A List of Credit Card Airline Transfer Partners

It’s time for yet another list, this time focused on credit cards that permit transfers to airline frequent flyer accounts.

Put simply, these cards allow you to convert your credit card points to airline miles and then book flights, all without flying prior to booking an award flight.

However, you do need to join the frequent flyer program beforehand in order to transfer your points.

Typically, you gather frequent flyer miles by flying throughout the year (or years), but it often takes a lot of flights to earn enough miles to actually make a redemption.

However, credit card companies have made it a lot easier to redeem award flights by offering 1:1 point transfers (or even higher than 1:1).  This, coupled with their massive sign-up bonuses, makes a business class or first class award ticket a reality for most.

What’s nice about these cards is the fact that you don’t have to use your points for miles, but you have the option.  Compare that to airline co-branded cards where you’re often stuck with one airline (or its partners).

Now that we’ve explained some of the background, let’s see which credit cards actually offer this valuable benefit.

American Express Cards That Offer Airline Transfers

Card Issuer Card Name Annual Fee
American Express EveryDay Card $0
American Express EveryDay Preferred Card $95
American Express Green Card $95
American Express Gold Card $175
American Express Premier Rewards Gold $195
American Express Platinum $550

There are a variety of credit cards from American Express that allow points transfers to airlines, including some that don’t even charge an annual fee such as the EveryDay Card. Of course, you might be better off going for a card that offers a higher sign-up bonus and waives the annual fee the first year.

American Express Airline Transfer Partners

AeroMexico British Airways Hawaiian Airlines Virgin Atlantic
Air Canada Delta Iberia
Alitalia El Al Israel Airlines JetBlue
All Nippon Airways Emirates Singapore (KrisFlyer)
Asia Miles Etihad Virgin America

The downside to Amex airline transfers is the fee of $0.0006 per point for conversions into a U.S. frequent flyer program (maximum fee of $99).  You can get around this by converting to foreign airlines instead, some of which may have domestic partners.

Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Partners

This Amex-issued card (and its business version) are in a category of their own because they have a ton of transfer partners.  And by a ton, we mean 35 at last count.

Air Berlin Asiana Airlines GOL Qatar Airways
Air Canada British Airways Hainan Airlines Saudi Arabian
Air China Cathay Pacific Hawaiian Airlines Singapore (KrisFlyer)
Air France China Southern Iberia Southwest
Air New Zealand China Eastern Japan Airlines Sri Lankan
Alaska Air Delta Jet Airways Thai Airways
Alitalia El Al Israel Airlines KLM United
All Nippon Airways Emirates LATAM Virgin Atlantic
American Airlines Etihad Lufthansa

While there is a $95 annual fee, it’s waived the first year.  And you get a 5,000-mile bonus for each 20,000 miles you transfer to airline partners.

The downside is that the sign-up bonus on these cards is usually fairly limited, though a 35,000-point bonus is currently available through April.

The $5,000 minimum spend plus the 35,000 Starpoints equates to 50,000 airline miles if you take advantage of said transfer bonus.

Chase Credit Cards That Offer Airline Transfers

Card Issuer Card Name Annual Fee
Chase Ink Bold $95
Chase Ink Plus $95
Chase Ink Preferred $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve $450

There are only two Chase credit cards currently available for new sign-ups that allow transfers to airline partners.  That includes Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve.  The rest are legacy offerings that will likely be phased out over time.

Note that the Ultimate Rewards you earn via Chase Ink Cash or Chase Freedom/Freedom Unlimited can be moved to one of the cards above and then onto airline transfer partners.  This is one way to acquire more points, despite the lack of a direct transfer option.

Chase Airline Transfer Partners

Air France KLM Singapore (KrisFlyer) United
British Airways Korean Air Southwest Virgin Atlantic

As you can see, Chase doesn’t have a ton of airline transfer partners, but you can take advantage of alliances.  For example, you can use United miles to book flights on Aer Lingus or transfer Ultimate Rewards to British Airways, then onto Iberia and book American Airlines flights.  There are many possibilities so don’t be discouraged!

Citi Credit Cards That Offer Airline Transfers

Card Issuer Card Name Annual Fee
Citi Chairman $500
Citi ThankYou Premier $95
Citi Prestige $450

Like Chase, Citi only has a few credit cards that allow points transfers, but it’s better than nothing.  Prior to a few years ago this wasn’t an option at all…your cheapest option is the Citi ThankYou Premier and it’s $95 annual fee, waived during year one.

Citi Airline Transfer Partners

Air France Garuda Indonesia Qantas Virgin America
Asia Miles JetBlue Qatar Airways  Virgin Atlantic
Etihad KLM Singapore (KrisFlyer)
Eva Air Malaysia Airlines Thai Airways

So, there you have it.  The three card issuers above offer a variety of ways to gather a lot of frequent flyer miles in no time at all, even if you’ve never flown before.

However, there are some pitfalls involved with airline points transfers, including lags in transfer time and system glitches that incorrectly display seat availability.

Before you attempt to book an award ticket with credit card points, do your homework to determine the best airline transfer partners and their associated rules.

After all, point transfers are a one-way deal, so once you’ve converted them there’s no going back!

(photo: W&J)

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