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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 CompareCards 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 Sapphire Reserve®||Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®|
|Regular Purchase APR||17.74% - 24.74% Variable||17.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)|
|Rewards||3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases||Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® for every $1 spent on other purchases*|
|Sign-Up Bonus||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||$0||None|
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® Card is the most popular to get started with, and people tend to like Southwest and United as valuable Chase partners. The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is also useful if you have a business.
American Express Membership Rewards® – see a list of cards here. The The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card* 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 Preferred Guest® Credit Card from 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 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. 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.
*The information related to the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.