Award programs (whether airlines, hotels, or credit cards) are complicated if you’re not in the game. Most programs have tons of rules and restrictions, which can be confusing even for people who look at this stuff every day.
One aspect that can be especially confusing is when and how you can combine and transfer your points. In this article, I’ll walk you through how to combine and transfer flexible points between your own accounts, as well as from your own account to family (e.g., spouse), friends, and authorized users.
Table of contents
Table of Contents
How to Transfer Flexible Points From Your Account
There are currently 4 major flexible point programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. When you earn points in each of these programs, you can transfer those points to the loyalty program’s partners.
To highlight a more nuanced example, you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, transfer those points directly to Virgin Atlantic, and book an ANA flight because Virgin Atlantic and ANA are partners. Make sense?
In this article, I’ll focus on transferring points to airline and hotel partners. I’ll also cover the rules for each program, as each major flexible point program treats combining and transferring points from your account differently.
For each program, I’ll break it into 2 parts: I’ll first address combining points, and then focus on transferring points.
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards is a popular flexible point program for 2 reasons:
- It offers a useful lineup of airline partners to redeem your points with.
- Amex regularly offers transfer bonuses to some of its airline partners.
Some of the best ways to receive the most value with your Amex points involve transfers to:
- Virgin Atlantic, to fly ANA first class
- Etihad, to fly American Airlines business class
- Singapore Airlines, to fly Singapore Airlines first class
- Virgin Atlantic, to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Amex does a nice job offering its customers plenty of opportunities to earn points when spending money on its credit cards. What you may not know is that you can also transfer Amex points across accounts!
Amex Transfer Rules
The Membership Rewards program has a few rules that are important to know before transferring or combining your points. As you’ll see in this article, all of the flexible point programs have different rules.
If you are combining Amex points, you can combine points across your accounts. You are not allowed to pool or combine points earned by another person with Membership Rewards points.
If you are transferring Amex points, you can only transfer points to a frequent traveler account in your name. You are not allowed to transfer Membership Rewards points to another person’s frequent traveler account.
For example, you can transfer Amex points to your Etihad account, but you can’t transfer points to your spouse’s Etihad account.
It’s also worth noting that Amex requires you to transfer a minimum number of points when transferring to its travel partners, which are outlined in the table below:
Amex Transfer Partners (Airlines)
|Amex Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Air Canada||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Aer Lingus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1,000||1:1||Almost instant|
|British Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||1,000||1:1||Up to 1 Week|
|Delta Air Lines||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|EL AL||1,000||50:1||Almost Instant|
|Etihad Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|FlyingBlue AirFrance/KLM||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
Amex Transfer Partners (Hotels)
|Amex Hotel Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Choice Privileges||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Hilton Honors||1,000||1:2||Almost Instant|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
American Express has a nice lineup of both personal and business credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points.
Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)
|The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $2,700+ in value from the card every year. |
Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
|American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.|
With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.
If you’re a business owner, there are several Amex business cards that will earn Membership Points.
Hot Tip: In order to keep your points, you need to make sure at least 1 Membership Rewards account is open and in good standing. If you cancel or if your primary Membership Rewards account is canceled, you will lose your Amex points; they can’t be reinstated.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards is another popular flexible point program with a respectable line up of travel partners.
Although the program recently lost one of its most value airline partners in Korean Air, it gained JetBlue as a replacement, and there are several other travel partners that can be leveraged for value.
Chase offers several great ways to maximize its points, including transfers to:
- British Airways and Iberia, to fly American Airlines
- Flying Blue, to fly Delta
- Singapore Airlines and United Airlines, to fly Lufthansa
- Hyatt, for high-value hotel stays
Chase continues to innovate and offer customers an array of personal and business credit cards. Whatever your spending habits are, Chase has credit cards that earn points allowing you to access many high-value redemptions.
Chase Transfer Rules
Before you move your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the program has a few rules that are important to cover.
