Credit cards with airline mile transfer feature

by on Wed September 4, 2013 • 39 Comments

We’re often asked by readers “how can I top off my XXX miles account?” or “how can I combine miles?” An often overlooked tool is the handful of credit cards that let you transfer the points you earn from spending directly into miles of popular airlines with no fee except for small excise taxes. We have a complete list below, but before that here are three reasons mile transfer is something you should consider:

  1. Maximize the chances you’ll find a free ticket. By pooling your spending and points onto a credit card that lets you transfer points to airline mile programs you can have multiple options to get a free ticket. For example, if Delta doesn’t have the free ticket availability you’re looking for, you can transfer your points to American Airlines instead.
  2. ‘Top off’ existing mileage accounts. You may find yourself with 44,000 miles in your airline mile account, but need 50,000 miles for a reward. By having miles banked up in a credit card program that allows mile transfer, you can top off your account. ‘Gifting’ miles to friends or relatvies is also easier — you can often link the account of someone beside yourself when you transfer, letting you share your points. This works for American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards
  3. Take advantage of reward values. Not all airline miles programs charge the same amount of miles — even for the same seat on the same plane. For example, ANA’s program will let you travel East Coast to Europe in business class for 68,000 miles on United – versus 115,000 miles if you redeem via United’s program. Having points in a program that lets you transfer to multiple airline programs lets you take advantage of these opportunities.

Here is a list of the programs that let you transfer points to miles at about a one for one conversion rate (little dilution), and the credit cards associated with them, with annual fees in parenthesis:

American Express Membership Rewards

The Platinum CardCredit Cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express ($175), Platinum Card from American Express ($450), Green Card from American Express ($95)

Airlines available: Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America (1 Amex point = 0.5 Virgin America points) Cathay Pacific, JetBlue (1 Amex point = 0.8 Jet Blue), Air France / KLM, Alitalia,  AeroMexico, ANA, ElAl, Hawaiian, Iberia, and Singapore Airlines. Hotels include Hilton and Best Western.

Time to transfer points: Generally instant for Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, JetBlue; others vary up to a week.

Conversion rate: 1 point = 1 airline mile

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Credit Cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ($95), Ink Bold for Business ($95)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAirlines available: United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Airlines, Amtrak. Hotels include Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club (Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza), Ritz Carlton.

Time to transfer points: Instant

Conversion rate: 1 point = 1 airline mile

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood Preferred Guest American ExpressCredit Card: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express ($65)

Airlines available: Air Canada, Air Berlin, Air China Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways (ANA), American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates Flying Blue, Hawaiian, Japan Airlines (JAL), Mexicana, Lufthansa, Qatar, Saudi Arabian, Thai Airways, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic. Hotels include Westin, W, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton.

Time to transfer points: Generally takes up to one week. If it takes longer than 14 days, contact Starwood Customer Service to run an inquiry.

Conversion rate: Airlines listed above transfer at 1 point = 1 mile, but you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer.

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham MasterCArdCredit Card: Wyndham Rewards Visa ($0)

Airlines available: American, Delta, United, US Airways, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air Berlin, CSA Czech, Frontier, Spirit, Air China, China Eastern.

Time to transfer points: Varies –typically within 2 days for large US programs according to recent user reports. Officially they say to allow up to 6-8 weeks.

Conversion rate: Effectively 0.4 miles for every point you transfer. The card earns 2 miles per dollar spent, and points transfer to miles at 8,000 points ($4,000 in spending) converting to 1,600 miles.

Other factors to consider when transferring points

  • The time it takes to transfer — American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards generally offer instant or same day transfer, so you can find the award seat you want, then transfer the miles quickly to book it. Starwood can take a week or more, which may be a hassle if you have a specific date in mind.
  • Consider where you already have a stash of miles. Pick a card that lets you transfer into a program that you fly most often. Chances are you’ll already have a stash of miles to build on, and this can help you get there faster when needed.
  • Bonuses for transfers — Sometimes airlines will offer bonuses for transferring miles into their program. This happens most frequently with American Express Membership Rewards, and can net you substantial value for your points.
  • Alliances maximize your value — Nearly every airline mile program lets you redeem for flights on airlines beside the one that hosts the miles. This is because of alliances, and there are three main groups — Star Alliance (United, US Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA, Singapore, and many more), One World (American, British Airways, Iberia, JAL, Cathay Pacific, and more), and SkyTeam (Delta, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Korean, and more). Miles for any one of the alliance members can be used to book travel on flights operated by any other alliance member. The only catch is you can’t transfer points between airline accounts. The great advantage here is for example, with the Chase Sapphire, that offers transfer to Continental/United, and British Airways, you can book travel on every one of the Star Alliance and One World carriers.
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39 thoughts on Credit cards with airline mile transfer feature

  1. SanFranSusie

    I have approximately 250,000 miles on my CapitolOne MasterCard account. How can I use them for a specific Air France itinerary I have developed but not purchased? Thank you in advance for your assistance.


      @SanFranSusie – Just purchase the ticket with your card, and the 250,000 miles can be used to erase up to $2,500 of the charge.

