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The Best Credit Cards With Transferable Points

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 10/26/2021 Eric Rosen, Carly Helfand
a small boat in a body of water with Ha Long Bay in the background © Getty

Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Condé Nast Traveler and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. We don't review or include all companies, or all available products. Moreover, the editorial content on this page was not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of Condé Nast Traveler's editorial team.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Frequent flier and hotel points programs make changes and devalue all the time, often hurting members’ ability to use their points with little or no notice. The best strategy to make sure these changes don’t hamper your award travel plans? Diversify.

Although many travel rewards cards are co-branded with individual airlines or hotel chains, four of the major credit card issuers—American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Citi—actually field their own proprietary loyalty programs whose points cardholders can transfer to many different airline and hotel partners.

Focusing on these credit card programs rather than directly on airline and hotel loyalty can help consumers in four specific ways. First, it means they’re not tied to a specific airline or hotel company, spending years amassing the points or miles necessary for free travel. Being able to transfer points to different airlines and hotels on a whim also means people will have more choices when it comes time to redeem their rewards. Many frequent flier schemes and hotel clubs have abruptly changed their earning charts and redemption rates for free flights and nights in recent years, too, so by earning transferable points, travelers can insulate themselves against these unexpected shocks to individual loyalty programs. Finally, banks are trying to attract new customers (and keep their existing ones) by offering some of the highest welcome offers ever as well as some unprecedented credit card perks, so those who are able to take advantage of these offers can really rake in the rewards.

Below, we’ve detailed the four major transferable credit card points programs, including their airline and hotel partners, the best credit cards associated with each, and how to transfer your points when the time comes.

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express launched its Membership Rewards program in 1991. Back then, it had just seven domestic airline partners, including some long-gone icons like Pan Am and Northwest. Today, however, the program has 19 airline and three hotel partners to which cardmembers can transfer their points.

To do so, cardmembers just have to log into their AmEx account, click on “Redeem Points” and the link for “Travel,” and they should see an option to transfer points to the program’s various partners. You must link your Membership Rewards account with the program’s various frequent flier and hotel loyalty programs, but after you do so, most points transfers take place instantaneously. AmEx also offers occasional transfer bonuses of 20 to 30 percent to specific partners that cardholders can leverage for more value. Keep in mind that point transfers are irreversible—so before you pull the trigger, be sure you really want to spend your points this way.

AmEx Membership Rewards points transfer at a ratio of one to one to most programs, but we’ve noted where that’s different below.

Airline partners:

  1. Aer Lingus AerClub
  2. Aeromexico Club Premier (1:1.6)
  3. Air Canada Aeroplan
  4. Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  5. ANA Mileage Club
  6. Avianca LifeMiles
  7. British Airways Executive Club
  8. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  9. Delta SkyMiles
  10. Emirates Skywards
  11. Etihad Airways Guest Program
  12. Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  13. Iberia Plus
  14. JetBlue True Blue (1:0.8)
  15. Qantas Frequent Flyer
  16. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  17. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel partners:

  1. Choice Privileges Rewards
  2. Hilton Honors (1:2)
  3. Marriott Bonvoy
Many AmEx cards give you access to Centurion Lounges, among other airport clubs, when traveling. © Courtesy American Express Many AmEx cards give you access to Centurion Lounges, among other airport clubs, when traveling.

The best cards for earning transferable Membership Rewards points:

The Platinum Card from American Express: 

This card charges a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), but cardholders receive a ton of benefits in return. In addition to Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credits, elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, and access to AmEx Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Priority Pass lounges, and a handful of other airport clubs when traveling, AmEx recently added a slew of other perks, including a $240 digital entertainment credit, a $155 Walmart+ credit, a $300 Equinox credit, a $179 CLEAR credit, and more (enrollment required for all aforementioned perks, terms apply). The card also earns an impressive five points per dollar on airfare purchases as well as prepaid hotel bookings through AmEx Travel. 