If you are combining Chase points, you can combine points with another Chase Ultimate Rewards account that belongs to you, your spouse/domestic partner, or joint business owner.
If you are transferring Chase points to a frequent traveler account, you can only transfer points to an account that belongs to you or your spouse/domestic partner, provided the spouse or domestic partner is an authorized user living at the same address. You can only make transfers to one authorized user on your account.
For example, you can transfer your Chase points to your spouse’s Ultimate Rewards account if your spouse is an authorized user on your account and you both live at the same address.
If you are transferring Chase points from a business account to a frequent traveler account, you can transfer points to frequent traveler accounts of business owners of the company who are also authorized users on the Ultimate Rewards business card.
For example, you can transfer your Chase points to your business partner’s United Airlines account if your business partner is an authorized user on your Ultimate Rewards business account.
Chase has the same minimum point transfer amounts for all of its partners, which are shown in the table below:
Chase Transfer Partners (Airline)
|Chase Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Chase > Airline)
|Aer Lingus AerClub||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|British Airways Executive Club||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM||1,000||1:1||1 hour|
|Emirates Skywards||1,000||1:1||New, pending reports|
|Iberia Plus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|United Airlines MileagePlus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
Chase Transfer Partners (Hotel)
|Chase Hotel Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|World of Hyatt||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|IHG Rewards Club||1,000||1:1||1 day|
|Marriott Rewards||1,000||1:1||2 days|
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. |
This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $450 annual fee.|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Easy earning at 1.5% on all purchases. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.|
Recommended Chase Cards (Business)
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.|
|Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the best no annual fee business cards.|
Citi ThankYou Rewards
Citi’s flexible point program, ThankYou Rewards, does not receive as much attention as Amex and Chase. But that doesn’t mean the program can’t provide you and your family serious value!
A few of the best ways to use Citi points include transfers to:
The travel award space is looking for Citi to step it up in the credit card game, because it’s currently falling behind.
Citi Transfer Rules
When you decide to move your Citi points, there are a few important rules to keep in mind.
If you are combining your Citi points, Citi offers the most generous policy of the flexible point programs. The ThankYou program allows you to combine your points with any other Citi ThankYou member.
After the points are transferred, the new points holder will have 90 days before the points expire. You can share and receive up to 100,000 ThankYou Points in a calendar year.
For example, let’s say you and a friend want to take a trip together. You can transfer your points directly to your friend’s ThankYou Rewards account, who can then use those points to book a flight.
If you want to transfer Citi points to another person’s frequent airline traveler account, the ThankYou program does not allow you to do so.
Citi, like Chase, has the same minimum point transfer amounts for all of its partners, which are shown in the table below:
Citi Transfer Partners
|Citi Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Avianca Airlines Lifemiles||1,000||1:1||Almost Instantly|
|Air France / KLM Flying Blue||1,000||1:1||2 Days|
|Cathay Pacific||1,000||1:1||24 Hours|
|Etihad Airways||1,000||1:1||6 Days|
|EVA Air||1,000||1:1||2 Days|
|Jet Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instantly|
|JetBlue Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instantly|
|Malaysia Airlines||1,000||1:1||No Data|
|Qantas Airways||1,000||1:1||2 Days|
|Qatar Airways||1,000||1:1||2 Days|
|Singapore Airlines||1,000||1:1||2 Days|
|Thai Airways||1,000||1:1||4 Days|
|Turkish Airlines||1,000||1:1||1-2 Days|
|Virgin Atlantic||1,000||1:1||2 Days|
While Citi doesn’t have as deep of a bench of credit cards as Amex and Chase, it does regularly offer high sign-up bonuses on its ThankYou Rewards-earning credit cards.
Marriott has the most expansive list of airline transfer partners with more than 40.
This is great news when you also consider the fact that Marriott offers a 15,000-point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer to an airline partner.
