Transferring points from credit card rewards programs to airline miles accounts can seem like a lucrative deal, especially for frequent travelers. However, this practice comes with its own set of risks that can potentially devalue your hard-earned points. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the risks of transferring points to airline miles accounts and why timing and availability are crucial factors to consider.

Devaluation of Points

Airlines occasionally devalue their rewards points, meaning that it will cost you more points to book the same flight. Once transferred, your points are subject to the airline's terms. This is a significant risk, especially when airlines can change their valuation without much notice.

Loss of Flexibility

Credit card points often offer a range of redemption options, from hotels and gift cards to cashback. Transferring your points to an airline program instantly limits these options, tying your points to a single use.

Timing and Availability: The Unheard of Risks

Award Seat Availability - Airlines allocate a specific number of seats for award bookings. During peak travel seasons or on popular routes, these seats can be scarce.
Before transferring points, always check the availability of award seats.

Dynamic Pricing

Some airlines employ dynamic award pricing, where the points required for a seat can fluctuate based on various factors. This adds another layer of complexity to your transfer decision.

Transfer Delays

Transfers are not always immediate. They can take hours or even days, affecting your ability to secure an award seat.

Seasonal and Promotional Changes

Airlines sometimes offer seasonal awards or promotions that can provide better value for your points. Being aware of these can save you a significant amount of points.

Transfer Ratios and Fees

The point transfer ratio may not be 1:1. Depending on the credit card and the airline, you might lose some value in the transfer. Additionally, some cards charge a fee for this service.

Compatibility and Limitations

Not all airlines are partners with all credit card reward programs. Also, there may be a minimum number of points required for a transfer, which could be problematic if you have a smaller point balance.

Opportunity Costs

By transferring your points, you may miss out on promotional rates or bonuses offered by your credit card company. Always weigh these potential losses against the benefits of transferring.

Technical Risks

Transfers are usually irreversible. Once done, you can't transfer them back to the credit card rewards program. Also, the time it takes for a transfer to complete can vary, affecting your booking plans.

Personal Financial Risks

If you're juggling multiple credit cards to maximize points, be cautious. Mismanagement can negatively affect your credit score, offsetting any benefits you might gain from point transfers.


Is it better to transfer credit card points to an airline?

The decision to transfer credit card points to an airline miles account depends on various factors, including:

  1. Value: Sometimes, transferring points can yield a higher value per point when redeemed for flights compared to other redemption options.
  2. Flexibility: Credit card points often offer more flexibility, allowing you to use them for a variety of rewards, not just flights.
  3. Expiration: Check if the airline miles have an expiration date, as credit card points may not.
  4. Partnerships: Some credit cards have partnerships with airlines that offer bonuses or higher conversion rates.
  5. Immediate Need: If you have an upcoming trip and need more miles for a flight, transferring could be beneficial.
  6. Fees: Some cards charge a fee for transferring points to miles, so consider this in your calculations.
  7. Promotions: Occasionally, airlines or credit card companies offer promotional rates for transferring points.
  8. Loyalty Programs: If you're close to achieving a higher status level with an airline, transferring points might push you over the edge.
  9. Taxes and Surcharges: Some airlines charge high taxes and surcharges on award tickets, which could negate the value of transferring points.
  10. Availability: Award flight availability can be limited, so having miles doesn't guarantee you'll get the flight you want.

What happens when you transfer points?

When you transfer points from a credit card rewards program to an airline or hotel loyalty program, several things happen:

  1. Debit and Credit: The specified number of points are deducted from your credit card rewards account and credited to your chosen airline or hotel loyalty program.
  2. Conversion Rate: The points are usually transferred at a specific conversion rate, which can vary between programs. For example, 1 credit card point might equal 1 airline mile, or the rate might be different.
  3. Processing Time: The transfer isn't always instantaneous. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to several days for the points to appear in your airline or hotel account.
  4. Fees: Some credit card companies charge a fee for transferring points, so it's essential to be aware of any additional costs.
  5. Minimum and Maximum Limits: There may be minimum and maximum limits on how many points you can transfer at one time.
  6. Bonus Points: Some programs offer bonus points for transferring large amounts or during promotional periods.
  7. Expiration: Once transferred, your points may be subject to the expiration policy of the airline or hotel program, which could be different from your credit card's policy. To avoid this consider selling your credit card points at the Miles Market.
  8. Restrictions: Some programs have restrictions on transferring points, such as only allowing transfers to the account holder's own loyalty accounts or those of authorized users.


Transferring points to an airline miles account can offer huge savings, but it's not without risks. From point devaluation and loss of flexibility to timing issues and fees, there are several factors to consider. Always read the fine print and understand both your credit card's rewards program and the airline's frequent flyer program before making a transfer.