Which Transferable Credit Card Points Are Best?

Which Transferable Credit Card Points Are Best?

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The best way to maximize your credit card rewards for travel is to earn transferable points currencies. However, the value propositions and specifics of the currencies are constantly changing. Every so often I like to take a big-picture look at the state of transferable points currencies.

In this post I wanted to share my general thoughts on the four major transferable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One. This includes sharing what I like, what I don’t like, and how I generally redeem each of these points currencies. I’d like to acknowledge that Bilt Rewards is another useful program, but I won’t be covering it in this post, as there’s not the same potential to build a portfolio of cards.

Let me start by mentioning that all four programs have a bit of overlap, so often the differences are nuanced. For example:

  • All four programs partner with Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Three programs partner with Air Canada Aeroplan, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Etihad Guest

We’re seeing more and more overlapping transfer partners, and that’s both a blessing and a curse — it’s bad because the programs have few unique transfer partners nowadays, but it’s good because it means you can pool points from different transferable points currencies toward the same redemption.

With that out of the way, let me share how I’m feeling about these programs.

American Express Membership Rewards

Here are the 20 Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners, including 17 airline partners and three hotel partners:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

Things I love about Amex points

  • Amex Membership Rewards continues to have the most transfer partners of these four programs
  • Amex offers transfer bonuses the most often of the four programs, which can really help you maximize the value of your points

Things I don’t love about Amex points

  • Amex is the only one of these programs that passes on a federal excise tax when transferring points to a US-based frequent flyer program; this isn’t a huge deal, but it’s something that other programs don’t pass on
  • Amex only lets you transfer points to a partner loyalty account in the name of the primary cardmember or authorized user (and the authorized user needs to be on your account for at least 90 days); you can’t gift points to others, including a spouse or household member

Where I’m seeing value transferring Amex points

  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club is a unique transfer partner that has some incredibly low redemption rates; the catch is that transfers sometimes aren’t instant, you can’t book one-way awards, there are surcharges on some awards, and the process of booking can be cumbersome
  • Air Canada Aeroplan is a valuable transfer partner, especially for award tickets on partner airlines with stopovers, and this used to be exclusive to Amex; however, now Aeroplan is also partners with Capital One and Chase, so that’s no longer a competitive advantage
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue can be useful, given business class transatlantic award pricing and availability
  • British Airways Executive Club is valuable for short haul awards, especially when there are transfer bonuses
  • Etihad Guest has some great niche redemptions
  • Singapore KrisFlyer continues to be a great program for premium cabin redemptions on Singapore Airlines, and all four programs partner with the program
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has some phenomenal niche redemptions, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus
Transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic for travel in ANA first class

Where I’m seeing less value transferring Amex points

Best cards for earning Amex points

American Express has lots of great cards, though I’d say the best for earning Membership Rewards points include the following:

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Here are the 14 Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, including 11 airline partners and three hotel partners:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
IHG One Rewards
United MileagePlus
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Things I love about Chase points

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards has the only useful hotel transfer partner of any of the transferable points currencies (that’s to say that transferring points to World of Hyatt is actually a good deal, unlike any of the other hotel transfer options out there)
  • Chase doesn’t charge fees for transferring points to any partners
  • Chase lets you transfer points to a member of your household, even if they’re not an authorized user on any of your cards
  • Chase lets you redeem Ultimate Rewards points at an efficient ratio toward a travel purchase (if you have the Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each toward the cost of a travel purchase through the Chase Travel Portal)

Things I don’t love about Chase points

  • Unlike American Express, Capital One, and Citi, Chase historically hasn’t had many transfer bonuses, though this is something that has improved in the past couple of years, as we’ve started to see bonuses
  • Chase doesn’t have as many transfer partners as some of the other programs; for example, Chase has 11 airline partners, but three of them overlap (Aer Lingus, British Airways, and Iberia), so really I only view Chase as having nine airline partners

Where I’m seeing value transferring Chase points

Transfer Chase points to Hyatt for stays at some great hotels

Where I’m seeing less value transferring Chase points

  • Given the 1:1 transfer ratio, IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy aren’t valuable transfer partners since their points aren’t worth as much
  • Chase lost Korean Air SkyPass as a transfer partner in 2018, and this was a huge loss, because in my opinion SkyPass was the single most valuable transfer partner that Chase had
  • United MileagePlus has been devalued in recent years that there aren’t many circumstances where it makes sense to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to MileagePlus