Some of the best ways to use Marriott points include transfers to:
- Aeroplan, to fly Star Alliance partners to Europe
- Alaska Airlines, to fly Cathay Pacific to Asia
- Japan Airlines, to fly its own metal to Japan
- Korean Air, to fly its SkyTeam partners to Europe
Make sure you maximize your earnings, as Marriott offers a number of ways to earn points from its credit cards to stays at its portfolio of hotels across the world.
Marriott Transfer Rules
When you decide to move your Marriott points, the rules are straightforward.
If you are combining Marriott points between accounts, you can transfer up to 100,000 points in a calendar year to another Marriott member whose account has been open at least 60 days. This is valid whether you are sending or receiving the points.
Separately, a new Marriott member may receive points after 30 days if the member has had qualifying activity on his or her account. The catch with transferring points is that you must contact Member Support to initiate the transfer.
For example, let’s say you and your spouse want to book flights for a trip, but your spouse doesn’t have enough points. You can combine the points in your account with the points in your spouse’s account. From there, you can book your flights.
If you want to transfer Marriott points to a frequent flyer account that is not your own, you are not allowed to do so. Instead, transfer your Marriott points to another Marriott member’s account; then that member can book a flight with the points in their account.
Marriott sets a minimum of 3,000 and a maximum of 240,000 points that can be transferred per day.
|Marriott Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio (Marriott > Partner)||Bonus Airline Miles|
for every 60k Marriott Points Transferred
|Transfer Time (based on pre-merger reports)|
|Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus||3,000||3:1||5,000||10 days|
|AeroMexico Club Premier||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||3,000||3:1||5,000||5 days|
|Air China Phoenix Miles||3,000||3:1||5,000||5 days|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||3,000||3:1||5,000||1 day|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||3,000||200:1||25||2 days|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|ANA Mileage Club||3,000||3:1||5,000||7 days|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|Asiana Airlines Asiana Club||3,000||3:1||5,000||10 days|
|Avianca Airlines Lifemiles||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|British Airways Executive Club||3,000||3:1||5,000||1 day|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3,000||3:1||5,000||10 days|
|China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|China Southern Airlines||3,000||3:1||5,000||3 days|
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|Emirates Skywards||3,000||3:1||5,000||6 days|
|Etihad Guest||3,000||3:1||5,000||5 days|
|Frontier Airlines MyFrontier||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|Iberia Plus||3,000||3:1||5,000||6 days|
|Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank||3,000||3:1||5,000||7 days|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||3,000||6:1||2,500||1 day|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||3,000||3:1||5,000||7 days|
|LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|Lufthansa Miles & More||3,000||3:1||5,000||6 days|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||3,000||3:1||5,000||6 days|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||3,000||3:1||5,000||6 days|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||3,000||3:1||5,000||6 days|
|South African Airways Voyager||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
|TAP Air Portugal||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus||3,000||3:1||5,000||10 days|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||3,000||3:1||5,000||unknown|
|United MileagePlus||3,000||3:1.1||5,500||2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||3,000||3:1||5,000||1 day|
|Virgin Australia Velocity||3,000||3:1||5,000||2 days|
Marriott currently has a number of personal and business credit cards, typically with generous sign-up bonuses too.
Recommended Marriott Cards
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - for a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.|
With the constant shuffling of airline partners, award redemption rates, and credit card restrictions, a valuable strategy is to earn points in all of the flexible point programs. That way when one partner leaves or the inevitable award chart devaluation occurs, you will have hedged your bets by not being stuck holding only 1 currency.
The Citi ThankYou program is starting to fall behind with its lack of credit cards and useful airline partners relative to other flexible point programs. Marriott has bolstered its program as well as having a lineup of important airline partners.
Chase has slipped a touch after losing one of its most valuable partners in Korean Air and replacing it with JetBlue. Amex’s stock continues to rise by having useful partners and offering transfer bonuses to partners like Virgin Atlantic on a regular basis.
Whether you are earning points by yourself, with a spouse/significant other, or you have the entire family involved, it’s important to know how to move your points around to help with booking your next redemption.