A quick guide to transferable points programs

Updated 3/14/2017

Since I’m a points hoarder (explanation found here), I’m a huge fan of transferable points programs.  These are programs that allow you to transfer points to multiple loyalty programs at a fair exchange rate (typically 1 to 1).  By collecting points in these programs, you have the ability to book travel opportunistically.  For example, suppose you’re finally ready to book that dream trip to Australia and you find (gasp) that Delta has the best award availability (via their partner Virgin Australia, of course), but you don’t have a big stash of Delta miles. That’s not a problem if you do have a big stash of Membership Rewards, Diners Club, and/or Starwood points.  Further, while individual loyalty programs devalue regularly, transferable points programs provide protection against devaluation since you always have the option to transfer to other programs.

What follows is a resource: the basics needed for collecting, using, and preserving transferable points.  Please let me know any details I got wrong!

Earning points

Credit cards

  • Amex Membership Rewards: Amex EveryDay, Amex EveryDay Preferred, Blue, Blue for Business Update: This offer has expired and/or is not currently available through Frequent Miler, Business Green Rewards, Centurion, Enhanced Business Gold Rewards, Gold, Green, Mercedes-Benz Credit Card, Platinum (including Personal, Ameriprise, Mercedes-Benz, and Business), Premier Rewards Gold. Note Corporate Green, Gold, and Platinum cards may also earn points if the cardholder pays an extra fee for the privilege (typically $75).
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Cash, Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve. No longer available to new applicants: Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, Sapphire.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Prestige, ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier, CitiBusiness ThankYou. No longer available to new applicants: Forward, AT&T Access More.
  • Diner’s Club: Personal cards: Diners Club Card Elite, Diners Club Card Premier; Business cards: Diners Club Card, Carte Blanche Card.  None of these are currently available to new applicants.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card (both personal and business available). Marriott Rewards (personal and business) cards can also be used to earn SPG points.  Points transfer 3 to 1 to SPG.

Other options for earning points

    • Amex Membership Rewards: Bonus points through “Offers for You”; bonus points from partners (e.g. Uber), bonus points from miscellaneous Amex offerings.
    • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Shop with Chase (portal previously known as the Ultimate Rewards Mall)
    • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Citi offers bank accounts that offer ThankYou points as rewards and often offers signup bonuses for those accounts; bonus points from banking relationship.  NOTE: points earned from banking products are not transferable to loyalty programs.
    • Diner’s Club: ?
    • Starwood Preferred Guest: Starwood hotel paid stays; partnerships (Delta, Emirates, Uber), SPG timeshare offers.  All options for earning Marriott points apply here as well since points now transfer from Marriott to SPG at a 3 to 1 ratio.

Credit cards required to transfer points to loyalty programs

  • Amex Membership Rewards: Amex EveryDay, Amex EveryDay Preferred, Enhanced Business Gold Rewards, Platinum (including Personal, Ameriprise, Mercedes-Benz, and Business), Premier Rewards Gold, Centurion
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve. Note: cardholders who also have other Ultimate Rewards cards (e.g. Freedom) can transfer points to their premium card then to loyalty programs.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Prestige, ThankYou Premier
  • Diner’s Club: Any, as long as cardholder is enrolled in the Club Rewards program
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: No credit card is required to enable transfers to airline programs

Transfer partners

A full list of all transfer options can be found in the Frequent Miler Transfer Partner Master List.

Redeeming points for paid travel at better than 1 cent per point value

  • Amex Membership Rewards: Requires Business Platinum to get 2 cents per point value for eligible flights.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1.5 cents per point value with Sapphire Reserve.  1.25 cents per point value with Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Sapphire Preferred.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: 1.25 cents per point value towards airfare, hotels, cruises, and car rentals with ThankYou Premier card; 1.33 cents per point value towards airfare with Prestige card (and 1.6 cents per point value with Prestige card when used to purchase airfare on American Airlines or US Airways).  The Prestige card switches to 1.25 cents per point value in July 2017.
  • Diner’s Club: N/A
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: Starwood allows using points to purchase airfare, usually at a value of 1.5 cents per point or less. No credit card required. Pricing can be found here.

