Credit Card Points Transfer Programs: Maximize Your Travel Redemptions
Not all airline miles and credit card points are the same.
There are actually several different kinds of miles and points, and the way that you use them varies.
With airline miles, you will use them to book flights according to the airline’s award chart. Other types of points are worth a flat amount like one cent per point. Still other types of credit card points are best used to transfer to airline and hotel partners.
In this article, we’ll investigate these transferable credit card points. We’ll explore which types of points are transferable and why you might want to transfer your points.
Many transferable credit card points can also be used in other ways.
Hopefully, this article will help explore how you can use them to maximize the value of your points and miles.
What are Transferable Credit Card points?
Transferable credit card points are points that you can transfer to other airline or hotel programs.
Often these transferable points transfer at a ratio of 1:1, but other ratios are possible.
Most of the larger banks have proprietary points currencies that are transferable to a variety of hotel and airline loyalty programs.
Each different transferable credit card points has a list of different airline or hotel programs that are available for transfer.
As we’ll discuss later, choosing to transfer your credit card points to hotel or airline loyalty programs can be a great way to maximize the value of your credit card points.
But first, let’s take a look at a couple of different transferable credit card points currencies.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase’s proprietary points are called Ultimate Rewards.
You earn Ultimate Rewards with the following Chase credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Ink Business Preferred
- Chase Ink Business Cash
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited
You can use your Ultimate Rewards points to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
If you choose to spend your Ultimate Rewards points like this, you can redeem them for a flat rate between 1 and 1.5 cents per point. The exact rate depends on which Chase cards you have.
To use your Chase Ultimate Rewards as a transferable currency, you need to have what Chase calls a premium card.
This is basically any Chase card that has an annual fee, such as the Chase Ink Business Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase has 10 different airline transfer partners (including United, Southwest and British Airways) and 3 different hotel transfer partners (IHG, World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy).
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned on cards like the American Express Gold Card, American Express EveryDay card or The Platinum Card from American Express.
You can use your Membership Rewards points to book travel directly through Amex Travel, but only at a value of 1 cent per point.
American Express has 18 different airline transfer partners (including Air Canada, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue).
They also have 3 hotel transfer partners (Choice Privileges, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors).
Citi ThankYou Points
You can earn Citi ThankYou points on cards like the Citi Prestige, Citi Premier and Citi Rewards+.
ThankYou points can be redeemed for travel through the ThankYou travel portal at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
You can also transfer your ThankYou points to one of 16 different airline transfer partners, including JetBlue, Aeromexico, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Capital One Venture miles
Capital One’s Venture miles are the most recent transferable currency.
Historically, you could only redeem your Venture miles for travel at a value of 1 cent per point.
In 2018, Capital One announced that you would also be able to transfer your Venture miles to airline partners.
Capital One has gradually increased the number of transfer partners they have available.
Currently, you can transfer your Venture miles to one of 14 different airline transfer partners (including JetBlue, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines) or 2 hotel partners (Wyndham and Accor).
Transfer Points to Maximize Redemption Value
One good way to determine if you’re getting good value for your points redemptions is to figure out the cents per mile (CPM) of the redemption.
To do that, take the amount it would cost in cash to book the same travel redemption and divide it by the cost in miles.
So if you had a $300 airline ticket and instead paid 25,000 miles, your CPM would be 1.2 (30,000 divided by 25,000). Cents per mile is not a perfect metric but it is useful to give you an idea.
If you’re using your credit card points directly to book travel, you’ll usually get a flat value of 1 to 1.5 cents per point. When transferring to airline or hotel travel partners, you can often do much better than that. Here are two examples of where transferring points can really supercharge the value of your credit card points.
First we’ll look at a room at the Hyatt Place Cincinnati Airport, in Florence Kentucky, on a random July night.
If you’re paying cash, you’ll be charged $245.94 after all taxes and fees.
So if you booked this room with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you’d pay 19,675 points.
But that same night when booked with points only costs 5,000 points per night!
That’s a redemption of 4.92 cents per point. Clearly the better move here is to transfer your Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt to book using World of Hyatt points.
Another example is a business class flight from New York to Tokyo on Japan Airlines
You can book this flight using 60,000 Alaska Airlines MileagePlan miles (and $19 in taxes). Compare that to the cash cost of that same ticket - $6,196!
That’s over 10 cents per mile on a redemption. Now, calculating the cents per mile on a one-way premium cabin flight is a bit misleading.
The reality is that very few people would spend over $6,000 in cash to fly from New York to Tokyo. But it’s an example of the power of transferring your points to airline and hotel travel partners.
Tips and Tricks
If you’re ready to transfer your credit card points, here are a few things to keep in mind before you do:
Check the transfer ratio
Many transfer options transfer at a rate of 1:1 but not all of them! As one example, American Express Membership Rewards transfer to JetBlue at a rate of 1:1 but CapitalOne Venture miles transfer to JetBlue at a rate of 2:1.5
Watch for transfer bonuses
Many times banks will offer limited-time bonuses of 25-50% for transferring to different programs.
Transfers are irreversible
Transfers to hotel or airline are one way - once you transfer, you can’t transfer back.
So make sure you’re ready to make a redemption before you transfer.
Many points transfers are instantaneous, but some can take up to 7 days to process
Take advantage of airline alliances & partnerships
Another thing to keep in mind is that many airlines are in airline alliances and partnerships with other airlines.
So even if you can’t transfer your points directly to the airline you want to fly, you might be able to still book that ticket with miles by transferring to one of its partners.
For example, none of the major transferable points currencies transfer to American Airlines. Instead, transfer your points to one of American’s partners like British Airways Executive Club or Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles. Then you can use those miles to book a flight on American Airlines.
Best Travel Cards with Transferable Points
There are many different credit cards that offer transferable credit card points.
Here are a few of some of the best travel cards that you can use to transfer your points.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The is Chase’s premium travel card. Although it has an annual fee of $550 per year, you get a $300 travel credit each year.
You’ll also receive several travel perks like airport lounge access, DoorDash credits and 3 points per dollar spent on dining and travel.
The Platinum Card from American Express
The is another premium card that earns Amex’s Membership Rewards currency.
With the Platinum Card, you’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards per dollar spent on airfare and hotels through amextravel.com, a $200 annual airline fee credit, monthly Uber credits and more.
You’ll also get complimentary Hilton and Marriott Gold statuses.
The Citi Prestige Card earns ThankYou points when you spend on the card.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel and restaurants and 3 points per dollar on hotels and cruises.
You’ll also get an annual $250 travel credit, airport lounge access and Global Entry or TSA Pre reimbursement.
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
The has an annual fee of $95 and earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases.
The fee on the Venture card is less than those of some of the other cards we’ve mentioned, and it doesn’t have nearly as many benefits.
It does come with no foreign transaction fees and reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.