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Million Mile Secrets reader, Lindsay, tweeted:
What credit card can I apply for that will allow me to transfer points to American Airlines? I already have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.
Thanks for the tweet, Lindsay!
American Airlines has only one transferable points partner – Starwood Preferred Guest! You can transfer Starwood points at a 1:1 ratio, and get a bonus 5,000 miles for every increment of 20,000 points you transfer.
But there are lots of other airlines with different transfer partners! And remembering them all is not easy. If only there were a handy chart you could refer to when you needed this information!
Let’s take a look at the most popular airlines and their transfer partners in a clear and understandable way. And help you decide which points will be the most valuable to collect!
Know Which Points Transfer to Your Preferred Airlines
I love transferable points because of the flexibility that comes with them! But it can still be hard to figure out which miles & points to collect for your trip.
If you already have an idea of where & how you want to travel, and which airlines or alliances you prefer, it’s easier to decide which credit cards to apply for.
Knowing which airlines serve your home airport will help a lot in making a decision! Choose the points you earn by how useful they will be to YOU.
Here is a chart to help you along the way! It doesn’t include every single airline, but instead covers the most popular airline transfer options.
And remember, when you transfer points to an airline, you aren’t stuck flying ONLY that airline. You can also fly on partner airlines!
Make sure you examine the partners of each airline to see what works best for you.
|Airline||American Express Membership Rewards||Chase Ultimate Rewards||Citi ThankYou||Starwood|
|Air Canada (Aeroplan)||1:1||No||No||1:1|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||1:1||No||No||1:1|
|Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)||1:1||No||1:1||1:1|
|Japan Airlines (JAL)||No||No||No||1:1|
|Miles & More||No||No||No||1:1|
Note: The conversion rate for Starwood points becomes 1:1.25 when you transfer in increments of 20,000. That’s because you will receive a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners with a 1:1 transfer ratio!
Note: You can also convert other hotel points to some airlines for more miles. But the transfer rates are NOT good, and should be used as a last resort, or if you need just a couple thousand more miles for an award flight.
Only Certain Cards Can Transfer Points
Most of these points programs will only let you transfer your points if you have one of their annual-fee cards.
For example, I’ve gladly kept my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, even with the $95 annual fee, because it allows me to transfer ALL my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Big Travel partners, like United Airlines and Hyatt. Including the points I’ve earned with the no-annual fee Chase Freedom card!
American Express Membership Rewards
You can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to lots of great partners. But only certain credit cards are eligible to transfer points!
You can earn American Express Membership Rewards points with:
American Express charges a fee to transfer miles to US airlines. They have to pay an excise tax for the transfer, and they pass along the costs to you, the cardholder. You will pay 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99 when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to a US airline.
American Express Membership Rewards points usually transfer within 2 days, but can take longer depending on the airline.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
In order to transfer the points you earn with these cards to travel partners, you must first transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available).
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to transfer points from the Chase Freedom to a card which allows you to transfer them to hotel and airline partners. Transferring points is free to all transfer partners. But it’s not always instant!
Citi ThankYou Points
Like other programs, you can NOT transfer Citi ThankYou points from just any card.
Cards like the the Citi ThankYou Preferred or Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students do not have the capability to transfer points to airlines. You must combine those points with either the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, Citi Prestige® Card, or Citi Chairman (no longer available). Then you can use them with transfer partners!
You can do this by signing into the Citi ThankYou website and clicking on “Combine ThankYou Accounts.”
It is free to transfer Citi ThankYou points, but transfers are far from instant. The average wait time is 2 days, although it may take up to 14 days for the process to complete.
Starwood Preferred Guest
American Express Starwood cards; Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express credit cards earn the most flexible points for transferring to airlines. And Starwood does not have any card-specific transfer restrictions. As long as you have Starwood points, you can transfer them to airline partners!
You can transfer Starwood points to a lot of airlines that aren’t partners with any other program. Starwood has more than 30 transfer partners, which is more than American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards combined!
The only downfall is that Starwood points are hard to earn. There is no shopping portal, and there aren’t a variety of bonus categories. Beyond the sign-up bonus, the best ways to earn Starwood points are by spending at Starwood hotels.
There is no fee to transfer Starwood points, but points take the longest amount of time to transfer. Even though points usually transfer between 2 and 12 days, it can take up to 4 weeks! That’s a big deal if you have a certain redemption in mind and are afraid it will sell out!
Lindsay can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. And you will get a 25% bonus when you transfer Starwood points in increments of 20,000 to airlines with a 1:1 transfer ratio.
American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou require you to have certain cards before you can transfer your points to airlines. Starwood Preferred Guest is the one exception.
Which kind of transferable points are your favorite?