Best cards for earning Chase points

Chase has lots of great cards, though I’d say the best for earning Ultimate Rewards points include the following:

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Here are the 16 Citi ThankYou transfer partners, including 14 airline partners and two hotel partners:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
Citi ThankYou transfer partners

Things I love about Citi points

  • Citi has added several transfer partners in recent years
  • Citi doesn’t charge fees for transferring points to any partner programs
  • Citi lets you transfer up to 100,000 points per year to any ThankYou member; it doesn’t even have to a member of your household
  • Citi offers transfer bonuses with some frequency, which can really help you maximize the value of your points

Things I don’t love about Citi points

Where I’m seeing value transferring Citi points

  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue can be useful, and I ideally like to transfer points with a transfer bonus
  • Avianca LifeMiles is a program that offers great value for redeeming on Star Alliance carriers; while LifeMiles doesn’t always have access to all Star Alliance award space, more often than not I find a lot of value with this program
  • Turkish Miles&Smiles is an underrated program in terms of redemption value, both for domestic redemptions on United, and for transatlantic redemptions on Turkish; the catch is that the process of booking through Turkish can be a pain
  • While Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is far from my favorite program, it is the best value program for booking long haul Cathay Pacific first class awards of any of the partners of the four transfer programs
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands is a valuable partner, as it gets you more access to EVA Air business class award space
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has some phenomenal niche redemptions, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus
  • Citi has added Leading Hotel of the World Leaders Club as a partner, and this offers some great opportunities at luxury hotels
Transfer Citi points to LifeMiles for travel in Lufthansa first class

Where I’m seeing less value transferring Citi points

  • Unfortunately there’s no way to efficiently redeem Citi ThankYou points toward hotel stays or flights when booking as cash, as you’ll get at most one cent of value per point.

Best cards for earning Citi points

Citi has lots of great cards, though I’d say the best for earning ThankYou points include the following:

Capital One

Here are the 18 Capital One transfer partners, including 15 airline partners and three hotel partners:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
Capital One transfer partners

Things I love about Capital One miles

  • While perhaps minor, Capital One miles post to your account as soon as your purchase posts, rather than when the statement closes (or when the second statement closes)
  • Capital One doesn’t charge fees for transferring points to any partner programs
  • Capital One lets you transfer your miles to any other cardmember in the mileage program, making these points easily transferrable
  • Capital One has the newest major transferable points currency, so it’s great to see how the value of this has improved

Things I don’t love about Capital One miles

  • Capital One’s transfer program lacks unique partners; all of Capital One’s valuable partners are ones that at least one other program has as well
  • While Capital One’s cards are great for everyday spending, I wish Capital One had more cards that offered bonus points in certain spending categories

Where I’m seeing value transferring Capital One miles

  • Capital One is awesome for transfers to programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca LifeMiles, Emirates Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and more
Transfer Capital One miles to Flying Blue for redemptions in KLM business class

Where I’m seeing less value transferring Capital One miles

  • I used to think that redeeming Capital One miles for one cent each toward the cost of a travel purchase was a good value, but with mileage transfers now being 1:1 to a vast majority of programs, I have a strong preference for converting Capital One miles into airline miles

Best cards for earning Capital One miles

Capital One has several good cards, though I’d say the best for earning Capital One miles include the following:

How much are transferable points worth?

The above is my take on the pros and cons of transferable points, but how much is each point actually worth? People often disagree about which transferable points currency is most valuable, and that makes sense, given that we all have different redemption goals.

For example, if you’re a Hyatt loyalist then you’ll no doubt value Chase Ultimate Rewards points a lot, since you can transfer points 1:1.

How much do I value transferable points? At this point I value all four of them at 1.7 cents each. If I had to prioritize Amex, Chase, Citi, and Capital One points, based on my personal redemption patterns, how would I do so? The truth is that my prioritization of these currencies depends on several factors. I always try to earn as many points per dollar as possible, but what’s the tiebreaker?

