I hit the hotel programs that matter to me and the only airline program I know that allows consolidation is Hawaiian (mentioned in that post over there <—) … but that’s ok, we can still consolidate / leverage Bank Rewards points … which is where flexibility is king. Transfer to hotels, airlines, other people, buy Amazon.com gift certificates, or book travel directly and EARN more points … you name it you’ve got options. When it comes to frugal travel, last minute travel, family travel … flexibility is really what we want. If we can be flexible in our travel plans we can save a ton, and when we can’t be flexible having points that can flex for us get us a LOT further.
To some degree we’ve already covered the big three (with key bullets below each one):
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Lots of points transfer partners
- Cannot transfer Membership Rewards points between accounts
- Can transfer points to hotel / airline partners in accounts of other people’s names (so I can transfer from my MR account to my friend’s Delta account)
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Not as many transfer partners as MR, but has good options and coverage across all three major airline alliances
- Can consolidate points between family members (nothing actually stopping transfers to others … there is a disclaimer however saying don’t do it)
- Are not supposed to transfer points to hotel / airline partners in accounts of other people’s names … but it works. Again, disclaimer text
- Citi ThankYou Points
- Most valuable “cash” point. All of the bank rewards points allow you to use them as cash … and for travel if you’ve got a Citi ThankYou Premier card you’ll get 1.33 cents/point … that said, this is really about as good as it gets with ThankYou points.
- Hilton is the only transfer partner. One TYP gets you 1.5 Hilton Honors points. You’d do better converting some Hawaiian miles at a rate of 1:2 Hilton points.
- Can consolidate points between any other account (via phone call) but transferred points expire 90 days after transfer. When using points, the points that expire first are used first (which is nice here)
- U.S. Bank offers are tough to come by … and getting approved can be even harder, of course YMMV.
- Capital One doesn’t have a real points program. Their “miles” and “points” are effectively cash value towards travel. Their cards are cash back cards that are marketed as “points and miles”. All good and well. You’ll earn 1-2% “cash back” on their cards. If you’re the kind of person that keeps all your money in a savings account and never in the stock market or even a mutual fund then this is a good program for you. Its easy, and straightforward. You’ll never fly in business or first class, and certainly not out of the country in either one of those.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day TopCashback is donating $50 cash (to be deposited to your TopCashback.com account) for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (along with your First Name, Last Initial, and Airport Code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post by TODAY at 11:59pm ET to be eligible to win. That gives you two days to win!
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Annual Fee: $95 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Bank
The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining and travel, and no foreign transaction fees, making this the go-to card for travelers.
This card accumulates Ultimate Rewards points, which are very valuable for transfer to United and Hyatt. Overall, this card is a great choice for maximizing earnings on dining, travel, and every day spend.
- Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate RewardsSM
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- No foreign transaction fees, plus Chip and Signature enabled for international travel.
- 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value — that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
- 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
- Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95