket list redemption for many folks in this hobby. While others just want to bring their family to Hawaii or Disney for a week. Whatever your pleasure, transferrable points will provide the best value to make that trip happen!
What’s your favorite transferrable point currency and why?
I’d love to hear in the comments below or over in our 7,300+ Member Basic Travel Facebook Group!
More Basic Reading
- Top Credit Cards of the Month
- Learn how to utilize credit card points with our Basic Travel Course
- How to book an Overwater Bungalow at the Conrad Maldives for cheap!
- Seven Steps to utilize credit card reward points to Save Money
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- Step-by-Step Guide to Completing a Small Business Credit Card Application