Not all points and miles are created equally. This is great news because travelers have many options. Transferrable points are issued by banks for spending on their cards and can be transferred to  airlines and hotel partners for discounted (or free) travel. Such travel brings increased value, which is the whole reason why the points and miles “game” exists.

Furthermore, this post looks at each of the major transferrable points issuers and their transfer partners. By comparing them, you can determine which issuer’s “ecosystem” and credit cards are best for your travel needs. You can then create a strategy to earn more points more efficiently and travel for less sooner.

 

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

The Bank of Morgan has the fewest number of partners. But the name of the game is quality over quantity at Chase. Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points transfer to the following partners at a 1:1 ratio:

Hotels

  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • World of Hyatt

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • KLM Flying Blue / Air France
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Analysis

Chase UR points are so valuable because they nicely cover all three of the main types of travel: hotels, domestic flights, and international flights.

Plus, Chase is the only issuer that has partnerships with three of the major hotel chains. This is why hotel dwellers love Chase so much. But World of Hyatt is the only valuable option because Marriott and IHG’s points are worth less than 1 cent per point (CPP). You will be losing money and value if you transfer UR points to either of those partners,.

Furthermore, all 10 of Chase’s airline partners are major domestic and international airlines. Southwest, Jet Blue, and United are great domestic partners. They are well known and popular with many travelers. Plus, you can go almost anywhere around the world with the international airlines.

However, the disadvantage with Chase is that they do not have transfer bonuses. Chase’s only transfer bonus occurred in 2019 and it was with British Airways at a 30% increase. This means that you would have received 1.3 Avios for every UR point transferred.

 

American Express Membership Rewards Points

American Express has the most transfer partners in the industry, which makes their charge and credit cards very versatile. Membership Rewards (MR) points transfer to the following partners at a 1:1 ratio unless otherwise noted:

Hotels

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
  • Marriott

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
  • Air Canada
  • Air Italia Millemiglia
  • Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • British Airways
  • Delta Airlines
  • El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point) – no longer a partner as of January 1, 2021
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
  • KLM Flying Blue / Air France
  • Nippon Airways
  • Qantas
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Analysis

American Express’ partners show that MR points are the best for domestic and international airfare.

Delta, Hawaiian, and Jet Blue highlight American Express’ domestic airline partners. These three airlines are familiar to many people and have been around for a long time. However, Delta’s SkyMiles are a poor redemption for MR points. This is because you need a lot of them to purchase a flight and Delta does not post rewards charts. Hawaiian and Jet Blue are the better redemptions for domestic flights.

One disadvantage with American Express and their domestic partners is that Amex passes on a 6% excise tax onto cardholders. This tax is levied on transferrable point issuers from the US Government. However, Amex is the only credit card issuer that passes it onto consumers. Doctor of Credit (H/T) has reported that Amex is not charging the excise tax for the rest of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, Amex has the most international airline partners in the industry. Such quantity gives cardholders plenty of options. They can use other factors (such as flight time, class, and fuel surcharges) to decide which airline to transfer their points to.

Unfortunately, American Express only has three hotel partners. And none of the partners’ points are worth more than 1 CPP. Surprisingly, Hilton’s points have the best value at 1 CPP, assuming a 0.5 CPP valuation for Hilton Honors points. I wish Amex and Hilton would increase the ratio to 1:3 (1.5 CPP), increasing the value even more.

 

Citi Thank You Points

Citi Thank You (TY) points are also useful for international travel. While they do not have as many partners as Amex does, TY points could be useful for the right redemptions. TY points transfer to the following partners at a 1:1 ratio (unless otherwise noted):

  • Aeromexico
  • Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air
  • KLM Flying Blue / Air France
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue (5 TY = 4 True Blue Points if you do not have a premium Citi card, otherwise 1:1)
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Analysis

Citi’s specialty is international airlines. They have no hotel partners and just one domestic airline partner in Jet Blue. Unfortunately, transferring TY points to Jet Blue is not very valuable. They’re the only partner that does not have a 1:1 transfer ratio. Citi is probably doing this on purpose as a sneaky way of passing the US Government’s excise tax onto consumers without telling them.

Furthermore, the other partners all transfer at a 1:1 ratio and some of them also have transfer bonuses. This is nice for Citi because it helps them compete with Amex and give more value to their customers.

 

Capital One Miles

Capital One is the most recent issuer to enter the transferrable points “game”. As a result, they have a long way to go in every facet.

One of the biggest problems with Capital One miles is that they have a 4:3 transfer ratio with partner miles. In other words, four Capital One miles will transfer into three partner miles, a rate of 1.5 cents per point (CPP). The exceptions are Emirates and Singapore, which have an even worse 2:1 ratio (or just 1 CPP).

Capital One has one hotel partner: Accor Live Limitless (2 Miles = 1 Point)

They also have the following airline partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air Italia Millemiglia
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates (2 Miles = 1 Emirates Mile)
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air
  • Finnair Plus
  • Hainan Fortune Wings Club
  • Jet Blue (2 Miles = 1 True Blue Point)
  • KLM Flying Blue / Air France
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines (2 Miles = 1 Kris Flyer Miles)

Analysis

Capital One is another issuer that specializes in international airlines. And they did not have any domestic airlines until they added Jet Blue (and a terrible transfer ratio) in 2019.

Unfortunately, Capital One’s transfer ratios devalues their own miles, giving consumers less value for transferring. Capital One must introduce 1:1 transfer partner ratios if they want to be more like Chase, American Express, or Citi. Hopefully, Capital One will change their program for the better.

One positive is that Capital One has a hotel partner in Accor Live Limitless. But the transfer ratio is 2:1, which is horrible.

 

Overlap

There are a plethora of airlines that appear more than once on partners’ lists. In other words, those airlines have partnerships with more than one transferrable points card issuer. An airline having an exclusive partnership with an issuer is rare. One example of such a partnership is Delta and American Express, who have been partners for decades.

Conversely, there are four airlines that are currently partners with all four transferrable points card issuers. They are Emirates, Jet Blue, KLM Flying Blue / Air France, and Singapore Airlines.

Furthermore, most airlines are partners with two transferrable points issuers. This is great for fans of those airlines because they can earn multiple types of transferrable points and transfer them to the common airline. One example is British Airways, which is partners with Chase and American Express.

However, there are some airlines are not partners with any transferrable points card issuer. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are two notable examples. Both airlines have their own series of co-branded cards, which are the only ways to earn their points.

There is only one hotel chain that is partners with multiple transferrable points issuers. That’s Marriott, which is partners with Chase and American Express.

 

Final Draw

This post listed all the transferrable points and partners as well as provided a partner analysis for each issuer. Looking at everything in one post is a great way to compare issuers and partners, thereby letting you create a strategy for transferrable points. Base your strategy on which airlines and/or hotels you want to transfer your points to.

For example, if you want to transfer points to World of Hyatt, Chase UR points are best. But if you want to fly on British Airways, you can collect Chase UR points, Amex MR points, or both.