The Business Platinum Card from American Express: 

This card, which currently bears an annual fee of $595 (see rates and fees), will have a $695 fee come January to match the personal card. But like its sister card, it also comes loaded with perks. It shares the hotel status benefits, the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck and CLEAR credits, the lounge access, and more, and in addition offers a $400 Dell Technologies credit, a $360 Indeed credit, a $150 Adobe credit, a $120 wireless phone service credit, and more (enrollment required for all aforementioned perks, terms apply). Cardholders also earn 1.5 points per dollar on purchases of over $5,000 and on electronics, software, construction materials, hardware, shipping and other business-related expenses, with a cap of up to $2 million each calendar year. They also get a 35 percent refund on points redeemed through AmEx Travel for all flights on one designated airline, and on business- and first-class flights on any airline.

The American Express Gold Card: 

This card is one of the best for racking up Membership Rewards points since it earns four per dollar on up to $25,000 per year spent at U.S. supermarkets (and one point per dollar after that), and at restaurants—including takeout and delivery—with no cap. It earns three points per dollar on airfare and one point on everything else. Cardholders get up to $10 per month ($120 per year) in dining credits with partners like Grubhub and Seamless (enrollment required, terms apply). Plus, it has a slightly more reasonable $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). 

The American Express Green Card: 

Recently revamped to focus more on travel rewards, this eye-catching card earns three points per dollar at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), on travel, and on transit, including ride-shares and subways. It waives foreign transaction fees, and offers cardholders up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits toward a CLEAR membership (enrollment required, terms apply), and up to another $100 per calendar year toward lounge access through LoungeBuddy (enrollment required, terms apply). The annual fee is $150 (see rates and fees).

The American Express EveryDay Preferred Credit Card: 

This under-the-radar card earns three points per dollar on up to $6,000 in purchases each year at U.S. supermarkets, two points per dollar at U.S. gas stations, and one point per dollar on everything else. Each month that you use your card 30 times or more, you’ll also earn a 50 percent points bonus, which is a pretty fantastic earning rate for a card with a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees). 

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to World of Hyatt accounts, so you can cash in on a stay at the luxe Park Hyatt New York. © Courtesy Park Hyatt Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to World of Hyatt accounts, so you can cash in on a stay at the luxe Park Hyatt New York.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase launched its Ultimate Rewards points with just two airline and two hotel partners back in 2009. Since then, the program has grown to 11 airline partners and three hotel partners including major players like United and Marriott. To make a transfer, cardholders can log into their Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, select the credit card account from which they would like to transfer points, and then choose the “Transfer to Travel Partners” option from the tabs up top. They can then link their Ultimate Rewards account to their individual airline and hotel loyalty program accounts. After that, it’s simple to click on a specific partner, and then input the number of points to transfer. Most transactions take place instantaneously, which means you can locate an award flight or night before transferring points, complete the transfer, and then book it, all within a matter of minutes.

At first glance, Ultimate Rewards program might have fewer transfer partners than other credit card programs. However, what it lacks in numbers, it makes up for in quality. Chase boasts several unique partners including Southwest, United, Hyatt, and IHG. Another point in its favor: All transfers are at a one-to-one rate. On the flip side, Ultimate Rewards does not offer transfer bonuses frequently.

Airline partners:

  1. Aer Lingus AerClub
  2. Air Canada Aeroplan
  3. Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  4. British Airways Executive Club
  5. Emirates Skywards
  6. Iberia Plus
  7. JetBlue TrueBlue
  8. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  9. Southwest Rapid Rewards
  10. United MileagePlus
  11. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel partners

  1. World of Hyatt
  2. IHG Rewards Club
  3. Marriott Bonvoy

The best credit cards for earning transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

Chase Sapphire Reserve: 

One of the best all-around travel rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve charges $550 per year, but offers $300 a year in travel statement credits and comes with a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement. The card earns three points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, outside of Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards, which earn 10 points per dollar. It also earns 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase, 10 points per dollar on Peloton equipment, and five points per dollar on flights purchased through Chase. Additionally, the card provides lounge access to Priority Pass clubs at airports around the world and includes one of the most comprehensive suites of travel protections available.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 

With an annual fee of just $95, this card still packs a punch by earning two points per dollar on general travel purchases, three points per dollar on dining purchases, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases, five points per dollar on Peloton equipment and travel purchased through Chase, and one on everything else. It’s also offering a new $50 statement credit each account anniversary year to use toward hotel stays purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Chase Ink Business Preferred: 

The business version offers some outsize benefits for its $95 annual fee. Its welcome offer is currently 100,000 points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months. Otherwise, the card racks up three points per dollar on up to $150,000 of purchases in travel, shipping, cable, phone, internet, and advertising each year, and one point per dollar on everything else. 

