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Which major card issuer offers the most transfer bonuses?

Sept. 14, 2022
7 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


Part of what makes transferable points programs like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards so great is the ability to convert points into miles with dozens of airline partners. What makes them even more attractive is that some issuers offer occasional transfer bonuses for doing so.

However, in order to know whether a transfer bonus is a good deal, it helps to have some context. For instance, a 20% transfer bonus to JetBlue TrueBlue might seem like a decent perk, until you learn that another credit card issuer was offering a 25% bonus just a few months ago and will likely do so again.

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A transfer bonus might be just the ticket for scoring great awards and a great price. NICK ELLIS/THE POINTS GUY

For that reason, we thought it would be useful to compile a list of all the airline transfer bonuses that the following programs have offered over the past ten years:

Which major card issuer offers the most transfer bonuses?

American Express takes the cake for offering the most transfer bonuses. On our list, they have the highest numbers of both bonus transfer partner options as well as the frequency of bonus offers.

Capital One and Chase have beefed up their transfer bonus opportunities over the last year while Citi is the least generous of the four major issuers.

Which year has seen the most transfer bonuses?

2021 appears to have been the golden year for all four programs offering transfer bonuses. Still, we've seen plenty of transfer offers so far this year and we're keeping an out to see what 2023 will hold.

The history of American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonuses

American Express Membership Rewards currently transfer to 18 airline partners, such as Delta and Singapore Airlines. At the time of writing, there is a record number of transfer bonuses available on-site — amounting to tremendous value if you have a strategy in place to maximize them.

Take advantage of Amex’s frequent transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic. NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

Aer Lingus AerClub

  • September 2022: 25%
  • September 2021: 40%
  • October 2019: 40%

Aeromexico Club Premier

  • September 2022: 20%
  • September 2021: 25%
  • February 2019: 25%
  • November 2018: 25%
  • March 2015: 20%

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • September 2022: 15%
  • September 2021: 20%
  • December 2019: 10-20%
  • May 2019: 10-20%
  • November 2018: 20%
  • December 2017: 10-20%

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

  • September 2022: 25%
  • September 2021: 25%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • April 2019: 25%
  • June 2018: 25%

Avianca LifeMiles

  • September 2022: 15%
  • September 2021: 15%
  • April 2019: 15%

British Airways Executive Club

  • September 2022: 25%
  • September 2021: 40%
  • October 2019: 40%
  • November 2018: 40%
  • September 2017: 40%
  • October 2016: 50%
  • January 2015: 40%

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

  • December 2020: 25%
  • January 2020: 10%
  • March 2019: 10-30%
  • September 2018: 10-30%

Emirates Skywards

  • November 2018: 25%

Etihad Guest

  • June 2016: 20%

Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles

  • September 2022: 20%
  • September 2021: 25%
  • June 2021: 25%
  • June 2018: 25%
  • June 2017: 25%
  • June 2016: 25%
  • December 2015: 25%
  • June 2014: 20%

Hilton Honors

  • September 2022: 30%
  • October 2021: 30%
  • June 2021: 40%
  • January 2021: 40%
  • October 2020: 40%
  • December 2019: 50%

Iberia Plus

  • September 2021: 40%
  • October 2019: 40%
  • November 2018: 40%
  • December 2016: 50%
  • December 2015: 25%

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • December 2019: 25%
  • June 2019: 40%
  • October 2018: 25%
  • March 2018: 10-30%
  • November 2017: 25%
  • May 2017: 25%
  • September 2014: 25%

Marriott Bonvoy

  • September 2022: 20%
  • October 2021: 30%
  • June 2021: 40%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • February 2020: 30%
  • June 2019: 40-50%

Qantas Frequent Flyer

  • September 2022: 20%
  • September 2021: 20%
  • February 2020: 20%
  • June 2019: 20%

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

  • September 2022: 30%
  • September 2021: 30%
  • December 2019: 30%
  • July 2019: 30%
  • December 2018: 30%
  • November 2018: 10-30%
  • September 2018: 30%
  • November 2017: 30%
  • May 2017: 30%
  • May 2016: 30%
  • April 2015: 25%
  • November 2014: 35%
  • May 2014: 30%
  • November 2013: 30%

The history of Capital One transfer bonuses

Capital One has improved its rewards program vastly over the past few years, adding new airline and hotel transfer partners, including Turkish Miles & Smiles and Choice Privileges Hotels.

Fancy a flight in Cathay Pacific first class? A transfer bonus might be able to help. JT GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Aeromexico Club Premier

  • August 2021: 25%

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

  • August 2022: 20%
  • September 2021: 30%
  • June 2019: 20%

Avianca LifeMiles

  • July 2021: 25%
  • December 2020: 15%
  • July 2019: 25%
  • June 2019: 15%

British Airways Executive Club

  • August 2022: 20%
  • August 2021: 33%

Emirates Skywards

  • March 2019: 100%

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • May 2019: 50%

The history of Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer bonuses

Although the Ultimate Rewards program launched more than a decade ago, transfer bonuses have been few and far between. However, Chase has launched more transfer bonuses since 2020.

We’ve seen an IHG transfer bonus as high as 60% in the past. IHG

Aer Lingus AerClub

  • September 2021: 30%

British Airways Executive Club

  • September 2021: 30%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • June 2019: 30%

Iberia Plus

  • September 2021: 30%

IHG One Rewards

  • August 2022: 50%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • August 2020: 60%

Marriott Bonvoy

  • August 2022: 50%
  • August 2021: 50%

The history of Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer bonuses

Citi has more than a dozen airline partners, including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Etihad Guest, and Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Save up for a flight to Australia with your Citi ThankYou points. NICHOLAS ELLIS/THE POINTS GUY

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

  • July 2019: 25%
  • August 2018: 30%

Avianca LifeMiles

  • August 2022: 25%
  • February 2021: 25%
  • July 2019: 25%
  • December 2018: 25%

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

  • January 2020: 15%
  • July 2018: 15%
  • September 2017: 20%

Etihad Guest

  • July 2017: 10%
  • July 2016: 25%
  • December 2015: 25%
  • May 2015: 25%

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • May 2018: 30%
  • October 2017: 25%
  • April 2017: 50%

Qantas Frequent Flyer

  • February 2020: 25%
  • April 2019: 25%
  • June 2016: 15 – 30%

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

  • February 2019: 25%

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

  • June 2019: 30%
  • October 2018: 30%
  • March 2017: 25%
  • April 2016: 25%
  • August 2015: 25%

Bottom line

Transfer bonuses can make already useful points that much more valuable. Before you take advantage of one, though, it is important to know whether it is a good deal, an unusually high bonus or something likely to be beneficial to you for an imminent redemption.

If a transfer bonus that appeals to you comes around, bookmark this page and our current transfer bonus page to see how it compares to past and current offers. Be sure to research ideas about how to maximize your points with the best strategy possible.

Additional reporting by Emily Thompson and Stella Shon.

Featured image by (Photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases