Million Mile Secrets reader, Anupam, commented:
Hi, I have 20,000 Turkish Airlines miles which will expire this year. How can I use the miles without flying Turkish Airlines?
Once miles are in a frequent flyer account, you unfortunately can NOT transfer them to another airline. But there other ways to use them.
I’ll give you ideas and tips for how to credit your miles in the future!
Credit Your Miles to Your Favorite Mileage Program
Link: Star Alliance Airlines
I’ve written about why you should credit your paid flights to airline partners instead of accumulating a small amount of miles with an airline you likely won’t fly again.
You can usually credit flights from all airlines in an alliance to 1 mileage program.
For example, you can credit your flights on Finnair, Qantas, or Royal Jordanian to American Airlines. That’s because they’re all in the oneworld alliance. So you can pool all of your miles into 1 place (American Airlines) where you’ll likely use them.
If an airline is NOT in an alliance, it usually has partner airlines (though there are a few exceptions).
Before you fly on an unfamiliar airline, check its airline partners (usually on the airline’s website). And credit the miles to your favorite partner!
What If It’s Too Late?
If you’ve already flown and credited your miles to an airline you won’t fly again you can NOT transfer them to another airline.
But you have other options.
Anupam has 20,000 Turkish Airlines miles. What can he do with them?
Redeem the Miles for Award Flights
According to their award calculator, Anupam could fly 1-way within Europe for 10,000 Turkish Airlines miles.
Or he could fly within the “Europe 2” zone for 10,000 Turkish Airlines miles.
He could redeem on partner airlines to fly within Europe.
Or he could fly within North America for 10,000 Turkish Airlines miles each way.
North America seems to include Alaska and Hawaii.
But 1st try their website.
For Other Mileage Programs
Most airlines have their award chart on their website. If you can’t find it, call for help. And ask which award flights require the least number of miles.
Some mileage programs, like British Airways Avios, require as few as 4,500 British Airways Avios points for an award flight. So it’s worth checking to see if you can use your miles to fly!
Most mileage programs will let you use miles to upgrade to the next class of service. And some will let you upgrade on partner airline flights.
The upgrades are usually restricted to certain types of tickets. For example, you can use Turkish Airlines miles to upgrade on Star Alliance airlines flights.
Another option is to use your miles for merchandise. Turkish Airlines has the Shop & Miles online store with lots of items for under 20,000 Turkish Airlines miles.
You usually will NOT get a good value for your miles. So only do this if you can’t use them for award flights.
Lots of airlines have an online store where you can exchange your miles for merchandise.
Car Rentals, Hotels, and More
With some mileage programs, you can redeem your miles to help offset the cost of car rentals, hotels, and other travel experiences.
You can use Air Canada miles for gift cards, hotel stays, merchandise, or rental cars. You can even donate them to help those in need.
You can use your miles for hotel stays, lounge access…even magazine subscriptions. A little digging also revealed you can fly in a cockpit simulator for only 12,500 Thai Airways miles!
Be careful, though. Even great programs will give you the option to redeem miles for car rentals and hotel stays at less-than-stellar rates.
Only redeem miles this way if you’re sure you won’t use them for award flights. Or if your miles are about to expire.
Or Keep Flying
If you find you’re close to an award flight with a program you don’t like, it might be worth it to credit another flight to the program. Just so you can get an award flight and be done with it! Because you’ll usually get the best value out of exchanging your miles for award flights.
Be sure to check the airline’s website to see how many miles you’ll earn for your flight before you do this.
You should NOT consider this if you’re trying to earn status with another airline in the same alliance. In that case, you are better off using your miles for 1 of the options above.
Airlines have loyalty programs to encourage you to keep flying with them. Once miles are in a frequent flyer account, it’s NOT possible to transfer them to another airline.
If you have a small number of miles in a program you won’t use again, see if you have enough for an award flight by checking the airline’s website or calling them. Because award flights will usually be the best value for your miles.
If you can’t, you can swap them for car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, or other options.
Consider crediting another flight to the program just so you can get an award flight out of it.
Before you fly on a new airline, always check to see if you can credit the flight to another airline in the same alliance, or to 1 of its partners.