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One of the most asked questions in the points and miles world, and sadly one with one of the most disappointing answers, is: “Can you transfer your points and miles from different frequent flyer programs?”
Sadly, the answer is that you can't combine your points and miles between most programs. This is nuanced, however, and there are some exceptions and workarounds, but it's worth noting that the workarounds often destroy the value of the transfer due to the horrendous exchange rates.
In general, don’t plan on transferring your miles between different frequent flyer programs.
Avios Are The Only Transferable Currency
Avios is the only exception to transferring miles between programs.
The currency is shared by four major airlines. The first three are British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus, all of which are part of the International Airlines Group IAG. The fourth is Qatar Airways, which adopted the Avios program in early 2022.
All the programs earn the same currency, Avios, and all are members of the Oneworld airline alliance. You can transfer Avios earned with one program to another at no cost, instantly, at a 1:1 ratio.
Remember, Avios are unique in the points and miles world. It's important to note that free, rapid transfers at a 1:1 ratio between programs are unheard of elsewhere!
Previous Methods No Longer ExistPreviously, you could use Points.com and WebFlyer to transfer miles from one program to another. However, these transfers occurred at atrociously bad rates, removing all value in the process. It was only worth gritting your teeth and performing these transfers in rare circumstances, like when you needed just a dozen more miles for an award redemption, needed them now, and were willing to sacrifice value to gain it from a high-value redemption that you couldn't accomplish in another way.
Neither of these sites is currently allowing you to transfer frequent flyer miles or points between programs at present.
Transferring Hotel Points to Airlines
While you can't transfer frequently flyer miles between programs, such as moving American Airlines AAdvantage miles to Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, it is possible to turn hotel points into airline miles with certain programs. Again, the transfer rates range from bad to awful, but the options exist if you need just a few miles for a redemption.
Marriott Bonvoy offers the following transfers, which is likely the most well-known option:
You also can transfer points from Accor Live Limitless to airlines:
Best Western Rewards has these transfer partners:
You can transfer Choice Privileges points to these airline partners:
These are the transfer partners for Hilton Honors:
IHG One Rewards offers these transfers:
Melia Rewards offers a single partner:
Radisson Rewards points can transfer to these airlines:
You can transfer from Shangri-La Circle to the following:
These are the World of Hyatt transfer partners:
And Wyndham Rewards offers these:
Credit Card Points Are A Better Option
One thing to consider is the use of credit card points instead of focusing on airline miles. This is especially true if you do not travel regularly enough to earn elite status with an airline. This also holds true if you cannot commit to a single airline program due to your travel patterns.
If you find yourself in that situation, then committing to earning flexible credit card points is a much better option. Choosing flexible credit card points is ideal for these reasons:
- Flexibility: You can transfer your points to various airlines and hotel programs and redeem them for a flight. You can even opt to redeem them directly via your card issuer's travel portal, but you aren't locked into one program the way you are with an airline's frequent flyer miles. You can redeem them in the way that's best for your current vacation planning.
- Mimick elite perks: With premium travel rewards credit cards, you can get some of the benefits of airline elite status like airport lounge access.
- Get airline perks from its credit cards: Most airlines' co-branded credit cards deliver perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and more. This gives you some of the benefits of elite status without the effort of earning it in the traditional way.
Let's take a look at the main flexible points currencies.
American Express Membership Rewards
The points program of American Express, Membership Rewards can be transferred to 21 airline and hotel partners, redeemed in the travel portal, redeemed for statement credits on your bill, and much more. You can earn Membership Rewards with numerous cards, including these:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- American Express® Gold Card
- American Express® Green Card
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Capital One Venture Miles
You can transfer miles from Capital One to 18 airline and hotel programs. Other options for using your miles include statement credit, offsetting recent travel purchases, and booking travel through the portal. Some of the cards that earn Capital One miles include:
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- Capital One Venture X Business
If you have a miles-earning card and a card that earns cash back, you can combine those earnings, meaning these cards also can help you earn Capital One miles:
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase's points program is called Ultimate Rewards, and you can transfer these points to 14 airline and hotel partners. You also can redeem points with Pay Yourself Back, as a statement credit, or in the Chase travel portal — though this happens at different rates depending on which card you have. Some of the cards earning Ultimate Rewards include:
It's also possible to combine cash-back earnings with points if you have both types of cards, so you could earn Ultimate Rewards with these cards as well:
- Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Citi ThankYou Rewards
You can transfer Citi ThankYou Points to 14 airline and three hotel partners. You also can redeem points in the travel portal, for statement credit, or to pay with points when shopping at various merchants. The following cards earn ThankYou Points:
- Citi Premier® Card
- Citi Rewards+® Card
- AT&T Access Card from Citi
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card (not available to new applicants)
- Citi Prestige® Card (not available to new applicants)
Several Citi credit cards that are marketed as cash-back cards actually earn ThankYou Points, though you'll have access to fewer transfer partners if you don't also hold a points-earning card with an annual fee. These include:
While not a transferable points program like those above, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to 40 airlines. Most transfers happen at a 3:1 ratio, and many include a 5,000-point bonus in the destination account if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points. The following credit cards earn Marriott points:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
Booking Partner Awards
Even though you can't transfer miles between frequent flyer programs, that is not the end of the world. You have options when it comes to booking flights on one airline with the miles in another airline's loyalty program.
Realizing that they needed to meet their passengers' needs and that airlines don't operate every route in the world, airlines have formed multiple alliances and partnerships. The three main alliances are Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam.
- Star Alliance is the biggest alliance and features industry heavyweights like United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Avianca, and Singapore Airlines.
- Oneworld is another big player and features American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, and Qatar Airways, amongst others.
- SkyTeam is the other major alliance, featuring airlines such as Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM, Korean Air, and Aeromexico.
Using airline alliances is an excellent way for you to earn and redeem miles in one program when you fly on another airline. For example, you can use Air Canada Aeroplan points to fly on nearly four dozen airlines. However, it doesn't end there. Most airlines have other partnerships with non-alliance partners.
Take, for instance, one of the major middle eastern carriers, Etihad Airways. It's possible to earn miles from paid flights on Etihad or book award flights on Etihad with miles from American Airlines (Oneworld member), Korean Air (SkyTeam), and Air Canada (Star Alliance).
With an extensive list of partnerships, you have many options to use your miles to book a route. Not being able to transfer miles from one frequent flyer program to another won't be a roadblock if you understand how to use miles from one program to book flights on partner airlines.
Being unable to transfer your points and miles between frequent flyer and loyalty programs is an unfortunate frustration of the points and mile world.
However, this inflexibility should not be a deal-breaker for getting involved with travel rewards. With a little planning and strategy, you can select the right mix of airline, hotel, and credit card programs to give you all the flexibility you need.
Being able to transfer your miles freely would be the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, we can’t see that happening. Being able to transfer your points freely between programs would place the programs in direct competition with each other and drive the price of awards down. That is the last thing airlines want since it directly hits their bottom line.
A related topic is being able to share your points and miles with someone else within the same program. See here for our guide to sharing points and miles with others for free.
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