  • I look at which points currency I have the lowest balance of, so I can rebuild that
  • I look at at what my future travel plans are, and which currency would come most in handy based on their unique transfer partners, history of offering transfer bonuses, etc.

My general thoughts are as follows:

  • Chase points put me most at ease, because I can redeem them for 1.5 cents each toward expenses; I love that World of Hyatt is a transfer partner, since that’s a unique partner that can be incredibly valuable, and I can never have enough Hyatt points
  • I’d say my second favorite currency is Amex points, thanks to the variety of partners, and the number of transfer bonuses we see
Transferable points are the key to traveling in comfort

Am I overvaluing transferable points?

Historically I’ve thought that I’ve taken a conservative approach to valuing points. Others value transferable points at two or more cents each, and personally I think that’s aggressive. At the same time, I haven’t lowered my valuation of transferable points in years, and I’m wondering if it’s time?

On the one hand, I feel pretty comfortable with my valuations. While some points currencies have been devalued, we also see quite a few transfer bonuses, which make up for many of those devaluations.

At the same time, we’re now at a point where you can earn 2x transferable points per dollar spent with cards like the Capital One Venture X Card, Citi Double Cash Card, Amex Blue Business Plus Card, so it does make me wonder if suggesting you’re getting a 3.4% return isn’t steep.

I guess it depends if you look at points valuation from the perspective of acquisition cost, or from the perspective of realistic redemption value. I’d certainly welcome some opinions on this!

Earn up to 2x transferable points on everyday spending

Bottom line

If you’re trying to maximize the points you earn through credit card spending, I highly recommend accruing transferable points currencies. In addition to these cards often having great bonus categories, having transferable points gives you a lot of flexibility with how you redeem points, as the points hold their value extremely well.

How do you view the relative value of the four transferable points currencies?

Conversations (21)
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  1. MMMM Guest

    Hoping someone can pls give me some advice. My Amex Plat annual fee is due to renew in the next few days. I really haven’t used the perks on the card in the last couple of years to justify the AF. I have membership points I need to keep active. What product(s) should I downgrade to that has preferably no annual fee, so I can keep my points? Based on my research, I should maybe...

    Hoping someone can pls give me some advice. My Amex Plat annual fee is due to renew in the next few days. I really haven’t used the perks on the card in the last couple of years to justify the AF. I have membership points I need to keep active. What product(s) should I downgrade to that has preferably no annual fee, so I can keep my points? Based on my research, I should maybe get the Everyday credit card? Can I just downgrade to that or would I have to open a new card? I mainly put spend on Chase cards. Might go back to Plat later when I travel more but not now. Thanks!

    1. MMMM Guest

      **Edit: on second thought, for credit history sake, I think I need to downgrade to something and not cancel the Plat card outright. So would they let me downgrade to the Everyday credit card?

  2. eponymous coward Guest

    I’m confused as to why Capital One not having unique airline partner is a weakness. Seems to me that being able to use their points in conjunction with another program’s points is a strength. You don’t NEED that AMEX BBP or Citi DC to get 2x, you can get a Venture or VentureX as your 2x baseline card and you have overlapping redemption options like Aeroplan, Asia Miles or Turkish. Having a lot of options...

    I’m confused as to why Capital One not having unique airline partner is a weakness. Seems to me that being able to use their points in conjunction with another program’s points is a strength. You don’t NEED that AMEX BBP or Citi DC to get 2x, you can get a Venture or VentureX as your 2x baseline card and you have overlapping redemption options like Aeroplan, Asia Miles or Turkish. Having a lot of options can make you pretty agnostic about WHERE the points come from…

    (If anything I think C1’s weakness is their hotel portfolio, Accor’s fixed value, Choice is worse than Citi, Wyndham is pretty niche now that Vacasa got nerfed. Arguably the worst out of all four you discussed.)

  3. CMX Guest

    As a pioneer in this, Chase has really fallen behind rather than taking advantage of the early head start to broaden the portfolio innovatively (like the LDW addition of Citi was cool!)

  4. GBOAC Diamond

    I've been a longtime Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder but recently I have had unfavorable experiences with transferring UR points to United -- they are supposed to transfer immediately but in recent weeks I've had one transfer (200K) stall and get canceled after a week, and a second transfer of 95K take over 2 days. OTOH two other transfers completed immediately. Chase told me that they don't guarantee immediate transfers and that they could take up...

