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Update: You can no longer transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Amtrak.
One of the best tricks miles and points enthusiasts use is concentrating their efforts on collecting transferable points to use on award tickets, hotel stays, and more!
Instead of focusing on earning points in a specific frequent flyer or hotel guest program, folks who collect transferable points have many more options for how they use them!
That’s because you can choose to transfer your points to dozens of different programs.
Let’s look at why transferable points are a great deal along with some of the best ways to use them!
Why Collect Transferable Points?
If you’re not sure of your travel goals or want flexibility in redeeming your points, transferable points might be the best choice for you. As long as you’re not looking for elite status, a companion pass, or cash back, you’ll get more travel options by spending on credit cards that earn points which transfer to airlines and hotels.
And because you don’t have to move points until you’re ready to use them, you can be sure that the award ticket or hotel stay you want is available before you commit to transferring them to a specific program.
In fact, it’s better to wait to transfer points until you’re ready to book a trip. That way, you can change your plans if an award ticket or hotel stay isn’t available. With transferable points, you can easily choose a different airline or hotel chain in case your 1st choice isn’t possible.
And because so many airlines are part of alliances like oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam, you can transfer points to 1 airline but book award tickets on any airline that’s part of the same alliance. That’s great flexibility!
Many of the credit cards that earn transferable points have generous category bonuses for spending, which means you’ll accumulate points more quickly. And you can have several cards at once that all earn points in the same program.
Transferable Points Programs
1. American Express Membership Rewards
Here are the cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points:
|Personal Cards||Business Cards|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express||The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN|
|American Express® Mercedes-Benz Platinum||The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN|
|AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN|
|AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express|
|American Express® Gold Card|
|American Express® Green Card|
|Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.|
That’s a lot of cards! And remember, many of these cards have spending category bonuses, like up to 4.5 points per $1 you spend at supermarkets with the American Express EveryDay Preferred. Or 3 points per $1 you spend on flights booked directly with airlines with the American Express Premier Rewards Gold.
American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to partner airline frequent flyer programs and hotel chains. It can take up to a week for points to transfer, but in my experience it usually takes a day or two.
Here’s a list of their airline transfer partners:
|American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|ANA||Asia Miles||British Airways|
|Delta Airlines||El Al||Emirates|
|Etihad||Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)||Hawaiian Airlines|
|Virgin America||Virgin Atlantic|
And these are their hotel transfer partners:
|American Express Membership Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners|
Note: American Express charges an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99, when you transfer points to US airlines.
If you prefer, you can also use points to pay for travel directly through the American Express Travel website, or redeem them for gift cards.
We transferred American Express Membership Rewards points to fly Air France in Business Class to Papeete, French Polynesia on our 2nd honeymoon.
I like American Express Membership Rewards points because there are many ways to get them, and sometimes there are transfer bonuses that make your points worth even more.
2. Chase Ultimate Rewards
Link: Chase Ultimate Rewards
|Personal Cards||Business Cards|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Chase Ink Plus|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Ink Bold (No Longer Available to New Applicants)|
|Chase Freedom||Chase Ink Cash|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited|
|Chase Sapphire (No Longer Available to New Applicants)|
|Note: Points earned from the Chase Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink Cash cards can only be transferred to travel partners if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold card.|
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to partner airlines, hotel chains, and Amtrak! Points usually transfer instantly, except in a few cases (like Singapore Airlines).
Here’s a list of their airline partners:
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|British Airways||Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Korean Air|
|Singapore Airlines||Southwest||United Airlines|
And these are their hotel partners:
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners|
Points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, and Chase Ink Bold (no longer offered) cards can be transferred to airline and hotel partners. You can also transfer points from the Chase Freedom indirectly to travel partners if you have at least 1 of the other 3 cards.
And there are great opportunities to earn extra points with these cards, too, like 5 points per $1 you spend at office supply stores with the Chase Ink cards (where I like to buy restaurant gift cards), rotating 5X points category bonuses with the Chase Freedom (such as Amazon.com), or extra points on dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
There are no fees to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to airline, hotel, and rail partners. And you can use your points to pay for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
If you’re new to miles and points, Chase Ultimate Rewards could be a good place to start collecting transferable points. They’re easy to earn and use!
3. Citi ThankYou Rewards
Link: Citi ThankYou Rewards
These cards earn Citi ThankYou points, but only the cards in the 1st column transfer directly to airlines and hotels. Points earned from cards in the 2nd column can only be transferred IF you have 1 of the cards in the 1st column.
|Cards With Points That Directly Transfer to Travel Partners||Cards With Points That Transfer ONLY If You Have a Card From First Column|
|Citi ThankYou® Premier Card||Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card|
|Citi Prestige® Card||Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students|
|Citi Chairman||CitiBusiness ThankYou (No Longer Available)|
|Citi AT&T Access More|
These are their airline transfer partners:
|Citi ThankYou Points Airline Transfer Partners|
|Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)||EVA Air||Etihad|
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Garuda Indonesia||Malaysia Airlines|
|Qantas||Qatar Airways||Singapore Airlines|
|Thai Airways||Virgin America||Virgin Atlantic|
You can only transfer points earned from the Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, and Citi Chairman cards directly to airline partners. The Citi Chairman card is no longer available, but existing cardholders can still transfer points.
Having 1 of these cards enables you to combine your points from other ThankYou points earning cards (like the Citi AT&T Access More, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students, or CitiBusiness ThankYou card) with your Citi Prestige, Citi Premier, or Citi Chairman account. And then transfer them to airline and hotel partners!
There are bonus spending categories for these cards too.
There aren’t fees to transfer Citi ThankYou points to airline and hotel partners, but transfer time varies from a couple of days to weeks. So you might want to have several award redemptions in mind in case your 1st choice vanishes while waiting for points to transfer!
4. Starwood Preferred Guest
Only 2 cards earn Starwood Preferred Guest points.
|Personal Cards||Business Cards|
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express||Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express|
Starwood Preferred Guest has the most airline transfer partners, but no hotel partners (because they’d prefer you use your points at 1 of their hotels!).
And 1 of the best things about transferring Starwood points to airlines is that you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. So if you transfer 20,000 Starwood points, you’ll get 25,000 airline miles!
Here are Starwood Preferred Guest’s airline partners:
|Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners|
|Air Berlin||Air China||Air New Zealand|
|American Airlines||Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)||Asiana Airlines|
|Avianca||British Airways||China Eastern|
|Etihad||Flying Blue||Gol Smiles|
|Hainan Airlines||Hawaiian Airlines||Japan Airlines|
|Jet Airways||Korean Airlines||LAN|
|Miles & More (Lufthansa)||Qatar Airways||Saudi Arabian Airlines|
|Singapore Airlines||Thai Airways||United Airlines|
|Virgin Atlantic||Virgin Australia|
Starwood Preferred Guest points can be earned from the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Personal) and American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Business) cards.
While there aren’t any category bonuses for spending on these cards (except for an extra point per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels), the 5,000 mile transfer bonus when you transfer 20,000 points is a great deal!
Note: Starwood points can take up to 4 weeks to transfer, although in my experience transfer times are less than 2 weeks. But keep this in mind if you’re booking an award ticket, because the ticket you want might not be there when the points finally transfer! It’s always best to have a few different options.
Folks who are just starting out might want to consider Chase or AMEX 1st, because their points are easier to collect and transfer more quickly. But Starwood points are very valuable, especially if you take advantage of the airline transfer bonus!
If you’re looking for the most flexibility when redeeming points for Big Travel with Small Money, you should consider collecting transferable points. That’s because they transfer to dozens of hotel and airline programs, and you don’t need to move them until you’re ready to book a trip!
And it’s easy to earn points through credit card spending, because most cards in these programs have category bonuses that can get you extra points for every $1 you spend.
Which is your favorite transferable points program?
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