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It’s easy to rack up points in a bunch of different programs but when it comes time to use them, it can be tricky, especially when trying to book one type of ticket from one account and another ticket from another points program.
TPG reader Louis actually messaged me on Facebook asking: “I haves a bunch of Amex points and a bunch of Chase points, but not enough for two tickets. How can I book a Cathay Pacific award using both?”
Luckily for Louis, British Airways is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards (and also of Starwood Preferred Guest), as well as a Oneworld partner of Cathay Pacific, whose awards show up on BritishAirways.com. That means you can instantly transfer your Amex and Chase points into a single British Airways account and book both tickets from there if that’s easier, and usually British Airways’ site will even tell you how many awards seats are remaining on each flight so you’ll know how critical it is to book the award. Amex is also a transfer partner of Asia Miles, Cathay Pacific’s program, but you generally get better mileage values from BA Avios. I did a comparison here.
To broaden the conversation, let’s say you needed to book a SkyTeam ticket instead. Well, Amex transfers to Delta and Flying Blue, the mileage program of Air France/KLM. Chase points do not, but they do transfer to Korean Air, another SkyTeam carrier, so you could book one ticket using Delta miles and another using Korean Air mile, for instance.
Or with Star Alliance, Chase points transfer 1:1 to United while Amex points do not. Instead, you might have to transfer your Amex points to Aeroplan (Air Canada’s program) and book through that program or even transfer to Aeroplan then convert those miles to US Airways miles (you lose some value), and book an award with them instead depending on where you’re flying and what carrier because of fuel surcharges. However, as you can see, with a little creative thinking, you have options.
This is where it really gets more advanced as it takes times to understand all of the different transfer partners and then their partners, as well as what mileage they each require for the award you’re interested in, taxes, fuel surcharges, etc. But there are tremendous opportunities to be had as well if you educate yourself on award charts, fuel surcharges and more.
We have done many series before on minimizing your British Airways fees (which I’ve included below), and on ANA as well as Aeroplan which are key Star Alliance transfer partners of American Express. It does take some time to understand the nuances of transfer partners and to learn these ins and outs. For instance, as I mentioned above, Amex points transfer to Asia Miles, which is the Cathay Pacific program, though it may not make sense to transfer there, but rather to book through partners such as British Airways or Iberia. It can get confusing, but doing a little bit of research on finding which program is going to get you those same tickets for the least amount of miles and fees will pay off.
Transferring Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios versus Cathay Pacific
Maximizing British Airways Avios Series: Spotlight on Taxes and Fees
How to Redeem British Airways Avios Without Huge Fees
Analyzing Amex Membership Rewards Star Alliance Partners
ANA Award Taxes and Fees: Airline Partner Roundup
Overview of Aeroplan Star Alliance Partners and Fees
Analyzing Amex Membership Rewards Star Alliance Transfer Partners – Should You Transfer To Aeroplan, ANA or Singapore?
Ultimate Guide To American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners
Ultimate Guide To Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners