Can I Transfer Miles Between Frequent Flyer Programs?

AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.

Offers for the American Express® Green Card, Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card are not available through this site. All information has been independently collected by AwardWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. Some offers may have expired. Please see our card marketplace for available offers.

Today we want to address one of the most common questions we get asked both here on the blog and in our Facebook community, Award Travel 101.

“Can you combine points and miles from different frequent flyer programs?”

Imagine you want to redeem miles from your Alaska Mileage Plan account for flights, but you’re a little short. You do, however, have plenty of miles in your American AAdvantage account you could transfer to reach your redemption. Can you transfer miles between Mileage Plan and AAdvantage?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You cannot transfer miles between frequent flyer programs and retain their value.

transfer aa miles
You can’t transfer miles between Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage, but you can use Alaska miles to book on American.

Unlike flexible rewards currencies, which transfer to a range of airline and hotel programs, airline miles can't be transferred to another frequent flyer program (with a few exceptions listed below).

Is It Possible to Transfer Miles Between Frequent Flyer Programs?

Technically, yes. Should you do it? No. Except for transferring Avios between British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus, the methods that allow you to move miles between programs cost more than the transaction is worth, stripping your miles of any tangible value.

Transferring Avios

The first method applies solely to Avios. Avios is the rewards currency used by AerClub, BA Executive Club, and Iberia Plus. You can transfer Avios earned in all three programs at a 1:1 ratio via a central Avios.com account, and redeem the combined points for award flights and more. Transferring Avios from BA to Iberia or Aer Lingus can be a great way of avoiding BA’s overpriced fuel surcharges.

Transferring Miles via Points.com

Another option is to use Points.com, which allows transfers between select rewards programs. The killer here is the exchange rates.

You can exchange miles between the following programs on Points.com:

  • Delta SkyMiles®
  • Frontier Airlines FrontierMiles (temporarily unavailable)
  • HawaiianMiles
  • Icelandair Saga Club
  • JetBlue TrueBlue®
  • IHG Rewards
  • MeliáRewards
  • Trident Privilege

While Points.com doesn’t charge you a fee to transfer between programs, the exchange rates are atrocious. For example, if you exchange 10,000 JetBlue TrueBlue points for Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, you will receive just 3,706 HawaiianMiles. We consider both miles to have about the same value. So, you’re losing almost two-thirds of the value of your miles in the transfer.

If you have no use for a particular type of points or miles, points.com may be a good way to convert them into something you can use. But it’s almost always better to find a way to use the points—rather letting a bad exchange rate erase most of their value.

Transfer Miles via Multiple Rewards Programs

The last method is to convert miles to another frequent flyer program by routing them through various rewards programs that have transfer agreements. For this example, we’ve used WebFlyer.com to calculate the exchange ratio between American AAdvantage miles and Delta SkyMiles.

Delta miles transfer with WebFlyer

The best outcome from the seven options available is transferring American miles to Diners Club Rewards at a 2:1 ratio (losing half your miles), and then transfer Diners Club Rewards to Delta SkyMiles at 1:1, leaving you with half the miles you invested at the outset.

  • 10,000 American miles @ 2:1 —> Diners Club points = 5,000 points
  • 5,000 Diners Club points @ 1:1 —> Delta SkyMiles = 5,000 miles

Again. Not a recommended use of your miles. But, it could be helpful in a pinch.

Book Partner Airlines with Your Miles

The good news is that you shouldn’t need to transfer miles between programs to get where you want to go. While your miles may be locked into your AAdvantage account, you can book flights on any of American’s dozens of partner airlines using your AAdvantage miles. You can redeem American miles to fly partner airlines like Japan Airlines, Etihad, or Cathay Pacific to destinations that American doesn’t fly.

How does this work in practice?

  • Search for partner award availability on AA.com or another Oneworld website
  • Book the partner award on AA.com — or by calling the AA Reservations Center if the award can’t be booked online
  • Fly the partner airline booked with your American AAdvantage miles

Related:

The Value of Collecting Transferable Rewards Currencies

Ultimately, if you’re not collecting transferable rewards currencies, you’re throwing away a good portion of the value gained from credit card spend. Hotel points and airline miles lose value when transferred to other programs due to poor transfer ratios. Whereas, flexible points transfer to a variety of partners at a 1:1 ratio (3:1 for Marriott), allowing you to cherry-pick the best value redemptions from each program and maximize the value of your points.

Flexible currencies tend to offer higher earning rates on credit card spend via well-thought-out bonus categories and a greater selection of cards to suit different spending patterns. There are four flexible bank rewards programs and one hotel program we think offer outstanding value for transferring points:

Chase Ultimate Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Capital One Venture Miles

Marriott Bonvoy

Each program has high-value transfer partners that can exponentially increase the value of your points if used wisely.

Final Thoughts

If you travel often, it's hard to avoid having your points spread out across multiple frequent-flyer programs. You can't transfer these miles to other frequent-flyer programs, but you can use them to book partner awards across a variety of carriers and destinations.

If you have any questions or you think we’ve missed a transfer method, please reach out in the comments.

AwardWallet Tip of The Day
Did you know you can filter the accounts in your AwardWallet profile by program? If you want to view only a subset of your loyalty accounts tracked by AwardWallet, use the Accounts Filter to display only the accounts you're interested in at the moment.
Show me how

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

**You may receive 5 bonus AAdvantage miles for leaving a comment (Details/FAQ)

Comments

  • Avatar

    I love earning my Amex and Chase points. I am considering Citi, if they keep American as a transfer partner. I wonder if it would be a good idea to get a Citi card and transfer anything during their promo with American, if I have no plans yet with their miles?
    I normally like just using the miles on the airline I have the account with but I may have to look at using them on partners. I just find that it can be limiting on partners for some.

  • Avatar

    It doesn’t make sense, why there isn’t only one integrated Avios Frequent flyer program for all the 3 aforementioned airlines and there is the segregation between Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia miles accrual .

    By taking KLM and Air France as example, they also belong to the same group and share the same Flying Blue frequent flyer program in common and you manage your miles in only one account.

    Bottom line: Not practical , despite the fact that British Avios are easily transferred as 1:1 ratio to Iberia and vice versa.

  • Avatar

    Hmm seems the exchange rate is very poor.

  • Avatar

    You are so right, the exchange rates at points.com are truly atrocious!

  • Avatar

    Major airline alliance partners already make it easier to pool our redemptions and earnings. Would be interesting to be able to transfer between partners, but that feels like a stretch as it can affect the bottom line for different companies.

  • Avatar
    bulstrode says:

    Thanks for the reminder, I really need to sit and check all my accounts – last 1.5 years I travels lest and some of miles / points are probably better to transfer

  • Avatar

    Hi, its sound good and great idea. I can use soon! Thks

  • Avatar

    Every time I check points.com, there are even fewer partners. Also, some programs, like Delta, allow you to transfer TO, but not from the program.

  • Avatar

    It is definitely hard to transfer miles to other programs without losing a lot of the value. It is even hard to transfer miles to other family members on the same program except for Jetblue which allow pooling of points.

  • Avatar

    Transferring miles was something much more useful 20 years ago.

  • Avatar

    While transferring miles between programs will never realistically be practical, I wish more programs allowed free pooling of miles of similar accounts such as JetBlue and Hilton do now. This is a very attractive feature that wins my business for them over their competitors simply for this reason. It allows you to combine the points in several accounts so that you can actually get a reward worth having and take the family on a fun vacation.

  • Avatar

    This is the reason why you need to have flexible curriencies that transfer to multiple partners. Helps with devaluation as well.

  • Avatar

    If it were easy to move miles, the value of a loyalty program would diminish

  • Avatar

    Hi.
    Now that LATAM seem to leaving OneWorld, I wonder what can be done to fly AA and add LATAM miles, something really handy in Argentina, where most locations, domestically and in close countries can be reached via LATAM flights, so it became real handy to flight the US via American, and use the miles via LATAM for domestic or flights within southamerica. Will this scheme still be valid in days to come? will we be able to transfer our AA miles to LATAM without leaving credit in the transaction? Thanks a ton, great piece of info the article. Rgds. Lucas.

  • Avatar

    I used my American miles to book Alaska to Liberia Costa Rica. 35K plus $50. Unfortunately almost impossible to upgrade to first class. Booked premium seat $99 more

  • Avatar

    Hey, I have a delta sky miles account and an Amex gold delta credit card. If I purchase a JetBlue airfare ticket with my Amex gold delta credit card would I be able to transfer miles or points ?.

  • Avatar

    These are some great ideas. Only wish I had know earlier

  • Avatar

    Wow, I completely forgot about Points.com! Thank you! I do remember that it didn’t give many options for transferring points around and since I was new to this game it deflated my enthusiasm for it all. You all gave me the best education and still are! So now I am getting the ins and outs, so many possibilities has opened up for travel to me and my family. Thank you!

