Can you combine frequent flyer miles for award redemptions?
TravelSort reader Scott writes “Thank you for the informative blog. I am currently holding 100K+ miles on JAL, 135K+ on Hawaiian Air, 50K Ultimate Rewards points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, 70K on Asiana, 5K in Singapore KrisFlyer.
I am wondering how I can use miles from various programs for the best redemption. I have not been able to find information on how to consolidate various programs into one program. My experience with different programs is that a person is required to use miles in one program and not able to combine. For example; if I want a flight on United I can transfer miles from Chase to United MileagePlus, but if this does not give me the amount necessary for a flight I cannot add my Asiana miles to meet the requirement even though they are partners in Star Alliance. Is there a way to combine miles into one account with various programs that are partners?”
Frequent Flyer Miles from One Program of an Alliance Cannot Be Transferred to Another Frequent Flyer Program
Unfortunately, as Scott as found, frequent flyer miles from one airline cannot be combined with or transferred to another frequent flyer program, even one of an airline that is in the same alliance. So in Scott's example, Asiana miles or Singapore KrisFlyer miles cannot be combined with United miles.
Transferable Points Can Be Transferred to Select Airline Partners
This is what can make Chase Ultimate Rewards points, AMEX Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest Points (see SPG Airline Partners: Transfer Starwood Points to Miles) so valuable, as they can be used to top up your airline frequent flyer account.
Other Options for Consolidating Frequent Flyer Miles?
Besides transferring transferable points to frequent flyer miles, there are a few options for building up more miles:
1. Get a Credit Card Signup Bonus
For U.S. residents, it's not difficult to build up miles in United, thanks both to the United Explorer and United Business card signup bonuses, and Chase Ultimate Rewards signup bonuses, since Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly 1:1 to United MileagePlus. Similarly, there's the British Airways Visa for earning Avios, the Citi AAdvantage cards for AAdvantage miles.
2. Earn More Miles with a Household Account, for Those Programs That Offer Them
While most U.S. airlines (except for JetBlue Family Pooling) don't offer a household account option, several foreign airline frequent flyer programs do, such as the British Airways Household Account, JAL Family Club, ANA Family Account Service, etc. See Transfer Frequent Flyer Miles Between Family Members?
3. Focus on One Frequent Flyer Program for a Given Alliance and Credit Miles to It
If you usually fly flights within a single alliance but earn the miles with each individual frequent flyer program, you may instead want to pick the frequent flyer program that best serves your award redemption goals and credit all your alliance flying to it. For example, if you want to redeem for Singapore Suites or Singapore Business Class, it makes most sense to credit your United and other Star Alliance flights to it, since Singapore KrisFlyer has access to Singapore Suites and Singapore First Class awards, which isn't available with United or other Star Alliance partner miles.
4. Buy Miles
If you're just a bit short of the miles needed for an award, look out for possible buy miles promotions. While it's unusual (except for US Airways Dividend miles) for miles to be sold for less than 2 cents per mile, if you only need a few to redeem for an award, it can be worth it.
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