If you're a newbie who has never earned free travel with credit cards, travel rewards programs can seem overly complex.
Some let you book any travel you want, then erase the purchase from your bill. Others let you use points to book travel directly through their portal. Then, there are programs that let you transfer points to airline and hotel transfer partners.
For the sake of simplicity, we'll focus on airline transfer partners today.
So how do airline transfer partners work and when does it make sense to transfer your points?
First, only some rewards programs let you transfer points to an airline. The most popular that offer this option include Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.
Let's say you have a card Chase credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards. In addition to having the ability to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you can also transfer points to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs that include Southwest Airlines, United MileagePlus, British Airways, Korean Air, Flying Blue and others.
In each of those cases, the points you transfer will ultimately belong in the frequent flyer program of your choosing. From there, rules and redemption policies of your chosen frequent flyer program will apply.
Again, airline loyalty programs tend to offer better value than traditional credit card rewards programs. You'll get the same flight in the end, but you'll fork over fewer points overall.
Still, you should take time to run the math before you transfer your points. Make sure to price out your flight as if you were paying in cash or flexible travel credit, then see how many points you would need with a frequent flyer program before you book.
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