Capital One Rewards

Capital One has dramatically improved its rewards program in recent years and currently works with 14 airline and three hotel transfer partners, giving cardholders even more flexibility when it comes time to redeem miles. It also recently improved its transfer ratio to 1:1 for most partners, significantly expanding the attractiveness of the program. The transfer process itself is easy: just log into your Capital One account and click on the “Rewards Miles” link below your points balance. From there, you'll be redirected to a page listing all the transfer partners—select the one you want and enter your frequent flier membership details to initiate your transfer. Here are the program’s current partners and the rates at which miles can be converted; they transfer at a ratio of one to one unless otherwise noted.

Airline partners:

  1. Aeromexico Club Premier
  2. Air Canada Aeroplan
  3. Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  4. Avianca LifeMiles
  5. British Airways Avios
  6. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  7. Emirates Skywards
  8. Etihad Airways Guest Program
  9. EVA Air Infinity MileageLands (2:1.5)
  10. Finnair Plus
  11. Qantas Frequent Flyer
  12. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  13. TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
  14. Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles

Hotel partners:

  1. Accor Live Limitless (2:1)
  2. Choice Privileges (coming later this year)
  3. Wyndham Rewards

The best credit cards for earning transferable Capital One Rewards:

Capital One Venture Rewards: 

This card has a $95 annual fee. You'll earn five miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One's travel portal. Plus, it earns a solid two miles per dollar on all purchases, which makes it a particularly good choice if you want to transfer miles to the program’s airline partners. Cardholders can also take advantage of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee refund every four years. 

Capital One VentureOne: 

The no-fee version only earns 1.25 miles per dollar, but it still earns the same five miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One's travel portal.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business: 

Like the Venture, this card has a $95 annual fee—note, that fee is waived the first year—and earns two miles per dollar on all purchases. It also offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement every four years. 

Transfer your Citi ThankYou Rewards points over to airlines like Virgin Atlantic for your next trip across the pond. © Getty Transfer your Citi ThankYou Rewards points over to airlines like Virgin Atlantic for your next trip across the pond.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi’s ThankYou Rewards program has added a whopping 16 airline transfer partners in recent years. ThankYou points transfer to all at a solid one-to-one ratio, though the paucity of U.S. airlines on the list might make it hard for some folks to find value easily. To make a transfer, you must log into your Citibank online account and then click the “Rewards” box on the right-hand side of the screen. Select “Redeem” to visit the ThankYou Rewards portal, and from there, you can transfer points to your linked airline accounts. Here’s the full list.

Airline partners

  1. American Airlines Advantage (through Nov. 13, 2021)
  2. Aeromexico Club Premier
  3. Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  4. Avianca LifeMiles
  5. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  6. Emirates Skywards
  7. Etihad Airways Guest Program
  8. EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  9. InterMiles (formerly Jet Airways JetPrivilege)
  10. JetBlue TrueBlue
  11. Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  12. Qantas Frequent Flyer
  13. Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  14. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  15. Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  16. Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  17. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel partners:

  1. Choice Privileges (1:2)

The best credit cards for earning transferable Citi ThankYou Rewards points:

Citi Premier

This card is an excellent option with a moderate annual fee at just $95. It earns three points per dollar on air travel and hotels, as well as at gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets. Everything else earns one point per dollar. In short, you can use it for just about anything and still get a good rate of return. 

Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Condé Nast Traveler and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Rates and fees for the American Express cards listed: The Platinum Card; The Business Platinum  The Gold Card ; The Green Card; The EveryDay Preferred

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