If you’re already signed up to frequent flyer programs or credit cards and looking to get more bang for your buck, you should switch your focus to transferable points.
Points enthusiasts swear by this trick because you get to hold on to your points until you’re ready to fly, and then choose the company that’s offering the best rewards. Just because you earned points through a specific airline doesn’t mean you should have to spend them there.
What Are Transferable Points?
Some points programs only let you earn miles towards their airline. If you have an American Airlines credit card, then your points can only be used to fly with American Airlines and other members of the Oneworld alliance.
Transferable points programs let you earn points towards lots of different airlines and hotels. Every time you use the transferable point program credit card, you earn points that can go to flights, accommodation, or car rentals, among other things.
The Benefits of Transferable Points
Sometimes airlines re-organize their points programs, and in the process devalue your points by jacking up the number of miles needed to earn reward flights. When you use a flexible program, you have more protection against devaluing. If an airline or hotel devalues its miles, you can use your points with a different company.
Since airlines are competing against each other for your custom, they often offer transfer bonuses when you move your points from the program to the airline. You can double your points when you transfer as part of an offer.
How to Use Your Transferable Points
Each transferable points program comes with a number of different companies, so check whether your preferred airline or hotel group is available before you sign up. You earn points every time you use the credit card, usually 1 point for every $1 spent. Keep those points in your account until you need them.
When you’re ready to travel, check what airlines are offering the most generous deals on reward flights. You can then transfer your points to whichever program you want to use. You can also use them to book hotels and car rentals.
Most points programs offer extra incentives like free travel insurance or a free hotel night every year when you use their credit card.
The Best Transferable Points Programs
There are some points programs that offer you a lot more advantages than others in terms of rewards and flexibility. These are the best credit cards and business cards to earn transferable points.
‘Chase Ultimate Rewards’
Chase Ultimate Rewards are almost universally worth one cent per point, so choose this program if you want an easy way to keep track of your points and spending. They have 9 airline partners and 3 hotel brands to choose from, and offer bonuses like 2x or 3x points on travel and dining, depending on your card.
Cards: Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Business Cards.
‘Starwood Preferred Guest’
Starwood is owned by Marriott, meaning the accommodation options are Marriott and Marriott-owned hotels like Delta, Ritz-Carlton, and Renaissance. They have more than 30 partner airlines, the most of any credit card, offering you ultimate flexibility. The card offers a generous 75,000 point bonus if you spend $3000 in the first three months, and the $95 fee is waived in the first year so that you can try it out without any risk at all.
The best thing about this program is the huge transfer bonuses. Every time you transfer 20,000 points to an airline, you get an extra 5,000 points, for a total of 25,000 points each time.
Cards: Starwood Credit Card and Starwood Business Card, both from American Express.
The Citi card has 15 different airlines partners and offers a fairly generous 50,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $40,000 in the first three months. This program will work better for you if you use the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier cards, which give you a lot more transfer options among the program’s 15 travel partners.
They also make it easier to earn points with 3x earning on hotel and cruise line purchases and a whopping 5x earning on air travel and restaurants. If you already spend a lot of money on those things, then this card has serious advantages.
Cards: Citi Prestige Card, Citi Business Card.
‘Capital One Rewards’
The Capital One program has partnerships with 14 different international airlines, including big hitters like Air France, KLM and Emirates. As an incentive, you get a 50,000 point bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. The card earns 2 points for every $1 spent, which is a much better rate than many similar cards offer. However, be informed that you lose some of the advantages when you transfer to airline miles.
The card also offers 10x miles when you spend on Hotels.com, meaning you don’t need to be tied to one hotel brand and you can make money back on your annual vacation.
Cards: Capital One Venture Rewards Card, Capital One Spark Miles Business Card.
‘Amex Membership Rewards’
American Express has partnerships with 16 different airline partners and several hotel chains with branches all around the globe. There are dozens of different ways to earn points, and because it’s American Express, there are plenty of different cards available to earn them. Category bonuses include 5x points when you spend on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points at US supermarkets.
Depending on the card you sign up for, the welcome bonus varies between 10,000 points and an incredible 75,000 points on the business platinum card. If you do a lot of business spending on your card, the Amex program is a particularly good deal.
Cards: Amex EveryDay Card, American Express Gold Card, Business Platinum Card.
Your Ultimate Flexibility
Don’t limit yourself to just one option and get stuck with worthless points. Take your rewards to the next level by using transferable points to give you the flexibility you need!