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How To Combine Points From Two Banks To Book An Award

by joeheg

Since starting Your Mileage May Vary, we know several friends who are now collecting points and miles. I feel a level of satisfaction when they’re able to go on that first award trip, partially because of our help. Just like any mentor, I’ll occasionally get a question where I don’t know the answer. While I could say “I really don’t know about that,” I like to use these situations to learn things I hadn’t focused on before. Such was a question about how to combine points from two different bank programs.

While the answer may seem obvious if you’ve been collecting points and miles for a while, for someone just starting, this can be very confusing.

One advantage of earning transferrable/flexible points is the ability to transfer the points to any of the bank’s partner programs. You keep your points with the bank program until you want to move them to whichever program has the award you want to book available. If you have points in two different programs, there’s a new set of problems you need to consider.

The example in this article took place in a pre-COVID-19 world. Some (or most) of the routes mentioned aren’t currently operating but it’s more important to understand the basics instead of learning how to book a specific flight.

Each bank has its own list of transfer partners.

I’ll use the question my friend asked me as an example. He has Capital One points earned with his Venture card. He was looking to get a new card for his business and asked about the Chase Ink Preferred, which was offering an 80,000 point sign up bonus at the time.

He was looking to earn points that could help him book two seats to Tokyo and was wondering if he would be able to transfer points to an airline, like ANA, with these miles.

I was glad to see that he had a goal in mind and was working on a plan to meet that goal. Already having those things makes answering a question so much easier instead of when someone asks, “What’s the best card for me?” with no idea of how they’re going to use the miles they’ll earn.

I let my friend know that up until recently, I didn’t follow Capital One. Points earned with their cards were only good for cashback on travel expenses. That was, until early 2019 when Capital One began to let you transfer points from some of their cards (Venture personal and Spark Miles business cards) to these fifteen airline and hotel partners:

  • Aeromexico (Club Premier)
  • Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Alitalia (MilleMiglia)
  • Avianca (LifeMiles)
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
  • Emirates (Skyrewards)
  • Etihad (Etihad Guest)
  • EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)
  • Finnair (Finnair Plus)
  • Hainan Airlines (Fortune Wings Club)
  • JetBlue (TrueBlue)
  • Qantas (Qantas Frequent Flyer)
  • Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)
  • Accor Live Limitless
  • Wyndham Rewards

When you transfer 1,000 Capital One miles to a partner, you’ll receive 750 miles in the partner program(except for Emirates, Singapore, and Accor where 1000 Capital One miles gives you 500 miles). That’s not a great ratio but it’s way more than Capital One miles were worth before and since you earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on some Capital One cards, you’ll get 1.5 miles per dollar you spend, which is decent for non-bonused spending.

Now that I was familiar with Capital One’s partners, I needed to take a look at Chase. Since my friends wanted to combine points from Capital One and Chase to book a trip, I needed to see which programs were partners with both banks. Here’s the list of Chase’s airline partners:

  • AerLingus AerClub (Avios)
  • British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Emirates Sky Rewards
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Iberia Plus (Avios)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Four airlines partner with both banks: JetBlue, Flying Blue (KLM/Air France), Emirates and Singapore. JetBlue isn’t going to be much help booking a flight to Tokyo, but the other three programs have possibilities. He wouldn’t be flying on either Air France or KLM, but he’d book a flight through their programs for one of their partners.

Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)

Flying Blue has several airline partners that would be useful to get to Japan:

  • Delta
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • China Airlines

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You can also use Flying Blue miles to book flights on China Eastern and China Southern but those would be last resorts if nothing else is available.

The Flying Blue program doesn’t publish an award chart so the number of miles needed for flights can vary.

Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance and they offer a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo as a 5th freedom route (the plane continues onward to Singapore from Tokyo). They have several partner airlines that are useful for getting to Japan with KrisFlyer miles

  • ANA
  • Asiana
  • EVA Airways
  • United Airlines

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KrisFlyer has an award chart for Star Alliance redemptions. A round trip ticket from North America to Japan (North Asia 2) costs 90,000 miles in economy, 175,000 miles in business class and 200,000 miles in first class.

The downside of looking at Singapore Airlines is the poor transfer ratio of miles from Capital One to KrisFlyer (1000:500) and their rather expensive Star Alliance award chart.

Emirates (Sky Rewards)

Emirates is a new addition to this list as they only became a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards in 2019.

They have two partners you can fly with to get to Japan.

  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air

You could also fly on Emirates to get to Japan but they tend to add excessive fees when booking reward tickets on their airline.

Final Thoughts

Capital One’s list of airline partners includes some programs unfamiliar to US travelers. There are still some great options available and now that you can combine the points earned with Capital One cards with other flexible point currencies, it becomes easier to save up for the dream trip you’ve been planning.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

3 comments

billndc May 18, 2019 - 2:12 am

My lord, if you have SQ Krisflyer miles FLY SQ!

Reply
joeheg May 18, 2019 - 7:59 pm

Oh man, I totally forgot about the SQ 5th freedom LAX-NRT flight. Thanks so much for reminding me.

Reply
Christian September 6, 2020 - 7:49 pm

One really useful tool is Travel Codex’s Award Maximizer. It tells you the price in miles to fly between whatever cities you specify and also lists transfer partners. Like any tool – especially free ones – it’s not perfect but it’s awful handy. For me it allows me to set a goal for what miles I want, which dictates what cards to spend money on or get.

Reply

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