Between my partner and I, we both have points sitting in our American Express Membership Rewards account and he has points sitting in his Chase Ultimate Rewards account. I’ve been contemplating if we should transfer the points to a participating airline or leave the points sitting in the accounts. We don’t have any reward flights coming up that we need to book and with the recent British Airways points devaluation scare, I thought “I’m glad I didn’t transfer points in to my BA account, because if the devalue really did happen I would be upset!”
To play devil’s advocate, Amex’s Membership Rewards or Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program could all of a sudden devalue or lose a valuable airline partner to transfer points to. However, for the most part I view these two programs as two of the most valuable in the miles and points game. For instance, two of the biggest airlines I fly are Delta and American Airlines:
Using Amex Membership Rewards points to fly Delta or AA:
- American Airlines is not a participating airline in the Amex Membership Rewards program, but you can still book award fights with them! British Airways is partnered with American Airlines. When you search for award tickets on BA.com you’ll see American Airlines award seats available! By transferring your Amex points to BA, you could then turn around and book an AA flight!
- Delta is a little easier to use. They are a participating airline with Amex Membership Rewards so all you need to do is transfer your points at a 1 : 1 ratio to your Delta SkyMiles account and then book your award ticket on Delta.com.
Using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly Delta or AA:
- American Airlines is not a direct participating airline with the Chase rewards program, but British Airways is. The same rules apply as mentioned above. Transfer your points to British Airways, and starting searching for award seats available on BA.com and American Airlines award seats should populate.
- Delta is not a participating airline in the Chase rewards program, but Virgin Atlantic is. Delta bought 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic airlines. Therefore, you can book Delta award seats with your Virgin Atlantic miles! Although you won’t be able to search on Virgin-Atlantic.com for Delta award seats, you can call Virgin Atlantic at 1-800-365-9500 to check mileage, availability, and book your Delta award ticket.
I know others may disagree, but my advice is to leave your points alone. Don’t transfer them to a participating airline unless you have a flight coming up that you want to book! American Express will often have transfer bonuses where if you transfer x amount of miles to a participating airline they’ll add on a certain %. If such a bonus occurs, then I do recommend transferring your points if the rewards program is going to give you free miles! Of course you’d only want to do this if the airline is valuable to you.