Promiscuous transfer partners

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Promiscuous transfer partnersMy favorite points programs, by far, are transferable points programs. These are programs where points can be transferred 1 to 1 (or better) to airline and hotel programs. This makes it possible to cherry-pick the best opportunities. If you earn points in only one loyalty program then you may find that flight awards or hotel awards are not available when and where you need them. With transferable points programs, though, your opportunities are far greater.

I’m also a fan of promiscuous transfer partners. These are the loyalty programs that make their points available to multiple transferable points programs. For example, Virgin Atlantic points are transferable from all five of the transferable points programs: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Diners Club, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). The value to this should be obvious: if you need more points to book an award, you can get those points from any one of the supporting transferable points programs. So, if you opportunistically earn transferable points when it is easiest to do so (via big signup bonuses, special promotions, etc.), you will likely find that you can scrape together points needed for an award by pooling points from multiple transferable points programs into a single promiscuous partner.

Promiscuous transfer partners, ranked by number of partners

Let’s look at the programs that are most widely available through transferable points programs. Since Diner’s Club cards are no longer available to new applicants, I’ll restrict this view to transfer partners of Amex Membership Rewards (MR), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), Citi ThankYou Rewards (TY), and SPG.

Shown below are all airline programs that are transfer partners with all four transferable points programs:
(Note: For a complete list transferable points programs, please see my Transfer Partner Master List)

4 Partner Airlines
Amex MR Chase UR Citi TY SPG
Air France / KLM Flying Blue Y Y Y Y
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Y Y Y Y
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Y Y Y Y

Shown below are all airline programs that are transfer partners with three out of four transferable points programs:

3 Partner Airlines
Amex MR Chase UR Citi TY SPG
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Y Y Y
Etihad Airways Y Y Y
British Airways Executive Club 250 to 200 Y Y
Virgin America 2 to 1 2 to 1 Y

Shown below are all airline programs that are transfer partners with two out of four transferable points programs:

2 Partner Airlines
Amex MR Chase UR Citi TY SPG
AeroMexico Y Y
Aeroplan/Air Canada Y Y
Alitalia MilleMiglia Y Y
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club Y Y
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Y Y
Emirates Skywards Y Y
Hawaiian Airlines Y Y
Korean Air Y Y
Qatar Airways Y Y
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus Y Y
United MileagePlus Y 2 to 1

With hotel programs, only Hilton is available from more than one transferable points program. Here are all of the programs available for transfers:

Hotel Program # of Transfer Partners Amex MR Chase UR Citi TY SPG
Choice 1 Y
Hilton 2 1 to 1.5 * 1 to 1.5 *
Hyatt 1 Y
IHG 1 Y
Marriott 1 Y
Ritz-Carlton 1 Y
Starwood 1** 3 to 1 Y**

* It is possible to transfer from Chase and SPG to Virgin Atlantic and then to Hilton at a 2 to 3 ratio.

** SPG isn’t technically a transfer partner with itself, but it seemed necessary to put a “Y” in that column anyway since SPG points can obviously be used to book SPG stays

Wrap Up

The tables above show the “promiscuous” programs.  These are the programs that are supported by multiple transferable points programs.  Of course, just because you can transfer points to a particular program does not mean that it’s a good idea.  Every airline and hotel program has its own award rates and rules.  And, especially with airline programs, the best program to use for booking an award is often not the airline you want to fly.  Thanks to partnerships and alliances, many flights can be booked from many different programs.  And, these programs differ both in how they price awards and in the taxes and fees charged.

To see a complete list transferable points programs, please see my Transfer Partner Master List.

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