Reward credit cards are very valuable, but learning how to receive the most value from points and miles is as important as earning them in the first place. And while volumes have been written on this subject, getting the most from points and miles can be summed up in one word: partners.
Nearly every loyalty program is intertwined in a web of partnerships, and those who understand these relationships are best able to leverage them. Here are the three ways this can happen:
Redeeming points and miles with partners
The simplest way to leverage partnerships is to redeem points or miles for a partner award. For example, United miles can be redeemed for awards on any of their partners such as US Airways or Air Canada.
Transferring points and miles to partners
Popular credit cards earn points in various systems, but sometimes these points can be exchanged for points or miles with airlines or hotels. For example, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program allows cardholders to transfer points to 9 different hotel and airline partners or Amtrak Guest rewards. American Express Membership Rewards offers over a dozen airline point transfer options while the Starwood hotels Preferred Guest program features over 30 different options. So not only can points be transferred to more valuable miles, but cardholders have the flexibility to choose exactly which program to send points to, depending on their travel needs.
It is even possible transfer points from one program to another, and on to a third. Here is where reward aficionados can perform their magic. For example, points from Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program can be sent to Hyatt’s Gold Passport. From their, Gold Passport members can transfer points to Southwest Airlines. But why not transfer points directly from Chase to Southwest? Points transferred from Hyatt to Southwest count towards companion pass status, whereas points transferred directly from Chase do not.
Another trick is to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic, and then to Hilton. When doing so, one mile in Virgin Atlantic transfers to two points with Hilton. There are other three way transfers, but these are the most popular and beneficial.
By opening their eyes to all of the partner award possibilities, reward credit card holders can use their points in more ways than they might have thought possible.