  • Avatar

    I wonder if I can exchange my Spirit miles to a different Airline?

  • Avatar

    points.com conversions are atrocious. IMHO Unless we are down to non redeemable amount of miles we should not be using that option.

  • Avatar

    A good guide for those new to the game. This question comes up every now and then.

  • Avatar

    I wish there was a easier way to transfer points/miles between program. May be it’s time for an industry standard.

    • Avatar

      I’m actually surprised anyone allows it at all – the idea I think is to encourage loyalty and sticking with the airline you earnt the points with.

  • Avatar

    I try to only earn AS or B6 miles from flying, and keep everything else in flexible currency.

  • Avatar

    I transferred a bunch of frontier miles via points.com after they became a low cost carrier and closed down the Milwaukee hub, rendering the miles useless. Poor value is better than no value.

  • Avatar

    In the past I have used points.com to do some swaps without problems apart from the not favorable conversion.
    From a couple of years or even more I am not able to do some exchanges because less airlines and hotels give this possibility and even when they participate there are some restrictive thresholds (minimum miles or points to convert).

  • Avatar

    Thats what I love about flexible currencies. You’re never locked in to just one redemption possibility

  • Avatar

    I never heard of webflyer.com before this post. Now I know more options, but i will take your advisement that transferring between frequent flyer programs is a poor transaction.

  • Avatar

    Is there any way to transfer miles out of Delta? Points.com not allowing it and I have some miles that I need to get rid of

  • Avatar

    The caution is well warranted. You didn’t really mention though that you can always try to top up an orphaned account (with SPG, buying miles/points etc.) to get a good value reward, rather than just wasting several thousand on a points.com conversion or similar.

  • Avatar

    It’s a shame that the exchange rates at points.com are terrible but do act as a life line to some orphaned points in some circumstances.
    The other routes are equally as bad, maybe one day all airlines will be able to agree a universal cost per point and open up transfers.

  • Avatar
    Katie Wilkinson says:

    The only time I found transferring miles is helpful is when you only need a small amount of miles to be able to get an award ticket with another airline.

  • Avatar

    didnt know points.com. Could be useful if a little bit short on something.

  • Avatar

    Good summary, and I appreciate the honest cautionary words.

  • Avatar

    Is it possible to transfer united miles –> Marriott–>SPG–>delta miles?

  • Avatar

    I agree that the exchange rate for Points.com is terrible however I have used it in the past two keep my accounts active by transferring a tiny amount such as a few points.

  • Avatar

    Great suggestions. If anyone’s stuck for ways to activate an Iberia account (so you can transfer in/out of British Airways, Avios and AerLings), I paid a few pounds for a ferry between Schinoussa and Iraklia and entered my Iberia #FF. The miles turned up pretty quickly. I didn’t use the ferry!

  • Avatar

    Is there a reason points.com limits the list of airlines for which miles transfers can be done?
    It’s such a small list of airlines and I really wish there were more.

  • Avatar

    Or there are programs like Virgin Atlantic that let you transfer to Hilton for example

  • Avatar
    L. DiClemente says:

    A note on transferring Avios between Iberia and British Airways and vice versa…. you must have a few Iberia miles in the account and has to be older than 90 days…. plus, each account must have identical names and emails, otherwise transferring online will get hiccupped..

  • Avatar

    I transferred some orphaned Citi ThankYou points to Hilton points.

  • Avatar

    I have never found it worthwhile at all. I’d much rather extend the lifespan of a point with a $2 shopping portal bonus.

  • Avatar
    angelo fonseca says:

    In addition to an unsatisfactory conversion rate, Points.com options are very limited.

  • Avatar

    Another vote for points.com as a way to turn useless (and expiring) points into something I can at least USE. The exchange rate was terrible, but to me, the value of the points I traded away was ZERO so I was happy to get anything for them.

  • Avatar

    I know this is a unique case, but Virgin American transferred to Alaska currently runs at 1:1.5, which isn’t that bad.

  • Avatar

    Booking partner awards is a good way to go. One can also use orphaned points to buy stuff, maybe not things of great value but better than letting points expire.

  • Avatar

    Another great article. I once used points.com to transfer points . The transfer ratio wasn’t great but at least I could use the orphaned points .

  • Avatar

    Points.com has come in handy for me in the past, for disposing of obscure point-currencies that would otherwise have been forfeited, but yes, their exchange rates are bordering on criminal, and it seems like their rules about minimum transfer balances, etc., shift without notice.