Not all points and miles are created equally. This can be good for consumers because it gives us options. Of course, 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.

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 cards are best for your travel needs. You can then create a strategy to get 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, which has the following partners:

Hotels

  • IHG
  • Marriott / Ritz-Carlton
  • 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.

They are the only issuer to be partners with three of the major hotel chains, including World of Hyatt. Hotel dwellers love Chase for this reason. 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,.

Even though Chase has just ten airline partners, they are all major domestic and international airlines. Southwest, JetBlue, and United are great domestic partners. They’re well known and popular with many travelers. Plus, you can go almost anywhere around the world with the international airlines.

The disadvantage with Chase is that they only recently started to offer transfer bonuses. Chase’s only transfer bonus is to British Airways at a 30% increase. This means that you will receive 1.3 Avios for every UR point transferred. American Express is the best issuer for this type of bonus. However, Chase is starting to compete and I am optimistic for the future.

 

American Express Membership Rewards Points

American Express is the inventor of transferrable points. They have the most partners in the industry:

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
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • British Airways
  • Delta Airlines
  • El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point)
  • 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

I always mention that MR points are the best for domestic and international airfare. Their list of partners shows why.

Delta, Hawaiian, and JetBlue highlight their domestic partners. These three airlines are familiar to many people and have been around for a long time. However, Delta’s SkyMiles are not a good 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 JetBlue are the better redemptions for domestic flights.

One disadvantage with American Express and their domestic partners is that Amex passes on a 6% tax onto consumers. This tax is levied on transferrable point issuers from the US Government. However, Amex is the only one that passes it onto consumers.

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

Another disadvantage with American Express is that they only have 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, assumming 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’s Thank You points are some of my favorites for international travel. While they don’t have as many partners as Amex does, Citi cards could be useful for the right redemptions. Citi has the following partners:

Airlines

Thank You points transfer to partners at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Aeromexico
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • 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 don’t have any hotel partners and they don’t have much representation with domestic airlines. JetBlue is their only domestic partner and transferring to them is not a valuable way to redeem points. Furthermore, they’re the only partner that does not have a 1:1 transfer ratio as well. This is probably Citi’s way to passing the tax onto consumers without telling them.

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”. They have a long way to go in every facet.

What I don’t like about Capital One miles is that they have a 4:3 transfer ratio with partner miles. In other words, 4 Capital One miles will transfer into 3 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 the following 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
  • JetBlue (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. Until recently, they did not have any domestic airlines either. But they added JetBlue (and a terrible transfer ratio) to their list on May 1, 2019.

Unfortunately, their 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.

 

Overlap

If you look closely at the four lists, many different airlines appear more than once. Those airlines are partners 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 three airlines that are partnered with all four transferrable points card issuers. Those are JetBlue, KLM Flying Blue / Air France, and Singapore Airlines. That means you can transfer any of the transferrable points currencies to these airlines.

Most airlines are partnered 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 partnered with Chase and American Express.

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

 

Final Draw

This post lists all the transferrable points issuers and their partners’ in one post. Looking at everything in one post will help you compare issuers and partners, 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 URs are the best for you. Alternatively, if you want to fly to London on British Airways, you can collect either Chase URs, Amex MRs, or both.

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