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There is a lot of speculation about how long it takes for purchased or transferred points to post to your loyalty account. Earlier this year, AwardWallet set out to answer the question once and for all. In March, we launched a new feature called Balance Watch, which can monitor your loyalty account and let you know as soon as your points arrive.
After months of collecting data, we’re excited to announce that we’ve made point transfer and purchase times available to all AwardWallet members. In today's post, we're going to cover how you can use this new information and share what we've learned about buying and transferring miles while building this feature.
Point Transfer Times
Transferrable points from Amex, Citi, Chase, Capital One, and Marriott allow you to convert your points into more than 50 unique loyalty programs. Including programs that can receive points from more than one of these providers, there are over 100 transfer combinations. While some of these transactions process instantly, the majority take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to post to the destination account.
AwardWallet has published the average posting times for the major transferrable points and their partner programs. By default, you'll see the full list of programs covered by our Balance Watch data, but you can also use the search bar to view results by a single type of transferrable points or recipient loyalty program.
Point Purchase Times
Not surprisingly, many of our members have used the Balance Watch feature to track how long it takes for purchased points to post to their account. Although some programs process these transactions almost immediately, many are delayed from a few hours to a few days.
Why Posting Times Matter
If you’ve booked at least a few tickets with points or miles, you’ve probably experienced the disappointment of missing out on your preferred itinerary because award availability changed or someone else beat you to the punch. If you need to buy or transfer points to book an award, you can’t take action until the points post. We built the Balance Watch feature so that AwardWallet members could be notified as soon as their account balance changes.
Reduce the Risk of Losing Your Award
Once you have decided on an itinerary and verified that the airline operating your flights is offering award seats, it’s time to decide what type of miles you should use for your ticket. Although there are some exceptions, most airlines partner with many frequent-flyer programs, which means you often have more than one option to book your trip.
For example, if you want to book a Swiss Air Lines flight, you might use miles from United MileagePlus, Air Canada Aeroplan, or Singapore KrisFlyer (or any of the 26 airlines in Star Alliance).
If you need to buy or transfer points, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the wait by picking a program with faster posting times. If you have Amex Membership Rewards, you can book right away with Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles, but you’d likely wait around 36 hours to get your miles if you book with Singapore KrisFlyer.
Why it (Might) Matter Which Program You Use
When you have multiple options to book an award, there are often good reasons to prefer using one type of miles over another. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Close-in booking fees
- Total miles required
- Total out-of-pocket cost
- Change or cancellation fees
- Lap-infant ticket costs
If you think you may have to change or cancel your ticket, you might prefer booking with Singapore Krisflyer to lock in a $50 change fee instead of $125 with United Mileage Plus.
If you’re traveling with an infant, you might choose Aeroplan and pay a flat fee of $100 CAD instead of paying United 10% of the cost to buy a revenue ticket—especially for business class awards.
If your flight is operated by an airline that has hefty fuel surcharges like Lufthansa, you might book with United miles and pay ~$50 in taxes and fees instead of ~$450 with Aeroplan.
Finding the Fastest Transferrable Currency
In some cases, you won’t necessarily need to book with a different program to protect yourself from transfer-time risk. For example, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Etihad Guest both have at least one instant transfer partner, but if you transfer the wrong type of points, you might be waiting on the edge of your seat.
Are the Numbers Accurate?
The purchase and transfer times in our report are based on the average posting time detected by Balance Watch. Balance Watch checks the loyalty account it's monitoring every hour and records the time when the points or miles arrive. While we're confident the transactions are being recorded accurately, there are still a few reasons your experience could differ from our estimates:
Transfer Delays & Technical Problems
Anyone who transferred Marriott points shortly after the merger with SPG knows that an IT issue can wreak havoc. When transfer partners have technical problems, you can throw the averages out the window. As of now, we don't automatically detect and report unusual delays, but it's something we're looking into as a future improvement.
For a few programs that typically post purchases or transfers instantly, our estimate may be skewed towards the longest wait times experienced by our members. When everything goes right, and miles post right away, there’s no reason to use the Balance Watch feature, so we don’t collect a data point for the instant transfer. When miles don’t post right away, and Balance Watch is activated, we get a data point that reflects the “outlier” case.
Balance Watch is still relatively new, so some averages are based on a limited number of transactions. In cases where we don't have any data, we've provided our best estimate. If you hover your cursor over the estimated time, you can see how many transfers or purchases are included in the current average (or whether the estimate was added manually by AwardWallet).
Lastly, we rely on AwardWallet members to accurately report the details of their transfer or purchase. When you activate Balance Watch, you'll be asked how long ago your transaction was initiated. We don't include transactions started more than 24 hours before Balance Watch was activated in our averages. For transfers, we also ask about the source of the incoming points.
Although it doesn’t come as a surprise, one of the big takeaways from working on this project is that a well-diversified portfolio of points can give you a significant advantage. If you focus on earning transferrable points, you’ll have access to dozens of frequent-frequent-flyer programs and exponentially more partner airlines to find the best itinerary for your needs.
While it makes sense that many programs haven’t invested in instant transfers due to the logistical challenge of working with another party, we didn’t expect so many programs to have significant delays with purchased points—especially when they charge so much for the privilege of topping up your account.
While Balance Watch and our new transfer and purchase time report won't eliminate the chance of losing a ticket while you’re waiting for your points, we hope it helps you plan ahead and find the best strategy to minimize the risk.
Check out our new resource for transfer times and purchase times, and let us know what you think 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.
Sometimes they are too expensive
Maybe a data point … I’ve used Amex to transfer point a few times already – to : SQ, EK, BA, KL, and DL, the experience is consistent that the point will show up in a matter of a few minutes.
Thank you so much. So interesting.
