Award Tickets 101: Transferring Miles Between Airlines

For my next installment of Award Tickets 101, I want to focus on transferring miles and points between airlines. The question usually goes something like this:

“I have 38,000 miles with X airline, but Y airline has the award ticket I want to book. How do I transfer my X miles to Y?”

This question is largely dependent on the airlines you are looking to transfer between, but almost always offers exceptionally poor value.

To start with, you need to make sure that the airline you are looking to transfer your miles between allows you to transfer out your miles anywhere. For this I usually use the WebFlyer Mileage Converter tool. The tool allows you to determine not only if your transfer is even possible, but also how you would go about completing the transfer and what your total balance would be at the end of the transfers. Keep in mind that the tool assumes you have options available like a Diner’s Club credit card, so be sure you are checking the specifics first. You can also sign up for a free account with Points Loyalty Wallet which will allow you to exchange certain miles/points between programs.

Spoiler alert – even if you can transfer your miles, you are going to end up with 1/5th or less of the original miles/points you started out with.

So let’s take a look at some of the transfers so you can understand just how bad these options are. Let’s say you have 38,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles but want to book a FlyingBlue award ticket instead. Looking at the converter tool, we can see that both programs are options to select.

Transfers 1

After selecting the programs you are looking to transfer between, simply enter in the points balance you are looking to transfer and click ‘continue.’ From there the tool will give you a list of ways to transfer your miles between the two programs.

Transfers 2

Transfers 3

By click on the ‘* Click here to read important information related to this transfer option > > >’ link below the path, you will get a full breakdown of the steps to achieve your transfer.

Transfers 4

The page that outlines your transfer steps looks like this:

Transfers 5

As you can see, your 38,000 AA miles will net you a whole 9,000 FlyingBlue miles with 8,000 AA miles left over. Essentially you are receiving 9,000 FlyingBlue miles for 30,000 AA miles – one of the better transfer redemptions, but by no means a value.

Remember too that airlines will often let you book award flights on their partners, though those partner award options may not always appear on the airline’s award search page. This can oftentimes be an effective way of obtaining an award ticket that works for your award travel needs.

Transfers 6

Final Thoughts

While in certain instances you can transfer your airline miles to other airlines, the cost to do is usually reason enough not to do so. If you do decided to transfer your airline miles to another airline, be prepared to walk away with 1/5th or less of the miles you originally started with.

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