    I've been a longtime Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder but recently I have had unfavorable experiences with transferring UR points to United -- they are supposed to transfer immediately but in recent weeks I've had one transfer (200K) stall and get canceled after a week, and a second transfer of 95K take over 2 days. OTOH two other transfers completed immediately. Chase told me that they don't guarantee immediate transfers and that they could take up to a week.
    Questions: Has anyone else experienced this with Chase. And is this specific to United or to other airlines as well.
    Not being able to know that a trnasfer will complete immediately makes a big difference in which currency to use:-(

  5. Khatl Diamond

    My valuation varies, as I feel forced to factor in customer service i.e., I don't want to spend on one card for expensive items where I want refund protection, extra year warranty etc. if it's going to be hard to get the credit card company to honor it. Or situations where I think an issue may arise and I'll need to raise a dispute. Factoring this in, Amex is streets ahead, then comes Chase, with CapitalOne following at a distance and Citi just lagging them.

  6. Andrew Diamond

    Great article!

    I'm not a fan of C1, but it's also worth adding the Savor Rewards card to the list of ways to earn for a $95 AF:
    * 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services
    * 3% at grocery stores
    * 1% on all other purchases.

    1. Khatl Diamond

      I'm not a huge fan either as their customer service leaves a lot to be desired, but the SavorOne is worth highlighting for the reasons noted... plus in addition they give 10% on uber and free uber one

    2. eponymous coward Guest

      10x Uber Applies for SavorOne as well with a Venture family card. Makes a nice power combo with an AMEX card that gives you monthly Uber Cash.

  7. Lam Guest

    I think Citi has a niche hotel transfer partner that is Choice with 1:2 ratio. You can get outsized value with some Choice properties in Asia and Europe. C1 and Citi also transfer 1:1 to Wyndham which can be good value to book Vacasa rental houses. Good article overall. Would be nice to add Bilt as Bilt has quickly become a very lucrative reward program to go after.

  8. Jed Guest

    I actually disagree about Delta being a useless transfer partner. I regularly get 1.5 to 2 cents per mile on domestic economy redemptions (and with my status I often get upgraded).

    1. Khatl Diamond

      You can get way more value on other airlines

    2. Khatl Diamond

      As an example, transfer to Virgin instead of Delta, and use Virgin to redeem on Delta. You'll get 3x+

    3. Khatl Diamond

      And that's excluding the transfer bonuses that regularly appear for Virgin, and which never happen on Delta

  9. Jed Guest

    I read through the entire article, and I never saw you answer the question about which points are best.

    1. misterpoppins Member

      Then you didn’t read close enough because the answer is, as always, “it depends”

  10. burktech New Member

    Nice article. I find Chase to be the worst due to the onerous 5/24 rule. I may never qualify for a Chase card again given my card purchase history. The other banks, I have a shot, although they are getting more difficult also.

    1. Bob Guest

      Lucky dropped the ball on Citi in regard to hotel stays. The 1:2 transfer ratio from Citi to Choice unlocks great value, particularly in Scandinavia and Japan. To say there is no way to efficiently redeem Citi points for hotel stays is simply not accurate. See Frequent Miler for details.

  11. Andrew L Guest

    "All four programs partner with Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer".

    Shouldn't Virgin Atlantic be on this list as well?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Andrew L -- Great catch, thank you!

  12. Jeff Guest

    Very Helpful article, laid out well. Thanks!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Khatl Diamond

I'm not a huge fan either as their customer service leaves a lot to be desired, but the SavorOne is worth highlighting for the reasons noted... plus in addition they give 10% on uber and free uber one

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burktech New Member

Nice article. I find Chase to be the worst due to the onerous 5/24 rule. I may never qualify for a Chase card again given my card purchase history. The other banks, I have a shot, although they are getting more difficult also.

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Bob Guest

Lucky dropped the ball on Citi in regard to hotel stays. The 1:2 transfer ratio from Citi to Choice unlocks great value, particularly in Scandinavia and Japan. To say there is no way to efficiently redeem Citi points for hotel stays is simply not accurate. See Frequent Miler for details.

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