How to Value, Transfer and Redeem Credit Card Points

Whether via email, Facebook or Twitter I try my best to respond to every single reader question. Sometimes the answer is either too complex to answer via email or the topic is something I get asked about quite a bit and I think writing a post about it would be beneficial to more people. That’s the case with a series of questions reader Peter sent me recently, the answers to which I hope will be beneficial to newbies who read this blog and might have wondered the same thing:

Credit card wallet

I am trying to understand a couple topics more clearly and I’m still having trouble really grasping them.

1) Most importantly, I am having trouble understanding how to properly value and decide whether or not to use miles or pay cash – especially when the option is to both redeem miles as well as pay cash for a flight. I would like a lesson in how to decide between paying cash or using miles. If you could provide me a simple formula that I can refer back to, that would be very helpful.

2) I am befuddled by the complexity of booking flights when you aren’t booking directly with a travel partner, but rather, transferring those points to an alliance partner. I cannot find any resources online such as a cheat sheet for what airlines can transfer to other airlines – along with tips on how to effectively make those transfers. Sometimes I have noticed that transfers can be done simply online, and other times I’ve read that it requires getting on the phone. So, in this case, I would like an explanation on how this works and a cheat sheet if possible. 

How to Value Points and Miles

When it comes to point valuation, there are two ways to approach this depending on how you’re earning your points and miles. I earn the majority of my points and miles via manufactured spending, so the value of my points correlates directly to the amount of money I’ve spent earning them. For example, at the moment I’m generating most of my points and miles via Giftcards.com purchases, which comes to around $4.38 out of pocket per 1,000 miles. So when I’m redeeming my miles, I keep this number in mind and try to redeem them for travel purchases that would exceed this amount. 

People who earn their miles from credit card sign-up bonuses value their miles differently. There are universally accepted point valuations that most bloggers agree on, more or less. That’s a pretty good place to start if you want a guide for valuing points and miles.

When deciding between redeeming points and miles or paying cash for an airline ticket or hotel booking, most folks will multiple this value to the number of miles or points required and if its higher than the amount required for a cash booking, they’ll redeeming points or miles. I’ve actually created a few charts to determine when to redeem points or miles for certain travel bookings:

Credit Card Rewards Transfer Partners

There are three main credit card rewards currencies that can be transferred to frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Starwood Preferred Guest, Ultimate Rewards. Here’s a list of their transfer partners:

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

  • Aeromexico 
  • Air Canada 
  • Air France/KLM
  • Alitalia
  • ANA
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • El Al (50:1)
  • Emirates
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Jet Blue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic

Citi ThankYou Points Transfer Partners

  • Air France-KLM
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Airways Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Virgin America Elevate (500 Elevate for 1k TY)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Starwood Preferred Guest Transfer Partners

  • Aegean
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air Berlin
  • Air China Companion
  • Air France KLM Flying Blue
  • Air New Zealand Air Points (65:1)
  • Alaska Airlines MileagePlan
  • Alitalia MileMiglia
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Asiana Airlines
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern SkyPearl Club
  • Delta Skymiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways
  • Gol Smiles (2:1)
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank
  • Jet Airways
  • Korean Air Skypass
  • Lufthansa Miles and More
  • Qatar Airways
  • Saudi Arabian AIrlines
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways
  • United MileagePlus (2:1)
  • Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Virgin America Elevate
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

  • Air France KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Korean Air Skypass
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz Carlton Rewards
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

How to Transfer Credit Card Rewards Points to Airline Miles and Hotel Points

Transferring these currencies to a participating partner program can be done entirely online. Here’s the process for each one:

American Express Membership Rewards

  • Log into your Membership Rewards account.
  • At the top of the page, click on the “Travel” Tab.
  • Scroll down to the “Transfer Points” section and click on “Get Started.”
  • Be sure to link your rewards account number with your membership rewards account by selection “Link Now.” This is located in the instructions outlined right above the list of airlines.
  • On the next page, select “Link Loyalty Programs” which should be in a box along the right side of the page. Follow the steps to link your account.
  • Go back to the “Travel” Tab, scroll down to the “Transfer Points” section and click on “Get Started.”
  • Select the rewards program of your choice.
  • Enter the number of points you’d like to transfer, check off “accept terms” and hit continue.

Citi ThankYou Points (copied from UpgradedPoints)

  • Log into your Citi credit card account.
  • Click on the ThankYou from Citi box to go to the ThankYou points site.
  • Hover over Do More then Points Transfer.
  • Choose from the list of transfer partners by clicking “Transfer now”
  • Use the slider to select the number of points you want to transfer.
  • Fill in loyalty program information.
  • Agree to the terms to confirm the transfer.

Starwood Preferred Guest

  • Go to the Starwood Preferred Guest website and scroll down to “Transfer Air Miles.”
  • You’ll be prompted to login to your account if you haven’t done so already.
  • Select the airline you want to transfer miles to, type in your frequent flyer number and number of miles to be transferred.
  • Transferring points in 20,000 point increments will result in a 5,000 point bonus, so keep that in mind beforehand.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

  1. Login to the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
  2. Scroll to the “Use Points” tab and select “Transfer to Travel Partners”
  3. Scroll down and select the travel partner of your choice, enter your rewards account information, and you’re done!

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Ariana Arghandewal

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