Thanks for this service. This is the most comprehensive list I’ve seen. Another reason why I’ve used Awardwallet for so many years.
Great to hear Bob. This list will get more refined and accurate the longer it is up as we get new data points every day on transfer times.
AwardWallet tools are really valuable to reduce the chance of losing a ticket, but we have to keep an eye on it anyway to claim solution for possible errors.
This is such helpful information! I’ve always been hesitant to attempt to transfer between programs. Knowing this helps me understand it all so much better. Thank you!
Great Post, I have experienced some delays with AVIANCA!
What about transfers for hotel points. It seems that there are always offers to transfer marriot points into frequent flyer but not the other way around, why is that?
Great post, interesting to see the average purchase times
Excellent information to be able to transfer between programs.
Wow…this is very useful information. It seems like most transfers are not instantaneous. :/ I have experienced though, that Chase UR to British Airways Avios does complete in about 30 minutes.
Very useful information! Thank you very much!
Great info! For me it is a major headache to trace every loyalty program. Specially airline and hotel adward programs.
For my the best program is Avios, usefull and easy to move your miles within the avios group.
Thanks for sharing the useful information.
I was thinking about what to do for my expiring AA points and buying points was one of the options. Very helpful post!
I do love the tracking feature, nice job!
These days most transfers from most cards post pretty quickly.
So it looks like Amex is best for quick transfers.
Very useful, thank you! Certainly useful information for the future. Keep it up!
The table is great. As a rookie in moving points around we looked for something immediate. What would be a useful addition, and maybe it’s somewhere else, is how long do various airlines allow you to hold a reservation to get the points together, if they do that at all. Thank you for this data.
Very useful functionality. Thanks!!.
We buy points on a regular basis. AA has always been our go to, but recent devaluations have pushed us away.
You have supplied important and explanatory information which is greatly appreciated. I will be paying attention to this in the future.
Very timely this article on transferring points. Thanks.
This is incredibly useful information. Thank you!
This information can be very handy both when planning a trip and scrambling last second! My friend missed a flight in Shanghai and just assumed that he could book an award fare with Singapore Air only to find out his miles/points wouldn’t transfer for 2 days. Whoops.
That’s a great feature! Thanks!
Nice to see this tracked.
Timing is important. Showing these transfer times is important so as to not lose that ticket that one is hoping to score. Thanks for these timings.
Don’t forget you may have the option to call in and hold the reservation and can call back when the points show up.
I haven’t had to wait yet on any miles coming into my account. I know that some airlines allow you to hold a reservation still. I know that I’ve read that on some posts. Now I’m nervous about transferring and redeeming miles with an airline where I have to wait. I like that you’re tying to alleviate some worrying. Thank you! How many nails have ya’ll bitten off when you’ve had to wait and book?
I’ve only used instant transfers too: BA and Hyatt. Granted I don’t have the same concern for hotels as I do airlines.
This is really cool. Thanks for this and making it free. I’m very happy to generate ad revenue for you. 🙂
Very useful the transfer time table.
Anyway, I don’t undestand the line Avios -> Iberia Plus 4 days, 23 hours.
What kind of transfer it is?
I think that the move of Avios between BA, IB, Aer Lingus are immediate.
Hey Rosario, thanks for pointing that one out. This one is based on a single transaction, so it’s possible the person had an unusual delay with an Avios to Iberia transfer, or possibly that they chose the wrong account as the source of the transfer.
Thanks for explaining this!
Amex had a glitch on transferring points recently, all resolved now. Good to know average times.
this is very useful information. thank you!
This is game changing data!
Not sure about “game changing”, as many bloggers have dedicated posts to this topic for many years, but hugely useful in terms of tracking current trends. Another (helpful) enhancement to what is already, for me, the most useful website for our hobby.
Thanks Guys! Glad to hear 🙂 We’re cool with debate on whether it’s “game changing” as long as it’s helpful
Haha fair enough! Well, I was excited I guess 🙂
Thank you. I really appreciate this since I routinely use transfers to keep accounts active and like to wait until the last minute.
Just don’t wait too long. What is it really worth to have an expiration date one week later but risk a technical glitch and then lose everything.
Will bookmark this post for use when I need it.
Anyone idea on how long transfers from RBC Avion to AAdvantage take?
My miles will be expiring in February. The only match for RBC on the tracking page is for the RBC Royal Bank Visa to BA- even though the AA page lists this option: https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/partners/credit-card/aadvantage-credit-cards.jsp
This is really important information! There’s nothing worse than finding great award seats and having to wait for the points to transfer while hoping the seats don’t disappear. This is another great post to bookmark.
Anything that reduces the stress and increases the simplicity of life is very welcome in my world. And, this post just just that.
What an absolutely great and welcome post!!!!
Thanks for helpful info!
OK, I admit it: I am addicted to my CSR card. Points, lounges, etc. Love it. (sorry Amex).
Thank you! Great insight into transferring points.
For me, AMEX to BA has been very quick and a good use of my MR points.
My point transfers have been instantaneous, but points from shopping portal purchases sometimes take weeks to show up.
Weeks? took almost 5 months to get UA miles from their portal….
I’ve had issues with Best Buy where they never show up – both AA and UA. I never even get the emaul that my order is tracked so I have to contact them and request it manually. I have to do it now with United to get 750 miles and 2,500 bonus miles.
Thanks. This is helpful information. Marriott is one of the only programs, if not the only one, that allows you to hold awards for a lengthy period before transferring the points to your account. Otherwise, knowledge of the transfer time is key to locking in a coveted award.
The transfer times and purchase times lists are cool resources. My list of transfers is pretty select, but this is a great reference for those special occasions.
Similar. I’ve used Hyatt and BA and will use United at some point too.
What a great tool. Thanks
Great information! Thank you!!!