Other not-horrible uses for points

  • Amex Membership Rewards: Redeem for gift cards when they offer a significant discount on those gift cards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Bid on experiences; Redeem for gift cards when they offer a significant discount on those gift cards; Redeem for cash at 1 cent per point value.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Redeem for mortgage or student loan payments at value of 1 cent per point.
  • Diner’s Club: ?
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: Redeem for free SPG nights including: Cash & Points awards, 5th night free awards, and Nights & Flights awards; Bid on unique experiences; Convert points to Marriott 1 to 3!  For details see: Marriott SPG Complete Guide to Sweet Opportunities.

Moving points to family/friend account

    • Amex Membership Rewards: US cardholders cannot move their Membership Rewards points to other accounts. However, it is possible to transfer points to another person’s frequent flyer program if the recipient is an authorized user on your Membership Rewards credit card account.
    • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Chase allows cardholders to freely move points from/to their spouse or significant other living at the same address. The recipient must also have a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points.  For more details about moving Chase points around, please see: Chase point transfer rules made simple [Infographic].
    • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Citi allows ThankYou members to move points to anyone’s ThankYou account, but points will expire 90 days after transfer.  Citi limits you to transfer no more than 100,000 points per calendar year.
    • Diner’s Club: “You may not transfer Club Rewards points from your account to an account that does not display your name in full” (found here).
    • Starwood Preferred Guest: Starwood allows you to freely move points to others in your same householdFound here.

Keeping points alive

  • Amex Membership Rewards: Points do not expire as long as you have an open credit card that earns Membership Rewards points.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: If you cancel a card account that has Ultimate Rewards points, you will lose those points. Move points first to another account held by you or your spouse / significant other.  Alternatively, product change to a no-fee Ultimate Rewards card.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Points earned from a particular credit card will expire 60 days after cancelling the card. I recommend downgrading to the no fee ThankYou Preferred card instead of cancelling.
  • Diner’s Club: Points do not expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: Points expire after 1 year of inactivity. Use points, transfer points, or earn new points in order to reset the clock at least once per year.

See also: Banking transferable points and keeping them alive.

Last updated on May 25th, 2017

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

13 Comment threads
7 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
Best credit card combos: Cash Back - Frequent MilerBig balances: Piling up points and putting them to use - Frequent MilerGreg The Frequent MilerDaloChase point transfer rules made simple [Infographic] - Frequent Miler Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Notify of

I have the Citi Premier, Preferred and just opened a Citi Gold checking account. The Preferred points appear to be transferable to airlines ect I haven’t tried it yet but when I go to transfer it shows the preferred points as available to transfer. I have not accumulated enough points from the Citi Gold checking to see if those are transferable. From your previous article it would seem the would not be.


I have the exact same question… FM, you say TY points from checking account are not transferable to airlines, even if one has the credit card that gives the ability.

so what are these points actually good for???
why can’t we transfer points from Checking->Preferred->Airline?

thank you.


[…] Points […]


[…] Points […]


[…] offer for 100,000 valuable transferable points which requires only $3K spend doesn’t come along often.   I finally decided to double check my […]


[…] plenty of great uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, but the sudden change underscores the value of transferable points programs over airline specific programs.  Transferable points depreciate less than airline specific miles […]


[…] account holder transfer points to their choice of a number of airline and hotel programs.  See: A quick guide to transferable points programs.  My favorite transferable points program is Chase Ultimate […]


It would be good if you could update this article to reflect cards now available and cards no longer available . May I specifically suggest mentioning Marriott . Only so many hours in the day right ?
Thanks for your efforts .


[…] its game with those enhancements: Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase has everything you could want in a transferable currency: 1) A plethora of useful airline transfer partners; 2) Both high-quality and wide-footprint hotel […]


[…] A quick guide to transferable points programs […]