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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. However, you do 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.
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.
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)
- Icelandair Saga Club
- JetBlue TrueBlue®
- IHG Rewards
- 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.
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
- Which Flights Can I Book with Miles – Understanding Award Availability
- Airline Alliances & Partnerships – A Beginners Guide
- How to Find Partner Award Availability – A Complete Guide to Where to Search and How to Book
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
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
American Express Membership Rewards
- 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
Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
- Citi Premier® Card
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
- AT&T Access Card from Citi
- Citi Prestige® Card
Capital One Venture Miles
- 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 Spark Miles Select for Business
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card
Each program has high-value transfer partners that can exponentially increase the value of your points if used wisely.
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.
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.
Exchange rates are horrible on points.com
I used to credit hotels directly to BA/IB, or convert them regularly, but now I leave them in the hotel programme and keep track of their potential Avios value instead. My hotel points are my Transferrable Rewards – not that I have much in them…
I have a spreadsheet that shows what my B6 to IHG (via points.com) and then to BA Avios conversion would be if I ever needed it, and no, it doesn’t make sense – but at least I can see what’s possible.
Also an options (or was, is currently suspended) is SQ KrisFlyer to VA Velocity – 1.55:1.0 in both directions (used to be 1.35:1). Not sure if it’ll return, it’s been suspended since April 2020.
Soy adherente al programa de American Airlines y vivo en Argentina.
Hasta hace unos años juntaba millas con el Citibank, luego con el Banco Santander.
Tienen pensado que el programa de AA siga con algun banco de Argentina?
Muchas gracias por vuestra atencion
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.
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.
Hmm seems the exchange rate is very poor.
You are so right, the exchange rates at points.com are truly atrocious!
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.
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
Hi, its sound good and great idea. I can use soon! Thks
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.
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.
Transferring miles was something much more useful 20 years ago.
exactly : )
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.
This is the reason why you need to have flexible curriencies that transfer to multiple partners. Helps with devaluation as well.
If it were easy to move miles, the value of a loyalty program would diminish
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.
Hey Lucas, nothing has changed so far, but the LATAM-AA partnership will almost certainly end. It looks like Delta will replace AA as the airline to use for flights to the US if you want to earn LATAM miles
Makes sense, even when not my preferred option.
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
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 ?.
No, you’ll earn Delta miles on the purchase which aren’t transferable. Check the best cards to pay for airfare here – https://awardwallet.com/blog/card-use-purchase-airline-tickets/
These are some great ideas. Only wish I had know earlier
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!
I wonder if I can exchange my Spirit miles to a different Airline?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA. Let me know how that works out for you.
Not gonna happen. Too bad that points no longer have the individual exchange like they used to do.
points.com conversions are atrocious. IMHO Unless we are down to non redeemable amount of miles we should not be using that option.
A good guide for those new to the game. This question comes up every now and then.
I wish there was a easier way to transfer points/miles between program. May be it’s time for an industry standard.
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.
I try to only earn AS or B6 miles from flying, and keep everything else in flexible currency.
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.
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).
Thats what I love about flexible currencies. You’re never locked in to just one redemption possibility
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.
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
Unfortunately, no. You’re probably best using them at the SkyMiles Marketplace if you have no other use: https://marketplace.delta.com
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.
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.
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.
didnt know points.com. Could be useful if a little bit short on something.
Good summary, and I appreciate the honest cautionary words.
Is it possible to transfer united miles –> Marriott–>SPG–>delta miles?
Yes but the transfer ratio is oh so bad.
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.
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!
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.
The limitations have to do with the relationships they have with airlines.
Or there are programs like Virgin Atlantic that let you transfer to Hilton for example
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..
I transferred some orphaned Citi ThankYou points to Hilton points.
I have never found it worthwhile at all. I’d much rather extend the lifespan of a point with a $2 shopping portal bonus.
In addition to an unsatisfactory conversion rate, Points.com options are very limited.
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.
I know this is a unique case, but Virgin American transferred to Alaska currently runs at 1:1.5, which isn’t that bad.
Alan that is an excellent point. While it is indeed temporary, it is a great way to squeak out some added value while you can: https://awardwallet.com/blog/transfer-elevate-points-alaska-seconds/
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.
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 .
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.
You are right!