Reader Question: Transferring Points between Airlines

Reader Question: Can I apply for the British Airways credit card, transfer the points to Alaska and use those points  to fly Emirates?

Thanks for the question. The short answer is no, since it is very difficult to transfer points directly between airlines. But there are other options out there. There are a number of ways to accumulate the necessary points on partners or directly on the carriers involved, but here are a few possibilities. Also, please see the bottom for an important note about credit cards.

Qatar With BA Miles

They won’t get you on Emirates but, if you are willing to fly a different Middle East carrier (ME3, referring to Qatar, Emirates and Etihad), you don’t have to worry about transferring. Both British Airways and Qatar are members of the oneworld alliance, so you can use your miles for one on the other (as well as with any other oneworld partner). Just keep an eye on the fees, which can run on the high side.

Need a few more BA points? You can transfer them from Starwood at a rate of 1:1 (with a bonus 5,000 miles if you transfer 20,000 points) or American Express, where 1 BA Avios will cost you 1.25 Membership Rewards points. The Starwood card comes with a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points, while American Express cards come with up to 40,000 MR points when you get one. Feel free to leave a message in the comments if you ask

Emirates (One Way or Another)

So there’s a couple of ways you can do this. First, although you can’t transfer from BA to Alaska, there’s no reason you can’t get the Alaska Airlines credit card. Of course, it only comes with a 25,000 miles sign-up bonus, and you probably can’t get four of them, but it’s a start. Emirates is also a Starwood transfer partner, so 20,000 SPG points will get you 25,000 Emirates miles.

Etihad (Again, One Way or Another)

Again, there are a few ways to do this one. The first is with a credit card whose points are redeemable for Etihad points, such as the Citi Prestige card or the Citi Premier card. Between the two, you can pick up 100,000 Citibank Thank You Points (TYP) just in sign-up bonuses, which can be transferred to Etihad. Our old friend Starwood can also get you points that are transferable to Etihad.

Option two is to book Etihad with American Airlines miles. The availability may not be as good, but you can get AA miles fairly easily. If nothing else, the current credit card bonus will get you 50,000 AA miles. You can also take a look at BankDirect, which gives you miles instead the mediocre interest payments that most cards are giving.

If you accumulate enough miles, you can travel in this kind of luxury.

A Note about Credit Cards

Last year, I was able to donate all proceeds from credit card commissions to charity. That policy will continue until there’s a reason that I have to change it (If it does change, I will absolutely post that, also.). So you can do well by doing good on my credit card page. Almost every card listed above can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of that page and clicking on the third banner (“The Travel Rewards You Really Want” banner). Please clear your cookies/cache before clicking going there to ensure proper tracking.

A Note about Reader Questions

I’m always happy to answer questions. Frankly, I’d like to get more of them. If you want a personal response, though, it is important that you send me your email address in the body of the comment, since all emails from this page come through as anonymous.




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