  2. joe

    I have a capital one sparks card and wanted to know if i can transfer all my points to Air France flying blue miles for free ticket? I have around 120,000 points on the card.


      @joe – Unfortunately you can’t transfer your Capital One points to Air France Flying Blue. But you can use them to take up to $1,200 off the cost of any ticket you buy with your Spark card.

      1. joe

        Sorry one more question i have a amex gold can there point be transfer to the Air France Flying Blue miles? What is the ratio if they can be. Thank you

  3. mitch

    Hi, I have about 40,000 with chase mileage select. 129,000 with Delta american express. 60,000 with Korean US Bank card. what would be the best way to combine. I know that Delta always ask for more miles, and I want to change it. thanks very much for your advise.


      @mitch – Where do you want to travel? Best idea is to book one way flights. For example for a trip to Seoul, use United miles for one direction and Delta miles the other direction. They let you book one-ways for half the cost of a roundtrip.

  4. Lisa

    I have a chase united mileage plus explorer Visa card. United no longer flies out of the airport close to where I live. I would like to open a chase sapphire card to take advantage of the partner airlines. Can I transfer miles from my united mileage plus explorer card to a new chase sapphire card? Thanks.


      @Lia – Unfortunately no. You can move as many Sapphire points to your United account as you’d like, but not the other way around.

      If you truly have no use for United miles, you can use them for hotel and car bookings among other things via the United MileagePlus website.


      @Al & Bea – Unfortunately no you can’t transfer them out of your United account.

      However you can use your American Express points to book United flights – you can transfer them to Air Canada for example, which gives you access to United award flights.

      1. Lee

        I have 450,000 point on my American Express card. Our family would like to go to Italy this summer, it averages around 140,000 pts per ticket with the American Express travel program, with United’s program it takes 30,000 pts per ticket.

        Am I understanding correctly that I can transfer points from American Express to Air Canada to buy United tickets?

        Is the point ratio the same, for a family of 4 people, I would need to transfer 120,000 point from American Express to Air Canada?

        (It seems like I’m not understanding correctly because it would take 560,000 (4 tkts) with Am. Express and 120,000 (4 tkts) with United.)

        Please advise and clarify. Many Thanks!


          @Lee – For Western Europe, yes it’s 30,000 miles one way.

          The catch is this…

          Make sure the award seats you see available are actual United flights, not a partner like Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, or Air Canada. That’s because most non-United flights booked with Air Canada Aeroplan miles incur big fuel surcharges of hundreds of dollars per ticket.

          You can check ahead of time by creating a free account at and looking for your flights there. And make sure there are enough award seats for 4 of you.

          Then if you see space, go ahead and transfer from Amex to Air Canada Aeroplan. It’s a 1:1 exchange.

          If there is only space for 1 or 2 of you, you can consider booking those, then using the Amex program for the others.

  5. Celsa

    I have a Delta Skymiles from American Express. The regular one not the gold. Can I transfer the miles to the American Express Gold , the general AE Gold Card even though I know that I will have to pay around $150 for the annual membership.

    Thank you


      @Celsa – You can move the miles from the American Express Gold to combine with the SkyMiles account you already have.

  6. Hasanul


    I have chase sapphire preferred card (with 40,000 points), United mileage plus explorer card (with 30,000 points) and an american express premier rewards gold card (with 50,000 points). Is there any way to combine all this points to purchase a single ticket for a trip to Asia?

    Is there any way to combine/transfer points from the chase cards and the american express card?



      @Hasanul – Your best bet is to book two one way tickets. One direction you can use United miles (30,000 you have plus what you have from the Sapphire Preferred). Then the other direction use the American Express points for the return. You could for example fly one-way by transferring from Amex to Singapore KrisFlyer for 37,500 points.

      There are also a few airline partners shared by both Amex and Chase, and they include British Airways, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic.

      Where in Asia are you trying to fly, and where are you starting your trip?


          @Hasanul – For Bangladesh you’ll need 40,000 United miles one-way and can fly United, Thai, ANA, Singapore, or any combination. If you transfer to Singapore miles you’ll need 42,500 miles one-way (plus about $250 in fees) and can fly the same airlines as with United miles. Another option for your Amex points is AsiaMiles, which will cost you 40,000 points plus the fees, and you can fly Cathay/Dragonair + American Airlines.

          One thing to keep in mind – you can’t see Singapore Airlines availability on United’s website, so you’ll need to call to inquire or check for it on Air Canada’s site ( And for AsiaMiles, you can check flights using the British Airways website, or just call them directly.

  7. Valencia


    I am looking for 2 credit cards with different companies that will allow me to choose different companies to redeem my miles with. I want to get the Chase Sapphire preferred for the Chase ultimate rewards, but I’m not sure which additional one I should get. I want the other one to be able to transfer to United miles. Would the Green card from American Express work? Or the Wyndham rewards?

    Thank you very much,



      @Valencia – If transferring to United miles is a requirement then it’s tough to find anything that’s not from Chase. The Wyndham card effectively earns you 0.4 United miles per dollar you spend. The only other option is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. It transfers into United with a 2:1 ratio, with a bonus of 2,500 miles for every 20,000 points you transfer. So it earns you 0.6 United miles per dollar you spend. And you have the option to send to other airlines at a better rate.

      Here’s some more info:


      @Marty – Unfortunately no. However if your miles are in an Amex Membership Rewards account you can transfer them to Singapore or Air Canada to book United flights. Or you can transfer them to British Airways to book American flights. Make sure you call Singapore, Air Canada, or British Airways before the transfer so you know the right award price.

  8. joe carrero

    question: I have 30,000 miles on my Capital – Venture one card can I transfer them to my United miles plus account. Would opening a Starwood Preferred Guest card be of value in this case?


      @joe – Unfortunately no, you can’t move your Capital One miles into your United miles account. But you can use the points to book a United or any other flight. Your 30,000 miles are worth $300 in travel expenses on any airline, at any hotel, and more.

  9. Rose

    If I want to open a new Capital One Venture card and transfer my balance from my Citicard with AA miles- can I transfer the points I have earned to Capital One?

    1. MileCards

      @Rose – Unfortunately no, your AA points will not transfer to another account.

      But the good news is, even if you cancel your AA card, you will still be able to keep and use those miles, even after you no longer have the card.

  10. Kim

    I have a bunch of points on my Chase Southwest credit cards. However, I want to go to a place where AirTran/Southwest does not go. But United Airlines does. Can i transfer mileage to a United Airlines flight? I do not have a Chase United Credit Card however. Thanks for your wisdom.

    1. MileCards

      @Kim- Unfortunately you can’t transfer miles out of a Southwest card to United miles. However…

      You can still use Southwest points to go places Southwest doesn’t fly, including on United Airlines. Just go to this page and you’ll be able to search for flights to Hawaii and International destinations

      For places in the Caribbean or Mexico you can try transferring your points to AirTran, which does fly to many destinations there.

  11. Poppy K.

    I feel so silly! I can’t seem to wrap my head around the best way to do this. I have 75,000 miles on a Venture One Capital Card. The flights to Italy are 150k miles. Does that seem like a lot??

    Can I transfer these miles to a better card or is there a card I should open and transfer them to Venture Capital one? How can I find out where else to redeem my miles besides the Venture Capital One Website?

    1. MileCards

      @Poppy – Capital One Venture miles are always worth the same, no matter what the flight is. Each point is worth one cent toward the cost of a flight or other travel purchase you make with the card. So you have $750 worth of miles that can be applied as statement credit against travel purchases.

      The only catch is, you have to have enough miles in your account to cover the full cost of the purchase item you want removed from your statement. So…sounds like the tickets to Italy you want cost $1,500 in cash (which would be 150,000 points). Your options would be to find a cheaper ticket to Italy at another time or on a different airline, though finding one that’s $750 or less could be tough. The other option would be to use the miles for other travel purchases that are $750 or less, like hotel rooms while you are in Italy.

  12. Shawn

    I travel to south africa often my question is I haveafriendwillingtogive me Amex points now and I’m not sure of my next flight which airline should I put it in flying blue? Air Canada which is partners with saa? Or a different one

    1. MileCards

      @Shawn – Can your friend wait and do the transfer when you’re ready to book your trip? Best idea is to do a search for the dates you’re interested in — see if it’s available, then do the transfer and book. You can check Air Canada partners at online anytime without any special login.

      For Flying Blue you’ll need to setup a free account, but once you do that searching for reward availability is quite simple online.

      Flying Blue tends to have more reasonable change fees (about 45 euros, vs $90 for Air Canada).

      Flying Blue requires 80,000 miles from the US to South Africa, Aeroplan Air Canada requires 100,000 miles.

      1. Shawn

        He wants to do it now the question is will there usually be more availability on aero plan bc south African air is a partner or is Kim also good to africa

        1. MileCards

          @Shawn – Take a look at and do a search on dates you might consider. Looking from here it seems South African has decent availability on its nonstop out of New York. If your friend is willing to transfer a full 100,000 miles then might as well try for that.

  13. nicholas

    Q1. I have a large balance of miles with USAIR. can i transfer them into the Chase Preferred program?

    Q2. assuming that I have a balance with Chase Preferred and none with USAIR if i want to fly with USAIR to Paris from the USA would I be charged the “partner” milage rate by USAIR or the “native” rate ?

    Q3. I have a $25,000 credit limit with USAIR Visa. Would I be able to have the same credit limit with Chase Prefered. ( i pay off my balance in full each month, and between my wife and myself spend about $6/7000 a month)

    1. MileCards

      @nicholas –

      Q1 – No, you can’t transfer points into the Sapphire Preferred’s Ultimate Rewards program from other airlines, just out.

      Q2 – If you wanted to fly on US Air with points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred you would actually transfer the miles to United. You can’t transfer them directly to US Air. However once they are in United miles you can use those miles to book reward tickets on US Airways flights. That’s because United and US Airways are partners. It’s 60,000 miles roundtrip for a ‘saver’ coach ticket from the US to Europe with United miles on its own flights or any of its partners.

      Q3 – The credit limit varies for each card, and the US Air card is issued by a different bank than the Chase cards.


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