How long airline transfers take for Chase, Starwood, Amex points – Cheat sheet

by on Mon September 23, 2013 • 7 Comments
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Using credit cards that earn points you can transfer into multiple airline mile accounts is one of the best ways to increase the chances you’ll get the award flights you want.

Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest are the most popular programs for 1:1 airline miles transfer with dozens of transfer partners available (all listed below).

The biggest partners of Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards like United, Delta, and British Airways are pretty easy for transfers – most are instant or same day, which is ideal.

But for Starwood Preferred Guest, which has more transfer partners than any other, the transfer times vary widely, and the official guidelines are vague.

Fortunately a lot of people have tried transfers and reported their results on FlyerTalk forums. We at MileCards.com dug around and found reports that show how long the transfers can take by airline. They can change at any time, but this can give you a sense to help plan.

Chase Ultimate RewardsAmerican Express Membership RewardsStarwood Preferred GuestInfo source
Most popular
Aeroplan / Air CanadaInstantVaries - few days to weeksLink
Air France / KLM Flying BlueInstantVaries - few days to weeks
Alaska MileagePlanAbout 48 hoursLink
American AAdvantageWed and Sun morningsLink
Amtrak Guest RewardsSame day
British Airways AviosInstantInstantFew daysLink
Delta SkyMilesInstant24-48 hoursLInk
Frontier Early ReturnsInstant
JetBlue TrueBlueInstant
Southwest Airlines Rapid RewardsInstant
United Airlines MileagePlusInstantUnknown
US Airways Dividend Miles~3 daysLink
Virgin America ElevateInstant
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubInstant1-2 daysUnknown
Others
AeroMexico Club PremierUp to 14 biz days
Air Berlin TopbonusUnknown
Air China Phoenix MilesUnknown
Air New Zealand Airpoints2nd and 16th of the monthLink
Alitalia MilleMigliaInstantUnknownLink
ANA Mileage Club2-4 daysEvery other SundayLink
Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific3-7 days10th and 25th of monthLink
Asiana ClubUnknown
China EasternUnknown
China SouthernUnknown
El Al MatmidInstant
Emirates SkywardsSundays, but can be longerLink
GOL SmilesUnknown
Hawaiian AirlinesInstantUnknown
Iberia Avios4-7 days
Japan Airlines Mileage BankUnknown
Korean Airlines SKYPASSInstantLink
LANVaries - can be 4 weeks+
Lufthansa Miles & More1-2 times per month
Qatar AirwaysUnknown
SaudiaUnknown
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer3 business daysGenerally TuesdaysLink
Thai Royal Orchid PlusUnknown

Note: all transfer partners are 1:1 except (Starwood: United – 2:1, Air New Zealand – 65:1, LAN – 1:1.5, Gol – 2:1, United – 2:1) (Membership Rewards: JetBlue – 5:4, Virgin America – 2:1, El Al – 50:1, Aeromexico – 1:1.6).

What are the cards available to earn transferable points?

Chase Ultimate Rewards – The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the most popular to get started with, and people tend to like Southwest and United as valuable Chase partners. The Ink Plus and Bold are also useful if you have a business.

American Express Membership Rewardssee a list of cards here. The Amex EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred are the best for starters, and people who fly Delta will find Membership Rewards useful.

Starwood Preferred Guest – There is only one available, the Starwood American Express. People who like American and Alaska miles find it particularly useful.

Why does Starwood airline transfer take so many days?

Officially, Starwood transfers can take up to 2 weeks for domestic airlines and 30 days for international airlines. That’s because each airline Starwood partners with agrees to a different schedule for when it wants to receive the data dump of mile transfers. This data dump is then processed by the airline, sometimes manually, which can be time consuming, so they often process them in batches.

Some airlines only want to process the data twice a month. Others will do it overnight. And others will do it even less often. It’s maddening if you are planning an award trip right away. But it can work just fine if you’re planning to top off miles in an account you often use to redeem miles.

What is the official line from Chase Ultimate Rewards?

While Chase has fewer partners than the others, it is overall the most responsive with transfer times.

“In most cases, points are transferred the same day as your request. However, timing may vary depending on the participating frequent travel program and may take up to one week. To confirm your points successfully transferred, visit the participating partner’s website and log-in to view your miles/points.”

What is the official line from Membership Rewards?

American Express’ ‘official’ times are pretty close to reality, though ‘instant’ transfer partners carry a disclaimer they could take up to 48 hours to transfer, but that is rare.

  • Delta: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • Aeromexico: Allow 14 business days to complete a transfer.
  • Aeroplan: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • Alitalia: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • ANA: Please allow 2-4 business days for the transfer to be completed
  • Asia Miles: Transfer should complete in 3 to 7 days, but allow up to 90 days. See Important Information for additional information.
  • British Airways Avios: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • El Al: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed
  • Flying Blue: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 24 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • Frontier: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • Hawaiian: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed
  • Iberia: Please allow four to seven days for the transfer to be completed.
  • JetBlue: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.
  • Singapore KrisFlyer: Please allow up to 3 business days for the transfer to be completed.
  • Virgin America: Transfers will be made immediately, but please allow up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed
  • Virgin Atlantic: Allow 24 to 48 hours to complete a transfer.

What should you do?

While Starwood’s transfer times are a hassle, if you are transferring to top off your domestic program like American, Delta, or US Airways you are in good shape as it will happen in under a week. Also know Starwood does offer an ‘expedite’ option for 3,500 points. While this eats up the 5,000 mile bonus you get for every 20,000 points transferred, it can come in handy when you’re in a pinch. But if you plan ahead with the guidelines hopefully you won’t find yourself needing the expedite option.

Our favorite overall points for transferring are Chase Ultimate Rewards via the Sapphire Preferred. They are fast, have great partners (United, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Amtrak), and are easy to earn.

What is your experience? Let us know if you’ve had different transfer times when you got ready to book an award.

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on How long airline transfers take for Chase, Starwood, Amex points – Cheat sheet

  1. Willard

    SPG to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles took 13 days — but from 11th to 24th September (25th in HKG), so consistent with the twice-a-month schedule shown on the cheat sheet. Membership Rewards to CX Asia Miles took about 36 hours.

    Reply
  2. Dana

    Thanks for this! I was debating using Starwood or Membership Rewards for an xfer to ANA. I think the faster Membership Rewards posting is worth giving up the 5000 mile bonus from Starwood. So slow there!!!

    And there is no other transfer partner for American than Starwood yet?!? Really annoying they don’t have a good one like United and Delta do.

    Reply
  3. Jeff

    United probably takes less than a week because it’s a domestic airline. But I wouldn’t know as points are cut in half when you transfer from Starwood to United.

    Reply

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