Credit Card Rewards and Transfer Partners

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Now that you understand about the types of cards, let's talk about the main travel reward programs.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)
  • Membership Rewards (MR) from American Express, a CreditDonkey partner
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)
  • Citi ThankYou Points

Each has its own transfer partners. And each program works differently. We'll briefly go over the basics in today's lesson.

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Chase Ultimate Rewards

Even though Chase has the least amount of transfer partners, it's perhaps our favorite reward programs. It has a lot of cool perks that make it a highly valuable program.

Highlights:

  • 7 airline partners and 4 hotel partners, including United, Southwest, British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriot/Ritz-Carlton.
  • All points transfer at a 1:1 rate.
  • Several cards give you a discount when you use points to book travel on the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
  • It has an online shopping portal where you can earn bonus points with partner retailers.
  • You can pool and combine your UR points between accounts and with family members.
  • 1 point = 1 cent redemption for statement credit and gift cards.

Downsides:

  • Less airline partners than other travel programs.

Learn More:

American Express Membership Rewards

The AMEX MR program is the other major travel rewards program. It has more airline transfer partners, but our opinion is that it's not as flexible when it comes to redemption options.

Highlights:

  • 17 airline partners and 3 hotel partners, including: Delta, JetBlue, Air France, Air Canada, Hawaiian Airlines, Hilton, and Starwood.

Downsides:

  • No online shopping portal.
  • You can't transfer points between family members.

Learn more:

Starwood Preferred Guest

The SPG program is another one of our favorites. This is technically a hotel reward program, but it has over 20 transferrable airline partners. In addition, in our opinion, Starpoints are some of the most highly valued points in the hotel world.

Highlights:

  • Over 20 airline partners, including American Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Air Canada, Korean Air, Air Berlin, Air China, and Air Japan.
  • Every time you transfer 20,000 points to an airline partner at a single time, you get a bonus of 5,000 Starpoints. This effectively makes each point worth 25% more.
  • Starpoints generally have great value when redeeming for a free night at Starwood properties.

Downsides:

  • No bonus points on everyday purchases; hard to earn Starpoints.
  • No online shopping portal.

Citi ThankYou Points

The Citi ThankYou rewards program has a somewhat limited selection of transfer partners. And Hilton is their only hotel partner, which is not known for having a well-priced award chart.

Highlights:

  • 13 airline partners and 1 hotel partner, including JetBlue, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Hilton.
  • Some cards give you a discount when you use points to book travel on the ThankYou Travel Center.
  • You can share and transfer points to another ThankYou member. However, the shared points will expire in 90 days.

Downsides:

  • No online shopping portal.

Key Takeaways

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Get to know these programs and see which fits your needs best. Does one have a travel partner you frequently use?

We like Chase Ultimate Rewards for its balance of airline and hotel partners, 1:1 transfer ratio, and the ability to pool and combine points with your household family members.

If you are a little confused now on what's best for you, don't worry. In tomorrow's lesson, we will talk more about how exactly to choose the right card.


Travel Cards

Credit Cards for International Travel

The best credit cards for international travel have no foreign transaction fees, chip technology and worldwide acceptance. Read this before you take off.

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